A Beginner Stage Mum’s Tale

Good toes and naughty toes

Stage Mum

The term has a bit of a sour edge to it, wouldn’t you say? Not something you’d intentionally define yourself as.

“I’m not one of those sorts of mums”

See there’s a difference between a stage parent and a stage-minded parent. And I’m all too keenly aware of it as I dip my toes into the water of stage-parenthood for the first time.

A stage parent is overly-involved and unaware of the cringe they cause the rest of the room with their motherly zeal. They are caught up in the sense of value they and their child get from being in the spotlight and being in the know.

A stage-minded parent, on the other hand, understands the arts world, but instead of being caught up in it, they are actually able to stay grounded and help their child to stay grounded in it too.

FREE STAGE-MINDED A to Z PARENT GUIDE GET YOUR GUIDE 

Becoming a Stage-minded parent

My daughter just had her first trial ballet lesson.

The biggest trial though wasn’t for her, it was for me! Testing out what it means to have the shoe on the other foot… for me to be the “dance mum”. Gulp.

I mean, I know she’s only 3, but I’m an ex-professional dancer, I’m a counselor, I work with performers and students who experience more than their fair share of side-effects from this beautiful industry.

Do I really want to put my daughter into ballet?

More than that, do I really want to put myself into the waiting room? Knowing what I know about whether her foot is really pointed or not, whether she “has what it takes” or not, whether her teacher is doing a good job or not or treats my daughter differently because of me.

It’s a minefield I was quite happy to avoid.

Until I realized I could take what I know about the industry and use it wisely. I could become a stage-minded mum instead of a stage-mum.

What helped me to take the plunge, get over my stage-mum fears and enrol my daughter was actually the information I just recently taught to the beautiful teachers at the Victorian Dance Festival!

It’s funny how teachers need to stay learners and we sometimes need to take our own medicine first.

Just the other weekend, I taught about the importance of Mindset for optimum performance and learning. I taught the teachers about how your mindset isn’t something fixed, it’s something you can grow and develop like any muscle.

Developing a growth mindset is possible for teachers, students, professionals – even parents!

I told them that ability isn’t something you either have or don’t have, it’s something that you develop through effort. I told them that we need to promote effort more than we need to praise talent if we want our performers to thrive and avoid a whole lot of self-doubt.

So whether my daughter has any inherited “talent” from me or not is actually beside the point. Whether her foot is pointed correctly just yet or not is beside the point. Whether her teacher treats her differently once she finds out her mum danced professionally (except please nobody tell her, ok?!) is beside the point.

The difference between stage-parents and stage-minded parents

Stage-parents look for evidence of ability. They look for an inherent advantage and talk it up. Stage-minded parents know that developing ability is a process to be encouraged regardless of how talented a child is or how much potential they have.

Stage-parents take over their child’s performance. Stage-minded parents give their child ownership.

 

Stage-parents see the challenges of the industry and cause a scene about them. Stage-minded parents see the same challenges and purposefully prepare their children to manage them well.

I know the kind of mum I want to be. What I focus on will make the difference.

And so, as I take my little tutu-clad ballerina into the dance studio for her first fairy-runs, I remind myself…

I can be a stage-minded mum

I can focus on my daughter’s effort and enjoyment instead of her talent

I can ground my daughter when she doubts herself and teach her how to be resilient

I can do this!

And so, here I go, learning to be a stage-minded mum, putting my own teaching into practice and embracing the challenge. I know, it’s early days, but I think we’re off to a good start! 😉

If you’d like to learn more about becoming a stage-minded parent, please download my new A to Z Parent Guide, with a whole alphabet of ways you can support your child to thrive and stay resilient for the industry.

by Philippa

Philippa has danced professionally with the Hamburg Ballet Company in Germany and is now a qualified counsellor & family therapist. She has taught performance psychology classes to students at the Australian Ballet School and now equips performers around the world to thrive in the industry through coaching, counselling and courses both online and in person through StageMinded.