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5uptown

Parenting Young men with Recent news from NYCB

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5uptown

How are you all talking to your sons (if you are) about the recent and shocking allegations against male dancers at New York City Ballet? I am talking to my son-- who will surely hear about it elsewhere too, so I want to make sure that I am part of this discussion-- but I am curious how this conversation is happening for other people. Seems like a lot of layers here-- at the most basic, of course, about consent and respect for your fellow dancers. But what to do if you are a bystander... and what about in a hierarchical ballet school/company culture where those low on the totem pole aren't supposed to make a fuss. And of course its upsetting to have people he's admired and looked to as role models revealed in this light! Particularly when there are so few boys and men in the field already. 

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BournonvilleMom

I’ve had a few long discussions with my son about all of the important things we are learning from the me too movement.  It’s not the easiest subject, but I know I am learning right along with him.  I know that I will need to have many, many more.  It’s not that I don’t think I have done enough, but as he continues to get older I know that these discussions will continue evolve as he continues to grasp the main concepts— basically consent, respect for women (ALL women), how to stand up to other men when you see them do something you know is wrong and finally how to be a safe place for others when they are brave enough to stand up and tell you that they have been a victim.

Its an important dialogue to have right now and it’s not just ballet.  I don’t think there is any industry that has not been affected.

 

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mln

I was really happy to hear that the male mentor at Ballet West is having a lot of serious conversations with the trainee guys he has this year.  And not just in the last day.  I am not privy to the content, but I think this is extremely positive.

But I admit I am on edge.  And there are a lot of conversations I want to have, but the distance makes it hard.

 

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BournonvilleMom

My son is 15 and still at home.  Smartphones in general, with email, text, social media and all of the many apps, can really blur the lines for kids on what they may see as common or acceptable behavior.  

When there are so many small infractions, witnessed every day, with all the posts on social media, the rampant bullying, group chats, and “trying to fit in”— how can we as parents make things more black and white for them?  

I have always come back to one simple question that has definitely helped, at least with my son and daughter. That question is simply, “Would Grandma approve of this?”  

If the short answer is a no, I tell them to steer clear of the situation or if possible try to help make things okay. 

I know it may sound silly or even over-simplified, but it really helps end a lot of discussions in our home.

Grandma usually knows what is best.

Edited by BournonvilleMom

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Thyme

19yo DS is living away and in a pre-professional program. Perhaps I am kidding myself here but I am glad he is not at a strict classical ballet school. He is studying contemporary and in my opinion, this is a different culture. There are plenty of arguments on points of principle. Discussions on race, gender, age... you name it all go on in class time. In fact these discussions can be hard and threatening. There are tears and the teachers are put through their paces trying to make sense of things with the students. I am hoping this level of openness fights the rigid social rules that allow people to be untouchable. Sigh. Maybe I will be proved wrong but I cling to this right now. 

In regards to discussion on sex, well we have been doing that for years. I think that if you have a teenager and you haven't been discussing issues of consent and respect before now- the horse may have bolted. Not trying to be flippant here but these are values that need to be hard wired in my view.

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Momof3darlings

Just popping in to say thank you for starting and discussing this important issue among yourselves as Parents of Dancing Boys/Young Men.  Also, if you are the parent of a dancing young man, please make sure your profile here is correct.  It helps us Moderate that this is a thread for only Parents of Dancing Boys/Young Men easier.  

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balletteacherandmom

Respect toward women is a topic of conversation, and put into practice every day, in my family. DS16 had his first girlfriend 2 years ago, at which time I had an extensive conversation about all the lines he must be very careful not to cross with regard to women/girls especially with smartphones/social media, etc.  It is was/is one of my greatest fears that ds get himself into a situation either by accident, ignorance, recklessness or by blurring the lines, that could be potentially dangerous for him and any female he might be in contact with.  When the allegations against Peter Martins came out last year, we discussed everything again, and with the recent NYCB news I took the time to remind him yet again how important it is to be very conscious of all contact he has with girls/women. We take the code of conduct very very seriously at his pre-pro, always have, and will continue to do so even more now.  It is very sad that role models that he has looked up to throughout his training have become cautionary examples of the terrible consequences when men behave in such a terrible way toward women. I feel confident that my ds understands very well how to behave toward girls/women, but again, it is disheartening that we live in a world where such abhorrent behavior exists.

