Show business isn’t for everyone, but for the moms on Dance Moms on Lifetime, it seemed like it was second nature. The ladies on the show were constantly abuzz over their daughters’ progress in dance, the level of instruction, and the instructor apparently playing favorites among the students. Of course, the show ended up self-destructing following seven seasons after many of the dancers—and their moms—left the original studio (and instructor) to form their own dance troupe.
That said, there’s supposedly an eighth season of Dance Moms coming up, though it’s yet to be announced. Of course, it will involve new cast members, since many have left at the end of the last season, but we can expect plenty of drama as well as plenty of talented dancers with the new show, too.
But have you ever wondered whether the “reality” TV show isn’t so realistic after all? After all, not every dance mom is as over-invested as the ones on that show. Writing for Quad City Moms Blog, self-proclaimed dance mom Mandi shared that not everything in the kids’ dance world is the way Dance Moms portrays it on TV. With a refreshing perspective on her daughter’s dance career, Mandi may just convince you those dance moms aren’t as bad as reality TV would have you believe.
20 Dance Momming Is Rewarding (But Not Like That)
We already know those dance moms who appear on reality TV shows likely get a paycheck. And that might help encourage the drama that goes along with those shows. But for most real-life dance moms, like Mandi, an actual mom of three, there’s more money going in than coming out. And at the end of the day, it’s the reward of watching her daughter enjoying dance that means the most. Unlike the catty moms on TV who fight over their girls’ successes, Mandi says being a dance mom is “one of the most rewarding and fulfilling roles I have as a Mom.”
19 Dancing Chose Her, She Didn’t Choose It
Mandi’s daughter Jocelyn began dancing when she was age two—but it wasn’t because her mom forced her to. In fact, the toddler had already tried other sports like cheerleading and ice skating, and even craft and music activities. But nothing—understandably—drew her girl’s attention. So upon their first trip to the dance studio, Mandi didn’t expect much. But although Jocelyn was the “class crier,” her mom remembered, she still asked to keep going back to the classes week after week. And though the tot classes were just concentrating on making dance fun, Jocelyn was still learning the basic steps.
18 It Must Have Been In The Stars
When Mandi first took Jocelyn to a dance class, she said she mostly saw it as an opportunity to watch her tot jump around in a cute little leotard. It started with short classes where the little girls would play and learn dance basics, but by the time Jocelyn reached kindergarten, she was asked to dance competitively. Of course, over time, her passion for dance grew, and by that time, she had already learned jazz dancing, how to do a cartwheel, enrolled in musical theater, and learned hip hop and other dance skills. As mom Mandi puts it, she never thought her daughter was destined to be a dancer—but it happened anyway.
17 Variety May Be The Spice, But Dancing Isn’t Bland
When you think about dance, you might assume that it’s a high-pressure activity that moms push their kids into. But according to Mandi, it’s all about finding the right fit—the studio that works for your child. Fortunately, Jocelyn always enjoyed her classes and found them entertaining—and she also wasn’t repeating the same skills over and over. Instead, she added to her dance experience by branching out and trying other related physical activities. So even though she concentrated mostly on dance, Jocelyn didn’t become a one-hit wonder who only knew to dance. As her mom notes, it also helped her develop control, responsibility, and plenty of other positive traits.
16 Personal Growth Eclipses Everything Else
Unlike the moms we see on dance mom shows, Mandi let her daughter lead. That meant Jocelyn got to try out different dance styles and activities with her mom’s full support. And as Mandi noted, that meant Jocelyn learned what she liked and what she was capable of—great lessons for kids that we don’t see many reality TV kids learning. But it does take more than skill to become a good dancer. It also takes self-discipline, confidence, and passion, so just because a child decides on dance from a young age, he or she never stops growing as they learn.
15 Ask For Dance And You’ll Receive
In contrast with some parents who want to push their kids into an activity just because they’re good at it or it’s a family tradition, Mandi let Jocelyn’s desires be her guide. Jocelyn was the one who chose to stay in dance, starting out at thirty minutes a week and winding up dancing daily for hours upon hours. It was Jocelyn’s choice to learn jazz, take Acro, enroll in hip hop classes, and join a competitive team at the age of five. Mandi never demanded that her daughter do a specific activity, and she didn’t ever force her daughter’s hand when it came to doing competitions. True dance moms know it’s about the kids and their desires, first and foremost.
