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Parent Support

March 27, 2013

I had a conversation with my boyfriend about how supportive/unsupportive our parents are with choosing to pursue a career in theatre, and having that conversation and realizing we had a similar (yet still very different) point of view of how our parents feel about it, that maybe others have the same issues that we do.

Some parents have a difficulty accepting and supporting their child’s choice to do work within the theatre is it is a competitive field. Whether they fear of watching their child’s dream get crushed and want to protect them, or just that they can’t see it as a serious career path. Regardless, sometimes parents don’t react well to their children pursuing a theatrical career path, and may not realize the effects it has on their child(ren).

For him, his parents strongly dislike it when he gets cast in a show. They worry that it may take away from his day job, and that it may be too much of his plate. They are happy when he finishes a show, and worse have never seen him in anything that he has done. While they say they support his choices, they never actually do anything supportive, which has been really difficult for him. While he says he may talk to them about it one day, I simply reminded him that no matter what I’ll be here to support him from every audition prep to those final performances.

I was able to understand that, since my father has never seen anything I’ve done either. Although my dad has never officially verbalized his opinions on my choice to have a career in the theatre, his silence said it all. At first, he used to try to quickly change the subject, as if it was something he literally didn’t want to hear about or accept. In later years, whenever the conversation of a show I was working on had come up, he would ask me what the show was about, and then find a way to put it down. The last time it came up was the last time I saw him well over a year ago (which imply’s how that went). He simply disagreed with the message of the show, and called it “propaganda” and continued to say how my life’s work was garbage. That (along with other non-theatrical related issues he has with me) really led to straying away the relationship since having someone who puts down my life’s work so horribly is simply someone who isn’t worth being in my life.

My mom however, although she had a bit of trouble adjusting at first since she was afraid of it not working out, she’s now my biggest supporter. She ALWAYS sees any one of my shows that she can (even the one’s I tell her not to worry about seeing). She is my first financial backer for any show I produce (which I always give her credit on the program for it when she does). She’s even started writing plays and giving them to me to read for feedback and wants me to help her produce them when she feels they are ready! She always tells her friends and co-workers about how talented she thinks I am and how proud she is of me, and she really is one of my top supporters. When my father did say those awful things about me, it just so happened she was there, and yelled at him for trying to diminish the beautiful work I’ve done (especially without ever having an interest in seeing it). In short: my mom is awesome and I totally appreciate her being so supportive (especially since in some cases she’s the reason that I was able to get some of my shows up).

Sometimes parents are either your biggest supporters or the people to hold you back the most with your theatrical career. As someone who has experienced both sides of those extremes, I think there’s an important way to look at both situations. For supportive parents, be as grateful and as appreciative as you can, since not everyone has that sadly. For parents that aren’t at all supportive, sometimes they become more and more accepting as life goes on (and if they do, that’s a great start!), but if not just try to learn from their mistakes. I know that when I (hopefully) become a wife and mother one day, I will always tell my children that I don’t care who they are or what they want to do with their lives, that I’m happy if they are happy. I want to inspire my future children to be the best and happiest they could be, so more future generations (from my family line and others) can be raised in a positive way and encourage more creative minds for the future.

sarah sig

9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 27, 2013 9:35 am

    I can relate to this. My career choice has never met any understanding nor support from my parents. It used to make me really angry and frustrated, but now I understand they come from a place of love. They are just worried that it doesn’t have any future, financial future. My father is quite materialistic, because as a child he had very little (they were poor), so now he values having things and having a steady job, it is his priority and that is enough to make him happy. He doesn’t understand how can I be happy living a completely different lifestyle, never knowing when the next paycheck is coming and not needing “stuff” to make me happy. Any creative activity of mine he consideres a hobby or procrastination from the work that could make me money. My mom understands it a bit better, she originally wanted a creative career, too, however when she was my age, she already had two children and never believed in herself.

  2. California Triple-Threat permalink
    March 27, 2013 2:55 pm

    My parents aren’t as supportive as I would like, but they are proud of my successes… I can’t imagine having a parent who has never seen what I do- especially because in this business our performances are so connected to who we are as people. I’m happy for you that your mom has become so involved! That is incredibly special.

  3. March 28, 2013 10:50 am

    Lenka and CTT: All parents are different, but it is tough to have parents understand that you needs to do what makes you happy at times. It’s hard for parents to know how to be supportive sometimes. As long as they come from a good place the important thing to appreciate that (as tough as it can be), because thats from a parents love.

    CTT: It is weird at times that my dad has never seen anything I’ve done or that my boyfriend’s parents has never seen anything he has done, and it is sad to think about those things. However, as long as all theatre artists have someone to support them by seeing their shows, I think that’s the important thing regardless if it’s family or not.

    • California Triple-Threat permalink
      March 29, 2013 1:42 pm

      so true!

    • March 31, 2013 5:00 am

      I think parents are always coming from a good place/place of love, that’s their ‘default setting’. I’ve noticed their attitude changing over the years, that they understand now, that it’s not a ‘phase’ nor ‘hobby’. Yet I can’t mention any struggle only success, otherwise I get the ‘welcome to the real world, when are you going to wake up?’ talk.

  4. March 28, 2013 4:56 pm

    Dear blogger,

    I felt a great connection with this particular post since I am also experiencing the same issue: desiring for parent’s understanding and support for our acting career.
    I am from an Asian family, my mom would still sometimes holds on to the traditional idea of what “successful” means to her, or in the Asian society. For her, being successful means being an lawyer, a banker, a doctor, whoever that is considered as “professional” and have a great among of annal salary. Every time when she calls on over the other side of the world, she questions me of what am I going to do after I graduate? She thinks acting is useless and I am going to become a beggar.

    After awhile, I have learnt to avoid talking about my love for acting, and everything about it. Then I started thinking how can I make this a positive motivation for me to do better instead of being sad about it. Then, as I read about many other actor’s blogs and stories, I realized everyone has their own stories to drive them to be who they are right now. I hope this could be my drive. To show them my determination by showing them good results of my acting achievements.

    You are very lucky that at least your mom is always on your side and I am very glad that you are showing great appreciation. Keep it up! And I am sure hard work will be paid off. One day your dad will finally understand and be proud of you 🙂

    • March 30, 2013 5:29 am

      Thank you so much Candice for telling your personal story. As tough as it is to not have the support, always aim to keep a circle of supportive and positive people around you. Having a circle lets motivate you for your own success no matter what!

      I appreciate my moms support everyday, and honestly as sad as it may sound, I’m not concerned with having my dads, since I have plenty of supportive people in my life which is the important thing for me personally. If I do get his support that would be wonderful, but if not I accepted it and I know I won’t do the same to my kids when I’m a parent one day. Learning and growing from it is the more important thing to me.

  5. Bert Silverberg permalink
    April 1, 2013 10:54 pm

    Having seen both sides of this issue over many years in educational theatre, I heartily applaud the parents who are supportive of their children who enjoy doing theatre, and who come to see their kids in a show not just once, but multiple times. To paraphrase Betty Rizzo in “Grease,” “There are worse things they could do.”

    • April 26, 2013 5:38 am

      I’m so sorry I didn’t see this until now! I’m actually almost done getting my master’s in Educational Theatre at NYU, so I totally get where you are coming from! It’s difficult to see parents not taking it seriously especially when they love doing theatre, and when I see supportive parents it makes me really happy as well.

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