For Parents Crossroads

CLgym

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For those who have been following our gym saga, my DD (age 13, repeat L8, really struggling) made the difficult choice to switch gyms with a little nudge from me. We delayed the start date at new gym, first because I thought a week off at the start of the school year would help lessen anxiety, and later because of a tailbone injury DD sustained while goofing around with friends in the pool during that time off. During the break (not when she was injured) she started rock climbing a ton at a nearby climbing gym, and was noticed by climbing team coaches. She ended up trying out for climbing team, and they just let us know they have a spot for her. She is leaning towards quitting gymnastics/new gym (after only a week or two) to pursue this new activity. Normally I am opposed to quitting what you’ve started, but this feels different. DD is struggling with the adjustment to new gym (not loving it, although change is hard for her and it’s only been a few days). Also, the longer commute coupled with homework and anxiety feels unsustainable long term. DD has already started begging to stay home from school in the morning (I obviously don’t let her, but it’s causing drama), and she is struggling to fall asleep again at night. Thoughts?

Also, for those who have had kids quit after many years, did anyone struggle with guilt? I feel guilty that my “crazy gym mom”tendencies (which I fought but not always successfully) definitely made things worse for my DD, and added to her growing lack of enjoyment of the sport. I know that my comments and concerns came from a good place (trying to protect DD and avoid her being pushed off team, which is essentially what ended up happening anyway), but they ultimately weren’t helpful. And I feel terrible about it. There were, of course, many other factors that impacted DD in the gym (anxiety, coaching issues, growth spurt, best gym friends leaving, avoidance behaviors, etc.), but I wish I could turn back time and be a better parent.
 

pt coach

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Please give yourself a break! You are doing the best that you can! No one is perfect and we all make missteps, and miscalculations along the way. It is all part of parenting. Perhaps you can look at it this way - gymnastics gave her the strength, coordination and skills to succeed at this new adventure! And it is a sport that will keep her strong to allow for an easy gymnastics comeback should she decide that she misses it
 

B&M's mom

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Been there. It's a hard age as they are becoming young adults, not children any longer. They start to have a clearer picture of the person they want to become. My youngest decided to the leave the sport at that age. She was a good gymnast but had lost the desire. I pushed her to continue but she was adamant so I let her walk away. She was a lot happier as a result. Did I ever feel guilty about pushing her to stay or work harder, a bit but I realized that I was only trying to do things I thought were in her best interest. It's been five years and she talks about how I tried to get her to stay but she admits that I did relent and let her make the decision. Parenting seems to be the ability to work through all the mistakes we make with our kids and realize that we raised great kids. Be gentle to yourself.
 

gymgal

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I would let her take the lead on this one. She is not alone. This is the age when many decide that gymnastics is no longer a priority when compared to everything else they are being exposed to at that age - and that's ok. If she is interested, perhaps there is an option to continue with a tumbling class made for former gymnasts? DDs old gym had a class specifically for former team members who wanted to continue to tumble year round to keep them in shape for high school gymnastics (which only runs a few months in our area) and those pursuing middle/high school cheer. It can make the transition easier for the family and gives the gymnast some time to decide whether they really want to leave the sport or just needed a break.
 

rlm's mom

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I would say it's her decision. But you can encourage her to finish the month etc. in her gym and make sure it's not a rushed decision. I don't know if your gym has excel but let her know that may be an option if she's not totally done with gymnastics but wants to spend more time on climbing.
My OD also struggled when she changed gym (level 8). Coaching was brilliant but she found it hard bonding with her new team-mates. Took about a month to settle down. Encouraging your daughter to think it through properly is not pushing her to continue. Good Luck!
 

Mish

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It sounds like this is a perfect opportunity for her to transition to something that she will have fun and be successful at. It seems like this has been a long time coming and she may feel relieved to have something "waiting in the wings" to make it easier to step away.

