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Pressure from Non-Dancing Friends


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How do people deal w/the general "don't get it" comments from non-dancing peers? Dd pulled out her school planner this afternoon, and "QUIT DANCE" was written across the page. When I probed her, she said that it was a friend's written comment. Other friends also complain that she has "no time" for them -- she's always at the studio (true enough). I know -- true friends will stick w/her, and she's got the ballet buddies...but I've also got a kid somewhat in flux. Right now, she's overwhelmed w/schoolwork (goes to a traditional, high-standards high school), she's coming back to her regular routine after really loving being a major player in the high school musical production, and is looking (as are most in her level) at another spot in the corps of the spring production...in the same costume as last year. So the "just quit!" messages seem to be really bothering her right now. Ideas to help a kid through the the "doldrums" of early, early spring....and not enough time to to all that she wants to do?

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First, make no decisions of quitting anything this time of year. Ponder your choices yes, but make no decisions. Decisions made this time of year rarely are the ones you would make 2 months from now.


Also, she needs to ask herself, what activities are these other friends involved in? If she suddenly quit dance, would there really be all this free time to spend with them (sans weekends which you're better off having her at dance for most weekend activities.....)? In other words, if her friends are at Soccer on Monday....well, if she doesn't play soccer she won't be with them. What about Tuesday, do they take piano and she doesn't. How about Wednesday....you get my drift The reality is that most times when the kids say that, they are talking about hanging out over the weekend or holidays when dancers may still be dancing. Once the dancer looks at the reality of during the week time they really get to spend with the friends and narrow it down to weekends, they can then be creative about time with friends. And asking a friend to quit their activity to hang out at dance with her never hurts either. They generally say...no, I want you to quit which sums the issue up real quickly for the dancer. "So you want me to quit but you're not willing to? That doesn't work for me."


On the flip side, if there are concessions you can make for her to spend more time with her friends at home do so if she wants. She needs to figure out if this is something she does for fun or if she has the passion to do it even though friends encourage otherwise. Then if she really wants to do it, she'll surround herself with non-dancing friends who do "get it". Or that are just as involved in their own pursuits that they cherish the time they spend with their equally as busy friend. But you're right, good friends will stick with her dance or not. They'll find ways.


I will say, DD's home friends never pushed her to stop, but because we danced an hour away they weren't able to support much either. One of the brightest spots in her Senior year was that most of her long time friends AND their parents came to see her last Nutcracker and Spring Show. It is hilarious to hear them introduce her to their new college friends as "this is my friend, she's a Ballet dancer...isn't that cool!"

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...but I've also got a kid somewhat in flux.


Which leads me to wonder, do you believe a friend wrote it or do you think it might have been your kiddo? Truly, just wondering.


I agree with Momof3 that this is a tough time of year and decisions ought not to be made now. But ... what's your gut instinct? Do you think that ultimately she wants to cut back or quit, or do you think this is temporary doldrums? My suggestion would be the same either way: give her a shoulder to lean on, reflect her thoughts back at her, and provide loving space for her to work this through -- one way or the other.


It seems to me that the commitment to dance takes on a new shape when kids graduate from high school. Some do keep up the intensity, most notably those who are seriously training for a career. But I think a number of us have been surprised to find our kids choosing NOT to major in dance, or (in our case) picking a school that didn't even have a ballet program. Where I'm heading with this is that maybe your kiddo is looking ahead to that juncture, and beginning to prepare to back off?

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MSD - I have dealt with some of the same general issues in the last year or so, but for DDs it has been more with boyfriends. You know where DD dances since we are in the same proximity, so girl friends have not been such an issue. But DDs boyfriends seem to have a really hard time understanding that she has plans for the future which has a direct impact on her present and how much time she can spend with them. And DD has had a hard time understanding that even in a PA school most of the kids are not intending on going on - the dancers of late seem to be the exception- to careers or college in the arts.


I have no solutions to your question, but what I think I have come to realize (as we discussed issues of kids chiding her for not attending Prom) is that DD needed help figuring out what answers she could give to their comments. I think (of course it is impossible to know what a 16 year old really thinks) based on conversations that we have had that she has a clear idea of where she sees herself in 5, then 10, and then 15 years years. What she doesn't realize that this is not the "typical" teenage point of view. So we brainstormed responses that she good give. It helps that her 'no prom' right now is because she is doing q theatre show, on contract and with pay, so Prom really wasn't a thought. We came p with variety of responses depending on who was asking/commenting.

