Stage moms, otherwise known as sports moms, dance moms, and all manner of parents who get too involved in their kids’ extracurricular life, this post is for you.
Chris Workman, mom of Modern Family teen star Ariel Winter, is the latest in a string of overbearing stage moms who became so controlling that her child finally couldn’t take it anymore and cut her off. Who could blame her? This mom got so invested in her daughter’s success that she kept pulling her aside to criticize her performance on set and even gave advice to the writers and director between takes. She’s kind of like those mother hens in the show Dance Moms who practically come to blows over which tween gets a solo.
So, where do we come in? No one wants to tell you this, but since I’ve been there, sitting there on the “sidelines” cheering, editing, pushing and otherwise pressuring my kid, doing exactly the opposite of what I’m trying to do and almost turning my kid against me as well as against the very activity he’s great at, since I myself have been teetering on the brink of what one would call a crazy sports-stage-music-tiger parent, I feel an obligation to speak up.
I know you’re proud of your kids. I do. I see you sob when your daughter sings and hear you scream (who doesn’t?) when your son sinks a basket. I know you want your child to share her God-given gift with the world, and hone his skills and climb the ranks and win the trophy.
It’s wonderful that you are supporting by setting up lessons, insisting on practice, cheering them on. But as soon as your passion eclipses that of your child’s, as soon as he wants to score for you more than for himself, or she gets butterflies when you’re in the audience, you know what’s coming next and it’s not a medal or a win or a movie deal.
Stage Mom, if you do anything today, please go buy Amy Chua’s eye-opening book The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom because if you don’t stop making your child’s talent/passion/skill/success about you, as soon as she’s an adolescent, she just may close the piano and refuse to play.
So assuming that your child is still young enough to love your applause and the activity he’s great at, look in the mirror and ask yourself if the following profile fits. There’s still time to back off.
YOU KNOW YOU’RE A CRAZY STAGE/SPORTS MOM WHEN:
*You’ve got a videocam in your purse and have no qualms about pulling it out every time your kid has the ball, even if you’re losing.
*Forget the slides of your trip to Africa. Your friends’ idea of hell is to be trapped watching your daughter’s ballet performance on your iPhone.
*Despite the fact that you gave them perfectly good names at birth, you constantly introduce your son as the guitarist, your daughter as the swimmer and your baby as the karate kid.
*Other talented kids make you angry and you don’t know why.
*You get off on buying fake eyelashes, new skates, or the latest track shoes. Nothing is too pricey if it will help secure the win.
*You are sure that every one of your 543 Facebook friends is holding their breath until you post your kid’s latest brilliant drawing.
*No one sits next to you during a hockey game because you ring a cow bell every time your kid makes a move.
*Eyes roll back in people’s heads as soon as you start talking about your child’s lead role.
*You can’t help but give your child very valuable constructive criticism. Doesn’t she want to improve?
*You keep sending emails to the coach/teacher/director, explaining what training would work better because hey, you know your child best.
*You rearrange everyone’s schedule just to make sure you never miss a performance/game.
*You’re pretty sure your kid will end up in Hollywood or the NHL and make everyone rich.
*You can’t understand why your child will only practice when you’re not around.