At this age/level I don't prescribe to the "they have to finish what they started" mentality. It's not just a recreational activity that she is dropping on a whim, and there could be serious repercussions if she is attempting to do dangerous skills without her head really being in the game. Couple that with anxiety, fears, and a lack of willingness to be there, and it becomes a mental health issue as well.

Hoping it all plays out well for her (and you!).
 

Gymx2

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The climbing team sounds like it's going to be a great new adventure for her! Is she saying anything to indicate that she feels you pushed her into staying in gymnastics longer than she would have liked?

I admire your willingness to share your concerns that you may have gotten too caught up in the sport (I'm not saying you actually did, just that it's brave to admit you might have). I suspect that when a child leaves the sport and the gymnastics fervor lifts there are quite a few parents who look back and wish they did some things differently- it is so easy to get caught up in craziness with this sport. You sharing your thoughts may help some new parent think twice about some of their own decisions about the sport. Good luck to your daughter!
 

CLgym

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@Gymx2 -- Thanks for the vote of bravery. It's not that I pushed my DD to stay in the sport of gymnastics (quite the opposite, actually) but more that I wasn't always a soft place for her to land. Too many questions. Too much watching (gym provided a live feed post COVID shutdown via phone app). Too many suggestions. Although I frequently reminded my DD that she was amazing and loved no matter what she did or didn't do in the gym, I was -- simply put -- too involved and occasionally even critical. I had hoped the new gym would provide a start fresh for both of us (no live feed, no watching, no questions). But DD just can't seem to get her heart back in it, and I feel bad for whatever role I had in that.
 

Gymx2

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Oh no, don't beat yourself up- it sounds like all the way through you tried to do the best to support her! I'm betting seeing her move on is a bit like watching her go through a breakup, and it's always so painful as a parent not to be able to fix or soothe everything. I'm sure in a few months she'll be thriving in climbing or anything else she tries and will carry all of the lessons she learned over her years in gymnastics with her.
 
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rlm's mom

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Are you regretting all the time and emotions you put into her gymnastics journey? Don't view her years in gymnastics as a waste of time! She learnt valuable lessons in perseverance, teamwork and whatever else you learn from gymnastics. Physically her gymnastics will definitely help her in climbing or other sports. Think of her years in gymnastics as a stepping stone.
 

CLgym

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@rlm's mom — No, not a waste of time at all. Just a nagging feeling of guilt that I could’ve, should’ve better handled DD’s fears, struggles, avoidance behaviors, refusals to go to practice, calls to pick up early, etc. That if I had done things differently, been less frustrated or more supportive, that DD may not have wanted to walk away….

But no, it definitely was not a waste of time. She had so much success, especially early on, which built self confidence. Made good friends along the way. And is incredibly fit and athletic.

And I suppose there is a little sadness sprinkled in there too. DD and I spent about 1500 hours in the car together over the years driving to/from practice, enjoyed exciting travel meets together (Disney! Vegas!), and bonded during meets (good and bad). We had a Plum leo obsession, although never liked the same ones. We woke up together at 5 AM to watch the Olympics together with donuts and coffee. So many memories!
 

B&M's mom

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But don't worry, as she gets into other activities you'll have some of those same experiences. For my oldest, it's now diving. Even though she's a senior in college now (oh, where did the time go), we made time this summer to watch diving (and gymnastics) together. I still go to her diving meets and our relationship is as tight as ever. You've made bonds that will never break.
 

pt coach

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But don't worry, as she gets into other activities you'll have some of those same experiences. For my oldest, it's now diving. Even though she's a senior in college now (oh, where did the time go), we made time this summer to watch diving (and gymnastics) together. I still go to her diving meets and our relationship is as tight as ever. You've made bonds that will never break.
I so agree with this! My daughter started track and field in high school and is continuing in college. I loved the high school meets and can't wait to go the college ones now. Also, after coaching her in gymnastics, I love not knowing anything about her throwing events. I go and cheer and all I know about it is that throwing further than the last time is good!
 

