I've read many posts from aspiring models (mostly girls, although there are a few guys here and there), saying they want to model but aren't sure if their parents will go for it. So I might as well say my piece on this subject in case any of you are in this situation. (And, yes, those are my parents in the photo accompanying this post :D)
First off, for young people between the ages of 13 and 18, while this is a critical age to begin modeling--especially for girls--it is also a critical stage for school and academics. Dealing with school and grades is probably one of the first concerns any parent has.
For girls who get signed to high fashion/runway agencies, depending on the amount of work they get, school isn't a big priority, as these young models spend hours flying from location to location, working show to show and living in model dorms. But for these situations, there are tutors and home schooling options.
These work just fine for models who have gone through it. For commercial/print modeling, the travel is considerably lighter and the demands not as stressful, so it is very possible to balance a modeling career in this field with school life.
Second, parents have to deal with the possibilities of getting you to and from gigs. If you can't drive, this means you'll be spending a great deal of time relying on your parent or guardian to get you where you have to go (of course if your agent is jet-setting you to places, that's a whole other story).
Third, trusting the agent to make the right calls and proper judgement for their child is also a huge concern. Many parents are wary of modeling contracts, reading the fine print, and worrying about how much this is going to cost them and what risks are involved with this kind of profession.
Because all parents are different and I can't say how they'll react, here is some advice I can give to you young models who want to help convince your parents that they should let you model.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Know what kind of modeling you want to do and look up the appropriate agencies in or around where you live. Learn their requirements and make sure that you meet them and are eligible.
REFER TO AGENCY WEBSITES FOR INFO
These days, agency websites contain so much information aspiring models can learn from. Whether it's the requirements, types of models they represent or bios about the agency and the staff that runs them, knowing how different agencies operate can only help strengthen your case. Your parents will take you a little bit more seriously if you can explain to them what these agencies do and how you fit into the picture.
If you're not a great student in school, your parents will more than likely not be too open about letting you participate in modeling--be honest with them about that. If you're a decent student, be prepared to defend yourself and explain how you plan to maintain your grades in the event that you have to leave school for castings, shoots, etc.
LAY OUT A PLAN/LOGISTICS
If you aren't old enough to drive, try to figure out how much driving your parents will need to do to get you to and from gigs, go-sees, castings, etc. If your parents work full-time, figure out who would be available to get you to your gigs.
DECIDE FOR YOURSELF WHETHER YOU WANT TO MODEL FULL OR PART-TIME
A full-time modeling career will most likely include special tutors or home schooling (if your career really takes off) and will come with its own changes in you and your parents' lifestyle. If you want to model part-time, it'll be a great way to get your feet wet and see if it's really something you want to pursue full-time in the future. Part-time modeling is ideal on weekends and after school, which may be more appealing to your parents.
SIT DOWN & BE UP FRONT WITH YOUR PARENTS
Tell them the reasons you want to model, how much work and effort you're willing to put into it and discuss the what-ifs. Go over the worst case and best case scenarios. Assure them that this is something you really want to do and that you need them to be supportive if you make it and to be equally, if not more supportive, if you don't make it.
In the end, realize that underage models deal with situations and a lifestyle that regular young people don't and parents need to be prepared and ready to deal with that. If your parents decide they don't want you to model, don't hold that against them. They have their reasons.
As much as it may disappoint you, wait until you're a little bit older and when you have more leverage, such as finishing high school, etc. Then try to bring up the subject again. Who knows how they'll react? But if you've done your homework on the modeling industry, what it takes and what route you plan to go, that can make all the difference.