For Parents Regarding 'Quitting Dilemma'& need some advice

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M

msl529

Well, dd has made her decision. She is going to compete L6 in the Fall, and then re-evaluate & decide if she wants to do a Winter season as a Prep-Opt.

As you may remember, she was getting the 'quitties' in mid-June. I decided my approach, at least for a while, would be to tell her she HAD to stick w/ gym, at least thru Fall season. I wanted to see if this would help her fix her attitude a bit. It didn't! She got even grumpier about going to gym. I got tired of forcing this miserable, stubborn child in HER sport/decision, so I had planned to sit & chat w/ her, and let her decide when her last day would be.

However, just before I was able to chat w/ her, we had two coaches (married, so they go as a pair) exit the gym very abruptly, w/ a hefty dose of drama thrown in on the side (I am always sad when some coaches act this way!). Needless to say, the gymnasts, parents AND gym owners were left saddened and stunned. Additionally, the owners were left scrambling to find new coaches. One of the coaches who left was my daughter's favorite; the other had been discouraging/lecturing the girls daily about their 'bad' beam performances, and everyone in my dd's group was LOSING beam skills.

Well, God Bless our owners, they managed to rustle up a great coach the very next day after all the drama hit! So now, in place of grumpy beam coach, there is a young, energetic female coach, who's a recent college grad and who even competed on a college gym team for a short while.

Suddenly, all the girls were feeling MUCH better on beam, no surprise there! And this new coach made the rest of their workout a lot more fun and challenging. Also, as a result of the coaching change, one of the other coaches generously stepped up his committment & is now the team coordinator. He is a great coach, not only b/c he is our State Judging Director :), but the thing I love about him most is he really cares about each girl, w/ her unique set of strengths & talents. When you watch him out there coaching, you can see he is just having the best time, he really loves coaching. All this to say, that I think we are going to see some really awesome coaching this year, and also some very happy, well-trained gymnasts. I guess sometimes these dramas do serve their purpose, although it was not right that so many feelings got hurt in the process:(.

So around the time of the drama/ gym changes, I sat dd down and said, "ok, you have my blessing, when would you like your last day to be?". Her reply? "I think I should stick w/ it some more mom, I'm not ready to quit yet".

I guess one of the main things that was bothering her was the negative coaching on beam. The other, which will still be a challenge, is the M-F schedule. DD feels like she has no 'down-time' to just chill/goof off. Duh, I know this goes along w/ being a competitive gymnast, but it still bugs her. I am not sure how I am going to handle this. On one hand, I feel that she has committed to her sport for the season, and she needs to go to as many practices as she possibly can. Her coaches depend on her to be there. But I also feel that if she wants to fudge a bit here & there, take a day off to vegetate on the couch, why not? She needs to be a kid sometimes. I think I may have some trouble w/ drawing that line. Do you think I should let her decide when she goes & when she takes a day off? Or is that too risky to put entirely in her hands? I mean, it IS her sport... Advice??

Thanks for all the support thru this dilemma, I learned a lot from you all, & you helped me feel I was not alone thru a very confusing time!:)
 

Livinatthegym

Member
Feb 4, 2008
204
Region IV
First, let me say good question. I've faced it myself, and have not let them decide to bag practice. The choice to be in gymnastics or not has been entirely theirs, but they make that decision knowing the practice schedule. Let me say though, that my oldest was 14 and in high school when she made the choice, and my youngest is now 12 and heading into 7th grade. Things might have been very different if they were younger.

Last year, when dd1 committed to the level 8 season, it was understood that practices were mandatory unless there was a school event (her chior and band activies were part of her music grades). Very rarely did I give her permission not to go to practice. My feeling was that at 14 and a level 8 she knew darn well what gymnastics entailed and knew what she was choosing. The stress of starting school at 6:40 for band, going to classes all day with no study halls, straight to gym after school for 4 hours, and then home for homework was too much. I begged her to quit. She wouldn't even consider it until the season ended. She wanted to compete level 8 and she wanted to make regionals. The year was agony--for everybody. However, had I let her miss practice for all the "reasons" she came up with, she could not have competed well. And I really believe that would've just made things worse. In addition to the stress, she'd have been discouraged.

Dd2 left the gym in May. She never really said why, just that she was "ready to be done." I think, like your dd1, she just found the daily practice too much. (If your level 6s practice every day, I hate to even think about your optional schedule!) However, with only softball as an activity, she got bored. I think that's why she went back. Right now, she's month by month, but by October she's going to have to decide to stay in or go home. Should she stay in, she's looking at a really full plate--just like last year (gym, confirmation, piano, jazz band, math bee). Honestly, I'm not so sure staying in is a good idea. I will share that with her, but leave the decision in her hands. I'm going to be pretty clear, though, that if she does decide to go level 8, she's going to practice unless she has a school event.
 
