Disclaimer-- I never would have watched this show but my 12 year old daughter LOVES it-- so I started watching it with her and now we're both totally hooked. It's on TLC at 10pm.
What strikes me is how the families fall into one of two categories-- the families where they try hard to make it lots of a fun and a family affair, encouraging but not pushing their daughters and treating the pageants like mini family vacations. And then the other camp, where usually the mom only is involved and relentlessly pushes and forces her daughter to do stuff. I've watched maybe 5 episodes (2 from a previous season) and only last night did one mom strike me as truly abusive. She forced her 5 y.o. daughter to get her eyebrows waxed and to wear false eyelashes even though they hurt her. Omg, it was difficult to watch!
However I do enjoy watching the "fun" families where they encourage the daughters and are so enthusiastic and excited for her.