Hi Rene,

My wife, Ali, and I are currently at war over an issue regarding our 7-year-old daughter Kayla. Here’s the back-story.

Kayla is a very pretty little girl and recently a friend of my wife’s passed on a few of her photos to a local modeling agent. As a result Kayla’s now been offered some modeling work.

The shots themselves are pretty innocuous – she’ll be posing for a kid’s fashion range. But as a father I’m worried about putting Kayla’s pictures out for all to see, especially with the Internet.

I’m also concerned by Ali’s attitude and the messages she’s going to send to our daughter. I love my wife but she can also be a little shallow at times and is obsessed with the way she looks and her weight and diet. I’m worried this new venture is going to expose our daughter to a world I don’t want her to be a part off.

What do you think Rene? Am I worrying too much here? And would you ever let Casey go down the modeling road?


Robert, San Diego.

Hey Robert:

Whoa, I hear a lot of stuff in this letter. First there’s your concern for your daughter’s safety and I get that. But more than that, the fact that your wife seems to be hell-bent on a modeling career for your daughter, against your protests, is very troubling. That said here’s how I see it.

CONCERN ABOUT KAYLA AND THE INTERNET:  I get what you’re saying regarding the photos but if you, your wife or a friend has ever posted a picture of Kayla on a social networking site, well then she’s out there. Of course candid shots during the family vacation are one thing, modeling clothing with make-up and professional lighting is something else.  If you’ve ever watched an episode of TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras you know how grown up these girls can look. And speaking of that show…..

ALI NEEDS TO GET A GRIP: One of the most jaw dropping aspects of that show is the stage mothers, women who will stop at nothing to make sure their kid “wins.” It seems like there is something terribly lacking in these women’s lives, as though they missed out when they were younger and are now living vicariously through their kids. Is that what is going on with Ali? Did she want to model and never did – or did she try without success? Where is this drive to push Kayla into it coming from?  And the most glaring omission from this letter is…..

WHAT DOES KAYLA WANT? So far, it sounds like this is all about Ali and you by extension of your concern. Does Kayla even want to model? Does she know what’s going to go into it, that it’s not all pretty pictures and there is actual work and long hours involved?

First things first, you and Ali are going to have to get on the same page about this. I’ve been married a long time and my personal belief is if one person in the relationship has a problem then you both have a problem. Ali’s push to get Kayla into the modeling world despite your concern is troubling to say the least. Is she willing to put her daughter’s budding career ahead of your marriage? If the answer is yes, well, Robert, the issues and problems are deeper than what’s laid out here.

Maybe you could compromise. How about allowing Kayla (if she wants to do this) to model but making sure that your wife or you are at all the shoots so that she is presented in a decent light? I’m not sure how much work she would get if those stipulations were in place but it’s worth asking.

Lastly, it is very troubling that Ali, by your own admission, seems overly concerned with her diet, weight and looks. I’m not sure what the answer is there; I’ll leave that to a mental health professional. However if you can see that in Ali, think of the cues Kayla is picking up. You may have to work overtime to make sure Kayla has an accurate portrait of what a healthy woman (mind and body) looks like and reassure her that she looks great.

Best of luck to you!

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Rene Syler is a wife, mother, breast cancer advocate and television personality whose burning desire to tell the truth about modern motherhood led her to create When not spending time with her family or burning something for dinner, Rene travels the country as host of Sweet Retreats on The Live Well Network and Exhale on Aspire.


  1. Auntie Lisa

    November 29, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    I agree with Rene! The marital issues need to be addressed. But even if they end up agreeing that it’s OK to try this out, the parents need to make sure Kayla understands what will be required of her to do this. Like you said, they should only go forward if Kayla is interested. IF she enjoys it — and some kids do — it could be a great way for her to save up for college.

    The *stage mom* thing needs to be done away with!! “Smile, baby! Sing out, Louise!” haha

  2. M.E. Johnson

    November 29, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Agree with Rene and Lisa. And there are laws/regulations in place re hours worked, schooling, etc. It is time consuming for the adult, too. Can you get off work? Cancel everything else for hours? Above all else, if there is a contract, don’t rush. Read EVERYTHING… slowly. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. Demand that things be added, changed or deleted if need be.
    I don’t blame you for being concerned about images on the web. Freakazoids abound!

  3. Deanna

    November 29, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    I am concerned about the friend of the wife! Did she obtain consent to get pictures of the child? Usually the parent would do that themselves.
    I would highly suspect some underlying motives and I would have asked her why she felt the need to send pictures of my child?
    I would also say know your role as the father. You are the head of the household “biblically” speaking. State the possibilities of what could “possibly” occur if this is the route that is taken. Last but not the least, get on your knees and talk with the Father in Heaven about your concerns; as any loving and caring father would do!

  4. Will Jones

    November 29, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    I’m glad Deana said it, because I wanted to, but almost didn’t! LOL. But now that it’s out there…
    Robert! Step up and do your JOB. You are a father, a protector, a husband, and the foundation of your family. Your main job is to keep your family grounded, balanced, and safe. Your Ali needs to understand that Kayla is not HER daughter; she belongs to both of you, and as such, any decision concerning her safety, her health, and her future should be a joint decision. Ask her to put this modeling thing on hold until you two can agree on some ground rules. If asking doesn’t work, then TELL her, in no uncertain terms that it WILL be on hold until some agreements are made. I know well that being confrontational in a marriage should never be first choice, but if red flags are going off, there is usually a reason, and protecting your daughter is job one, even if you are protecting her from a mother who may not be seeing the red flags because of all of the flash bulbs. Too much fame too fast, stalkers, being pushed too hard, being overly concerned about body images, trying to be what someone else sees as “perfect” … these are all stresses that cause issues in the lives of adult models. If they seem dangerous to you then you’re acting like a father. Put your foot down, as gently as possible, but firmly, and don’t let up until you feel your daughter’s safety and happiness are you and Ali’s number one priority.

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