14 Starting Out Tots Skip Steps
When you’re used to seeing shows like Toddlers and Tiaras where even little babies are practically forced to compete, it can seem like every mom whose tot is in classes or an organized activity is just doing it because of their parents’ choices. And sure, enrolling a kid in dance or any other activity has to be the parent’s doing. But have you ever tried to force a toddler to do something they don’t want to—like buckle them in their car seat or make them put pants on? It should go without saying that no child that young will dance (or do anything else) if they don’t want to. Toddlers in dance don’t even follow precise steps or learn many skills at first—it’s about having fun and being exposed to the craft.
13 Dance Doesn’t Have To Demand Full Time
Plenty of parents ask Mandi about what the requirements for dance are, she explained in her post. And it seems like some parents are confused about how often kids need to practice and what the demands are when they join a competitive program. Mandi points out that kids who dance don’t have to compete—they can dance for recreational purposes, too. Of course, recreational dance involves recitals and regular practice, but competitive dance requires a lot more funds and a lot more time. So whether your child just wants to try dance or wants to make it their whole life, there’s an option that works for everyone.
12 Customizable Sport Speaks To Kids
Part of what proved to Mandi that Jocelyn was serious about dance was her choice to commit to dancing four to five days per week. Of course, Jocelyn is a competitive dancer, but even before that, she chose to invest more time in dancing than in anything else. Mandi maintains that she leaves it up to Jocelyn, choosing to be a supportive background cheerleader rather than the primary decision-maker. Mandi says Jocelyn focuses “solely on dance” so she spends a lot of time at the studio, but that overall, Jocelyn, her mom, and the dance studio staff get together to decide how many competitive dances Jocelyn participates in.
11 Dancing Develops Discipline (And Personality)
Since Mandi’s daughter has grown up as a dancer, mom explained that Jocelyn spends most evenings and weekends at the dance studio. As a result, her mom believes, Jocelyn has developed many positive personality traits. She’s built flexibility, coordination, and strength, of course, but there’s more. According to Mandi, “Dance builds confidence, helps kids come out of their shell, and teaches them hard work and determination.” In the end, the non-physical benefits outweigh the physical ones, Mandi highlights—in stark contrast with the opinions of many moms we see on TV! Unlike the critical parents on Dance Moms, Mandi says dance has only affected her girl in positive ways.
10 Working Mom Went For It
While you might think that most of the Dance Moms mothers focus all their energy on their daughters’ dance careers (and you might be right), Mandi isn’t just a dance mom. Throughout Jocelyn’s dance career, she’s been working full time (and had two more kids), practicing civil litigation as an attorney in Illinois. Even while balancing her career and her two boys’ interests (baseball and soccer), Mandi managed to make time for Jocelyn’s passion for dance. She didn’t, however, allow it to take over all their lives. That’s another distinct difference between TV dance moms and the real thing: there’s still life to be lived once the girls are off the stage.
9 Not All Kids Commit to Competition
Another common misconception is that all kids who start dancing at a studio go on to become competitive dancers. But as Mandi specified, it’s completely up to the girls (and their instructors and families) whether or not they enter competitions. Therefore, dance doesn’t have to become a girl’s career path or take priority over everything else in her life. In fact, some dancers’ passions take them in other directions, possibly gymnastics, acting, or music—or a combination of those. The thing is, Mandi doesn’t limit her daughter’s creativity to one activity, and neither should any other dance mom.
8 Fabulous Friendships Over Feuding For TV
When Jocelyn first began attending dance classes, Mandi says she had to stand by the viewing window where her two-year-old could see her. But over time, she began to be able to move away from the window, sitting where Jocelyn could see her still, to sitting in a chair, to moving around and socializing with other parents. And once Jocelyn was a bit older, Mandi began forming relationships with the other dance moms. But unlike the feuding mamas on Dance Moms who seem to care most about their daughters upstaging the other dancers, Mandi says true dance moms are out to make friends.
