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Stage Mom Syndrome

By Michelle Evans

We have seen the reality shows that depict the lives of “stage moms” and the sort. We all watch and cringe or sometimes we even say “hey, I know someone just like that” or “that reminds me of so-and-so”. But the fact is that the odds are that someone else could be saying the same thing about us. We don’t want to face the cold hard truth that we, ourselves, can often dawn those not so desirable traits of a complete stage mom. So, just in case you don’t know how to spot these traits, here are a few warning signs. Hopefully it’s not too late!

Warning Sign #1

You spend just as much time, if not more, at the studio than your children. Yep, if your whole life is centered around spending time at the studio or theatre that your child attends then you might have the beginning stages of becoming a stage mom. If you are at the studio so much that people often assume that you work there, we have a problem.

If you know the studio owner’s or director’s Starbucks order by heart, you might be spending too much time there.

Even worse, your child drives themselves and you STILL come to the studio to “hang” out. Don’t be afraid to drop your performer off and go get a cup of coffee or relax a bit or stay at home if they are driving age. They will be fine without you and the teachers will let you know if you need to know anything.

Warning Sign #2

Is the highlight of the week the mom circle? You know what it looks like. A gaggle of moms sitting and dishing all of the juicy gossip they know about the students and parents in, and connected to,  the studio or company. While you might feel better knowing all the insider scoop please know that this can actually come back and bite you in the rear. No one likes a gossip and anyone with any real authority will not trust you with actual information.

You can be social with other moms but just make sure that your topics of conversation don’t go in a negative direction where the studio, its employees or your own children would be negatively affected. If you are reading this and thinking to yourself “that might be me” then start to remove yourself from the group and don’t look back. The syndrome has not taken full effect, so it is not too late to get help!

Warning Sign #3

You go from Glinda the Good to the Incredible Hulk if your child doesn’t get what they want. Once we have hit this phase of the “stage mom” syndrome we are approaching critical condition. The hardest thing for parents and children is not having control over casting and selection process in the performing arts. The main thing you can know is that if your child is NOT picked for something it probably means that they were not right for the part. Or quite possibly you lingering and gossiping is weighing negatively on the artistic team ( See Warning Sign #2 to avoid this.) Either way the best thing you can do is let your child learn from the experience and grow.

Most of this business is rejection and the earlier they can deal with it in a healthy way the better.

But if mom is stomping her feet and sending rude emails it is sending the wrong message to the child. Remember that someone else’s child ALSO did not get the part they wanted and they are learning to deal with it!

Warning Sign #4

You haven’t consistently stayed at one studio or theatre company longer than a year. Ok, we in the business call this studio hopping. It is often when a family is unhappy with their previous studio because of some injustice, so they go on to the next studio only to leave there because they ALSO do not value them or …well you get the point. This is where the stage mom syndrome has taken full control of the host body and once what was a stable mom, and has turned her into the Queen Bee stage mom. In the business we fear this mom, not only because she is a handful but because she is vocal and lets EVERYBODY know her grievances. This kind of mom can be the most damaging to teachers, business owners, students, other families and even their own children if her needs are met and her child isn’t the star.

So, though some of this might sound a little sarcastic and funny we all have either been or had a showdown with stage moms like the ones above.

Yet, I do have to say that the stage mom syndrome can affect dads, grandparents and other family members as well, it is no respecter of age, gender or ethnicity! So, now that you have been informed you can protect yourself. How? Let your child make mistakes, know that teachers are there to help, see that every experience your child has is an opportunity to learn. Most importantly your child is not more important than all of the other children that a studio or company might service. Lastly, remember that you are an adult, exercise your maturity and be nice to people!

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