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SuperMouse's avatar

Is it ego that drives parents to put their kid in show biz?

Asked by SuperMouse (30785points) March 10th, 2010

I was saddened today to hear Corey Haim was found dead of an apparent drug overdose. He is just one more in a string of child stars to have met an early demise. It got me to wondering why anyone would let their kids become actors as children. I am pretty sure that no matter how much they begged, I would not let any of the boys be in the movies.

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20 Answers

brownlemur's avatar

You should watch Little Miss Perfect, a TV show about child beauty pageants. It may give you some insight into the inner workings of parents who have gone completely cocoa bananas.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Isn’t everything driven by ego?

SuperMouse's avatar

@brownlemur I’ve watched Toddlers and Tiaras on TLC and those parents never cease to amaze me. I just can’t imagine what drives them to behave the way they do.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Lets not start blaming Cory’s parents for problems Cory had with drugs and alcohol.
He was a grown man whose bad habits got the best of him.
Sad as the event may be, his end was a product of his own choices and lifestyle.
Brooke Shields was part of that kiddy fame scene and she turned out fine.

As for the parents who push their kids into that life, yeah thats questionable, but if your child has a gift for entertainment, would any of us deny them if show business is what they waned to do?

“Sorry son, even though you can sing the hell out of my Al Green records and really want to act and entertain, your calling is to be a CPA like me.”

whatthefluther's avatar

Ego & $‘s, for the most part.
See ya….Gary/wtf

SuperMouse's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy there are of course child stars such as Brooke Shields, Drew Barrymore, and Jodie Foster who made it out ok, but there are also many who did not. It seems that for the most part the ones who could not navigate that chasm between child and adult star have the most issues.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

In those cases, the parents bear the brunt of that responsibility not show business although the entertainment industry certainly has its share of messed up personalities.

Drew Barrymore’s parents sucked ass as parents but she, as a person of free will, managed to be very successful despite the hedonistic habits of her folks. Lindsay Lohan has the same deal and she’s a trainwreck. What’s the difference between those two? The choices they made.

We all bear the problems of our parents to some degree and part of growing up is making our own decisions and being responsible for the consequences of those choices.

Before I get off track further, I’ll definitely say there’s ego involved in the parents who live vicariously through their children and the little girl pageants are pretty fucking disgusting displays of humanity’s worst excesses.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Brooke Shields was part of that kiddy fame scene and she turned out fine.

So far, anyway. So far. We’ll see how that goes in the next half-century or so.

vincentcent's avatar

The success stories are few and far between. Ron Howard turned OK. Heck, they even called him “opie” on the Andy Griffith show. I think the parents do it for the parents, regardless of what they say.

SeventhSense's avatar

Benjamins and vicariously living through one’s children.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I’m in that business. Parents bring their children to me to make that dream come true. Thousands of them

1 out of 100 has real talent and is in it for the right reasons, that being, to make the most out of their talent. It is not ego for them.

For the other 99… Well, I’m not a mind reader, but what you say may have some validity. Another reason however, that I have noticed over 30 years of photographing and marketing actors and models, is that parents desperately want to hear that their child is worth something. You’ll find that most of these kids have no other activities to base their identity upon. No sports, average grades, limited friendships. Acting/Modeling seems like an easy hit. And the agencies often put stars in their eyes.

But like anything else, a true Actor/Model studies their craft, and makes it a valid profession. They’ll research the past, and work with the best coaches and tutors, and photographers available. They take it very seriously indeed. Generally, only the blue chip performers rise to the top. Those basing their future upon ego satisfaction mostly fizzle out early on, and eventually pursue some other seemingly quick, fast, and easy profession. Those who work for it are real professionals. Those who don’t, are forgotten.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s not so much ego. It’s the insecurity of the parents living vicariously through their children. It results in what @RealEyesRealizeRealLies said: “that parents desperately want to hear that their child is worth something.”

galileogirl's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy If your child has real talent, s/he will still have talent at the age of 18. In fact if you offer a child extracurricular singing, dancing or acting classes by the time s/he becomes an adult s/he will have developed that talent without having to face rejection before being mature enough to put it into perspective.

@CyanoticWasp I think Brooke Shields turned out well in spite of her mother’s choices, not because of them. Think of living with constant criticism from the age of 12. Think of having your most personal issues becoming fodder for mass discussion and the topic of every late night jokester. For every Brooke Shields there are dozens of Michael Jacksons, scores of Corey Haims and Thousands of little girls whose mothers turn them into sexy babies and grow up thinking they are only as good as their scores.

