Skip Nav
The Royals
15 Times Kate Middleton Was Totally Just a Regular Mom
Food and Activities
36 Custom Mickey Ear Ideas Your Kids Are Going to Want For Your Next Disney Vacation
Parenting Tips and Advice
11 Apps to Kick Off an Organized Year For Mom

What Taking My Son to Ballet Class Taught Me

The Important Parenting Lesson I Got When I Took My Son to a Ballet Class

About 30 minutes before my son's first, and so far only, ballet class, I was desperately sifting through the toddler section at Target. While the ballet outfits for little girls are plentiful and adorable, trying to find the basic white shirt and black shorts for a boy was proving fairly difficult. If I had known that he was only going to last two minutes in the class, I probably wouldn't have even bothered.

In hindsight, taking my son to ballet was definitely the wrong class to try. Despite the class being geared toward 2-year-olds, he was more interested in playing with the trains in the lobby. While normally I pride myself on knowing him well, this was one instance where what I had hoped for blinded my expectations.

Part of being a parent is planning for all the neat things your kids get to try and do; it's one of the things I love about having kids. Even though I never danced growing up, I've always romanticized ballet for my own child, regardless of gender.

ADVERTISEMENT

Traditionally an art form reserved for girls, ballet as an activity has become more socially acceptable for boys as well. Despite this growth, it still is drastically a lopsided activity, and as such, I wanted my son to try ballet for a variety of reasons.

Besides the sheer strength, athleticism, and appreciation for movement that dance teaches, part of the reason I wanted to expose him to ballet at a young age is because he's a boy, not in spite of.

That, of course, is where I went wrong. In my attempt to provide a non-gender-conforming activity, I neglected to recognize the strengths, abilities, and desires of my own child. Being mostly too young to tell me what he wants to do, it's up to me to gauge his potential interests. He loves running around, climbing, and shaking his booty to music. Standing at a bar and listening to an instructor encourage footwork is not his idea of a good time.

Ironically, by forcing him to try ballet, I was reacting the same way as parents who would channel their sons into traditional boy sports like football. I was letting my own relationship to the gender stereotypes I grew up with guide my hand.

However, just as not every boy wants to play football and not every girl wants to dance, the inverse is also true. It doesn't make me any less of a supportive mom by not having him in an activity that challenges societal norms. If he wants to dance, great. If he wants to do cheerleading, great. But until he's able to tell me what he wants, it's my job to make a more discerning guess as to what he wants to do.

I genuinely believe dance would be great for him, and maybe we can try again in the future if he expresses an interest. Until then, I'll stick to classes that I know he'll like, regardless of if they support or diminish any longstanding gender norms.

Image Source: Laurel Elis Niedospial
Reasons Your Kid Is a Brat
3-Year-Old Applying Her Own Makeup
Jet-Lag Tips For Kids
Mom Makes Time Lapse Video of Her Day
Best Toddler Parenting Books
Why You Should Look Forward to Your Kid Growing Up
Healthy Habits For Kids
Trying to Be Supermom
Dad Not Embarrassed By Toddler's Whole Foods Temper Tantrum
Should I Dye My Kid's Hair?
From Our Partners
Latest Moms
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds