As the parent of an actor or actress, you will inevitably at some point ask yourself, is this really my child’s dream and are they truly happy doing it? For some it comes early on in the process and for others a bit further into the acting journey.
Is my child a happy actor? Is my child a happy actress? And how can you really tell?
For me it came early on. Our daughter’s singing coach suggested she get into acting, as she could already sense my child’s interest and joy in doing it. Since then that utter pure joy has continued. I’ve also of course continued to monitor her happiness and I often check in with her to see how she’s feeling.
So, how can you know if they are happy acting? Once your child gets into acting, you will start to see how much time goes into it. This time in acting classes, driving to and from class and auditions, workshops, and meetings will start to take away from other things your child might be doing. Sometimes things like birthday parties, sports or other hobbies, vacations or other time consuming things will need to be missed or cut short. This is the time often when I’ve heard from other parents, that they ask themselves, is this worth it, are they happy?
When they’ve asked me if it’s worth it, I ask them the simple question, “Is your child happy doing it?” Most times they don’t actually know for sure. Since I have done this myself with our child actor, who is so happy being an actress, I have experience in monitoring her joy.
BTW, you could just ask your child directly if they are happy doing it and some will say “Of course.” or simply “Yes.” But, with that response, dependent upon how they say it to you, there may still be some uncertainty in your own mind as to whether or not that was a confident Yes or a don’t ask me questions like that type of Yes.
So, to dig a bit deeper into their happiness, here are few observations I ask parents of actors to make and how to do them, specifically:
1) When you can, observe your child practicing his or her lines or anything else related to acting practice. Notice your child’s body language. Are they upright, are they alert, are their eyes focused, do their eyes light up when acting? If yes, those are signs of being really into what they are doing. Are they slumped, are their shoulders hung over, are they fidgeting constantly, are their eyes wandering? If yes, those may be signs of boredom or non-interest. Of course there may be a time that they are tired, so you have to observe them in more than one situation and more than one time to get a sense for if they are “really into” what they are doing. If they are just starting out in acting, some of the non-focus related things may just be because they are a beginner actor. However, after 6 months of classes or longer, if you notice they are still not paying attention or fidgeting or slumping, they may just not be into it. Acting may not be the thing that makes them happy.
2) Do they talk about acting to any of their friends or family or even to you (without you bringing it up first)? If yes, that’s a sign they are excited by acting and happy when doing it. Usually kids talk about because they are thinking about it a lot.
3) Do they get excited on the way to classes, workshops, auditions? You can tell by the way they talk, in the tone and inflections in their voice. You can tell if they are interested to practice ahead of time and not be asked 100 times to focus. You can tell if they ask questions about classes, workshops or auditions.
4) Do they ever complain about having to go to acting classes, acting workshops or auditions? If yes, that may not be a good sign. Our daughter and the other actors we know that LOVE acting and are so happy doing it never complain about going to class. They never complain about auditions, instead it is oftentimes the exact opposite for them. They often ask when their next audition is and when or what time does class start.
5) Do they ever play act or act or write scripts or do anything “related” to acting on their own time? (outside of the normal classes they attend)
6) For the other child actors, do they think to practice on their own? Do they have to be asked 10 times to work on their lines? If yes, even after they understand to do this, is it a constant battle with you to do so? The trick here is to first make sure they understand why practice is important. Once they do understand that, if they are still fighting you on a consistent basis, acting may just not be what makes them happy.
7) With younger children that are actors, once they know their numbers from 1 to 10, you may do a check-in with them after classes or in between auditions and ask them with 1 being I don’t like it to 10 being I love it, how do they feel about acting? Do this maybe once every couple of weeks in order to get an average of where they are at over a few months time period. With older actors, as mentioned above, you can just ask them how they are feeling about acting lately and how it’s going for them? That may start an open discussion that will be good for you both. You may find they are happy but frustrated. That’s okay, that can be worked through by reminding them of the time frame things take and about faith and visioning.
8) Do they still mention their dreams of acting? When you turn on a certain television show or movie do they light up or talk about anything on the show or speak of any hopes or dreams related to it? If yes, this is certainly them being happy about acting and they are motivated to be in the game.
Lastly, this post was about the happiness of your child. It’s often hard to separate your own happiness from that of your kid, but you have to do that and be 100% honest with yourself no matter what you find out.
If you have other ways you work with your child or other children to gage if your child is a happy actor or happy actress, please Leave a Reply at the very bottom of this page and let us and other parents know your thoughts and methods. We are all in this acting game together as parents, let’s help one another bring joy into the lives of our children.