July 4, 2022

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“Living vicariously”: Mom slammed for keeping disgruntled daughter in dance

4 min read

Thousands of internet commenters were quick to call out one mother who explained why she refuses to let her teenage daughter quit competitive dance.

In a viral Reddit post published on r/AmITheA**hole, Redditor u/Primaballerina1992 (otherwise referred to as the original poster, or OP) said she danced as a child and understands the difficulties that come with it but made it clear that hanging up the pointe shoes isn’t an option.

Titled, “[Am I the a**hole] for not allowing my daughter to quit competitive dance?” the since-removed post has received more than 5,000 votes and 3,000 comments in the last day.

Writing that her family just relocated to a new state, the original poster said her daughter had previously studied French and wanted to continue, but was disappointed to learn that her new school doesn’t offer the language.

As a provisional measure, the teenager suggested taking private French lessons instead of dance lessons, but was immediately shut down by the original poster.

“She came to me the other day telling me that her new school doesn’t offer French…and asked me if I could sign her up to private French classes,” OP wrote. “I told her that absolutely not with her dance she won’t have time for that and it’s too [difficult] of a subject, taking too much of her time.

“She told me that she hasn’t been enjoying dance for a while and was too scared to tell me but she wants to quit dance,” OP continued. “I told her that she won’t be quitting dance because she’s too good at it and I already put in a lot of money.

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“She accused me of living vicariously through her…and I [grounded] her for it,” OP added.

For parents, passing down love for certain sports, hobbies and other activities is a labor of love, and can reignite passions left in a previous life.

But from competitive dance—which more than 24 million Americans participated in last year, according to Statista—to individual and team sports, many parents make the mistake of living out old dreams through their children.

“Most parents encourage children to do things the parents enjoy,” mental health website Good Therapy reports. “It can be difficult for parents to decide whether they’re involved and supportive or obsessed with pushing their children to fulfill their broken dreams.”

Although parental support is often necessary for success in competitive youth activities, there is a fine line between being there for a child and living out unrealized potential through them. And when that line is crossed, there are consequences that last a lifetime.

“Parents must help…by supporting children to pursue their own dreams. When parents are unwilling or unable to do this, children’s emotional and intellectual growth may be stunted,” Good Therapy continues. “This can make it difficult for children to succeed as adults, to feel a sense of self-efficacy, or to make decisions without a parent’s input.”

Despite the negative connotations associated with quitting a sport or another competitive activity, separating from a parent’s passion can make a world of difference for children and should be honored as an act of individuality, rather than an admission of defeat and wasted money.

Members of Reddit’s r/AmITheA**hole defended one teenager who accused her mother of living vicariously through her.
gpointstudio/iStock / Getty Images Plus

Throughout the comment section of the viral Reddit post, many Redditors echoed this sentiment and called out the original poster ignoring her daughter’s wishes and logical explanation for wanting to quit competitive dance.

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“This right here is you not listening to your child’s interests,” Redditor u/No-Rub1544 wrote in the post’s top comment, which has received nearly 11,000 votes. “She told you what she likes, you don’t believe her.

“Hopefully you believe countless people who think [you’re the a**hole] and a huge [a**hole] at that,” they added, bluntly.

Redditor u/Elfich47, whose comment has received more than 8,000 votes, offered a similar response.

“Your daughter told you the truth: she doesn’t want to do dance anymore. Listen to what she is saying,” they wrote. “If you make her continue dance, the only result is that she burns her ballet shoes when she turns 18 and then goes to college for languages.

“And she hates you for the next four years because you are making her waste her time doing something she will grow to loathe,” they added. “Stop making this about you, make it about her…she doesn’t want to dance.”

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