7 Part Of The Sport—Not Just A Spectator
If you’re used to watching the ladies on Dance Moms criticizing their girls (and their competitors), yelling at the instructors, or critiquing their daughters’ hair and makeup for performances, it might be refreshing to find out that other moms are more hands-on in, but in a positive way. Mandi said that her daughter’s dance studio has the parents help out with hair and makeup, plus other aspects of competitions. As both a soccer and baseball mom, too, Mandi said, “Dance is one of my favorite sports that my children do because I really get to be a part of the sport, not just a spectator.”
6 Front Row Seat As Dancing Dreams Come True
You’re likely familiar with the dance moms on TV yelling at their kids or at least giving really harsh criticism of performances. But fortunately, it’s not like that for Mandi and her daughter. In fact, Mandi notes in her post; “My favorite part of being a Dance Mom is I get a front row seat watching my daughter do something she truly loves.” And while mom may offer some constructive criticism, she leaves it to the instructors to help her daughter grow into a better and more confident dancer. At the end of the day, though, it’s all about what Jocelyn wants and her own desire to succeed in dancing.
5 Financial Facts Are Mostly Fictional—Unless You Go Full-Time
I remember watching moms showcasing their daughters’ performance outfits for shows like Toddlers and Tiaras and thinking that spending so much money on dresses was absolutely ridiculous. But as Mandi points out, dancing is a sport that’s only as expensive as you make it. For kids who dance in a recreational setting, there are tuition fees and maybe some specialized attire required, but only competitive dancers need to worry about competition entrance fees, additional costumes, traveling expenses, and workshops and class costs. Still, dance can be reasonable for plenty of child athletes—it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg (or your sanity).
4 Timing Is Best With Tots (Start ‘Em Young)
While she acknowledges that not every child will become a competitive dancer, Mandi recommends starting kids young. Dabbling in a few different activities allows kids to figure out what they like early on. And not only does having a hobby—particularly a physically active one—provide health and social benefits for kids, but the earlier they begin, the higher the odds they’ll be great at it. After all, practice makes perfect, so while putting your three-year-old won’t guarantee they become an expert, it will give them plenty of time to learn what they need to know to succeed. Of course, dance is all about the opportunities it allows kids—and starting young gives the best benefit.
3 Dance Doesn’t Dictate Life
Though the TV dance moms spent an inordinate amount of time hovering over their dance daughters, Mandi doesn’t have time for that. She allows dance to be Jocelyn’s passion, though she is involved with hair, makeup, and watching her daughter dance. The way that Mandi talks about her daughter’s dance career is refreshingly Jocelyn-focused. Getting her to and from the studio and competitions is mom’s responsibility, but Jocelyn’s the one who puts in the work, decides on her routines, picks her classes, and puts the effort in during studio time. Mandi doesn’t necessarily run the show—she just helps facilitate Jocelyn’s ability to do it herself.
2 Multi-Tasking Mogul Mom Makes It Happen
In addition to dance, the family has baseball, soccer, and other activities to get to, and Mandi makes time for not only her career but also a handful of hobbies for her to enjoy, too. Like every other parent, this dance mom makes sure her family enjoys balance while having the opportunity to do what makes them happy. Rather than dragging the whole family around and making dance their central focus, Mandi is happy to spend time on her other kids’ hobbies and interests. She’s also a scrapbooker and photographer with her own interests outside of being a mom—which is more than we can say for some of Lifetime’s dance moms.
1 Settling On A Studio Is Super Important
One of the questions Mandi fields most about dancing is how to select a studio. She likens picking a studio to picking your child’s “dance home”—and it requires some forethought. Mandi suggests doing some online research, visiting the studio, asking questions of dance moms and kids who go there, and making sure the location of the studio works for you. Great instructors and good ambiance are important, but you want to be able to get there easily and feel comfortable while you’re there, too. In the end, if your child is anything like Mandi’s daughter, you could easily be spending the next decade hustling to and from dance classes there—so make sure it’s somewhere you all love!
Reference: Quad City Moms Blog, Wikipedia