By Kristopher Fraser
Overbearing parents are part of a very large cultural problem. Looking around New York City alone there is a culture of parents who have their children learning three languages, practicing two instruments, attending elite kindergartens in supposed preparation for them to get into Harvard or Yale. There is one parent who deserves a category all their own though: the entertainment manager parent.
The role of the entertainment parent often falls to the mothers who are referred to as “momagers.” The “momager” is a tale as old as the film career of Judy Garland and contemporary as the story of the Kardashian-Jenner clan. Every mother wants success for their little boy and girl, but some will do whatever it takes to catapult their kids to fame.
Your typical “momager” is incredibly demanding and high strung, has taught their little girl the effects of make-up contouring right after she learned how to walk, and has an entire collection of headshots in her purse that she has trouble figuring where to put her cellphone and lipstick. She herself is also well groomed and polished. After all, the “momager” must be an equal or greater reflection of the child in star pursuit.
Kris Jenner, the matriarch of Kardashian-Jenner clan, came to “momager” status when her kids were older, so she had a different approach to things. `Instead of trying to downplay the hype after the sex tap scandal between Kim Kardashian and R&B star Ray-J, “momager” Kris Jenner used the publicity to catapult Kim Kardashian and the rest of the Kardashian clan to fame. “Keeping up with the Kardashians” is one of the most watched shows on E!, and Kim has certainly earned the attention of the fashion industry with her own Vogue cover and a Balmain ad campaign featuring her husband Kanye West. Her step-sister, Kendall Jenner, who was also under the wing of “momager” Kris Jenner, has had her own rise to stardom as well.
Kendall has the privilege of being part of the “it girl” generation of models. In 2014, Kendall became one of the “it girls”, gaining the attention of some of the greatest fashion elites, including Chanel’s art director Karl Lagerfeld. For a while it seemed like Kendall was just another member of the Kardashian-Jenner clan getting media attention, but, once she walked the runway for Chanel alongside models the likes of Cara Delevingne, she proved that she would remain a force in the world of fashion and a model to be reckoned with.
Of course, not every youth who has been in the spotlight since her pre-teen days can be as stable and successful as Kendall Jenner. Actress Lindsay Lohan, who came to fame in her youth for Disney’s “The Parent Trap” seemed like she would have a pretty solid career ahead of her after she starred in the cult classic film “Mean Girls”, this was not the case however. Lohan, who had been propelled to fame thanks to her own “momager” Dina Lohan, went through a downward spiral of drug addiction and unprofessional behavior on set after “Mean Girls”, perhaps the pressure and the fame she endured from such a young age finally getting to her.
Many blamed her “momager” Dina Lohan for her downward spiral, but Dina would deny that the pressure she put on her daughter’s career had anything to do with her downward spiral, and that her daughter needed to take responsibility for her own choices. With her acting career struggling, Lohan attempted to make a comeback through the help of the fashion industry, first through her 6126 leggings, which unfortunately didn’t sell too well, and most recently through a collaboration with Lavish Alice that could be the signal of a comeback.
None of this excuses her mother’s “helicopter parent” behavior. The helicopter parent is the kind of parent who takes an overprotective of excessive interest in the life of their child to the point where they are making virtually none of their own decisions. The children in mention basically become programmed robots doing their parents bidding and wishes in contrast to actual children with personalities of their own.
The celebrity child entertainment manager parent is its own special breed of the helicopter parent, where as your standard helicopter parent expects their kid to study medicine or engineering, learn to play piano, and go join the Peace Corps. for a year, the entertainment parent expects their kids to be constantly preparing for their next role, always looking photo and audition ready, and will deride their kids if they fail to get that next role.
For a lot of these types of parents, the behavior is deeply rooted in some more misfortunate aspect of their personal psychology. Many are trying to live out their failed hopes and dreams through their children, so they push them to accomplish what they failed at. Others are trying to live the high life off their children’s fame, Dina Lohan being the perfect example using Lindsay’s fame to go after her own dream of being an entertainment figure.
The culture of the “momagers” and entertainment parents, for the sake of children’s health desperately needs to end. Some, like Kris Jenner, know how to do it right and step away once the kids get a handle on their own careers, others, like Dina Lohan, negatively impact their kids to the point where they are sent to a downward spiral.
To capitalize on your children when they are in their developmental stages takes away from their youth. Many parents are only pushing their children into the entertainment industry for the sake of the money and their own selfish motivations to lead a wealthy lifestyle. For kids who actually want the spotlight it’s a different story, but for those unfairly pushed there by their parents desire they often grow up faster than they have to and miss out on key points of childhood. Sometimes as a parent it is necessary to guide and motivate your kids in their career, but, remember, there is a line between positive motivation and driving your children to an unhealthy place emotionally.