B

Billy

Maybe you could let her decide her days off within certain parameters. For example, you could tell her she can have one day off every two weeks (or every three, or two days off per month, etc) and she can choose when those days off will be. You can guide her to choose carefully as there may be social activities she wants to attend, special training that she shouldn't miss at practice, etc. That will give her some measure of control that might help her want to be at the gym on practice days because she has chosen to be there.
 

Livinatthegym

Member
Feb 4, 2008
204
Region IV
Maybe you could let her decide her days off within certain parameters. For example, you could tell her she can have one day off every two weeks (or every three, or two days off per month, etc) and she can choose when those days off will be. You can guide her to choose carefully as there may be social activities she wants to attend, special training that she shouldn't miss at practice, etc. That will give her some measure of control that might help her want to be at the gym on practice days because she has chosen to be there.

That's actually a pretty good idea. Wouldn't have worked for us with dd1 because teenagers can't plan their social activies until last minute, but I think it might work pretty well for anybody below high school.
 

MdGymMom01

Active Member
Mar 5, 2008
2,236
North America
That's great that she decided to stick it out!!! It was probably the negative coaching on beam that was feeding into her atitude. How old is your dd? She may be hitting that teenage (12-14ish) rebellious age where they see all their friends goofing off and they want to do it too. It seems like when you tell her that she has to stay till Fall, she holds a grudge and rebels even more, but when she sees some things happening (the coaches leaving and the new energetic one coming in), she feels like the control and decision is in her power to make.

If you let her take some down time off to just goof around, that may help her be able to relax with her friends, but it will ultimately affect her performace in the gym, especially when the other kids are working out and perfecting routines and she misses those days. If she sees this happening, maybe she will start to figure out that her performance and how good she is as a gymnast is in her hands and control. It has ultimately got to come from her--the motivation and the drive. The M-F schedule is a tough one to balance. Maybe sit down and ask her what she wants out of gymnastics. Have her explain what her goals and dreams are and how far she wants to go with the sport. This way you will be able to tell if she even knows what they are and how serious she is about having to want to quit before. If it is the practice schedule and she feels like she doesn' have enough down time, then she needs to understand that in oder to improve as a gymnast and move up, they need to increase practice time.

The fact that your dd decided that she wanted to stick it out and continue is a great step for her! She also has to understand that in life (and gymnastics) things are not always going to go smoothly--Coaches will quit, teammates will leave, injuries will happen, etc. and just because these things happen, quitting should not really be an option unless it is thought out and discussed with reasoning behind it.

I'm jumping around a lot here so sorry if my thoughts are a bit unorganized! The only thing I can say from experience is that when I was a kid my parents let me quit things too easily. Then again back in the 70's organized sports weren't around much and if they were it was just for recreation. I stopped playing piano only after one year because I felt "it was too hard" and I quit gymnastics because the skills were getting more difficult so I did track when I got to high school. I know that I, as an adult, now regret these things that I have quit and wish my parents had pushed me a little harder when I was a kid.

Maybe if you explain to her this or similar situations you have been in she may understand the committment more. Well, good luck and keep us posted!
 
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D

Deleted member 1703

:)

How old is she and what is her normal training schedule and what time does she finish school etc?
 
M

msl529

She's 12, going into 7th grade. School is out 3:00 pm. I pick her up from there & drive her straight to gym, which starts at 3:30. She's there until 6:30 pm, & home by 7:00 pm.

I actually like the schedule a lot more than the one she had at our previous gym, in CA. She was there 4 hours, 4 days/week, & did not get home until after 9 pm. Plus, she was there on Saturdays, for one of those practice days.

So now, she is home by 7 pm, has dinner w/ us, and we have the whole weekend as a family. To me, it's a great improvement. But, I guess not having at least one day off mid-week for a little break is what's killling her...

Maybe I should ask the coaches if she could miss a regular week-day?

Now, just this evening, she's waffling again, saying she's not sure she can handle the commitment for the entire season, & is in tears, not sure what she should do. I told her I am happy w/ whatever she decides, but the decision HAS to be hers, and she has to decide in the next couple of days, as I just wrote the checks for leo's & coaches fees, & will not be able to get the money back if we don't let them know really soon. She is miserable right now. AAAGGH!!

Whoever said their gymmie was driving them to drink here, in the past few weeks....I'm right there w/ you!!!
 

gym law mom

Proud Parent
Dec 23, 2006
2,527
My gymmie is the same age/same grade. Last year, she practiced M/T/W then Thursday off and practice on Fri. Also no weekend practice. It was still alot with school---she had a math teacher who believed in over the top homework. If she moves up to L8, then she'll still have 4 weekday practices(Wed off) and pick up a Sat. practice. I really feel they need just that 1 day during the week to have a regular school day---no rushing to the gym to start practice at 3:30 and get done 4 hours later to come home and face dinner and homework.