I am almost positive that DD never said any of the different comments we generated (what the heck, Prom is over why make fun of the kid not going) but she remembered and we discussed why she was willing to give up every weekend for the 5 weeks of the run of the show, and what she was gaining from it.


I understand completely what your worries are and I understand Treefrog's comments, clearly all must be weighted against each other. But after just going through the pre-prom and then prom week with DD, maybe your DD just needs some help in thinking about how to respond to her friends, and for herself about why she is following this path.

No solution but I do understand

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We have struggled with similar issues. Our DD is a freshman at a public high school that is athletics oriented and there is relatively little support for the arts. The only school friend she had that understands her dance commitment left this year to attend a different high school. She has made some new friends this year but they have no interest in dance. Her school friends regulary schedule activities and get togethers with little regard to my daughter's dance schedule. This all has been compounded by her dislocating her knee and having to take some time off plus a lot of homework. Up until this year she was an honor student but has had some difficulty adjusting to high school. There are times when she does feel isolated.

How do we cope? It has been difficult. There are times when she doesn't want to go to dance. We try and understand and coach her. There have been times when we have lost our patience with her. Thank goodness, she has some dance friends. Also, a big plus for us is she has an understanding and supportive dance teacher (some of her high school teachers are exactly the opposite). In addition, she is excited about her forthcoming Summer Intensive. I wish I had more answers for you but I can only offer empathy.

I do agree that this is not a good time of the year to make any decision about quitting. I hope she will hang in there.

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This is not just a DK issue- it happens to any teenager who particpates in an activity that is not school centered and the majority of freshman have a hard time juggling over committment and school with all the changes that high school brings. While you are talking to and listening to your DD, you might want to wind in the theme that many of her classmates probably feel the same. All the above responses are good but you also need to consider that maybe DD has decided that dance is not her path and that maybe the right choice for her.



A good friend of my DD went thru this exact thing last year and her parents came to the realization that they wanted her to dance more than she did. They allowed her to cut back, take up other interestes and she is a happy, adjusted teenager who still dances and loves it but has other focuses as well.


It is almost the end of the school year- have her finish her committments both in dance and at school and use the summer to take a step back and let her think about things.

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This is such a common problem for the teen years and this time of year. My DD too got a lot of "quit dance" and "get a life" comments writton on planners and notebook pages! Although other posters are right, kids in other sports or activities get some of the same negative feedback from peers - but few activities are as totally time consuming without a break as dance.


My DD did a very active, academic high school and full time dance through those years. We really found we had to be super proactive to help foster and support her friendships with her non-dancing peers. These kids are teenagers, which by definition means self-involved, and so you cannot leave it up to them or to her to ensure continuing friendship and support. We made sure to take a different friend, once a month or so, to dance or rehearsals. We live an hour from ballet, so the drive gave them a lot of "hanging out" time, we fed them afterwards, and they got to meet everyone at dance, see what she did with her time, watch class and even do homework if they got bored watching. For every show she was in, we got tickets for at least 15 friends/parents of friends, often more, so that they had the opportunity to come and see her dance and to enjoy it. We always gave her academic teachers free tickets, so they could get excited about ballet too. For friends with artistic/makeup/hair skills, we encouraged them to volunteer backstage at shows and do little kid hair, put on the girls' false eyelashes, paint props, etc. so they could be part of her world. We encouraged the academic school to have her demonstrate dance at exhibitions at the school, for classes studying dance/theater/art/music, for the academic team who had to learn dance terms for competition, and for any class interested in culture. In that way, we roped the non-dance girls (and boys) into understanding how cool ballet is and how much she knew about it.


Also, attendance at ballet IS important, but particularly in spring, we would encourage/force her to occasionally put her non-ballet friends first, skip dance, and plan a movie night, a hang out at the mall night, etc. with her circle. As long as she could do stuff with them regularly, they felt less "out of the loop", as did she. They also felt really appreciated when she "played hooky" to be with them.


We took a more active role in her social life than parents of kids with lots of free time - by saying, when she had a day off dance - "call some buddies to come over, I'll go get them", or "call your friends to go out to eat, I'll pick them up" or "that movie you want to see opens today, get a buddy to meet you there". We as a family actively supported her non-dance social life and that made it easier for her and for her friends.


Also, and just as importantly, we made it easy for her to support them in their activities - going to their art shows and purchasing pieces, going to the school play, going to the academic or athletic competition, or for the kids who worked somewhere, going to their place of business and finding a reason to praise them to their manager. It's amazing what the reciprocity does! We absolutely supported her (driving, paying, etc.) in seeing what they did with their lives, and encouraged (forced?) her to skip dance on occasion to do so.