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mln

I have offered my son numerous warnings recently about social media, and I hope I have also conveyed to him the importance of respecting all of his partners--in dance and in life.  I have tried to be an example, too, as a feminist and as a woman who chose a career, that women can be achievers in the arts, business, and wherever their talents lead them.

There is one thing I worry about, however.

Especially when he was younger (he has been in ballet classes for 15 years!), whenever he ran into the prejudices about boys dancing, I was quick to dismiss those opinions as ignorant and foolish.  Unfortunately, a lot of those prejudices were coming from the girls and their families.  And, yes, I did say, numerous times, just ignore the girls.  Just don't worry about the girls.  They don't really matter.   As he has gotten older, my tune has changed, but I still worry that the early survival strategies we employed were not the best introduction to the feminism that I would like him to embrace now.  Am I the only one concerned about this?  Maybe so.

By the way, he has not experienced the "boys get away with everything" scenario.  I don't think ever.

Just talking to my ds in the last day or two, I think he or all of the male dancers he knows are as horrified as anyone by the accusations.  He does not see the three dancers as representing any general problem among male dancers.  He is concerned that male dancers will now be subject to a lot of scrutiny, and, indeed, his training program is warning the dancers proactively to be particularly careful and respectful in their interactions, communications, and social media posts, private and public.

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5uptown

I worry a lot about if I am doing a good enough job raising my son not to be a bystander. He also takes the rules and code of conduct at ballet school very seriously, and has been raised to respect everyone as a person and an individual first and foremost. I don't think he would intentionally engage in any harmful behavior. Might he make some kind of error of judgement? Perhaps. But I also worry about if in his tendency to be careful and rule abiding, he would not know how to respond if he was a bystander to inappropriate behavior. We have discussed it and continue doing so, but he is so aware of hierarchy at dance... I don't know that he would open his mouth if someone he perceived to be a "superior" was doing something even blatantly wrong. He tends to keep his head down and mind his own business. Which is ok at 13, but how many men were doing that with regards to this situation at NYCB? If they had intervened somehow, maybe things wouldn't have gotten so bad. 

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5uptown

One thing I've done and will try to do much more of is help him to think about how he can share uncomfortable/sensitive/potentially damaging information. 

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mln

Such a good point about the importance of knowing when and how to question authority, 5Uptown!

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BournonvilleMom

Yes I agree.  I keep wondering that same thing, that if someone had intervened things might be so different.  All of this makes me think I just need to continue to be there for my son.

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Thyme

this may sound kind of lame but I am making sure he is following the news on these things. He can get so far into his own head when he is dancing that he doesn't look up. I don't want him to appear insensitive to the scene if you know what I mean!

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5uptown

slhogan started a thread here:

https://dancers.invisionzone.com/topic/65516-the-role-of-companies-in-preventing-harassmentassault/


Which makes me wonder as parents, should we be advocating that our son's ballet schools provide training in these issues? I know my son's school has a pretty extensive handbook which does address it to some extent, but I am not sure if they ever explicitly address this with the students on school grounds and time. 

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BoyDanceMom111

My DS is only 8 so we have not discussed this specific situation at all.  Since he also has an older brother (10) and there was a school shooting at a middle school very near to the town I grew up in, we did have a discussion lately around consent and stalking, since this was a boy  in middle school who stalked and eventually tried to kill the girl he liked.  (things like: if you ask a girl out and she says no, do you think of increasingly creative and invasive ways to continue asking her out? Or do you accept that she now knows you are interested and will let you know if her opinion changes?).  This whole situation at NYCB was very eye opening to me.  I guess I am very naive, but I always our boys -- having been the victims of teasing and invasive questions themselves from a very young age -- would not do things like this. I lumped this behavior in with the popular sports players.  We will definitely be talking about this in age appropriate ways as he grows up.

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