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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Lack of support and understanding w/in families


freespirit

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freespirit

This has been bothering me for a while, so I decided to write and see what the other ballet parents have experienced in this area.

 

The problem is my normally wonderful supportive mom + siblings etc... make fun of how much I enjoy ballet, and how much I support my daughter's self-declared ballet dreams. This really hurts, and I can't seem to get them to understand.

 

 

For example, I was telling my family how excited I was to go to the Balanchine Festival...Six glorious hours of ballet. My mother moaned, and my sister/ sister-in-law made comments equating this to torture.

 

Whenever my daughter's training (or schooling) is brought up, I'm told to lightened up and let her be a kid. It's just dance anyway; it's not like it is anything important. Why am I putting so much pressure on her (they say this to mean: Why are you sending your daughter to this pre-professional school that requires so much time and such a commitment).

 

They even thought it was hilarious that my husband installed an at home barre for my dd. (It was even his idea!!) I was proud of his support of his daughter... My family saw it as another example of how I'm too obsessed about ballet.

 

I can't imagine what they would say if I told them I read and post on a ballet message board....

 

Don't get me wrong, I love my family!! They've never missed one of dd's performances, and they're supportive of her. I just get the distinct impression they think I'm off my rocker.

B)

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I feel your pain. It's really hard when your family doesn't give you the support you crave -- and face it, we all want our family's respect and support, even as adults.

 

My parents don't really "get" ballet either. My mom has said point-blank that it leaves her cold. They aren't disparaging -- they just don't really understand why we like it so much.

 

In a way, I view ballet as sort of a coming-of-age thing. It's my current family's thing, not my natal family's thing. Each generation sets up its own traditions and focuses, and ballet is ours. I actually like having that separateness.

 

I'm also proud of the fact that I support my kids' dancing, and not just by whipping out the checkbook. I think it's cool that they are the ones who brought this artform into the family. I think it's cool that they are so passionate about something that they work hard at it several days a week. I think I'm a good parent for getting involved in THEIR thing, instead of making them follow in my footsteps and do MY thing.

 

Does your family live nearby? I could see how it would be a drag if you see them regularly, and they consistently bring this up. My family lives far away, and while there's the occasional annoyance at the ballet schedule -- "Gee, you never seem to have a weekend free to come visit" -- at least they always know what to ask about.

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My family doesn't understand my daughter's passion or my love for the ballet and my love for watching my daughter. But come to think of it, I don't understand my nephew's passion for basketball. He plays high school basketball. He and his mom are very into the sport and evidently he is very good at it. He has practice every afternoon and games all day Saturdays. I don't really understand their love for this game that makes absolutely no sense to me but I go to some of his games and support him because he is my sister's son the same way they come and watch my daughter dance. Fortunately we don't have to understand why we are all so different, we just enjoy and love each others children for who they are.

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knock, knock ; I'm not a mother, but a daughter ... Last week I had my school recital (I'm a 25 years ols beginner) and I did a barre on stage with my class ; I invited my parents , because I thought it would not be a common thing (when you're 25, stage appearances get rarer) ; well , the end of the story is, I had to listen to my mom on the phone for an hour telling me all the things she didn't like about us (from you didn't smile enough to this one is obese , to your index finger was too rigid) and that it was boring because it didn't include jazz ...

it's the last time

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I too have a mother who is not very supportive of the amount of time and money that we spend nurturing our dd's aspirations.

 

We've always felt that supporting our children in any way possible to help them fulfill their passions and dreams is of utmost importance in raising happy and secure children. I feel that we are probably much closer and more connected to our teenage daughter than a lot of other parents.Perhaps this is because of the time we spend together "commuting" back and forth to dance or maybe because of the time and effort we as parents spend assisting at all of her dance shows. As a parent of a teenage dd I feel very fortunate to still be included in "her world". We will at times sit down together and show each other various threads of interest on Ballet Talk. Every year we come face to face with the annual dilemna about SI auditions. We are there for our dd providing the extra support that is needed while awaiting replies and then again when making the final decision. We are there when she needs to vent about something that happened at the studio or massage tired feet.

 

My mother seems quite myopic about it. Yet, she is the first to ask for photos or a video after our dd has been in a performance to show off to her friends and she will gladly brag about her accomplishments to them as well!

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mylildancer

Although my family doesn't understand my dd's "ballet thing", they support her by asking about it a lot. All of my family still resides in Hawaii. We kids grew up learning ancient Hawaiian dances and cultural dances like Japanese Bon dances. There is a culture and history that is fiercly guarded from extinction there, so you can imagine how foreign something like ballet would be.

