It can be frightening when your child professes a desire for a career you know is risky.
I recently found my grade school diary in which I confessed my dream of being an actress – despite my mom’s urging to be more realistic. If your child’s vision is only focused on an Oscar acceptance speech, it might result in a blow to his self-esteem, but the pursuit of acting may have benefits you haven’t considered.
You’d expect an acting class to make one a better public speaker, but it can also help a child’s interpersonal communications. “Children learn you must listen before you speak” explains Carole Dibo, Wilmette Theatre co-owner and director of their Actor’s Training Center. Dibo points out, in this fast-paced world of texts and social networking, value has been placed on speed of communication, but actor training focuses on the quality of communication.
Says Jennifer Green, of Piven Theatre Workshop, “when we teach acting, we are teaching the kinds of skills you want in a good person in society, in a good friend.” A talented and trained actor is a giver, a thinker, a helper and someone who understands the value of being a contributing member of a community focused on a common goal.
Real World Preparedness
Both the creativity and professionalism required of an actor have value to any career path a child might later take. “I can spot a child with acting training in a crowd, they just shine,” says David O’Connor, owner of O’Connor Casting Company. With 20 years experience in the business, he knows that regardless of their resume, a child who has really embraced the art of acting is more confident, more interactive, and “has a strong work ethic you just don’t see in most kids.”
Kerry Hahn teaches children as young as three in Glenview Park District’s Showbiz Kids class and urges parents not to wait for their child to seem “ready” for acting, but to engage them early. She works with many children who are shy or have speech issues, and teaches them that these are not obstacles but challenges. She says, “Kids gain enormous confidence and pride from sticking with it and working together to support one another.”
As for me, I have another journal written in my twenties, including stories of how proudly my parents watched my Second City shows and how they squealed when they’d stumble across my face in a television commercial. I may not be a working actor now, but I know that that actor training has helped me with every task I’ve ever tackled – including parenting!