Ask the Experts: Parent's Behavior Negatively Affecting Her Child

Our competition team is by invitation only. One parent gets under my skin—she’s negative and always angry. I’m considering not asking the child back on the team, because of the trouble her mom causes. But I don’t want to punish the child for her mom’s behavior. What should I do?

Our competition team is also by invitation only; we don’t hold formal auditions. Instead, my competition staff watches the students take class. If we think they can handle it, we invite selected dancers to attend our competition classes on a trial basis. When my staff and I are deciding who to invite, the parents are definitely part of our discussion. We make sure to talk to the office staff, too, to get their impression of the parents.

If we’re hesitant to invite a student onto our team because of her parent, I’ll call that parent in for a private meeting. In the meeting, I’m clear about what will be expected and what will not be tolerated. I suggest you call in your troublesome mom and just be honest with her. I once met with the mother of an 11-year-old who was in our part-time comp program and was being considered for the full-time one. We were concerned about her punctuality and attitude toward corrections her daughter received in class. When she realized that she was the reason we were on the fence about her daughter, her entire attitude changed for the better.

You may want to check separately with the daughter, too, to make sure she actually wants to be on the team. Sometimes it can be hard to tell where a parent’s wishes leave off and where the student’s begin.

Joanne Chapman is the owner of the award-winning Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Brampton, Ontario.

Photo by Dan Boskovic, courtesy of Joanne Chapman

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