 

Family on my husband's side that actually live here on the mainland are not as interested. In fact, my mother in law has never seen my dd dance even though we have repeatedly invited her to various year end performances and Nuts. She thinks that it is silly and a waste of time for her to bother with the arts where she will never be able to make any money. My husband and sons support dd by allowing us to live away for her training. They really don't enjoy ballet and have a hard time sitting through a whole program even when dd is in it. So alas, dd is almost on her own in this "ballet thing". Sometimes I feel I'm the only one that she has to share it with. Maybe that's why I work so hard at helping her with it.

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freespirit

:) Wow!!! Thanks for the stories so far. I believe part of the problem is my family lives so close (within 10 minutes of us) that they know exactly how much time we spend at dance. Our family is close by nature, and I think close families feel like they have the right to but into each other's lives sometimes. Another issue is my husband's mom and sister live equally close, but they are totally empathic since his sister was into ballet through high school. It's frustrating that my own family can't be as understanding as my husband's.

 

My hubby says I should blow what my family says off, and they just don't understand hard work and commitment in general. The ironic thing is, like Twins mentioned, my mom always asks for pictures right away, and has even flown my grandma in to see my dd in the Nutcracker when she had a big part! My mom has even commented how much she enjoys my dd's professional looking recitals and how much better they are then the competition school's where my nieces attend. I don't get how she doesn't see the connection between time in the studio and the quality of the performance??

 

Treefrog, I really liked what you said about it being something special for your nuclear family. Maybe if I think of it that way, as something I share with my own family, I won't be as bothered by what my mom and siblings say. I love having this way to stay connected with my dd. I will be thrilled to be able to have a way to stay part of her life as she gets older.

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While we have family support for our DS, we have no family nearby to attend or celebrate his performances. I guess what makes me sad is that none of our friends offer support by coming to his performances or even asking questions about this interest. Or his friends! Maybe when they are older and can drive, they will come. I have found that the connections that we have made through dance are very special, as all the kids give each other lots of support, and the parents really appreciate each child's efforts and talents. My DS's previous teacher has also become an important part of our lives through her support. We are creating a "dance family."

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Freespirit, I feel badly for you and the others who have families who, besides not caring for ballet, actively make fun of your family's commitment to it. That must really hurt. Have you tried telling them, not during the teasing time but later, when it's not a fresh wound, that it hurts you when they make fun of you and ballet? Sometimes families need to hear it that way.

 

When my family gets together, and I suspect this is true of most, there's a lot of joking and teasing going on. I think we fall back into our childhood roles the minute we're around each other. But every so often, I've found some forms of teasing hurt badly enough that I was able to address it directly later, when I was no longer feeling the sting. It really helped.

 

My dad died before I had kids, but when my mom was alive, she was hugely supportive of my daughter's ballet training. Mom grew up in a family of musicians and dancers; my grandfather sang opera and was a gymnast and pole vaulter who competed in the Olympics. She firmly believed that life is so short that we should always be sure to follow our dreams and pursue our passions. She came to every performance and even watched some rehearsals occasionally. Two of my siblings have always tried to make it to my daughter's performances, two others haven't.

 

My husband's family was less supportive initially, even though all their kids had grown up in Irish dancing. His sister has always come to performances even though ballet is the last thing one would ever expect her to pay any attention to. She's proud of her niece. His parents didn't care about ballet and they'd say that the performances bored them, but once they saw their grandchild getting lead roles, everything changed. :) They became her staunchest supporters. Neither of his brothers or their families mention ballet or come to performances. One brother came just once and later told us that, "No offense but I can't stand it."

 

But I've had what you don't seem to have: The relatives who think it's stupid don't rub it in. They just don't ever mention ballet - they ignore it all. They're not mean about it; they just don't get it. It's not their thing but they recognize it's ours. I wonder if, in their minds, it's just my husband and me being the odd ones yet again. No surprise to them that our kids don't fit the norm either!

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emhbunhead

im not a parent, but a daughter, so feel free to delete is necessary. my parents have been the most wonderful parents a child could ever ask for, they supported me when i decided that i wanted to dance, they cried with me when i got dropped on my head by a bad partner (grrrr) and they have never said anything but how proud they are of me that i had a dream and followed through. my mother is one of six kids, and my aunt used to dance, not professionaly, but for fun, so they have all ben supportive. the problem has been from my father's side of the family. they dont understand ballet, and my uncle asked me at christmas if my proballet performances where like the cruise ships!! my two sisters have always been supportive, they get jealous when i get attention, and have complained, now that they are older they are happy for me. just my two cents... :)

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dancindaughters

Well, I guess I'm lucky, because my parents have been very supportive of my dds! I know they don't really get the technical details, and I think my mom mainly enjoys ballet for the costumes and sets, but at least they want to come to the shows! Last year my dad said he almost cried during my older dd's performance because she just seemed so happy and in her element on stage. They have also given financial support. :)

 

I think there are going to be people who dislike or misunderstand any art or sports activity. I personally don't see the appeal of boxing, bmx racing, car racing, etc, but I wouldn't criticise anyone elses choices to participate in these things.