SeventhSense's avatar

You can’t generalize at all though. I mean if you look at some of the most talented people they often felt driven and self motivated from a very young age and they were the ones pressuring their parents because they had such a calling. For all the Cory Feldmans (not a super talent in my estimation) there were also the Mozarts. I don’t think he could have been denied his talent unless his parents handcuffed him.

davidbetterman's avatar

We are all responsible for our drug problems. Not our parents. Even if they drove us to use drugs.
As for why the parents pushed their chidren into show biz, it was more likely out of love for their children and recognition that the child had talent.

Exhausted's avatar

I think each situation is unique. Some kids enjoy performing and some don’t do well with it. The problem would be if the child was pushed and pushed beyond their limits to produce. If they are doing it for the love of doing it, then it would be the parents helping their children develop their skills/talents, but if they are doing it because their parents are using them for an income or to fill a void in the parents lives, then I don’t think the outcome would be beneficial for anyone. You can’t say that being a child star is a negative thing. If you counted all the child stars and then did statistics on the outcomes of their adulthood compared to the same number of kids who come from other childhoods, I’m sure the number of children that end up having problems as adults with drugs, drinking and relationships would be close to the same. Being a child star, in itself, is not the cause of their demise, it is how the process is handled and what their genetic makeup dictates that determines the outcome.

cak's avatar

When my daughter was about 6 months, we were approached – out of the blue – and asked if she modeled. She was 6 months. I thought the person was crazy. They explained that they were the creative director for a large department store and produced credentials. I told her she didn’t and I wasn’t sure I was interested. After meeting with her (at her office) again, and meeting the photographer, we agreed to a few test shots. Later, we agreed to let her appear in the ad. She was later asked to be in four more ads, at two, we were told she needed an agent. At two.

That’s where I drew the line. I didn’t want her to have a “full” modeling career. What she did was fun and neat, but it was a day or two thing, and we were finished. She was back to playing in the mud the next day.

About a week or so after that conversation, my (now ex) had gone behind my back and contacted a few agencies and one wanted to see her. I was the one who caught the phone call. After talking to the agent for some time, I just told him I didn’t think it was the world I wanted her to know. I wanted her to chase fireflies and not worry if she skinned her knee…or if her teeth were a bit uneven. My ex and I never saw eye-to-eye on this, and to this day he still mentions the money we could have earned. I pointed out to him that we wouldn’t be earning that money – our daughter would. I always felt like it was a money thing for him, not just a lark.

The money is still in an account for her, along with the rest we’ve put back for her. She’s 16 now, grown and out of that awkward stage. We are often asked why we don’t push her in that direction. It’s simple, she’s not interested.

I saw some strange parents in the few experiences that I had with my daughter. I don’t get it. I don’t see the appeal.

As far as Cory Haim, it’s a tragedy – for sure; however, at 38, he made the choices to do drugs and unfortunately, he wasn’t always able to stay clean. Maybe it started as his parents, but somewhere along the way, it also became his choice. It’s such a different lifestyle – celebrity, being famous. Things are just different. I guess I’m still on the shocked side when I hear that someone is “normal” and not completely into the lifestyle.

YARNLADY's avatar

I have to agree with @SeventhSense on this one miracles do happen because it runs in my family. My Dad was a stage magician, and I was his assistant, from ages 8 through 18. My sister, age 14, registered herself in a local beauty contest, and even enrolled in what was called charm school in those days. Our parents agree to pay for it, but after a few local shows, she personally reimbursed them. Eventually she earned enough to buy and maintain her own car, which I had to drive until she turned 16.

My sons took it upon themselves, one as young as 7, to find local stage productions to participate in, without my knowledge until after the fact. My youngest son asked for dancing lessons, so he could perform in the Nutcracker, and after one year of lessons, he performed with the Sacramento Ballet.

This wasn’t out of a clear blue sky, Hubby and I danced in square dance competitions all around the state and helped develop the youngest square dance club in the country. They were invited to dance at Sea World one year.

It’s a complete travesty how the National Beauty Show for children has perverted what was a fun way for parents and children to get together and stage a local fund raising event. I helped stage many of these events and they were nothing like what you see on TV.

thriftymaid's avatar

That or pushing their kids to do what they themselves might have liked to have done.

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