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A Dance between Parent and Child

By Julia Mitchell-Hoffman (2013)

Dance is freedom and control wrapped into a beautiful performance. Like parenting, dance is a challenge and takes enormous energy. It is not only the physical vigor but there are mental and emotional drives.

Variables also stem from the social and spiritual aspects of the environment in which the entire family is exposed as individuals and as a unit. As a dancer flows in (responds) and out (expresses) while the partner moves toward (inspiring) and back (motivating) so does a parent when interacting with their child’s temperament.

We live and breathe our children just as a dedicated dancer lives and breathes the dance. We are all born with style in which we are able to survive in this world and interact within our culture and surroundings (people, things, places, etc.). Like a ballet, the dancer is on stage, the lights lower, the music starts and nothing else matters. She or he freely expresses feelings, thoughts and emotions. The dance becomes their puzzle piece.

A child’s ability to express themselves comes from their temperament. It is as individualized as it can be and their temperament is their puzzle piece.When we consider temperament it is important to know that each person’s temperament is steadfast. It does not change. Our personality is a combination of our experiences and temperament.

While dance is often a language you feel and not hear understanding that some of the behavioral trends in our children are natural and inborn. A dancer shows us how they feel without telling us and as we watch our children dance (interact and react) we can get to know who they really are. With this perception we learn how to motivate and inspire our children. 

To be a dancer takes many different characteristics and I would imagine one of the most important ones is dedication. The ability to continue on when their feet are killing them, or the body is in pain, when they have to practice, and then practice and then even practice some more. The heartbreak of trying so hard and still is not the one chosen. Then one day: on that stage, those lights lower, and the music starts…magic happens…they are flying, swaying…allowing us to see the beauty of themselves and even the rawness.

As a child moves through life, they develop what they will need to perform also. They will learn by doing (over and over again), by interacting with others (parents, teachers, friends, bullies), by joys, passions, happiness, and by experiences (school, home, community), by exposure (arts, music, sports, hobbies) and through disappointment, heartbreak and pain.

As they enter onto the world’s stage our desire is as the lights lower, and the music starts we see a young adult who is actively moving with rhythm, approaches life with assertiveness, transitions and adapts changes when needed, has intense passion and advocates, is persistent and even-tempered, determined and yet has empathy and compassion. And we watch as they move and express the beauty of who they are.