She graduated from high school last year and looks back with delight on the wonderful non-ballet friends she has and how close she still is to them. Yes, it takes some juggling of schedules and a lot of parental effort, but it definitely is worth it to see your kid happy at school AND at dance.

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This is a big problem for teens! My daughter attended public high school for her freshmen and senior years (ballet residency in between) and her senior year was dancing professionally while finishing high school, so we have experienced life on both sides of the fence.


It is really hard to find time to do all the social things that your friends are involved in. Girls must choose whether they want to be on the school dance/pom squad or do ballet, as they usually conflict both in rehearsals and in the time of the C squad and JV games, in particular. They find that they cannot participate in a school sport or participate in any activities/clubs that meet after school. This will severely limit their interaction with their friends and the dramas that unfold as a result of their participation in these other activities. Going to the movies on Friday night with friends is often a problem, as ballet is not over before the group wants to meet. Saturday shopping at the mall will conflict with rehearsals. Sometimes attendance at football and basketball games is also affected. Saturday youth group activities rarely jive with a full day of Saturday ballet classes/rehearsals either. Youth group trips over a weekend almost always conflict with multiple dance commitments. Such mundane, but fun events, like manicures and hair appts. for the prom conflict with Saturday dance rehearsals.


Like Dance1, we worked hard to make the most of every minute of free time that my daughter had to spend with her non-dancing friends. We attended every activity of theirs that we could, including sports and theater and music concerts, etc. Still, the natural progression of things is that many of her non-dancing friends will eventually start leaving her out of social gatherings. Not because she is not liked, but because she can never come. The true friends will stick around and they will be there long after HS is over (my daughter is fortunate to have a few of these wonderful friends), but there will also be many times when she will feel alienated from the normal ebb and flow of HS life, because she was not present when whatever everyone is talking about at lunch actually happened. :wink: Some friends who are recreational or competitive dancers may pressure your daughter to join them at their studio, where she could be 'the star' and the schedule is set up to work around normal HS social life and activities. Many who are on the school dance team or pom squad or are active in competitive dance will have no idea why your daughter has such a time conflict, as they consider themselves to be dancing at an elite level, winning trophies, having fun and getting high visibility in the HS social structure and they are still able to participate more fully in activities with their friends.


This is when your dancer will have to dig deep and decide where ballet fits into her priorities. It is not going to be 'worth it' for most teens to train at a pre-pro level. And that is really OK. While there are non-traditional activities like competitive ice skating or elite gymnastics that may require a similar time sacrifice, her commitment will need to be higher than her friends who are participating in school sports and activities, even those who are in many activities/sports. Let her decide what her level of commitment is to ballet. She will wrestle with this for awhile and have to make some tough choices and go through some angst before she will decide how she wants to align her priorities. Ballet is a very tough road and it needs to be chosen by the teen, with a clear understanding that there will be some difficult trade offs.


The flip side of this occurs at a residency where there are no outside activities/friends vying for your time. This relieves lots of stress in this area, but it also means that dancers lose touch with those outside the dance world who keep them tapped into the 'average' teen existence. This makes it much harder to decide to leave ballet if injury occurs or the dancer is not asked back to their residency or they determine that they do not have the interest/talent/facility to make it professionally. So, there are pros and cons to both. Suffice to say, as has been said many times before, ballet is not for the faint of heart (and that includes the moms!) :(

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I will only add this: I treasure my daughter's dance friends and her non-dance friends. With all the "drama" associated with being a sixteen year old girl, isn't it nice that our DDs have two groups of friends? When the studio is too stressful, they can go off to movies with their HS friends. And vice versa. Sure they can't do everything, but neither can you or I. We all always have to make choices and this is a great way to build our DKs social skills.

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You think it's tough for a DD--try having a teenage DS!! Giving up dance (or even cutting back) is not an issue for him. He won't even consider it. Nor--needless to say--is finding girlfriends! :yes: But his only friends at school are girls and that's hard. The boys DEFINITELY don't understand the commitment to dance (although they are jealous of all the female attention he gets). Fortunately for him, there is a strong boys program at his school, so he has a contingent of male dancer friends (of various ages), but public school is still tough. I have completely left the decisions regarding dance/school balance up to him, but it's hard as a parent to see him so isolated. On the one hand, I wonder if he will look back and regret all he has given up. On the other, most people I know have very mixed feelings about the social aspects of their high school years anyway.

