When our partner, THE HOUSE (Will Ferrell! Amy Poehler! Can you wait until June 30?) asked me if I had any stories to share about the lengths we parents sometimes go to help support our kids dreams, just like the parents do in the new movie — well, yes. Yes I do. Because my daughter’s dream is to be an actress.

And oh man, am I in trouble.

Thalia performing Trailer Trash from Cowgirls | © Liz Gumbinner all rights reserved

Thalia performing “Trailer Trash” from Cowgirls with perfect pitch, which she definitely did not inherit from me | At top: Sage and Thalia in class performing Little Women | photos © Liz Gumbinner


Years ago, I joked that I was shocked to learn my kids were supposed to have declared a “major” by third grade. Not just a Brooklyn thing, right? At just 8 years old, my oldest daughter Thalia already had friends who were soccer pros, violin prodigies, competitive gymnasts and skiiers…. all while my own kids were like, “hey Mom, can we sign up for the movie club after school? We just sit and watch movies! It’s fun”


I certainly wanted my kids to find something they were passionate about — eventually — but didn’t want to push.

Field hockey? Film making? Coding? Ice skating? Martial arts? Diving? Oil painting? Robot building? As long as it wasn’t riding ATVs or anonymously trolling Reddit boards, I was cool. I figured that passion would show itself eventually.

Turns out, what they both love is musical theater.


The House, in which some parents do some insane things to support their daughter’s dreams. More insane than I have done. So far. Check back in with me in a few years.

For a while, a class a week was no big deal. I loved their performances, crying through every one. (Hi, that’s me in the front row, the mom pretending I’m having allergies. Nice to meet you.)

But as each of my daughters got increasingly more invested in pursuing theater beyond the classes, well wow. Who knew it was going to be a second job for me.

Should you be considering taking on the role of theater parent, I suggest you think good and hard about the sacrifices you’ll make.

(And I’m not even going to touch on what happens if your kids go pro. That’s for another post.)

Feel free to use this handy questionnaire to determine whether you have the qualifications and skills needed to succeed as a theater parent. This is by no means a complete list:

  1. Can you tolerate the express train on Sundays making 574 local stops on its way to your destination?Unless you’re fortunate enough to be driving. In which case, can you tolerate Waze routing you straight through the middle of a midtown parade…when you’re already running late?
  2. Can you accept that the two-hour Wednesday night rehearsal each week you accounted for also includes a two-hour Sunday rehearsal which will turn into a five-hour Sunday rehearsal? The grand total of which will feel like 672 hours a week?
  3. Can you drop everything in your life at any given moment to show up 100% on time for pick-up? How about if you are to learn once you arrive, that the pick-up is now one hour later, oops sorry, didn’t we tell you?
  4. Can you forgo some or all of your own little indulgences — pedicures, pay-per-view, the fancy organic yogurt — to pay for all those surprise voice lessons and dance classes and costume fees and and and and…?

    How far will you go for your kids' dreams? | Sponsor: The House Movie starring Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler
    About THE HOUSE: After Scott and Kate Johansen lose their daughter Alex’s college fund, with the help of neighbor Frank they decide to start an illegal casino in his house. I have not yet gone to quite these lengths to help my kids achieve their goals but I could completely see how one might get there.

  5. Can you drink multiple Starbucks beverages of your choice in one sitting in order to kill time somewhere warm in the winter.
  6. Can you still write an actual paper check? Can you write 4 of them? How about more?
  7. Can you respond quickly to questions like, What do you mean you never bought me black ballet shoes? The play is in three days! I could have sworn I told you…
  8. Can you google terms like, “theater headshots for 11 year-old not creepy not pageant”?
  9. Can you tolerate listening to We Beseech Thee upwards of 35 consecutive times in a single night?
  10. Can you tolerate having We Beseech Thee stuck in your head for the rest of eternity?
  11. Most importantly: Can you watch an entire performance and never notice there is a single other child up on that stage besides your own?

When your kids find their passion, I assure you, it’s a wonderful, glorious, magical experience for a parent. Just know that there’s one thing you should be prepared for: It will definitely become your own passion too.

Also, be prepared to say things like: “No, you’re crying.” A lot.


You can see Warner Bros. Pictures’ THE HOUSE at a theater near you starting June 30, 2017 starring Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Jason Mantzoukas, Rob Huebel, Jessie Ennis, Jeremy Renner and more. And see the trailer, well…right here!  Follow them on social at #TheHouseMovie


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