I am a mom that highly encourages the arts for my kids. Yes, we have signed them up for pretty much every sport and only baseball seemed to stick for a few of them, but when it came time for the arts, we had better luck…and they started making money!

Dance and music classes were a given and slowly dropped off to one underwhelmed drummer that only plays during his weekly lesson, but they all are voracious artists and spend hours drawing, creating comic books, and writing stories. Try as I might, I couldn’t push them into acting. When I come across a great casting notice and asked if they wanted me to submit them, they rolled their eyes and said, “Mom, that’s YOUR thing.” Occasionally we can get them involved as a family and recently were cast in a taping of our whole family watching a Canadian movie, right in our living room, and we were all paid handsomely for it.

I do have them taking improv at my school, that’s a given. They are goofy and creative, and the instructor I have teaching the Kids workshops, Connor, is incredible. I have to say, this outlet really helps to keep them sharp when it comes to direction and spontaneity, two things that are essential when it comes to my other kind of regular acting: voice overs. I put together a voice demo for my agent, of my daughter and she started booking jobs, with her clear voice and advanced reading. But then I talked my son into letting me make one for him. I have always loved his grainy voice that he can make squeak at will. I always say he screamed so much as a child he probably wrecked his vocal chords but man, the tone and his enthusiasm make for a great voice. He started booking and not only almost everything he auditioned for, but was called in for all of the big cartoon kids’ shows on TV. As a non-union actor, it’s hard to break into a union gig, but he continued to get call backs and praise from the casting directors. Clients started contacting our agent to have him do additional commercials.

My husband and I took the whole, handing-a-large-sum-of-money-to-a-child thing VERY seriously. His cheques get put in the bank and he gets $20-50 each time to blow on….crap. We have told him that if he keeps it up, by the time he’s 16 he will be able to buy himself a car. Some days it’s a whine fest, as he complains that’s SO far away and he could have Pokemon now, but we stand firm and it’s paying off. He just recently got a radio play gig that had him recording 8 scripts over two days and we let him buy a $100 drone for himself (which he hardly plays with anymore).

This strict money policy reminds me of a great piece of parenting advice I got when I was a new mom. I read that an allowance is something that should be separate from chores, that children will equate doing a task with getting paid and that over time, when you ask them to do something, they will begin to ask, “How much will I get for it?” I didn’t like the sound of that. I liked the idea that the whole family pulls their weight around the house. In fact, I took it a step further when I asked my daughter to “babysit” her siblings when me and my husband decided to catch a movie and she asked if she would get what our regular babysitters are paid and I replied, “No, you won’t get anything, because we all help around here. Unless you want to start paying me for everything I do? Oh, wait! I like this! I can start billing you for all the laundry and meals I cook and at the end of the month you all can pay me!” and she shut me down with a quick, “No that’s okay, let’s just keep it the way it is. I’ll do it for free too.” Nice!

I like to think that by keeping money away from contribution is one of the “right” things we’ve done in this family. Also, the sense that through work comes reward, but it is essential to have a sense of responsibility for the future. My son is starting to say he has a career in voice over work, which I quickly remind him that when his voice changes we’ll see how much of a career is left. Another plus to saving the money now, because it may stop in the future. At the moment, I am perfectly happy pulling him out of school when needed and driving him out to Toronto so he can be his creative enthusiastic self. As long as the clients want to book him, I’m willing to be his mommy-manager.
Needless to say, when our T4’s came in from the agent this week, his was bigger than mine…I guess there’s no new car for me in the near future!

About the Author

Stephanie Herrera is a comedian, writer, producer, teacher, singer, actor, mother of 4, and shallow philosopher. She runs the Durham Improv & Acting Studio in Oshawa, Canada, is a professor at Durham and Fleming Colleges, and is an award winning performer.  www.durhamimprov.com / www.stephanieherrera.com / info@durhamimprov.com / (647) 899-3342  Durham Improv Group and Business pages can be found on Facebook and follow @durhamimprov & @antimommy