Let kids be kids

Whenever I watch shows like Dance Moms or Toddlers and Tiaras, a part of me wants to send my mom a complimentary muffin basket thanking her for never being a stage mom.

Dance Moms is a reality show on Lifetime. At first glance, you’d think the show is about the young girls who dance, but it’s essentially more about the mothers who bicker back and forth, backstabbing each other to get their daughters to the top. I’ve never actually stomached an entire episode.

In one of the episodes, 13-year-old dancer Brooke didn’t want to go to dance; she wanted to go to the mall and hang out with her friends. They showed an interview with Brooke who said, in regards to her mother, “She doesn’t want me to screw up, quit dance, and be a cheerleader like she did.”

And then it switches to her mother who says, “I don’t want her to make the same mistakes I made.”

I honestly felt like I was watching Intervention, another reality show on which a parent expresses concern for their kid taking a dark path by getting involved with drugs, and in this case, the drug apparently is being a cheerleader.

The girl just wanted to go buy some Lip Smacker and eat some frozen yogurt, not to shoot up heroin in an alleyway. I believe the point where the mom said, “Do you think they became Junior Miss Dance by going to the mall?” is when I turned it off.

If dance is a young girl’s passion, then let her pursue it. It’s wonderful to have something you’re so passionate about. But at the age of eight, or even four, can you really tell me that a girl wants to dance more than anything in the world?

To these moms: Your child is at an age right now where they’re developing and growing up. They are going to live their life, make mistakes, make choices and over time decide who they want to become. You have to let them decide as they get older. You can’t make their choices for them or live vicariously through them.

I can understand wanting the best for your child, but pushing them to be something they don’t want, thus making them grow up to be bitter and resentful, is defeating the whole “best for your child” purpose anyway.

The way the mothers interact with one another is probably even worse than the stage mom routines. In an age when bullying is at an all-time high, why are you showing your daughters that it’s okay to pick each other apart and be so nasty and catty to one another? The worst part is, on shows like this, the women play this whole act up so the show continues to be aired and they can remain in the reality spotlight. It’s sad that you’re willing to let your daughters see you act this way, just to keep your 15 minutes of fame alive.

On Toddlers and Tiaras, one of the mothers dressed her four year-old in a Dolly Parton costume, which included fake breasts and butt pads, for a pageant. Another parent dressed her daughter up as Julia Roberts from Pretty Woman, with the knee-high boots and cutout sides of a white tank top. When I played dress up at four, I wanted to be Snow White, not a prostitute.

Another thing that is sad is the makeup on these poor girls. Not only do the girls in these shows cake on makeup on for pageant competitions, they have it on in their everyday lives, making them look like 25 year-olds in six year-old bodies.

Stop robbing your girls of a time where they shouldn’t be worrying about dieting, carbs, makeup, hair extensions, eyelash extensions and waxing.

Bottom line — if the girls want to compete, that’s fine. But when you make them devote every waking moment of their lives to achieving a dream that’s not even their dream, but yours, that’s a problem.

I wish I could say this type of stuff will go away within our society, but it only seems to get worse. Maybe I should up my mom’s complimentary muffin basket to include a fruit plate and a dozen roses.

Email: [email protected]