Public perception of the term “dance mom”

08-02 hard easy

Last week, I spoke about the public’s perception of the terms “dance moms,” which most people connect with the t.v. reality show starring Abby Lee Miller, and “dance mom,” which people still seem to associate with the show and identify stereotypically as an aggressive parent who pushes their child to do more and more dance against their will.

Today, I’d like to talk about some difficult decisions I’ve had to make while writing my debut nonfiction book, “Conflicted with Joy.”

Mixed Feelings

As I’ve been struggling trying to succinctly create an elevator pitch that describes what I’m writing about AND incorporates an air of mystery for the reader to know enough about my book, but not too much, I’ve also had mixed feelings about using the term “dance mom” in my book. On the one hand, I don’t necessarily use that label to describe myself, even though technically, I am the mother of two girls who dance. And technically, I do everything I possibly, humanly can do to facilitate everything my girls want or need in dance.

I never go to people and take the time to describe the many sacrifices I’ve made to take my daughters to dance class, purchase their dance gear, prepare their meals as we rush from activity to activity to get to dance on time, or any of the hundreds of other little things I’ve had to do over the years. Believe me, I’ve tried in the past, but this approach hasn’t worked well in my favor. Every other parent does a million sacrifices for their kids, which makes my sacrifices seem unimportant.

I’m also not the kind of person to force my daughters to do dance drills at home or to watch them like a hawk to see if their technique matches what their teachers have taught. I’m not even remotely qualified to do that. All along, I have watched my daughters intently as they’ve demonstrated natural tendencies and abilities in dance. I have tried to give them as many opportunities in dance as possible. There are many things I’ve had to give up due to financial concerns, but what we have managed to do in dance has been magical.

Being the supportive parent

I think I represent that perfect package deal of the type of strongly supportive parent who pushes their children to work hard to do their best no matter what the discipline. Whether it’s academics or honoring our church or maintaining pure Spanish-speaking language skills, no matter which activity we’ve done as a family, I’ve been consistent with expectations that my daughters learn and practice skills.

I took the term “dance mom” and sprinkled it liberally throughout “Conflicted with Joy.” And then I posted what I thought was a good description of my book and included the term “dance mom” in a public forum. I asked for feedback specifically from mothers whose daughters happen to dance competitively in local and national competitions.

Some of the feedback was positive, other feedback posed a lot of questions and opinions that circled back to the stereotypical definition of “dance mom” and not the meaning I was trying to assign to it. Because I already saw people being confused with what I was trying to say and do with the term ”dance mom,” I decided to cut it completely out of my book.

It doesn’t make sense to spend months and months and months of my valuable, precious time creating a product only to have people not understand your goals or intentions. If all it takes is a simple fix of deleting the term “dance mom” to avoid confusion and help refocus the reader, I’m there!

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