Any of my faithful readers know that, late last year, I added “Dance Moms” to my list of Women We Don’t Want Our Daughters to be like. While I’m certainly not a fan of any of the mothers on the show, in my opinion, the worst adult on the show is the dance coach, Abby Lee Miller. She is the owner/operator of a dance studio in Pittsburgh who charges $16,000 for her services.
In a recent interview to announce the second season of the show on the Lifetime channel, Miller had some rather ridiculous things to say. One of her gems is, “Most Parents Suck.” A second statement, which she makes to the girls she coaches quite often, is “Your mother is the one whose shoulder you’re supposed to cry on. I’m the one that’s supposed to make you cry.” How would you like a person with that attitude coaching your daughter?
No thanks. Miller is a tyrant, a bully and an egomaniac. She teaches ‘old school,’ which is highlighted by yelling, embarrassing, and playing head games with her students. We’re talking about girls as young as seven-years-old. Her justification for her methods is that Shirley Temple starred in close to a hundred movies by the time she was seven. She further supports her methods by saying that if a seven-year-old can memorize a two-and-a-half minute dance routine, then she’s old enough to hear about what’s wrong with it.
Should individuals and teams be criticized for performances that don’t measure up to expectations? Sure. Whether it’s in school or in the school play, on the athletic field or in the board room, people need to know when they are performing well and when they need to make improvements. The problem with Miller is that she applies the same brush to all of her students. One thing I’ve learned is that each child is different, and each child accepts criticism in a different manner. Miller has no clue how to connect with her students, individually. She yells and screams at all of them and she bullies and intimidates all of them. I don’t think that behavior is acceptable, in any situation, but certainly not dealing with first-graders.
But as I was going through the fourth session of editing and re-writing my latest book project, one chapter reminded me, sadly, that we’ve become far too tolerant of bad behavior. In fact, it’s worse than that. We actually (collectively as a society) celebrate bad behavior. I’m not advocating censorship or anything like that, but if you were to monitor for a week, maybe even a day, all of the bad behavior that our daughters are exposed to, you’d be shocked.
When I chastised my daughter the other night for her interest in Chris Brown’s performance at the Grammy Awards, she sort of shrugged her shoulders. Who cares if he was convicted of beating his girlfriend? Convicted drug felons host Sesame Street. Actors, actresses, politicians, athletes and business people who’ve been convicted of crimes, some who have gone to jail, usually resurface after a little “time away” to either resume their careers. Some transition into even better gigs than they had before their wrongdoings.
Reality television contributes to this phenomenon, but it isn’t the only cause. I would argue that the only reason people watch cars make left turns for four hours is because they are waiting for the crash. I think there’s always been an element of society that relishes those instances when bad things happen to people. There are people who celebrate the misfortunes of others. I think, though, that the current state of society favors appalling behavior at a much greater percentage than previous generations.
When you’re raising daughters, it’s difficult enough to get your girls to aspire to do great things, academically, professionally and personally. It feels like it’s getting more and more difficult to instill that motivation and pride because the external factors are getting stronger and stronger. And most of it’s not positive.
I guess I just wish that John Wayne could ride in and get rid of all the “bad guys” and everything would be happy ever after.
P.S. Don’t forget to tell your daughter that you love her.