How to Be a Gracious Dance Mom
“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”
― Deborah Palumbo
We’ve all seen the television show depicting the dance mom. It is not the most flattering representation of mothers or instructors. When my daughter started dance at age 5 there were particular qualifications important to me. I certainly never wanted to be thought of as anything but a gracious dance mom; or have comparisons made between myself and the cliché of a dance mom.
I am proud to be the mother of a dancer. I wear the “Dance Mom” shirt proudly. I call myself a dance mom. Along the way I try to do it with grace, courtesy, and kind behavior. I do not exhibit the vile behavior seen on television and movies depicting the average dance mom as a crazed, wanna-be, mother out to surpass all other child dancers. Yuck. Who wants to be that person?
To me, gracious means:
- Respectful communication
- Positive, kind comments to all students and parents
- Respecting the instructors and their time
- Respecting my child, the dancer
- Respecting the other children in class
- Respecting the dance school policies
- Encouraging all of the students when appropriate
- Waiting in the “waiting area” until class is done — no parenting from the sidelines!
- Developing and maintaining a positive relationship with the school owner and instructors
- Supporting my child without criticism
- Mentoring other parents; sharing tips and information; kind communication and conversation
I love the acroymn — T.H.I.N.K. (nice, quick video about our words and the acronym THINK). It sums up the gracious behavior and conduct:
Is it T rue?
Is it H elpful?
Is it I nspiring?
Is it N ecessary?
Is it K ind?
“Being nice doesn’t make you stupid. It makes you feel good because you know you are gracious enough to forgive and smart enough to realize how distasteful some people can be.”
― C.S. Lewis
I would like to share a few important thoughts about our kids and dance:
- Set goals and examine your motives. Is dance an afternoon activity, exercise, a social encounter FOR YOUR CHILD? Are you enrolling your child because he or she wants to dance? Or are you enrolling your child because YOU want to dance? If so, you may consider taking an adult dance class instead. Are you hoping your 5 year old will some day become a professional dancer or is it ok if he or she just has a dance experience?
- Select a ballet program for your child AND yourself. Meaning, make sure you can live with the dance school policies. Does your personality compliment the instructors’? What are the requirements for parents? Can you easily communicate with the school’s owner / instructors? What are the requirements for students? Dress attire? Time commitments for recitals and productions? Drive time?
- Let the kid have fun! This is true for any activity in which your children participate. As parents we must remember — WE ARE NOT THE COACHES OR INSTRUCTORS. Seriously, I can’t dance to save my life. Why, oh why, would I try to instruct my child? That would be embarrassing.
- Support the Instructors. Parents set the example for children. Dance class is yet another opportunity to demonstrate civility and grace. Don’t yell at your child during class. Don’t berate the instructor in front of students (on second thought, don’t berate the instructor EVER). Don’t try to teach your child during class. If you want to dance yourself — take a class. Demonstrate respect and courtesy for the instructor’s time and experience. Speak politely and you will be happily surprised when your child mimics you. Always instruct your child to address his or her instructor by the instructor’s chosen name. What I mean is, kids are kids — not adults. They should address their instructor with respect such as, “Miss Jane / Mr. Bob, may I use the bathroom?” It may seem old-fashioned but good manners never hurt anyone!
- Volunteering means not required. Volunteering should be voluntary. Many of the schools I considered for my daughter required X hours of “volunteering” from each parent. Well, that’s not volunteering; that’s working. I don’t mind helping out when I can but I definitely do not appreciate paying for a service and then told I must work in addition to paying my money. Now, I volunteer at my daughter’s recitals every year. She and I LOVE it. I would not do it if it wasn’t a joy for me and the kids. Help out when and where you can if it is important to you.
Just in case our good manners are a tad rusty — here is a link to Miss Manners (oh, I LOVE her!).
And if you need more… Emily Post to the rescue. Specific advice for kids. Oh, I love it!!
For fun a “Rugrats” video called “Miss Manners“. So funny!
Grace is not inherited; it is the expression and demonstration of good manners. Good manners and courtesy are not dead; we have become a lazy society and failed to practice good manners. Children will learn grace, courtesy, and good manners as we adults practice them in our daily lives. Being ladies and gentlemen is not old-fashioned or passé; it is grace and civility.