We’ve all seen – and shuddered – at the overbearing “stage dads” or “momagers” on reality television shows who know the pageant dance numbers better than their competing kid. Parents who have kids involved in the performing arts tend to be more prone to stage mom syndrome – especially since it’s the parents who have to sit through rehearsals, or watch their child repeatedly practice their dance or acting routines, attend the shows or competitions, and so on. If your child is passionate about acting or dancing, then you naturally will (and have to) be too. But before you start developing stage mom symptoms, here are some helpful tips:
- Take a breather: It’s no secret that as parents, you naturally want to not only support, but also see your child succeed. Post-school and summer activities are also a great time for you to take time out for yourself as well. While your child is in rehearsal, use that time to do what you like to do – shop, go for a long walk, catch up with friends, pick up a new hobby, etc.
- Support, don’t suffocate: Helping your child memorize lines in their play is wonderful. But try not to make it about you and your impeccable acting ability you picked up in summer camp 1989. Applaud and let them “wow” you with their new skills or developed talents.
- Never compare: There may be a child in your kid’s acting or dance troupe that even makes you shed a tear from their flawless ability to deliver Shakespeare, but that does not mean you should ever compare your child’s abilities to theirs. Complimenting the talent (without comparing) through conversation with your child reinforces positivity and gives them the chance to talk about their fellow peers without a competitive tone.
- Acknowledge strengths: Stage moms and dads tend to expect perfection or focus on their child’s mishaps or blunders in their acting or dancing routines. By remembering to acknowledge what your child did right and less on what they did wrong, they will feel more confident and capable in achieving excellence.
- Don’t sacrifice the important: Make sure that your child’s rehearsals and shows are not taking over your healthy family balance. If performances and practices take precedence over important things – even sacrificing the family finances or family time – it’s time to reevaluate your principles.
- Have a blast: You and your child are on the same team; so while they want to succeed and you want to see them succeed, you also have to make sure you are both enjoying it together. Don’t make it work and you both will not only have fun, but bond over your child’s passion in the performing arts.
By Jackie Moe