Monday, July 18, 2011

Even Princesses Have To Work

Today, I had the opportunity to see the first episode of Dance Moms. After reading so many outraged opinions about this show from other mommy bloggers, I wanted to see what all of the controversy was about.

This show revolves around girls in competitive dance competitions, their coach (who some have described as a dictator) and the mothers that encourage their children to follow this path.

There are some outrageous attitudes and behaviors by the adults throughout the show, often in front of children, but, to criticize the coach and the parents for enforcing a spirit of competitiveness in the children, is a wayward opinion rather than focusing on the actual issue.

In my opinion, society has become so politically correct and emotion driven that we are fooling our children into believing that they will never face adversity, that they are great at everything they do without practice, sometimes without knowledge. They are smart, perfect, incredible, extraordinary. That nothing is ever really their fault - it must be a bad teacher or a poorly raised classmate.

If every child is extraordinary, doesn't that mean that they are all just ordinary? How can you be special just like everyone else?

I do not believe in the idea that merely participating in a sport or activity should warrant a trophy or ribbon. I believe in the spirit of healthy competition among children. I believe in winners and losers. I believe that children that have goals of becoming a professional athlete or performer need to have a higher level of discipline and to those of us on the outside of those sports it may at times seem to be too harsh or extreme.

The reality is that no matter how good we are at any thing, we are never perfect, there will always be a need to practice, rehearse, hone our skills and there will always be another generation of talented newbies rising to take our place.

In my previous position, I dealt largely with college students and their parents. More often than not, the parents would phone and complain that their student was so smart, so disciplined, etc, etc and they just could not understand why their child was not succeeding at getting the scores that they needed to become a doctor, lawyer, what have you. I would check the student's account and find that the student had not done any homework, had never logged into their syllabus, had not been to class beyond the third session.

And the parents would still place the blame upon my company, the teacher or tutor, even on me, rather than doubting that their child was perfect.

If, as parents, we allow our children to believe that are infallible, perfect, great at everything they do, then we are doing them a great injustice. We are not instilling in them the basic essentials that they will need to be successful in the real world. And we are fooling ourselves into a belief that our children will never have real problems and real issues.

The fear of raising your children in this way is that when they finally emerge into the real world, they will be crushed by the overwhelming sense that for the first time in their lives it is their fault, that there are repercussions for their action or inaction to a situation. And this is what leads to 45 year old men living in their momma's house.

In my opinion, our job as parents is to instill a sense of competition, perseverance, diligence, humility, and a belief that there is a higher power.

After all, even the princesses had to work.

From what I could see on the show, these are happy and healthy girls that enjoy dancing. They enjoy getting ready for competitions and they love to win.

Why is that so wrong?

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  1. As a teacher I found that students actually did better when I praised hard work and perseverance more than intelligence. The ones that were constantly told how incredibly smart they were did not think that they had to try and they would end up doing worse than some of the others. Of course it is good to let our children know that they are intelligent, but I honestly got better results when praising work ethic.

  2. I caught one episode of that show and found the dance teacher to be completely off the wall. I think she is mean and treats her students and parents with no respect. I don't think I could stomach another episode just because of the way the teacher treats people.


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