LeAnn Rimes takes the stage in her early years. (Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives )
Being a child star today, with social media and the heightened interest in celebrities, would be incredibly difficult to handle.
It's difficult to handle as an adult, to see the negativity. It's easy for people to sit behind a computer screen and tear people down. To be a kid and have to deal with that, to not have the tools really to differentiate between what's real and what's not, to not judge yourself by the misconceptions of others or the opinions of others — that's hard enough to do as an adult, much less as a child.
As you grow up in this business, you have to have a strong sense of self. But when you have so many opinions from the outside world, you don't really have a chance to develop your sense of self.
It's very confusing when you've been on a pedestal for a really long time, and then that success goes away for some people, or all of a sudden people build you up to tear you down. People don't come out of the other side of it with a clear head, and I think that's probably the biggest thing.
Rimes performs in 2012. (Getty Images)
Having had it all as a child and growing into an adult, it definitely messes with your mind a little bit.
Obviously, having the world watch you make every move brings so much confusion. I remember when I signed my record deal, when I was about 11. Those were very impressionable years. You're trying to figure out who you are without a million people telling you who they think you should be, and it's already hard enough at that age.
It was definitely a very strange way to grow up. The developmental stages of the pre-teen years were kind of stunted in a lot of ways for me. I had to let parts of myself that were underdeveloped catch up with the other parts that were overdeveloped. The biggest challenge was really growing into a woman in the most normal way I could. There really isn't a normal way to do that when you start out in the business.
Even though my family wasn't together, when stardom hit when I was 13, my mom and dad both had their say in everything that I did. Also, my godmother was very much a part of my life, as was my mom's best friend since ninth grade. She has two daughters. One is four years older than me and one is eight years older than me, and they have been my sisters. They've always put me in my place. I had plenty of family and extended family around that really kept me grounded.
For former child stars who are struggling, I wish them well. All you can do is have at least one person around you that will listen to you ... and that you respect enough to listen to also, even when they tell you the things you don't want to hear. If someone wants to take care of themselves, it's really their decision. No one can really force them to do so.
Now that I'm an adult, I think I would nurture any kind of talent my child had, but I wouldn't be the first one to push them in that direction. That would be a decision that I think they would make when they got older. But I think it's imperative that parents be parents, and keep their kids kids as long as they can. They have plenty of years to be able to [entertain] as a grown up.
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