When Mama Bear Gets Mad: Stand Up For Your Children

Protect Your Children Mama Bear

Costumes have been ordered, routines are being taught, we’re only two months away from this semester’s dance recital, and today I asked for a refund on the costume and pulled my daughter out of what used to be her favorite dance class.

When my children are faced with poor treatment, unjust situations, or put in a position to feel less than or not good enough, the tough mama bear in me comes out in full force.

The hair on my neck stands up, the anger bubbles up inside, and I want to attack. I can feel the animalistic urge to protect my children rising up inside of me. Anyone who hurts my children better watch out, because this mama bear will protect her cubs at all costs.

Now, I’m not talking about the crazy parents or dance moms who get all riled up because their kid didn’t get the lead role in a play, a solo or a front spot in a dance routine, or chosen as one of a few for some special honor. My mama bear hackles don’t go up over those types of things, as sometimes life just isn’t fair and you don’t get what you want. The sooner my kids learn that the better. Plus, they need to learn how to deal with not getting something they want now so they know how to cope with it as a teen and an adult.

I’m talking about rudeness, meanness, and poor treatment by other kids and adults — none of which should ever be tolerated.

Dance Class Drama

My daughter has been taking dance for years. She loves it and finds great joy in dancing — and she is a fantastic performer. She was encouraged to tryout for the competition teams by her teachers. She looks forward to her classes every week and comes home from each class bubbly and excited to tell us about class and show us the steps they learned or parts of routines they learned. Or at least she did until last week’s hip hop class.

My daughter, two weeks prior, had missed one dance class to go on the seventh grade marine biology field trip to Fort Bragg, and it is the only class she has missed this season. It also just so happened to be the class where they learned this particular part of the recital routine. The next week when she was back, they spent the entire class working on routines for the Company Team tryouts (even though this is a recreational dance class and not a team/competition class).

Then last week the teacher broke the class into groups, told them to perform part of the recital routine he had taught when she was gone, and those who didn’t know it well got cut out of that part of the routine and were told to sit on the floor while he helped the other girls.

  • My daughter wanted to learn it and asked for help, but he said no — he refused to help his student. I have never in my life heard of a teacher refusing to help a student.
  • My daughter asked if they could go over that part of the routine again, and he said I don’t have time to teach you this — yet he did have time to spend entire rec class sessions prepping girls for company team tryouts.

So she spent a good portion of the rec dance class sitting on the floor watching other girls dance, which is ridiculous.

She came home in tears because she wasn’t even given a chance to learn and try and the next day I called the dance studio — I took dance for years and the recital routine is something typically practiced week after week, was she going to sit on the floor every week? They told me that this is a regular problem with this teacher and they they have to remind him he is teaching children with feelings! And I was assured that this isn’t acceptable by the studio, that something would be done, and I would have a resolution by her next class.

But then her next class came and no one had gotten back to me.

She went to class early to try to speak with her teacher and ask for help or a chance to learn the routine, but he was late. He walked in, broke them into groups, told them to perform the same routine, and again made my daughter and two other girls sit out on the floor and watch. He then proceeded to go over the routine slowly with only the chosen girls, asking them what they needed help with. And my daughter again fought back tears until the end of class.

Dance should encourage and uplift young girls, not make them feel less than or not good enough. Dance should inspire confidence and happiness, not insecurity and doubt. Dance should be fun.

  • My daughter went from looking forward to dance class every week to not wanting to go and leaving in tears.
  • She went from coming home from class with a note encouraging her to tryout for company teams, to being told to sit out portions of her class and watch others.
  • She went from loving dance and being challenged to learn new things, to feeling like she wasn’t worth teaching.

Look, I’d understand the decision to have her sit out part of a routine IF this were a competitive team class and she missed class and broke a commitment. But this isn’t a competitive team class, it is a recreational dance class, which means all dancers should be included. All dancers should be encouraged and lifted up. Teachers should inspire confidence and happiness, and create a place for fun and joy. But that wasn’t happening here.

The recital isn’t for another eight weeks. Am I supposed to keep paying for a recreational dance class that will be practicing a recital routine my daughter can only be in part of? Am I supposed to keep paying for her to sit out and watch other dancers have fun? Nope, because she doesn’t want to come back to a class with this teacher, and this mama bear is taking a stand for her daughter.

Today I pulled her out of her hip hop dance class.

I simply can’t continue to support this type of behavior from a teacher, who should be teaching not creating drama. I can’t support a teacher who won’t teach all students equally, who refuses to offer help, and who tells a student I don’t have time to teach you, when that is exactly what we are paying for with our tuition every month.

My tuition for dance class is for my daughter to actually take dance, not to have her sit on the floor, not participate, and watch other girls dance. My tuition payment should go to her learning, having fun, and growing as a young woman and a dancer, not to her being belittled and left out.

I will not let one bad teacher ruin dance for my daughter or take away her love of dance. I refuse to let any other person put my daughter in a position to feel like she isn’t worthy of being taught.

One Does Not Simply Anger Mama Bear

I’ll be honest, my first gut reaction was to leap into attack mode and march right down to her dance studio and have it out with someone right on the spot. After all I must protect my baby and stand up for her. And that is exactly what a younger Mama Bear would have done. I would have gone on the attack and fought for her, and probably ended up looking crazy. But over the years, I have learned that my impulsive, highly emotional self needs time to take a step back, think first, and gather my thoughts to have a rational conversation. This is where I really benefit from her 8:00 pm dance classes, because I can’t talk to anyone about any issues until the next day anyway!

While going through this ordeal with my daughter, I found the following quote that I completely resonated with:

A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.

Agatha Christie

Mama Bear doesn’t have to back down, she just needs to adjust her attack.

I can still take a stand for my daughter and fight for what is right in a calm, respectful manner — which is exactly what I needed to do because she is still a student at the studio, taking a jazz class with a fantastic teacher she loves, and the studio staff is always friendly and helpful.

Sometimes It’s Okay To Quit

We have always taught our kids to honor their commitments, finish what they start, never give up, and not quit. But this week, My daughter learned a more powerful lesson: It’s okay to quit and walk away from a situation if it is harmful to you emotionally, physically, or spiritually.

While no one else can MAKE you feel a certain way and how you react to an event or behavior is your choice, that lesson often takes years to learn — and most people don’t embrace it fully until adulthood. It’s pretty difficult for a young girl to embrace this mindset, but we’re working on it.

It is also critical that she understand that her experiences are her choice and that she always has the choice to walk away. Quitting is never easy, but sometimes it is the most healthy thing you can do for your self-worth, self-confidence, and overall happiness. For example:

  • My daughter quit some friendships that became hurtful due to jealousy and mean girl behavior
  • She quit her hip hop dance class because it became emotionally toxic
  • We quit little league with my son because the other parents were nuts and everyone thought their 5 year old was the next MLB MVP
  • I quit a mastermind program when I stopped growing and learning

After-school activities aren’t required. They aren’t a must. They are a bonus. They should be a fun addition to the week, not a source of stress and drama.

Quality of life and quality of emotions matter. They are a priority for our family. So ultimately, I choose joy. I choose to live inspired and surrounded by drama-free happiness, and I will do whatever I need to to ensure my children experience the same life — even if it means quitting or walking away.

What About You?

Have you or your children had a bad teacher or a bad experience with a teacher, coach, or leader at school or in an after school program? How did you deal with it?

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