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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Oprah's show on sports parents


Guest fille'smom

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Guest fille'smom

Anyone catch the show today? Could very well have been about Ballet Parents. That woman who had the cheering daughter who "knew" what she wanted to do at age 4 (or even at her current age of 9) was a NUT! I thought that the psychologist was right on in her read on the parents. Unfortunately I don't think that the parents were willing to listen to her. It sure would be interesting to see how many of these kids are doing at the age of 16 or 17. I'd lay bets on many of them being burned out as I have seen many a gifted dancer become.

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chauffeur mentioned this show in her post on your other recent thread and suggested we all watch it and become "appalled".

 

I didn't realize it was Oprah's show - all I know is that Bravo's been advertising it nonstop around these parts. It's on at 10pm tonight. We may just have to tape it here so that as a family we can be appalled together. :thumbsup:

 

Thankfully, most ballet schools worth their salt would probably shoot the parents of any of their students that behaved the way it appears in previews that these parents do. :mondieu: Believe it or not I know of schools that have to bite their tongues, and lock away their firearms, in dealing with some rabid parents.

 

Fortunately, we all know that these shows exhibit the extremes - that's showbiz, right? Though I know don't doubt for a minute that families like this exist - which is very sad for the kids.

 

Sometime in the last several years there was an example of this kind of vicarious living gone mad that happened in the NY area, I believe...though I can't swear to where it happened. You may have read about it: the father of one young hockey player got so mad at the father of another young hockey player that he ended up hitting him so hard that he killed him. It was absolutely horrible and tragic.

 

If anything good comes from watching these programs maybe it's that we all can feel superior to these parents :rolleyes: and just maybe if we recognize any little teeny, tiny bit of behavior we can go dunk our heads in ice water a few times to get back on the track of being good parents.

Edited by BW
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I saw bits of the Oprah show - I especially liked the new commercial she showed that will be airing airing in Canada (sponsored by the hockey league). For those who missed it - it was a role reversal - and portrayed a realistic sense of the type of pressure some parents can place on children. The scene was on a golf course and the "dad" was on the green trying to concentrate on the perfect putt while 3 of his gentelmen friends and his young son looked on. The son started with small words of encouragement "Come on, Dad, don't slouch...." and the words of encouragement escalated to phrases like " don't blow it" and soon after the "dad" misses the put completely, the son makes some statement like, " that was terrible". The entire time, the face on the "dad" demonstrated the effects of the pressure, and the enjoyment and fun that quickly was replaced by worry, frustration and disappointment, as he worked to perform in order to please his son. There was another scene similar to this that followed, and at the end it showed a tag line that said something like "Relax. It's only a game."

 

Did anyone else see this commercial and love it?

 

My exact description of the wording included in the commercial may be off a bit, but hopefully the main idea remains intact. I think the commercial will hit home for many of these parents. I hope to watch the Bravo show tonight.

 

Lily

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I especially liked the new commercial she showed that will be airing airing in Canada (sponsored by the hockey league).

Lily

There's a similar commercial which takes place in the family car that's been airing here in Canada for awhile now. A police officer pulls over a father while the young son yells at his dad from the back seat to "not hold back" and "let him have it".

 

The Canadian Hockey Association has produced a series of these role reversals under their "Relax, It's Just A Game" campaign.

 

One shows a girl in the store with her mother. Another shopper bumps into the mother's cart and the child screams at her mother to "punch her lights out."

 

They're very effective. I just hope the parents who should take notice do.

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dancindaughters

I saw the programme. The cheerleading mom was very scary, but I have to admit, some of the clips of her had some similarities to my own life, ie: the stress of rushing from one activity to the other, trying to keep one eye on the road whilst yelling at dd to change clothes/eat/do homework. Too much stress on the parents, let alone on a little child. The little girl looked so sad when her mom was yelling at her to clean up her dance. I think alot of the problems in that scenario came from the fact that mom was also her dance teacher. Kids need someone to love them and tell them they're wonderful regardless of how they perform.

 

Edited to add: I took away from the show a realization that my relationship to my dds should not be defined soley by dance. I would never want them to feel that they should dance to gain my approval, or as a way to spend time with me. Also, surrounding kids with ballet (or football!) clothing and toys from the time they are infants is a form of pressure. I resolve to spend time with my girls on hobbies totally unrelated to dance! :blushing:

 

As well, the skating mum was a reminder to be careful what you wish for your child; it may come back to bite you in the pocketbook$!

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I just finished watching the show on Bravo. My husband and daughter were laughing at the skate mom. That was me. I am embarrassed to admit it. It was scary. I was so bad. No wonder my daughter quit skating. :wacko::blushing:

As a ballet mom, I am nothing like that. I try and be supportive but do not push and probably swing at the whole other end of the spectrum. I keep asking dd is she really wants to do this, etc. Ballet, while being competitive, is nothing like skating. I am glad for that. (and so is my family) Watching that show brought back some terrible memories. I am glad dd is happy and content in her ballet and will support her, from the sidelines, for as long as she wants to do this. The one thing I did learn when she quit skating, is life does go on, and the world will not end if your dk decides to quit. This has to be their dream, not yours, and not something that they have been "trained" to believe is there dream since they could walk.

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While I don't get the Bravo channel and wish I did, Oprah came on this morning and it happened to be the episode in this discussion.

