Gymnastics is a funny sport. I’m not sure funny is an accurate depiction of how I should describe its challenges, but what I mean to say is it’s unpredictable. It places you under the hawk like eyes of judges–not to mention–the grueling expectations of coaches.
So why on earth would I put my daughter in an activity like this!? I DID NOT. In fact, she fell in love with gymnastics at five, by six she was asked to compete. Of course, I thought this is crazy! But after mulling it over with my husband, we agreed. And there went my little girl… off to the pain staking task of achieving perfection.
How does this relate to strength? Well at six she began learning life skills like committing to a team, receiving expectations and the requirement to meet those standards, and of course gaining confidence! Most importantly, as a parent, I have given her the ability to control her gymnastics career. (Yes career! As much time as these girls commit in the gym, it might as well be a career. But that really is another story.)
So what do I mean by control? I mean the ability to say I’ve had enough. I’m tired mom, and I want to do something else. I’m just tired of being hurt. My response: okay then. Just okay. Crazy some people expressed to me. In my mind, I agreed. Honestly, I was heartbroken. Yet, I felt strongly enough that my daughter should choose what she is committed to: NOT ME. Of course, I walked her through all the pros and cons–an important lesson in good decision-making I might add. And she still chose to “retire.” That’s the new buzz word. When you’re in a sport for 9 years you DO get to retire. As a parent, we have to give our children control of their careers…right?
Whether you agree or disagree, my decision was allowing my daughter to have choices. If her passion box was empty then I didn’t have the heart to force her. It was a fitting time; it was not competition season. If it were competition season, I would have highly encouraged her to complete her commitment to her team, another lesson I feel is important.
So how does the story end? After six months of being miserable, the banning of anything gymnastics mentioned in the household (by her), she missed it! She missed it! She missed her coaches, she missed her teammates, and suddenly she was bursting around the house choreographing floor routines! So she went back. After three months of training, she became a Western National Qualifier. I was amazed and proud! A bit exhausted from the roller coaster–but hey parenting should be an unexpected ride. 🙂
I have no magical parenting tips, just my realization that allowing my daughter to take control of her gymnastics has strengthened her. As parents, we have to give our children control of their own ambitions. We can guide them, mentor them, and most of all support their decisions. YES, this may break our hearts! BUT we have to give our kids enough freedom to find their own definition of strong. It’s a lesson all children must learn: how to be strong by being in control–parental guidance of course! 🙂
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