Dance Moms – When does abuse become acceptable?
You have a talented child. She’s part of an elite team. She works hard. Puts in hours at her studio every day after school. She loves her sport; lives for her sport; has dreams of becoming a professional. There are thousands of little girls like her in the country.
Her coach is not warm and fuzzy. She isn’t supportive. She’s one of those coaches that yells and screams, that pits student against student, uses tough love. She has the reputation for training professionals. Her methods weed the weak from the strong. The goal is Broadway. Out of the thousands, only a handful will make it.
You want your child to succeed and realize her dream. Part of you wants it more than she wants it. Part of you is glad when the coach is a little tough because it motivates your child. Your child wants to please the coach. There are tears; but they are balanced with good days. When she talks about quitting, she immediately recants. It’s addictive. The sport; the attention; the chance of winning.
There are thousands like her. Not all of them can win. She gets other interests; goes through a growth spurt. Another girl comes along that is more talented. Nothing seems easy any more. Nothing seems fun. The coach is ignoring her now; moved on to a younger more talented child. She leaves the sport.
Unless her parents have signed her into a multi-year contract on a television show.
Abby Lee Miller is no worse than thousands of coaches out there that go too far. She’s awful. Terrible. Too tough. Too mean. Verbally abusive. Picks favorites. Ignores others. There are Abby Lee Millers all over the country trying to use tough love to “motivate” kids to “make” it to get the win, or a college scholarship or professional career. It works for some kids, doesn’t work for others.
The moms on Dance Moms are no worse than thousands of moms of talented kids across the country. They want it for their kids and will put up with almost anything.
But the combination of Abby and the parents and the TV Show has led to a toxic environment that is destroying the kids. Kendall, Chloe, Paige, Brooke, and Ally are miserable. So are MacKenzie and Nia most of the time. They all cry – regularly. They look terrified to go into the studio. If they aren’t miserable, they’re emotionally disconnected. That’s the best their mother’s can do for them – show them how to put a wall up so that Abby can no longer destroy their self-confidence.
Abby is frustrated. She’s got a show that’s about dancers, but her girls are falling behind. They don’t have the time to take the classes they need to keep and improve their skills. They are off doing appearances. She’s off doing her other shows. Dancers need regular studio time, time to perfect their craft. Producers want drama. They make her pit the girls against each other. They make her bring in new girls and threaten that the originals have no place on the team. She says things she shouldn’t. She calls Chloe a sneak. She calls Nia stupid. She hears some of the moms trash her. She get meaner and meaner, yells and screams at the moms and the kids, is verbally abusive.
Many of the girls get no pleasure out of dancing anymore. They are only going through the motions because they are on a TV show and they need to get up there and dance or get humiliated. Between the show and appearances, and the ridiculous false schedule being on the show demands (leaning a new routine every week) they have no time to master their routines. They aren’t winning. It’s a lot of pressure. Some are even terrified to perform their routines because if they aren’t perfect the abuse will be heaped on them. But they have a job now, and the job is to suffer through the humiliation and abuse because they are on a TV show.
Last week Kelly snapped and struck Abby when she was in one of her verbal tirades against Kelly’s daughter Brooke. There is no excuse for Kelly’s behavior. She should have left the show years ago instead of continuing to put her girls in that situation. There is no excuse for the producers of the show. They should have let Kelly walk away. There is no excuse for Abbey. She should not scream at young girls because she’s mad that they no longer care about dancing and are forced to be on her dance team because they are part of a TV show.
It’s enough. They are kids. It’s not acceptable. It’s gone way too far.