5 Lessons Being in Pageants Taught One Mother/Daughter Duo


Amanda Mustin is so proud of her daughter Adaline! Adaline is three years old and was crowned Wee Miss Tiny Tot South Carolina 2022. When Amanda reached out to Columbia Mom to share the news, we had to know more about the experience. And as Amanda shared her story, we sensed the mother/daughter bonds that formed during the whole process.

Amanda had done a few pageants when she was younger and says that she knew they were good for self-esteem. She searched for one that “wasn’t too glitzy and included community serviceand found the Little Miss South Carolina Pageant.

Little Miss South Carolina is one of our state’s oldest pageants, founded in 1971. It promotes community service and academic excellence, encourages poise, expects good sportsmanship, and stresses age-appropriateness in hair, makeup, and clothing. It awarded $37,000 in scholarships this year and has raised over $560,000 for Prisma Health Children’s Hospital since 2002.

Adaline won a sash, a crown, and $3,000. But her mom was excited about more than those. Amanda told Columbia Mom about five things that she was grateful for that the pageant brought to their life. 

1. Time Together

Amanda says that she first hired a pageant coach for Adaline, but later realized she could do it herself. As they spent more one-on-one time together, Amanda could see how Adaline listened, how she obeyed instructions, and what sort of learning style she had. She was proud of Adaline’s smarts and discipline at just three years of age. And Amanda grew to know her daughter’s personality more and more. (Columbia Mom bets Adaline grew to know her mommy better, too!)

2. Poise and Conversational Skills

Right or wrong, first impressions are important! Much of the pageant program is learning to present yourself. At the youngest ages, interviews may not be required, but contestants must be comfortable being introduced or introducing themselves. Amanda believes such skills and confidences will benefit Adaline in the future, both in making friends and in school/workforce. 

3. Being Part of a Community

When we asked Amanda what the hardest part of this was, she said competing with the best. She explained that contestants make up a community because many of them keep on doing this. She said that you wind up competing against your friends – but that already she has seen so much community. “People are willing to help each other, and each seems genuinely happy for the others.” 

4. Giving Back as a Community

We were impressed with the fundraising aspect of the pageant and its commitment to our area’s Children’s Hospital. Amanda loved that, too, and shared that not only is that important but that giving as a group helps you learn to do your part, and that not everyone can give the same amounts. 

5. Earning Money

Adaline doesn’t understand much about the money aspect yet. Amanda says they don’t even do allowances in their family. But, she says that the money is Adaline’s and that she earned it. One day, when Adaline is ready and can make smart choices, she may be able to choose how to spend it. Columbia Mom thinks that’ll be pretty empowering!

If you are interested in participating in this pageant, Little Miss SC  is already starting preliminaries for 2023! You can find more information on their website

What about you? Does your child participate in pageants? If so, then what are you both learning?

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Melanie McGehee
Melanie McGehee never knew she wanted to be a mom. Even marriage caught her somewhat by surprise, in spite of the fact that she met husband Andy through a matchmaking service. She thanked eharmony by writing about that experience for an anthology, A Cup of Comfort for Women in Love. Almost two years to the day after marrying him, she stared at two pink lines and wondered aloud, “Is this okay?” His response, “Kind of late to be asking that now.” It was a bit late – in life. But at the advanced maternal age of 35, she delivered by surprise at 35 weeks and an emergency C-section, a healthy baby boy. Ian, like Melanie, is an only child. She’s written much about him during her years with the blog, but he’s now a teenager. Please, don’t do the math. It’s true. Momming in middle age is the best!


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