The Day Momma Made Me Dance by Patrice Brown

Reviewed by Veronica Alvarado

The Day Momma Made Me DanceAs any parent will attest, deciding how best to properly discipline a child is far from easy. It is truly a daily struggle and requires a careful mix of patience, sternness, and most importantly, love. In her new picture book, entitled The Day Momma Made Me Dance, author Patrice Shavone Brown offers her own perspective on the correct way to discipline one’s children.

Brown comes to this book with years of perspective and first-hand insight. A self-described visionary, motivational speaker, and go getter, Brown is also the single mother of two children. Immediately from the dedication, she positions her underlying viewpoint for the project: “A mother is strong when her children are weak, a mother stands when everyone else sits, and a mother loves unconditionally from the beginning of birth to the end.” This philosophy of tough love resounds throughout the book.

As stated in a short preface, Brown is a believer in appropriately correcting children, even when that entails physical discipline. While she is firmly against abuse, she does propose that occasionally applying physical punishments is the best way to teach a child. Her illustrations begin with several instances of children directly disobeying basic rules that they have been instructed to follow. The children run inside, neglect their homework, fight with siblings and peers, and refuse to share with others. The mother ignores the ill behavior until her daughter comes home from school with a disciplinary note. From there, the mother proceeds to tell the daughter that she wants to see how well she can “dance.” Off comes the mother’s belt, which she begins to whip through the air, as the daughter prances through the air, alternatively dodging and getting hit by the belt. All the while, the mother verbally reinforces that following rules at school is not option. After the episode is over, the lesson has clearly sunk in, and the daughter has learned her lesson. She will never disregard school rules again.

After the story ends, Brown explains her portrayal of proper disciplinary tactics. She notes: “Discipline is when you teach the child about doing what is right. I believe that if the child continues to misbehave, after several warnings to punish them. When you punish your children it is okay to use talk, timeout in a corner and even a belt or switch.” She further goes on to stress that unnecessary, excessive force or sexual touching of any kind is never appropriate when trying to discipline a child. It is an important coda to what is, without question, a controversial parenting book.

With lovely illustrations, Patrice Shavone Brown’s The Day Momma Made Me Dance portrays a specific example of “tough love” parenting that will resonate with some readers and distance others.