Teaching My Daughter The True Reality Of Reality TV

I'm not much on Reality TV. I only watch American Idol after they get to the top ten, and even then it's only sporadic. I watched the first season of Survivor and haven't watched since. I've never watched a Kardassian, a rapper, a former playboy model, or anyone from the Jersey shore. 

But I can't stay away from Dance Moms

Maybe it's my old Theatre degree with a performing arts and dance dual minor. Maybe I'm just a sucker for pretty little girls in sparkly chiffon and glittery costumes (something my own daughter would never be caught dead in). I just love the show.

That doesn't mean, however, that I love everything they do on the show, and that, of course, is what the producers are counting on. I'm not just tuning in to see the great dance numbers from these talented girls - I'm tuning in for the drama - though in my case, it's definitely more for the dance numbers. The drama gets a bit over-the-top for me.

Not for my daughter, though. At eleven she eats this stuff up. It's become a bonding experience for us, a show we make time to watch together and discuss avidly for days afterward. Can you believe Abby suspended Chloe! OMG, that Cathy! Jill should have punched her! I can't believe Abby made Nia cry!

I know there are mothers out there who try to shield their kids from adults behaving badly, but I look at it as a teaching opportunity. Every week, my daughter gets to see what it looks like when your anger allows your mouth to run ahead of your brain. 

Every week she gets to see that working your hardest and persevering over obstacles can pay off, or it can still mean you get the rug pulled out from under you by someone who has their own agenda. That doesn't mean it should stop you. It also doesn't mean you should retaliate in kind - where will it get you?

Every week she watches Abby scream at those girls, watches the mothers scream at each other and at other competetive mothers, but those girls never say a mean word about each other, ever. No matter how ridiculous it gets, they are friends, they are a team, and they're backstage with their arms around each other while their moms are tearing each other's hair out.

Every week, she watches some Moms fight for their daughters, and some Moms stay mum when they're daughters are belittled. And we talk about why they made those choices.

Every week we watch a businesswoman make decisions based on what's best for the continuation and reputation of her business, and not necessarily based on what the kindest course of action is. We talk about ways that businesses can do both, and still be successful, and why professionalism matters.

Every week we talk about how the producers set up a scene or edited something or probably only show certain people in a bad light. Because that's what Reality TV does.

One week we talked about little girls dressed as showgirls in semi-see through costumes and sparkly bras, and why that bothered us.

One week we talked about the fact that sometimes, maybe they win because of who they are now and not so much because they danced better than someone else.

One week, we talked about how hard it is for Nia not having her Mom at every competition, and how hard it is for a working Mom like Holly when she has to make choices between her career and Nia. 

One week we talked about gossip, and how talking behind everyone's backs always seems to end up getting people in trouble.

Along with all that, we get to watch terrific dance numbers, and we get to root for our favorites (Anna is a Chloe girl, and I love love love Nia). And when the show is over, we switch on some music and dance like nobody's business.

My world is with my girl - living on the dance floor.

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