Let’s get this out of the way right now. I am not proud of the fact that I watch Dance Moms. If you don’t know what Dance Moms is, it’s a reality show focused on 7 girls who attend Abby Lee Miller’s Dance Studio in Pittsburgh, PA, alongside their mothers who often clash with Abby, and sometimes, each other. The girls ages range from 7 to 14, and they have been going to Abby’s dance school since they were about 2 years of age. The premise of the show seems simple enough, but when you add Abby’s often harsh and brash teaching techniques (she called one of the girls “stupid” in the last episode), it’s difficult to watch. As a parent of an 8 year old, there is no way I could have her being talked like that by someone who I pay to teach.
I am not sure why I watch this show, because I am against everything that it stands for. I believe in positive reinforcement and encouragement for kids—I don’t believe that being “nice” to a child means that you are enabling them like Abby believes. Actually, I don’t watch the show for Abby at all. If Abby weren’t on the show, it would be for the better. I watch for these girls, all of whom I cheer and root for each week. I am especially fond of Nia and Chloe—both underdogs with tremendous talent. They aren’t Abby’s “favorite” but they persevere despite being told over and over they aren’t “good enough”.
I also watch because I identify a lot with Nia’s mom, Holly. She is a mother of three, and is also a career woman. She juggles work and her kids, and that is something that I did for years. Not every woman can be (or wants to be) a stay-at-home mother, and Holly is very accomplished academically and professionally. Abby oftentimes puts Holly down (in one episode, she told Holly’s daughter Nia that her mom didn’t love her because she was at work and not at practice), but Holly continues to hold her head up high, being unapologetic for the path that she has chosen.
Dance Moms has been heralded as a horrible show that shows Abby and the mothers in not-so-good light. Why would you continue to take your children (and pay) for a dance instructor who belittles them and puts them down? I know if it were me, my 8 year old would not be attending Abby’s school. I would never allow anyone to talk to my daughter the way Abby talks to those girls.
But it’s the girls, who are talented, amazing dancers that I watch. Dance Moms is bad TV and is my guilty pleasure. Yes, I admit it.
Dance Moms airs on Lifetime Television Tuesdays at 9pm/8pm CST.
Do you watch Dance Moms? What do you think of Abby Lee Miller and her “coaching” techniques?