"Mom/Dad, I Want to Model!" Tips for Parents Dealing with Aspiring Models

(This post is for parents of underage models--age 17 and younger.)

Hearing the phrase, "I want to model" is perhaps one of the few things that any parent wants to hear. However, completely shooting down your child's dream is not the best approach. I'll admit, I am not parent but just because I don't have kids of my own does not mean that I can't empathize with what you're going through. If your son or daughter has expressed interest in becoming a model, I think you'll find the following tips helpful.

Listen. As a parent your first instinct may be to react to what your child has just said. However, instead of diving right into a lecture, simply give your child a chance to explain. Trust me, the world is not going to end and your son/daughter isn't going to wind up a loser because they are interested in modeling. Listen to what he/she has to say and then take a moment to think about how you're going to respond. 

Negativity Isn't Necessary. Saying "no" is one thing but going into a full-on tirade about how stupid it is to want to be a model and how there is no chance he/she will make it will only make matters worse--not to mention really hurt your child's feelings. Put downs are not right, nor appropriate. If you already know that you do not feel this is right for your child, simply explain your concerns and have valid reasons for why you feel the way you do. Parents tend to think they don't owe explanations to their children but you do have to realize that they are human beings and deserved to be talked to with respect. Even if the answer is not what they want to hear, telling them "no" the right way will be something they will appreciate--even if it isn't right away.

Test Your Child. Modeling is an industry that has a lot of twists and turns. It is not only important that you as a parent know how things work, your child should, too. If your son/daughter is really serious about becoming a model then they should have some form of research or knowledge to offer you about the topic. Ask them what kind of modeling they want to do, whether they plan on modeling part time or full time, whether modeling is going to be a hobby/for fun or if it could grow to become something more, etc. Also ask how they plan on balancing school with modeling. If you are met with blank stares and/or a lot of "umms" and "uhhhs" then tell them they have not put enough thought into this endeavor and to go back and do research. When they have gained sufficient knowledge, then they can come back and resume the discussion with you.

Think It Over. The thought of having your child strutting down a runway, posing in front of cameras, running in and out of castings and go-sees may not be a great thing in your mind but try not to make a snap decision right after your child brings up the topic. After listening to their explanation, ask for some time to think about it. It can be days or a few weeks, whatever amount of time is needed for you to grasp the idea and decide whether it is actually worth looking into. Do research yourself about the industry. Visit modeling agency websites and see what they look for. The more you know the easier it will be for you to make a decision. It's easy to shoot down an idea, but it doesn't reflect that well on you if you turn down something you don't even know anything about. 

Be Prepared. If you support your child's decision to get into modeling, then kudos to you! However, being the parent of an underage model is going to involve work on your end. Agencies, clients and photographers require a parent/guardian to be present at all times--at the agency, during castings and go-sees, photoshoots, etc. You'll have to plan accordingly for this and figure out how much time you can devote to driving your child to and from gigs as well as possibly having to travel with your child.

Be Supportive No Matter What. Don't think your child is ready for modeling? You are totally within your rights as a parent to call the shots. However, it is important to understand that your child will be devastated and the sting may not go away overnight. Instead of being negative about it, be supportive and calmly let your child know that maybe modeling could be a possibility a few years from now or when they turn 18 when the decision will legally be theirs to make. On the flip side if you let your child model, be prepared to be their support system when they get rejected from agencies or from clients--it's going to happen. Even if you are not completely comfortable with your child modeling, offering that bit of support when they are down will keep them positively motivated. You don't have to agree with them modeling but it doesn't hurt to show that you'll be there for them no matter what happens. "I told you so" shouldn't be in your vocabulary if you really want to be a supportive parent.

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