I do have some favourite tv shows, and some of them might be classed as trashy. Many of those I tend to only catch glimpses of inbetween catching up on those shows I’ve recorded, others I just have to watch. Anything dance oriented and I’m there – although only having freeview does mean I miss many of the shows because they’re only on Sky. I caught a chat on twitter about the show Dance Moms on Sky a while back but noticed recently it was on Freeview being repeated.
Result. Dance Moms is my new guilty pleasure, although I’m so far behind I think it’s only on season 3 (so no spoilers please!).
If you’ve not seen it, it’s a reality show, set around a dance studio and focusing on a competition troupe of young girl dancers (age 8 and up), and on their mums. The teacher is really strict and harsh on the girls and the mums, the girls are amazing dancers and acrobats (doing much harder moves than we ever did even age 15 or 16), and the mums spend a lot of time arguing and giving their views. Having danced from the age of 4 to 16 (and then picking up dancing again as an adult), it was always going to be essential viewing for me.
Obviously pushy parents (in particular mums) are always something that’s been mentioned whenever you get talented children, but this blew me away. As a child and teen I did a lot of music (including playing in orchestras you needed to audition for, doing scholarships and competitions) and dancing (shows, medals, exams but no competitions as we were more about ballet) and met a lot of different types of mums, but I don’t think I ever came across people so overtly precious and pushy about their daughters.
Now I’ve got a child, I get to see it from the other side and also wonder how I’m seen.
I never felt like my mum pushed me as a child. She gave us the opportunities, asked for our thoughts on taking part in things. The only thing she tried to be strict about was music practice otherwise I was a total slacker at that. I always did pretty well as the things I took part in, but maybe if she’d pushed me harder (or if I’d been a favourite of my dance teacher) I’d have gone on to take up music professionally or pushed harder to achieve more in sport.
There were parents of a girl in the class below us who was pushing the daughter on, and she was a favourite of the teacher. But she wasn’t an amazing dancer, didn’t get moved up a class like she wanted to, and didn’t achieve any more than the other girls in my class who didn’t have pushy parents once they’d left the dance school.
Similarly with music I didn’t see really pushy parents around. The nearest was my friends, but only to get her to a certain level so she had reached the correct level to apply for a scholarship for school. But after that the pressure was off. Other children may have had pushy parents behind the scenes but in public it was just getting the kids ready, being friendly, and encouraging them. There was certainly no bitching and arguing with other mums or the teachers, even when other children were given solos over theirs.
Maybe things are different now. I’m surprised if so because competition is quite often frowned upon with schools removing awards for winning at events and sports days. But maybe out of school where parents are paying money to get their children ahead and into sports and music, it’s a different matter.
So far at school we’ve not come across it. There are children at the age of 4 and 5 who do a lot of sport clubs outside of school as well as in. But there’s so far not been anything with parents seeming to overly push their children into things.
I could be pushy with N. I’d quite like him to try a tennis club – he seems to really enjoy it in school, and it’s a sport we could do together. But he seems to hate the idea of sports lessons – anything structured and routine. He moans enough about swimming lessons even though he knows it’s for safety reasons, and loves being in the pool. I’d offered to book him into the LTA’s campaign of free tennis lessons which one of the clubs in town are offering in the summer. He said he’d like to do one session, but not every week. Sigh. I know if I booked him in it could do one of two ways – either he’d love it and happily participate every week, or more likely he’d refuse to do anything.
Similarly I’d like him to get into music. One of my sister in law’s heard him singing the other day, and commented that he obviously took after the musical side of the family. He can sing in tune and to the right notes for songs which many young children can’t. And playing the piano (again he refuses to let me teach him some), he’ll really listen before and while he plays rather than just plinking away. But I want to give him the choice rather than pushing him into it because it’s hard enough to get children who choose to play an instrument, to practise.
Would I ever turn into something who’d suck up to a teacher or coach, and try and make sure my child was seen as the star, got extra attention and roles, and spend all my time and attention into doing this and getting involved with N’s hobbies? I’m not sure I would. Definitely not to the extremes of those mums on Dance Moms. Maybe more encouraging, reasoning with the child, and supporting them. And finding a coach or teacher who inspired and would get the best out of him.
In the meantime, I’ll be keeping watching Dance Moms and hope the other seasons will continue to be repeated on Freeview.
Do you know pushy parents? Are you one or worry you’re one? Or is it all your children pushing themselves?
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