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Would this be cruel?


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To buy a little girl a term of ballet classes for her birthday when her single parent mum probably wouldn't be able to continue them.

 

At a party this little girl (aged 7) was begging dd to teach her Balle. cue a lovely little impromptu lesson in the kitchen using the edge of the worktop as a barre! She was following everything dd, was loving it & later on I saw her carrying on practising.

 

She is the dd of a family friend & it's her birthday next week. I would normally only buy a token present (£5ish). There would also be the issue of uniform & shoes.

 

It's just her face lit up!

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If I were you I would speak to the dance school and depending on what they say, speak to the mum. There are some teachers who, very discreetly accept enthusiastic students at a low, or no cost...Think about it for a couple of days and then if you still feel strongly that the little girl would benefit, then ask. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. x

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I would be very cautious here. My cousin and god daughter loved her ballet lessons but my aunt could not afford to keep paying for her lessons but when I said I would love to do it so N could continue, she refused to allow it.

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I also think it`s best to leave well alone. I have a friend in Manchester whose daughter started ballet and tap classes and absolutely loved them. Unfortunately,her mum was unable to keep up with paying for lessons even though it was only a small,local dancing school. The little girl was very upset,but is OK about it now. She now attends disco classes which are far cheaper,and is in a local disco dancing group that travels the country in competitions and displays. I did actually think long and hard about maybe sending the money over to my friend each week so her daughter could continue the ballet and tap lessons. But I have my own child to support,as a single parent,and i`m sorry if it sounds harsh but I just thought, if it was MY child,no-one would financially help us out. I often hear of people who contact me via my You Tube pointe shoes video,[apart from the ones begging me to give them a pair of my pointe shoes for free; how do they know they would fit them???] saying they wished they had taken ballet lessons when they were a child,but their mum wouldn`t let them or they couldn`t afford it or whatever. Well neither could my mum afford it. One of the reasons I only have one child,apart from the useless alcoholic father he had,was so if in future that child had some artistic talent or ambition to do something specific which cost a lot of money over several years, I might stand some chance of being able to finance that activity,whereas with more than one child it would have been so much more difficult. Life`s tough. 

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Yes life is tough and yes I agree that you have to tread carefully and think with a cool head, but, I know of children who were given free ballet classes who are now pros. I know of special needs children who were given free dance classes and it made such a positive impact on their lives. I also know of children who were offered bursaries or scholarships to excellent academic/sporting schools which gave them such a boost....I believe that if you see an opportunity to help or support and it's viable then you should.One day it could be your child...

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A lot may depend on the nature of the relationship you .....or another of your family members .....wasn't sure from your post .....have with this girls mother.

How many lessons a week were you planning on buying her?

 

For example if it was just one a week may be mum might be able to afford to keep this going but if it's several a week then that could be more difficult.

 

If this girl is really keen she may be soon driving her mum mad to have lessons! But then again many children are very sensitive to the money issues in a household and she may feel she can't ask for this......especially if she has brothers and sisters etc.

 

It's a really difficult one this.

If you agreed with mum and the little girl that this was a treat and she may not necessarily be able to carry on afterwards ....it could be okay especially if on trying the classes out she may not be that keen to carry on anyway.....but if she were to develop a real passion for it then it could be cruel to her.

Could you find out if the mum could in future afford at least one lesson a week?

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It's a lovely, generous thought, but I would be cautious. Obviously you will have a better idea of how the little girl's mum would react than any of us, but I could imagine she might not be thrilled if she is finding things tough financially at the moment. She may feel somewhat emotionally blackmailed or backed into a corner if her daughter really enjoys the classes. Everyone here knows how what starts off as a once a week relatively low cost hobby can snowball and become very expensive, and this mum could end up feeling that she has to keep going when she can't really afford to. Even if the teacher could offer a discount it could be tricky, and there is always potential for offending someone when you begin to discuss their financial circumstances, no matter how well meant things are.

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Perhaps you could make sure to meet up with them often and if the little girl so wished your dd could give her 'lessons' like what you described? You could have a word with your dd about this and it could be a lovely way for them to bond and not cause an issue? Just an idea x

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Pictures, why don't you speak to the ballet teacher about this to find out if they are happy to teach her for free? I know that our school wouldn't like the idea of a keen dancer being excluded due to cost. They have often reminded parents to let them know if they are struggling financially. I personally would feel uncomfortable with that arrangement unless I felt I could do something in return for the school, eg fundraising, chaperoning, etc... Maybe they could come to an arrangement with a bit of mediating from you?

