Photo Credit: Will Ferrell from Kicking and Screaming
Last week I heard a story about a family who got kicked out of a gymnastics competition because the father caused a huge emotional scene during his daughter’s competition. The little girl was on bars and fell on her front hip circle. The dad was clearly upset and started having a fit. He threw his arms up into the air and started screaming at the girl. When she was finished with her competition, he took her straight home and didn’t let her stay for awards. He told the coach that his daughter didn’t have a good competition and that she didn’t deserve any awards. I can only imagine the car ride home.
I have heard and seen stories similar to this and worse. I once had a parent that could not pay their mortgage, but they still wanted me to do privates lessons for their 7 year old. I also had a 10 year old that was grounded because she was scared to do a round off back handspring. I even saw a mother yell at her daughter because she wasn’t listening to the coach. I do always find it amusing that parents yell across the gym to tell their child to pay attention. Somehow I think distracting your child by yelling across the gym for them to pay attention is quite confusing to the child.
Parents and families can get very caught up in the dream of gymnastics. The dream of making the Olympics and being showered with the fruits of victory, money, fame, and celebrity. These parents see talent in their child and immediately they think that their kid is going to be the next golden child. But with less than a .01% chance of your child winning it big in gymnastics, the real concern is what they are willing to destroy in the quest for that dream.
They are willing to ruin their relationship with their child, lose their house, or embarrass themselves or their child because they will do whatever it will take to make that dream a reality.
The most successful gymnasts don’t come with those types of parents. The most successful gymnasts lead the way and their parents simply follow. The parents understand that their child has enough stress and pressure in the sport alone and they don’t need any added stress from the very people who are supposed to give unconditional love.
It’s only gymnastics. There is no guarantee that their daughter will get a college scholarship or make the Olympics. In fact there is a better chance that they won’t get a scholarship or make the Olympics.
Take a step back and look at what gymnastics is doing to your family. Is it creating a wonderful opportunity for your child to push themselves in a nonjudgmental arena? Is it teaching your child how to stay composed under pressure? Is it teaching your child how to focus? Is it teaching your child what is important in life?
What are you teaching your children? Are you teaching them that they are worthless if they fall? Are you teaching them that they are only important to you when they succeed? Are you teaching them how to lose their temper and act out of control when things don’t go their way? Are you teaching your child what is important in life?
What is important is your relationship with your child and making sure they are unconditionally loved. It is important to make sure they know that they are in charge of their career and that you are simply there to support them. When gymnastics is done and gone, what will be left in its path?
Will there be life lessons learned or a path of destruction. It’s only gymnastics. You decide.
by: Wendy Bruce Martin
(This article was originally written here. Re-posted by permission from the author.)