Parents of child actors – Listen Actively – Be Patient – Be Polite – Be Respectful

Parents of child actors, when your child actor is working with other acting professionals, listen to them “Actively”. Be Patient. Let them guide you. Be polite. Be respectful. Obvious, maybe? But not everyone is doing this.

These life-skills and etiquette you need to use with other acting professionals may seem obvious, but they are not to some people. So, I feel it’s important to lay some of this out for those that may not be doing this just yet.

If you are talkative and hugely outgoing (extroverted), you have to learn how to be quiet at times and listen, listen, listen and “actively” listen some more. I was already patient from the days when I was a teacher. However, I had to learn how to be even quieter at times and even more patient on things. I had to learn how to wait for my time to talk. Waiting for a time to be right to ask questions is crucial to helping my child – as it’s a delicate dance of not being overbearing with those that are doing their best to help you. Listening is so important to the parent and the child. There a lot of situations where you do not know a thing, you may think you do, but really you do not know much. So… just need to keep quiet, as the professionals around you advise you on the truths. They will do their best for you, but they likely also have other children they are working with. So be respectful.

dana bookThis book “And the Good News Is”, that I’ve just finished reading (in top 10 sellers for a long time now), by Dana Perino, has helped me to see the perspective in that dignity and civility are choices we make for ourselves. We need to be able to make these choices clearly as we work with our children as actors and with those that surround our children. This is a highly recommended reading >

As an aside, I hold a Masters degree in teaching, and I learned in graduate school how to talk to children and parents professionally and “how” to really listen. We talked a lot about active vs passive listening in grad school. I knew already about that and I used it when I taught 5th grade for many years. However, I feel since my daughter started going to her acting academy in Las Vegas , my mind opened 10 fold to how patient, how quiet at times, and how “active” I need to be listening in order to help my daughter further. And also, my daughter too has learned how important it is to listen carefully, take notes, and ask questions at the right times.

Also, “Active Listening” is very different from “Passive Listening”. Active listening often requires you taking notes as to what you are hearing and be able to repeat back in your own words, what you learned. Passive listening is “NOT” good enough in this field. Just sort of remembering half of what someone said to you is not going to work. Take the time to write things down.

Also, take the time to ask kindly for someone to repeat themselves (if you can). Take the time to ask questions (if you can) if there is something you do not understand. Also, not every question has to be in person. You can use email, for example to get a question answered. But DO NOT bombard every day with emails. Take the time to formulate your questions clearly, then email your questions in a list. Keep your questions as brief as you can, with the needed information of course. If needed, it is okay to send more than 1 email, but make sure the emails are of “different topics”. And by all means DO NOT TYPE IN ALL CAPS EVER. I cannot tell you how often people still do this. If you do not already know, this means SHOUTING and it comes off as rude and disrespectful. It is also very annoying for the agent or management team or teacher or director to read, they may not even read it.

Lastly, give ample time for the person to respond to your email. If they do not get back to you within a week, then send a kind email asking if they are still considering your email and if ask if they just need a little more time. Just remember, they likely had 100 things in the acting world going on and just haven’t had time to get back to you just yet.