daisyb0323

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I too am struggling with a similar issue. My 10 year old level 7 gymnast is talented beyond belief but lately says she wants to quit gymnastics and instead do competitive cheer. All of her friends and cousins are in competitive cheer and everyone tells her how awesome she'd be. I hate to see her quit on gym since God gave her this talent, but I also don't want her to dread going to gym. We are spending a ton of money and it is a lot of hours. I want her to enjoy her sport. I think she also struggles with the aspect of inclusiveness of a team sport versus an individual sport. At what age is too young to make this decision? I would hate for her to look back and regret quitting.
 

gymgal

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I don't think 10 yrs old is too young to make a decision with assistance. From an early age every year, we would sit dd down around the time the new contracts were due and we would discuss her pros and cons of continuing gymnastics and then also whether her gym was still a good fit for her. We also had similar discussions during injuries or when she was having rough times. Most of the time, the talks were very short. "Yes I want to continue and yes I want to stay at this gym" but it gave us all a chance to review priorities, particularly given how expensive the sport was.
 

rlm's mom

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I too am struggling with a similar issue. My 10 year old level 7 gymnast is talented beyond belief but lately says she wants to quit gymnastics and instead do competitive cheer. All of her friends and cousins are in competitive cheer and everyone tells her how awesome she'd be. I hate to see her quit on gym since God gave her this talent, but I also don't want her to dread going to gym. We are spending a ton of money and it is a lot of hours. I want her to enjoy her sport. I think she also struggles with the aspect of inclusiveness of a team sport versus an individual sport. At what age is too young to make this decision? I would hate for her to look back and regret quitting.
I would sit down with her and ask her if she seriously wants to move to cheer. Does she think she would actually enjoy cheer better or is it just because of her friends? If it's just because of her friends I would be more hesitant to change as they could decide to quit etc. and she will be left nowhere. Ask her what she likes about cheer over gymnastics. Is it less hours? A less serious environment? Does she enjoy competing with a team?
 

CLgym

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@daisyb0323. These are definitely not easy decisions! My DD did a pros/cons list last night and it was a helpful exercise. Ultimately I just want her to be happy.
 
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raenndrops

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I too am struggling with a similar issue. My 10 year old level 7 gymnast is talented beyond belief but lately says she wants to quit gymnastics and instead do competitive cheer. All of her friends and cousins are in competitive cheer and everyone tells her how awesome she'd be. I hate to see her quit on gym since God gave her this talent, but I also don't want her to dread going to gym. We are spending a ton of money and it is a lot of hours. I want her to enjoy her sport. I think she also struggles with the aspect of inclusiveness of a team sport versus an individual sport. At what age is too young to make this decision? I would hate for her to look back and regret quitting.
At least your DD has a plan for what to do instead.
OG's first retirement from gymnastics was at the age of 10. It was a combination of her older sister "pressuring" her to spend more time with family (because going to gymnastics 7.5 hours a week with a 20-25 minute commute each way and 5-6 Saturdays a year leaves NO time for family) and blocks on skills (and the coaches that helped her on those skills had moved out of state - one before her season of struggles and the other after the season was over).
She didn't replace gymnastics with anything (except Upward Basketball that ran January - February, was coached by her grandparents, and had a 1 hour practice a week, and one game a week). She wasn't spending more time with family - she was running around crazy.
She realized fairly quickly that she wasn't ready to retire yet. She told me that she needs the stability that gymnastics gave her. She was back in the gym ONCE A WEEK 2 months later. Then she went back to all 3 days in January of that year.
 

MILgymFAM

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Ok, I’m really showing my age here, but I see this thread title and boom.. Bone Thugs & Harmony is strolling through my brain.

Back to the point, it seems that your daughter has the perfect opportunity to walk away. Being invited to a climbing team- and being excited about the opportunity- is the perfect segue to the next adventure for her. If money is an issue, I would tell her that she has to finish the month/session whatever, but that she has your full support to join the climbing team after that. And if the money isn’t an issue for you, I would let her make a break as soon as she’s ready. I hope that you stick around to tell us all about her new adventures (kinda like I’ve *tried* to do).