19 Child Stars Whose Parents Chose That Life For Them

    It might seem like a glamorous lifestyle, but sometimes, kids just wanna be kids...

    See the words "child star" and I'm sure someone immediately springs to mind for you. Sparkly-eyed and smiley, it seems like they were born for the stage. But how many of these mini-mega stars actually enjoyed the path their parents forced them onto from the second they arrived Earth-side, and how many would never have chosen the route for themselves?

    Content warning: This post contains mentions of child abuse and sexual exploitation

    1. Janet Jackson

    Janet at a podium, smiling widely. She wears all black and her hair is worn on one side

    From there, her career was controlled by Joe, from her music to her acting jobs to her image.

    An old photograph of Janet wearing all black

    2. Jennette McCurdy

    Head and shoulders shot of Jennette smiling with her long blonde hair tied up in a high pony. She wears a strapless pink sequinned top and two choker necklaces.

    Jennette became the main breadwinner of the family, but never liked being in the spotlight. She continued acting in an attempt to win her mom's approval, but eventually confessed to her mom that she didn't want to act anymore. Debbie's reaction was so hysterical that Jennette continued on the path she never wanted to be on in the first place.

    Jennette McCurdy poses while touching her hair

    Following her mom's death, Jennette has worked through her feelings with therapists to dissect the complicated nature of the relationship they shared, and has finally been able to untangle herself from the dreams her mom made her believe were hers. Now aged 30, Jennette has quit acting and plans to write or direct for the foreseeable.

    Jennette McCurdy and Miranda Cosgrove pose together

    3. Cole and Dylan Sprouse

    Head and shoulders shot of Cole and Dylan. Cole wears a black and navy gradient suit with a navy shirt while Dylan wears a classic black one with a bow tie and white shirt.

    While their dad originally wanted the twins to live normal lives after he won custody of them, the monetary benefits of their budding acting careers soon overtook his initial desire.

    Cole and Dylan in a lab in The Suite Life Movie

    Talking to the Call Her Daddy podcast about his feelings around being pushed into child acting, he said he didn't regret his childhood but definitely has some feelings to work through about it.

    Cole and Dylan at an event. Cole wears an oversized off-white blazer with white shirt and black trousers, while Dylan wears a statement black blazer with embroidered crowns on it

    4. Taylor Momsen

    Head and shoulders shot of Taylor, her white blonde hair tied back with waves left free at the front. She has bold black glittery eyeshadow on and a black sequined sleeveless top.

    Taylor realized that acting wasn't something she actually wanted to do, telling Revolver: "My parents signed me up with Ford [Modeling] at the age of two. No two-year-old wants to be working, but I had no choice. My whole life, I was in and out of school. I didn't have friends. I was working constantly and I didn't have a real life."

    5. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

    Head and shoulders shot of Ashley and Mary-Kate in front of a baby pink background. They are both wearing black and have their long hair down in beachy waves.

    While the twins said their parents did try to ensure they had a normal life as well, the girls were targeted by paparazzi, with Ashley being reduced to hysterical crying when they were photographed in bikinis as teenagers on vacation in Hawaii.

    Ashley, Elizabeth and Mary Kate Olsen at an event. They are all wearing black high neck outfits

    It makes sense that the twins turned their attention to their passion: fashion. They quit acting and established two clothing lines, one called The Row and one called Elizabeth and James, named after their siblings as well as their desire to explore masculine and feminine trends.

    Ashley wearing a medallion style head band with a bohemian style dress, next to Mary Kate with a chest piece made of circular beads with a black dress

    6. Macaulay Culkin

    Macaulay on Prada runway, wearing a bomber jacket in the colours of a peacock's tail over a blue shirt with the sea and several small islands on it, and camel colored trousers.

    As a teenager, his parents split up and Macaulay finally learned that he was worth a massive $50 million.

    A photo of Macaulay as a kid, wearing a gray tweed suit jacket with a pale yellow tie with red and black squares on it

    Macaulay has since dipped his toes back into the acting waters, this time on his own terms. He said he'd originally planned for his exit from acting to be permanent but had an epiphany after a few years.

    Macauley wearing large black rimmed glasses, and smiling widely while holding a capsule of some sort

    7. Brooke Shields

    Head and shoulder shot of Brooke smiling, her long medium brown hair worn wavy over one shoulder. She wears a red strapless top and matching red lipstick.

    At 14, she appeared in the infamous Blue Lagoon. Dubbed as "soft porn" by the Daily Mail, Brooke was topless with her hair glued to her breasts and constantly encouraged to pursue an off-screen relationship with her 18-year-old costar, Christopher Atkins.

