The Day Momma Made Me Dance by Patrice Shavone Brown is a children’s book that is intended to educate about the contentious topic of disciplining your child with violence.
This short book begins with some basic house rules as well as social etiquette for children, such as no running in the house and share while playing with others. The young girl in the book ignores everything she’s told to do, until one day, she brings home a write-up slip from her teacher. Her mother becomes angry and wants to see how well the child “can dance,” as she disciplines the girl with a belt. Afterwards, the child declares that she’s learned her lesson.
The book has a very harsh message about disciplining a child that is poorly conceived and offensive. After the girl is beaten with a belt, she expresses gratitude and happiness – the smiling image on the cover of the book. While there may still be parents who agree with harsh discipline, the book makes corporal punishment into a happy experience, which could be used to justify mistreatment.
Brown does have an afterword attempting to differentiate between discipline and abuse, but her main emphasis is on sexual abuse, which is not what this book is about. At the very least, Brown could have explained the difference between this sort of discipline and violent abuse. That said, making a young child cry and dance in pain because she played up isn’t a message that many parents can get behind.
The use of corporal punishment to discipline children has always been a controversial topic and The Day Momma Made Me Dance will be unappealing to most parents. For those who do agree with the book’s message, the book vastly oversimplifies a very sensitive issue. However, it could be seen that Brown’s message comes from the heart of a loving parent, misguided as this book may be.