by Leah Kolar
There are reality TV shows about “dance moms.” Gypsy is a famous musical about a stage mom. Movies like Mommy Dearest paint a very specific picture about this label. The label “stage parent” is not generally a compliment. A parent of a child performer has been set up to fail, but we can change this stigma.
I have been preparing as I head into my years as a hopeful “soccer mom.” I have my minivan, a collection of Thirty-One bags, and five pairs of the same yoga pants from Athleta. I am READY to go! WAIT! What’s that honey? You don’t want to play soccer? How about tennis? Basketball? Baseball? Wrestling? Swimming? Dance? Ping pong? PLEASE, ANYTHING BUT THEATRE! I don’t want to be a “stage mom.”
So, what can I do? I’ve thought long and hard about this conundrum and have spent the past twenty years rewriting this label so that I can conquer my own fear of stepping into this role. If my child tells me she wants to do theatre, I will step proudly into my role as a stage mom. You will not, however, find my name on the blacklist. If she does not choose theatre, my work here will not have been in vain as everything on the list of dos and don’ts can be translated to other activities. So, here is your “how to be a great stage parent” manual.
When someone gives you a compliment about your child, turn it back around and emphasize how proud you are of the hard work your child puts in to be part of the class/show, etc. Avoid saying “thank you” inferring that you are happy to take credit for your child’s work or talent. I know, I know! You could play any part in the show because you have run those lines so many times, but you just weren’t cast, and this is their work and their compliment.
Encourage your child to always fulfill their commitments. If they commit to piano lessons, they need to understand that they have committed to preparation too. Help them set aside time to practice. WAIT! Step away from the piano bench! This is your child’s practice time. I know you want to make sure that they are doing it right, but your checkbook register is an expensive reminder that you have hired someone to do this job for you. You get to be the good guy! Your only job is to make sure that there is time set aside for practicing. Now, go enjoy your chai latte!
So, then what CAN you do? This is the best part. It is so easy. All you have to do is support your child and very little else. Attend every performance you can and sign up to be the mom that cleans the toilets before the show or another job of equal glory. Do your research and find the best training for them to receive the information that they need to be the best they can be.
On that note, this hopeful soccer mom is the director of Theatre Arts For Kids and is passionate about providing excellent musical training for kids of all ages.
Leah Kolar is the founder and artistic director for Theatre Arts For Kids, a thriving non-profit musical theatre company for youth with branches in California, Florida, and Nebraska for the last 16 years. In addition to her work with Theatre Arts For Kids, Leah has a thriving voice studio teaching children, teens, and adults to sing. Leah is married to Ben Kolar, and they have two kids, Mij (7) & Avi (2).
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