Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Woman to woman: They are competition, not cruelty

A glamour shot of young JonBenet Ramsey.

A glamour shot of young JonBenet Ramsey.

No offense to my counterpart, but give me a break! Last summer, wasn’t Andrea the one in favor of decriminalizing prostitution – the ultimate in exploitation?

Kiddie pageants are a competition, not a cruelty.

Yes, beauty pageants for children can go to excessive, damaging lengths – but so can any competition.

At a recent speaking engagement, I watched two little girls run up and beg their mom to be allowed to start their daily cheerleading practice. Turns out they are on an intensively competitive “mini-cheerleading” team that has made it to the state and national levels.

They practice every day, multiple hours a day, have little time for any other activity, and they love it.

I’m sure “cheerleading parents” can be accused of excess, too, but does that mean it is child abuse?

What about competitive league youth baseball? Soccer? I know one family whose talented young boys played two hours of tennis a day.

Abuse? Knowing these boys, it would have been closer to abuse if their parents had reacted out of fear of excess and denied them the competition they craved.

Now, obviously, just because children crave something doesn’t mean it is good for them. But it doesn’t mean it is necessarily bad for them either. All parents must know their own children, watch for the ramifications of any endeavor and be willing to make the decisions that are best for the children and family.

For example, one concern with any pageant is an overemphasis on appearance – and cheerleading has a similar issue.

So the mom I mentioned kept a lookout but didn’t see that issue with her particular girls. Instead, she said, they were mostly learning lessons she valued: about grace under pressure, having fun even in a competition and how to win and lose well.

If a child isn’t learning the right lessons and isn’t handling it well, then the parent should make a different decision. But make it based on fact, not fear.

I personally don’t understand the appeal of kiddie pageants, but good parents will use whatever their children are interested in to bring out the good lessons.

And if that is what “pageant parents” are doing, they shouldn’t be criticized for it.

Shaunti Feldhahn (scfeldhahn@yahoo.com) is a conservative Christian author and speaker, and married mother of two.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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