 

The most appauling thing to me was the football dad and the cheer mom. Are they crazy to demand so much from children not yet 10 years old? Everyone needs at least one day off and this poor football kid was working out 7 days a week! The cheer kid was missing school regularly for activities. She was doing a 3 hour :blushing: hip hop class BEFORE a cheer competition :wacko:.

 

While I understand that sometimes our schedules are tight between public school and a dance class.....I would NEVER force my daughter to change clothing in the car with her older brother sitting right next to her. I do hope it was just a matter of already having the basic leotard and tights on and simply slipping on the rest of the costume over it. :blushing: This poor girl just had a plate that was similar to a Dairy Queen cone under the ice cream dispenser that refused to shut off. Can we say burn out?

 

Very sad that these parents just don't have a clue. Even the skate mom who pushed her daughter to skate, has only admitted how obsessed the entire endeavor to live through her daughter was.......all because it has eaten a hole in their pocketbook. That's the only reason she wants her to stop.

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What about the eventing daughter? This mom is burning candles at both ends- and the poor thing might not have enough $$ for all the competitions (that involves shlepping a horse, not just getting onself there), new boots, new tack...and a $40,000 horse! Yikes!

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NutsaboutBallet

Ballet parents can and are as scarey as sport parents. I try to steer my dancer and myself as far away from these people as possible!

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Victoria Leigh

It was a ballet mom from hell that made me first aware, many, many years ago, of the dangers of a child prodigy. The child was definitely amazing, technically, however the schedule this mom kept her on was truly scary. I think she was about 11 or 12 when she was starring at Radio City, dancing on pointe 5 or 6 shows a day and taking class in between. She was tiny, but strong, even though she looked starved. There were rumors about that too. Not a happy child. She took class with us sometimes. A born turner, she could rip off triple fouettés and multiple à la seconde turns. But, I felt like she was a windup toy. This was not a young artist, it was a freak of nature.

 

Interestingly enough, and unlike other child prodigies who did burn out, this one made it. She finally managed to grow up and get away from the mom, and worked with a director who took her and developed a real dancer. So, she did it in spite of the mom, not because of her, and I think that this was really unusual.

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Ya know what I kept thinking while watching that show. Well, first let me say, they were scary parents... especially the chearleading and skating mom. The poor little football boy will never make it without injury and burn out, but I did get the sense that the man adored his boy. I felt a little less critical of the basketball mom, as it seems she has a difficult path to navigate and was doing the best she could. I don't think she spoke to her own daughter differently that she did the other girls she coached, right or wrong.

 

HOWEVER.... I kept thinking if any of those kids made it big, the criticism of the parents would subside. (Not that you can make it big in chearleading.) Think Tiger Woods, Serena and Venus Williams... even that girl who won at YAPG and has danced the role of Clara for the Rockettes or whatever. I heard she flies back and forth from home to NYC for training.

 

If you have ever heard interviews with the fallen gymnasts of Bela Karoli, the girls who almost made it (meaning anyone who did not win gold in the Olympics), they talk about being so disconnected in their adult years - regretful and very, very sad. I think kids who train so exclusively lose the opportunity to develop into being a whole person.

 

The truth is that there are very few kids who would withstand the kind of pressure that comes with this type of early training and obsessive parents. Most don't make and, of the few who make it there, some cannot even enjoy the success enough to sustain it... (think Tara Lipinski, Jennifer Capriati).

 

But even if a kid makes it... I wonder to what end. I loved that Oprah said, "God may have a different plan for your child than you." And the dad anwsered, "Yes, something more important than football."

 

In another thread there was discussion regarding whether a child is capable of deciding their life's work at young age. Certainly that happens. But more often, it's a passing fad or childish dream. If a parent would hold these dreams loosely, while always encouraging the child to believe in themselves, they will fullfill the dream... or they won't. But if they believe in their "whole selves", I think either outcome would turn out okay!

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2thepointe

After watching the show on Bravo last night, and having watched the previous show about stage parents, last night's show seemed tame! I've been exposed to many parents in the dance world and sports world who are a lot worse than the parents on last night's show. I guess it depends on where you live, but I find that the NY metropolitan area and the Texas area have more than their share of "over-the-top" parents.

 

:blushing:

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Saw the Bravo show last night. Wow. I wonder if there will be any happy endings.

 

My husband and I were talking afterward about something that I think I posted once here -- that, by and large, the parents of children who have what it takes to "make it" in something, be it sports or the arts, and then do make it tend to be pretty laid-back and hands-off. They seek out good teaching. They keep the kids clothed, fed and up to date on homework. They go to their kids' shows or competitions and enjoy themselves. They have a good sense of humor. They have long-term perspective and patience. They also tend to have passions or avocations of their own, beside their jobs. These are the parents who are my heroes!

 

but Ms. Leigh's story about that talented young dancer also rings true. Those who survive an overbearing parent often do so only by breaking ties with that parent. There's a story in our local paper today about pro golfer Sean O'Hair, now estranged from his father, who apparently was your garden-variety bad golf dad.

Cautionary tales all the way around.

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I almost never watch Oprah, but I happened to have it on yesterday, and ended up watching it with my dd, who found the parents (especially the cheerleading mom) quite frightening. Although we felt a little sad for everyone (I wasn't convinced that these were, in fact, the children's dreams), we talked about what we both thought a parent's role should be in a child's pursuit of his/her dream(s).

 

Chauffeur, you have definitely defined what I would also hope to achieve as a truly supportive parent. I think I may print it and put it on the fridge to remind myself...Thanks.

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