 

It sounds as though the little girl would be great to teach as she'd really appreciate the lessons.

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I would be very cautious. People can easily take offence at well meaning offers of financial help, particularly if they feel that their parenting is being implicitly criticised in some way. The generous benefactor is a figure in children's novels and so is the teacher who teaches a talented child for free. There may well be some teachers who teach children for free but my guess is that this happens very rarely (teachers have to make a living) and would happen only where (a) the child is already a student at the school and shows exceptional talent and (B) there has been a change of circumstances which means that the parent(s) can no longer pay for lessons. I can't imagine a teacher agreeing to teach a child who is completely unknown to her for free. A weekly (group) dance lesson is relatively inexpensive compared to a private music lesson but, of course, if you are really struggling financially then a few pounds a week is unaffordable and so the gift of a term of lessons needs to be discussed with the mother first. What you should not do is announce to the girl that you are buying her a term's lessons without first getting the agreement of the mother otherwise the mother could feel uncomfortable about accepting such a generous gift (you say that you usually give a gift costing around £5) and under pressure to continue with something which you have started. It may well be the case that the daughter has begged her mother for ballet lessons for months or years and the mother has had to say no and the daughter has come to terms with this. If you offer to pay for a term's lessons this could undermine this and potential cause problems between the mother and daughter.

Edited by aileen
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Mmm, tricky one as has been said. I would tend to go with the token present for now which could be ballet related. Is there any dance event locally you could take her to as a treat?

Anything financial can lead to a mine field even with the best intentions. I rather like the idea of your daughter giving another impromptu lesson to see if the interest is still there in a few weeks, or was it more to do with the excitement of the party.  It seems a huge leap, forgive the pun, to go from one bit of fun teaching at a party, to signing a child up for formal lessons with all that entails.

I used to look after a little girl who showed an interest in ballet. She was duly signed up for lessons - money was not an issue in her case - fully kitted out and all was well. Within a few weeks, she had lost interest. She wanted to be the Sugar Plum Fairy immediately!

The little girl you know may get into ballet later. Wasn't Miss Bussell a late starter? As for what you do, you are obviously in doubt and I think you should listen to those doubts and be cautious.

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I don't think it was the excitement of the party as this little girl kept herself away from all the excitement as such. The other children were off playing & she was alone most of the time. It was when she took herself off to carry on practising in a very concentrated focused way, despite the other children having fun elsewhere it made me think.

 

We are not close, we just have mutual family but are not related. It would be almost impossible for dd to see her again for quite some time due to school etc. Dd is 13, this girl is only 7. Her mum works unsociable hours in a very very caring, role for a charity but she has been very poorly recently.

 

I think I'm going to leave it. I'd had a look at class prices locally but its a nice idea but impracticable.

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Yes, why not take her to see a ballet performance by a professional company as a one off treat. This won't place any obligation on the mother. Many of the companies have half price tickets for children and so it doesn't have to be enormously expensive.

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Are you a dance teacher Pictures?

 

I know what it's like to see a child who is keen and want to give dance lessons for free if they cannot afford it but sometimes one has to pull away and perhaps just offer advice to the mum if her little girl keeps nagging for lessons in the future .......on what financial help she might be able to receive. But as you don't know mum that well perhaps it's wise to just leave it. But a trip to the ballet is a very good idea when there's a company next in your area.

There are quite a few children's/youth performances around so wouldn't have to be a big professional company necessarily.

 

It was a lovely and generous thought though :)

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Personally I don't think it would be a good idea. What happens when the child starts to improve her talents, as we all know it gets more expensive as you go along. There is without question an enormous number of children out there, with natural talent who would definately be good enough to be along side those more fortunate children. This is life I'm afraid, but ballet without doubt is one of the most expensive journeys there is. Can you imagine how the girl and her family would feel, if she did find she had potential, but couldn't afford the outlay, it would be heartbreaking for all concerned. 

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Plus if Mum works unsociable hours and has been poorly, you'd also have to take into account the transport logistics of getting the little girl to class. Unless the classes are within short walking distance, the journey to class and back might be tricky or impossible. It was a kind thought but I definitely agree that a "one-off" present to a local theatre would be better all round.

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