You and I have a lot in common.
I have a high level of tolerance for people.
Until they hurt kids.
I'm sure you've heard of Abby Lee Miller, the dance teacher in Pennsylvania who is paid by parents to abuse their children in the name of dance.This abuse is now a famous form of entertainment via a popular reality show on the Lifetime Network entitled Dance Moms.
Those who watch it, in my mind, are just as guilty of the abuse as Abby. In defense of the audience, however, the abuse is so jaw-dropping it's hard to look away. That's human nature for you.
It would be one thing if Abby Lee Miller actually cared about the kids, but she is too narcissistic to genuinely care. They are a means to an end. She can't see past her own oversized ego. She doesn't teach because she loves dance or the kids; she teaches because she thinks their fame will make her famous. There's no love in that.
I’ve had hard teachers. I’ve been one. I've directed my fair share of kids' musicals through the years. But I never left kids feeling like they weren’t loved and that I didn’t genuinely care. I never once called a child a name no matter how frustrated I was with them. I certainly didn't yell at their parents. I felt it was my job to teach children to respect their parents, not drive wedges between parents and their children the way Abby Lee Miller does.
Abby cares nothing about anyone but Abby. Just listening to her narrative you can clearly see how selfish she is. I can’t respect someone who has no empathy for children. I'm not sure she's capable of empathy.
She's clueless about child development. She expects little girls to respond with adult answers and adult logic and puts far too much responsibility for their parents’ behavior on their shoulders. When working with children, a teacher must be equipped with not only an idea of what to expect at certain stages of development, but also how children interpret their world. The example she and their mothers are setting is deplorable. Name-calling, shouting, and salacious gossip are a constant.
I wonder if, for the dance moms, it's worth exchanging their kids’ carefree childhoods for a little fame.
I don’t get it. I never will.
Makes me angry just thinking about it.
You are always saying on your show that you do it for the kids. Your admirable efforts to reach out and help Jennifer Kirkland, and her six-year old son Ethan Gilman after his abduction spoke volumes about how you care a great deal about children.
And today I heard you tell a father on your show that abusive coaches don't get a pass just because they're coaches.
Doesn't this apply to dance teachers, too?
Dr. Phil, I'd like to see you sit down with Abby Lee Miller and get to the bottom of why she thinks she has to be hurtful to be a good teacher. Something is very wrong there. You tell us to trust our instincts. My instincts scream "get your kid out of there."
I'd like you to help the parents face the real reason they put up with Abby's abuse. I'm wondering if they are being honest with themselves. Or maybe I have too much faith in people's ability to do the right thing -- the hard thing. Does anyone do that anymore? Am I living in a land of delusional hopefulness?
As for the kids, it sure would be nice if you'd provide some of your experts to them so they could get some therapy for the abuse they've endured. I just can't imagine what their self-images must be like. Kids are resilient, yes. But kids don't forget when a teacher they admire calls them names. It stays with them forever. I'm 51 years old and I can vividly recall when my kindergarten teacher called me a slow poke. And she wasn't the only teacher to call me names. I can recount every single one who did.
Am I oversensitive? Or are people/kids just a lot tougher today than we were when we were kids?
I look forward to hearing from you, Dr. Phil.
A Hoosier Granny