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Well, there's a streak on the female side of our family combining a passion for the arts and a spirit of adventure. So my dd is the one who WAS/is understood. Plus, although I studied modern dance fairly casually growing up, my mom was a very serious ballet student, as well as dramatic arts, all through high school years, 'til she veeried (sp?) off towards the acting/directing - but still (having moved to the NYC area) seeing lots and lots and lots of ballet. So she always knows what she is looking at (unlike me), and has been one of my daughter's biggest supporters. She is in her early 80's and because of carrying for my father and not wanting to travel leave him for a few days, had not seen dd perform for the past couple of years. It was a thrill to have her + my sisters and my husband ALL make the trip together to see her Academy's spring show this year.

 

Back to those of you less fortunate though, I think the sad thing, really, is not that they should be interested in ballet per se; if your're not, you are not, but as related human beings, we should all drum up real interest and curiousity in each other - particularly those who we count as our "loved ones."

 

I will always remember one visit when I was in my teens and my grandfather (in his 80's) came to visit from across the country. Everyone was busy during the day so he would take himself for walks in the neighborhood. At dinner time he would tell us the most fascinating things (true) about our neighbors ... things he knew, and we had never heard of because .... he was genuinely interested, and asked. Shouldn't we be at least that curious and interested in our own families. Ah well.

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My daughter has a performance coming up on Father's Day so I guess that I will be the only one going to it since I am her biggest fan. My husband grudgingly goes to one Nutcracker performance a year and my son none. The grandparents are the only extended family who have attended her performances but they are getting up in age and less able to come. It is an issue when she is too busy rehearsing, etc. to attend family functions but we all have to work it around the other cousin's pursuits too. My mother is probably the only one besides myself who really understands and supports my daughter's art. I don't think that my sister has ever understood our commitment to the arts but was a soccer/swim mom to the hilt during the years her children participated. But we're not a very close knit family on either side so it doesn't bother me as much as it does my daughter. I suspect when she grows up and marries that she will be more family oriented than we have ever been. My daughter just spent some time with a cousin last weekend and I think that she really enjoyed touching base with part of the family that she hasn't had the opportunity to know other than Christmas and birthday checks.

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Having just spent the day with my mom, then reading this thread, I was reminded of how blessed we are. My parents have driven 8 hours each way to see all of dd and even a few of ds performances. They know to schedule the weekend before Thanks. for Nut. They usually have to make the drive up one day and back the next, but they never complain. We even joke to other dancers with no extended family that we will rent ours out. We have both sets of grands for everything.

 

My dad just told me that he got my mom a plane ticket as a surprise to NYC. She will get to spend the weekend with dd and me before her SI! Yeah! someone to help me schlep all those bags!!

 

There is a family joke that after the turkey, we all (aunts/uncles/cousins) have the "opportunity" to watch dd and now ds in that year's Nut. My uncle has joked that in a few more years, he will take all the tapes and splice a version of dd dancing every part! The men have gotten really good at walking in for her parts and then going back to the football games.

 

I greatly appreciate the reminder to not take for granted the supportive atmosphere we enjoy. :lol:

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mini cooper

dmcclure,

you are indeed blessed! What a sweet dad!

 

I was among the youngest in a large, spread out family. So, my mom is quite old. (Dad just passed away a couple of weeks ago). My husband is 5 years older than me, and his folks are old, too. So, no one criticizes this ballet thing. They are really as supportive as they can be at their ages. My family are a bit far, but my little sister comes for as many performances as she can - she came for Nut, and Swan Lake this spring. Many times we have put her to work in our Nut market, and most recently in folding and stapling programs! Others in my family are supportive in their encouragement of my dd, even though they don't really understand this passion.

 

My in-laws come to most performances. We live in the same town, but dance nearly an hour away. Many times we are not available to drive them because of the normal pre-performance things we have to do. But in most cases we can get someone to drive them to the performances. They had 3 boys. Ballet is hardly in their vocabulary, but they do indulge their dancing granddaughter. They have always supported the arts, and this just expands their horizons a bit!

 

For the rest of you who have posted, I am sorry you don't have all the support your dk's certainly deserve. Unfortunately, they are probably used to not having much support from their friends at school . This lack of support from extended family must seem an extension of that. I wish you luck in the education process. You will probably end up with a few converts in the bunch!

 

mc

:lol:

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