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This dilema is not limited to teens! My dd is beginning to experience conflict between much desired social events and ballet. Thus far, she has chosen ballet every time but it will be interesting to see how frustrations and disappointments impact her committment over time. I suppose most children may be tempted to throw in the towel from time to time (especially when absolutely EVERYONE but them will be off somewhere together) but the important thing will be to see whether these feelings build up over time. It is interesting to hear the experiences of those with teens to get an idea of the spectrum of normal yet varied responses kids have to these pressures.

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All our children I believe come across this problem, it started for mine in grade school and has re appeared from time to time. I know of at least two full school years where she was friendless and totally alone and those years were terrible for her. She dealt with loneliness as well as mean girls, ballet was her emotional home and her friendships came from there alone. Grade school in particular was a cruel time.


Since High School although not perfect, life really has improved. The High School has an IB program attached and many a student is too busy for social life and friends because of the demands of school alone. I have found that the comments ebb and flow and are not a constant. Luckily she has a school friend who is also a dancer, not as serious as she is but in her level of ballet and this alone has been a blessing. It doesn't stop the comments but it is a support system that is very close at hand.


School is taken very seriously as well as ballet and IB is being attempted which is hard to comprehend when I looking at all the demands on her time. Somehow she's managed to run for school office as well as year book and well, you get it, all the stuff that takes extra time. At this school being too busy is understood but the friends with time on their hands still complain. Ultimately, over time the circle of friends has evolved. My DD now surrounds herself with like minded individuals, certainly not all dancers but kids who really work hard and take on too many projects and somehow manage to ace them all. In truth it's taken years and this kid has had some very lonely times. She's never wanted to quit ballet and she's never wanted to cut back and be the 'popular' girl. When focused they will not be detracted by the mean things that happen with their friends, ultimately the friends will come into line and/or they will be changed for true friends. I'm amazed at all my young one is achieving. Ballet kids are anything but lazy! They are also very strong, they have to be they go by a different drummer!

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My dd has always made it obvious that giving up is not an option and she has lost several friends over it. She is in a school musical and has grown very close to a group of dancers and very serious musicians (one plays 8 instruments!) She was a bit friendly with them before but this time I think it will stick. They go out as a group when they can and if they can't , everybody understands. The musical is the Mikado and for some unearthly reason, it was decided to have a ballet in it :jump: None of my daughter's friends (or dd) made it as they are all disparate heights and the girl choreographing was told to pick girls all one height. The girl is complaining to my daughter that they can't dance or remember steps. They got their costumes today. How does anyone do ballet in a heavy silk Japanese costume with a heavier sash on it? :) She smiled like a sphinx and said she was going to video it on her phone! :)

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I find that my DD has become very independent minded. This year (sophmore) has been a very tough one, school work wise. Many of her classmates are finding this so. Some of her friends are into different school athletics, and when their sport is in season, they find it hard as DD does to find time to socialize.


The difference is, they can always rely on Friday and Saturday nites. But for DD, many of those have been preempted by company performances this year. Not once have I heard her bemoan missing an event; her heart is in the performance.


She has lamented about feeling that she is growing away from a couple of friends. One, because of the time issues, and another, because that girl herself is growing and changing. So she is learning that relationships do change, simply because people can change!


she also is becoming more aware of her independent nature. She is not a follower by any means; its more important for her to follow her own path in life. She is grappling the realization that her path right now may be separating her from many of her classmates. She has observed that for right now, pursuing her goals is more important than popularity. While she wants to have friends, she'd rather have a few good ones who understand her, than many who "just don't get it".


Fortunately she does have one BFF who respects what DD does completely. She comes to many of the perfromances, and doesn't mind if DD needs to come late to a football game or a sleepover or whatever. DD encourages this girl in her endeavors, which are also a little different from their other classmates... and this is a girl who tends to organize get togethers and bring people together, so DD gets to socialize with that "gang".... with that added benefit of knowing BFF will not put up with any criticism of the dance world!

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Karen, your DD is very fortunate. Mine lost a couple this year who she was convinced were bosom pals ( I knew otherwise and never liked either of them). They'd got fed up because my DD wouldn't jump at any little hairbrained scheme they'd concocoted. She came home from rehearsal yesterday sighing, " I wish I could do that forever, and not school". She's got what you would call junior SATS, a ballet exam, she's singing in Paris and her drama LAMDA silver medal between now and July 2nd!

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