Just because mom and dad make big bucks in Hollywood doesn’t mean they want their offspring to follow in their footsteps. More and more stars are choosing to keep their kids out of spotlight, even though they themselves garnered fame and fortune at a tender age.
"I was a child actor and it worked for me, given the circumstances I was in. But I'm lucky enough to give my daughter and my second baby a completely different life and an education that I never had the opportunity to have," Jessica Alba, who signed with an acting agent at age 11 and scored her first professional role in a feature film soon thereafter, recently told FOX411's Pop Tarts. “When they're done with college, if they want to get into the arts, that's fine. I think you will be a better artist the more life experience you have, but I wouldn't encourage them to work in this type of environment as children."
And Alba is not the only young star who wants her kids to have a normal childhood.
“Top Chef” host Padma Lakshimi, who launched her modeling career in India at 16, told us that if her daughter wants to enter the show business it should be “after she's gone through college or when she's 21 or 22.” Brooke Shields, who appeared in her first modeling job at just 11 months, said she hopes her children don’t want to follow her into the fashion world.
Perhaps not surprisingly, troubled pop princess Britney Spears, who was a Disney Mouseketeer at age 11 and an international superstar at age 16, told Cosmopolitan that if her sons told her they wanted to be entertainment business, she would “lock them in their rooms until they turned 30.” And Alyson Hannigan, who made her acting debut in and industrial film as a baby, expressed concern about raising her family in Los Angeles, and wants to ensure her daughter has a “normal childhood” free from the Hollywood action.
And with four kids under 10, Heidi Klum has the most momming to do of them all! She told Pop Tarts she “wouldn’t encourage” her youngsters to tackle Tinseltown. "Nowadays children look at everyone in the magazines and they want to be a basketball star or on a television show, but there are only so many people who can do those things," she said. "Not that you shouldn’t aim or dream for these things, but there are so many other fantastic jobs. So it is good to talk about how to get there and how difficult it is to get there."
So why are so many stars these days speaking out against having entertainment industry-driven careers? Is it sensible thinking, or do they just not want to share the spotlight?
“Many famous mothers don’t want to be perceived as ‘stage moms’ that push their children into the limelight. With shows like ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ and ‘Dance Moms’ exposing the ruthless and desperate competition associated with the industry, the worst thing you can be perceived as is a fame whoring parent who is obsessed with your own child’s fame,” media and pop culture expert Jen Hoffman explained. “It’s also much ‘cooler’ for stars to pretend that they shun fame in favor of a private life, which of course we know isn’t true when we see the exclusive photos they sold of their family to tabloid magazines. There is a lot of hypocrisy in making a living as an actor, then saying you wouldn’t want your children to follow in your footsteps. If it’s such an awful job, why are you doing it? You can quit acting at any time.”
But Los Angeles-based psychologist Dr. Nancy Irwin said celebrities are simply putting into practice the wisdom of their own experiences.
“Perhaps in hindsight they see all the negative aspects of celebrity life (living in a fishbowl, rumors, etc.) versus the benefits and creative self-expression. Most parents want what is best for their kids, and would encourage them to have an easier lifestyle if at all possible. Of course, ideally, parents are supportive and encouraging for whatever the child chooses as his/her calling, but I believe it actually is healthy to present all the positive and negative aspects of the business to the children and let them decide for themselves,” she said. “And perhaps some of these people regret their choices, and if they had it to do over again would have chosen another ‘safer’ career and want to live vicariously through their children in this way.”
Irwin also said that star-studded parents most likely fear that fame and fortune early in life, especially in this day and age, could send their youngsters down a path of destruction as we’ve seen with many child celebrities from Drew Barrymore and Corey Haim to Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. Plus, in addition to that, they have to deal with the in-built pressure of being Celebrity X’s son or daughter.
“There’s the spoiled brat syndrome, and there is a great deal of pressure on celebrities’ kids. Some never know if they are getting cast because their work is admired, or because of mommy or daddy,” she continued. “Many times they have big shoes to fill and that can be an enormous pressure. Both parents and kids could be accused of favoritism and that doesn’t feel good either.”
However, there are still some stars that have no problem pushing their children to become Hollywood heavyweights.
Will Smith and Jade Pinkest-Smith’s children Jaden, 13, and Willow, 10, are both starring in blockbusters and releasing singles. John Travolta’s daughter, Ella, made her feature film debut a few years ago at the age of seven, and will be starring in dad's upcoming John Gotti biopic.
And then there are celebrity spawn Miley Cyrus, Rumer Willis and Emma Roberts, who all entered the biz as kids. Earlier this year, famed “Spy Kid” Alexa Vega, who isn’t a mom yet, even said that it actually makes her “sad” when fellow actors denounce letting their young ones enter the industry, because she had such a positive experience as a child star.
Actress Andie MacDowell thinks her kids have had it both ways. She is very supportive of the artistic pursuits of her daughters, but living in North Carolina, her girls grew up away from the pressures of being a Hollywood star's offspring.
"My daughter (Sarah Margaret) has already been in a film and finished school and she is an actress and a singer. She has an amazing voice and I’m glad she has something different than me. And my other daughter (Rainey) went to a school of the arts for dance and now has moved to New York at the age of 16 and moved to the professional children’s school, and she danced with American Ballet Theater this summer," MacDowell told us on Sunday while promoting her film "Footloose." "And she was just in her first fashion show for Alberta Ferretti at the age of 16, and now she’s with IMG. She’s a really good student and very mature."
Not just Andie McDowell's daughter.