Definition of Guardrail: A strong fence at the side of the road, intended to reduce the risk of serious accidents.
No one complains about guardrails being put on the side of the road. Especially one that sits next to a deep ravine. You don’t see people attempting to see how close they can GET to a guardrail either. Most normal humans navigate as far away from guard rails as possible because they don’t want to die. No one questions this behaviour. It makes perfect sense when it comes to driving. However, when you set guardrails in your actual lives, and then make a practice of staying well behind them, people are going to look at you funny. Try it. You’ll see.
Recently, our pastor, Andy Stanley did a series about this and gives the example of how he and his wife never ride in cars alone or eat alone with anyone of the opposite sex that isn’t each other. Some people find this offensive. Over protective. Snobby even. Look at the uproar Vice President Pence experienced when he shared a similar boundary he and his wife employ to keep their marriage sacred.
Is it wrong to ride in a car with someone? Or share a meal with someone? Of course not. Both are perfectly legal. But the fact is, when you ride in a car or share a meal with someone, you have to TALK to them. And when you talk to them, you develop an intimacy with them. And if you develop enough of an intimacy with someone, an affair with them might seem tempting. Maybe it won’t. But it could. Aside from Facebook, it’s one of the main ways affairs begin actually, so the fact is, if you never give yourself the opportunity to develop said intimacy, the chances of the type of intimacy leading to an affair are significantly less.
As Andy Stanley stated: No one plans to ruin their lives. They just don’t plan NOT to.
In light of all of the controversy with Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, and another situation that hit extremely close to home for us this week that I can’t even talk about yet, it reminded me of why I, too, have set guard rails in my children’s lives, and my own life actually, especially when it comes to the entertainment industry. Some people think we are odd. Silly. Over protective. I don’t really care. Even WITH these guard rails in place, we have not escaped totally unscathed. Some fender benders did more damage than others. But when we were affected, a faulty guard rail was always the culprit.
And that is why we have put the following three main guard rails in place with regard to our children’s involvement in the entertainment industry. If I could (I am), I would suggest that every stage mom on the planet adopt these as well:
Do not ever……..and I do mean ever……allow your children to be alone with an adult that is not you.
Ever. Not to have a chat. Not to go to a Lakers game with court side tickets. Not to McDonald’s for a milkshake. 100% of the time when a child is molested, they are left alone with the molester. If you never let them be alone with ANYONE, there is 100% chance they won’t be molested. Could this offend people? Sure. Does it make me seem self-righteous or accusatory sometimes? You bet. But guess what? I don’t freaking care. I care more about my kids future mental health, than I do about what people think.
I would bet a million dollars that our manager, Brad Stokes, is not a child molester, because he is the only trustworthy human we’ve found in Hollywood. In theory, I would trust Brad to drive any one of my children across the continental United States, yet he’s never one time been alone with a single one of them. He’s not offended. In fact, he agrees. He is also protecting himself. Smart guy. It’s why I too, in more recent years adopted a policy that I do not communicate or spend time alone with my acting students who are minors individually. It’s not wise. On a number of levels.
The amount of time your agent, or manager, a producer or director should spend on outings alone with your child is none. If they suggest an outing with your child without you, I suggest you fire them immediately. Something is up.
Do not allow your child to be alone electronically with any adult that is not you.
This is just as dangerous. The amount that your agent, manager, or another adult actor should be texting or facebook messaging your minor child is exactly zero. This is where grooming begins and the abuser gains trust. Are all agents, managers, and adult humans abusers? No. But if you never let your child communicate by themselves with an adult who isn’t you, the chances of them being groomed by an adult that isn’t you goes down to about zero.
Yes, allow your child, as they get older to have adult conversations about their career with their manager, agent or another adult. This trains them for when they are actually an adult. But, without question, include yourself in the conversation. Explain to your child why you are doing so. They will thank you someday. If you find out that someone you employ on your child’s behalf is texting them without your knowledge, fire them. This is suspect.
Don’t use guardians. If you have to use a guardian, use a female guardian.
I know, I know…..here is where you turn on me. “Aren’t you being a little sexist?” Yes. I am. It is a fact that most molesters of children are male. Look it up. I will happily be accused of sexism for the sake of my child.
“Aren’t you over reacting just a little bit?” Absolutely. I am. But my children have a 100% not been molested rate so I’m good.
“Well, this is just unrealistic. I don’t want my child to miss out on an opportunity just because I have to work!” It is not an opportunity to be molested. It is a life altering tragedy. No job is worth this. No amount of fame will make up for this. The loss of your child’s future mental health is NOT. WORTH. IT.
Going even further, I would suggest that if either you or your husband regularly cannot be the one to be on set with your child, to postpone your child’s career until they are of age, and even then, things are dicey. My 18 year old daughter had to stand up to a director who wanted her to take her clothes off for a scene just last month. She had to say no repeatedly for three solid days. I would have caved in a flat minute at that age, but luckily she is made of sterner stuff than I.
Are all guardians bad people who are out to molest your child? Chances are they are not. But do you want to have to explain to your child who has been molested by the ONE PERSON you happened to trust, why you did not protect them? I sure don’t.
If I could tell you to do one thing, and one thing only as you traverse your way through the absolute mine field that is Hollywood, it would be to set these guardrails in place. And then stay well behind them. Offend people. Look weird. You will not regret it. And neither will your child. And on the off chance that you DO lose control of the car one day and actually hit a guardrail, you will have only damaged your car. Not taken an irrevocable plunge into the abyss.
Here is a bonus guardrail. Free of charge.
If you have a wierd feeling about someone, trust it. Remove them from your lives sooner rather than later.
Mom radar is NEVER wrong.