    Brooke when she was younger, wearing a white slip dress

    Brooke spoke out about how she believes the constant sexual exploitation from such a young age made it difficult to express or understand her own sexual identity, especially when the press dubbed her "America's most famous virgin" at age 22. She said: "I was such a naïve, innocent child. I wasn't Lolita. I didn't have that precocious understanding of my sexuality."

    Brooke and her mother smiling. Brooke has her hand on the side of her mother's face affectionately

    8. Ariel Winter

    Head and shoulders shot of Ariel, her long copper hair tucked behind her ears. She is smiling and wearing a black v-neck outfit with red lipstick and small diamond stud earrings.

    While Ariel was too young to have had much of a say at the start of her acting career, she does now enjoy the path she's found herself on.

    Ariel smiling at the camera, wearing a blazer jacket that's black on one side and white on the other

    However, she's always craved a sense of normalcy and doesn't like being famous as a result of her profession.

    Ariel and her boyfriend cuddling a small dog

    9. Wil Wheaton

    Head and shoulders shot of Wil Wheaton wearing a black suit with an LGBTQ+ Star Trek badge on its lapel

    Sadly, with the "combination of incredible emotional abuse from (his) father" and a lot of manipulation from his mother, his own experiences set him up well to play Gordie Lachance in his breakout role.

    Photograph of River Phoenix and Wil in Stand By Me

    10. Christy Carlson Romano

    Christy wearing a black blazer over a black bodice. Her hair is long and worn over one shoulder.

    She instead remembers desperately trying to please the adults around her, and feeling that she couldn't quit because she and her mom were "a team" and felt like she'd be "letting her down."

    11. Donny Osmond

    Donny smiling, wearing a black pinstripe zip up blazer over a black turtleneck

    Donny detailed a time when he woke up after an operation to find a photographer from Tiger Beat magazine in the room.

    Donny on stage in 1975

    12. Lindsay Lohan

    Lindsay smiling in front of a floral backdrop of deep red flowers. Her long auburn hair is wavy and she wears a high neck silky copper coloured top.

    As for Lindsay, it seems she's one of the lucky few who liked the career assigned to them at birth.

    Lindsay as a kid at an event for The Parent Trap

    13. Sarah Michelle Gellar

    Sarah smiling, wearing a sheer white lacy dress with a black bra and high waisted underwear beneath

    While her dad wasn't in the picture, Sarah has a good relationship with her mom, Rosellen. She once shared a throwback pic of the two of them, stating that "without her, none of this would have ever been possible." Many fans thanked Rosellen for encouraging Sarah in the comments.

    A photo of a young Freddie Prinze Jr and Sarah Michelle Gellar

    14. Kylie Jenner

    A head and shoulders shot of Kylie, her face neutral, wearing a strapless dress with her hair piled up on top of her head

    While things may have seemed pretty great for Kylie, she struggled with being in the spotlight from such a young age.

    Kylie with shoulder length pastel blue green hair

    Shortly afterward, she told then-best friend, Jordyn Woods, that people like her sister Kendall, Bella Hadid, and Hayley Bieber were "made for (fame)" and "look so good every day", but she doesn't "want (her) picture taken, and (doesn't) want people to see what outfit (she's) wearing."

    A display in a store showing Kylie Cosmetics lip kits

    15. Natalie Wood

    Natalie Wood, wearing a 70s style orange, pink and blue top and hoop earrings

    16. Hilary Duff

    Hilary wearing a red wrap neck neck and matching red lipstick. Her blonde hair is chin length and slicked back. She is smiling

    She told Teen Vogue: "I can't look at my life and be like, ‘I wish this was different,’ because I don't know if it would get me to where I am right now."

    Hilary holding a framed CD of Lizzie McGuire songs

    17. Judy Garland

    An image of Judy as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, holding Toto the dog

    18. Drew Barrymore

    Drew wearing an oversized navy blazer with red and white stripes in the internal lining. She is smiling and her hair is worn over to one side in bouncy waves

    While Drew has been back in the acting world, when asked about whether she thought her daughters following in her professional footsteps was a good idea, she said: "I was thinking, ‘My daughters will never be actors! God, no!’ And then I’m, like, wait, it’s a great family trade. I’m a Barrymore. My family has been doing this for hundreds and hundreds of years, and multiple generations.”

    A black and white photo of Drew as a kid, her hair in pigtails

    19. Kirsten Dunst

    Kirsten wearing a taffeta style red strapless dress. Her blonde hair is tied back and she is smiling

    Talking about her desires for her own children, she said: "I’d never put any daughter of mine through acting because, while I loved acting and was happy working as a child, looking back, my happiness always came from pleasing other people — always. It came from satisfying the director or my mother or my acting coach, not from pleasing myself."

    Kirsten as a child in Interview With The Vampire

    What do you think? Should parents put their children into the spotlight before they're old enough to have a say? Let me know what you think in the comments!