Would it be possible for her to practice with another group on a Sat. to give her a break during the week? Has dd said she just feels practicing M-F is too much for her? I agree with Livinat in that if L6s are doing 5 days in a row, the optional practice schedule must be a killer. Have you asked her how she just feels about the sport(push the practice issue aside)? If she says she still loves the sport, then you may want to look at a gym with a different practice schedule. They certainly do need time to just be kids and not feel their entire life is gym. The only other option I could think of is letting her take the fall off. Then see if she feels ready to go back or just move on. Believe me this age is so confusing----they are all over the map!!
 
B

Billy

Is it possible to make her evenings after practice less structured? Like maybe she can do enough homework one night to take the next night off? Also, can her bedtime be moved a little later? Maybe getting home at 7, having a quick, casual dinner and then tv/computer/phone time until 9:30 or 10 or so might make her feel like she's got some down time. Getting home at 7 is great but then she has dinner, and then homework, and then shower, and then bed and that totally takes away any free time in the evenings.

Another option might be partial practices sometimes. Maybe she can leave practice an hour early sometimes, particularly is there's a school activity or extra homework that night.
 
F

flippymonkeysmom

This is such a tough one. So many girls choose to leave in middle school. The added demands of school and social situations on top of gym really is a lot. I've wondered many a time how my dd will handle it all next year. This really must be one of the most difficult situations to handle being the parent of a gymnast. On the one hand they really do need to make the decision themselves. They are the ones spending countless hours in the gym and are the only ones who know whether they really love it and think it is worth it. On the other hand we are the ones writing the checks and dedicating a lot of our time driving them, etc. While we would love to say, "just go to practice when you feel like it and stay home when you don't" - realistically if they are going to compete that really isn't an option. We have a few girls at our gym that have chosen to no longer compete and only go to practice 2-3 per week because they still love gymnastics, but not the pressure and hours. I don't know many adults who could handle what these kids do, and the longer they do it - the harder it gets and the hours only get longer. Just think of the schedule they keep - day after day, month after month, year after year. They very rarely take vacations, during the summer training hours increase since school is out and they still go work out even if they are sick or injured. When you look at it objectively it really seems like we are crazy for letting our children do this. The only thing that makes us not crazy is the fact that they love what they are doing and don't want to be any place other than in the gym. I've told my dd countless times that the second that changes she is done and I will support her 'retirement' 100%. I hope your dd figures out what she wants to do and that she makes the right decision for herself whatever it may be. (((hugs))) to both of you.
 
M

msl529

Thank you all, so much, for helping me thru this yo-yo life!

In answer to a few above Q's: DD is at the gym 15 hrs/week as a L6. Optionals are also M-F, but go later & stay later, I think about 20 hrs/week. There are no Saturday practices for any Team level.

She flat out refuses to try another gym w/ a better schedule, while in the same breath agreeing that if THIS gym had a better schedule (like with one or two days off during the week), she would prefer that. I am NOT about to go up to the gym owners & tell them they need to change around their gym schedule for my dd! :eek:

How she feels about the sport: "I love to compete, but I just feel like gym is taking over my life".

In terms of her evenings while school was in session: The homework load was do-able, and I don't think she missed one "Idol" episode all year, which sounds like "down-time" to me! :)

I am thinking of just risking the leo & coaches' fees costs, & giving her more time to decide. She said she would like to keep going for now, and think about it some more. This means I will be responsible for the fees though, which we can afford, but I don't want to teach her to be irresponsible w/ finances either, you know? Is this wise?

Poor kid, such big decisions at such a young age! She has been posting here & everyone is saying "dont' quit!", so she's just feeling really conflicted, I think.

Like an another mom said here, it is really unbeleiveable what they do w/ this sport, and it is only worth if they love it.

Probelm is, she DOES love it, she just doesn't love the idea of all the hours! And it's really the competing that is her favorite part of all of it, so it's not like going a couple of days a week, non-team, will do the trick.

:eek:URG!
 

Rainee100

New Member
Sep 22, 2007
41
NY
I have a daughter who is also teter tottering on the gym front. My son who is 12 quit last year after 5 years and my heart broke. I then realized that life went on for him after the gym. He now plays basketball, baseball, and is in camp for video production and is happy! On the other hand his twin sister dances and wants to act. She also does gymnastics. She's great but has other dreams. Her abilities have allowed her to stand out in dance and she wants to try for cheer this year. I keep telling her to see all the benefits of gymnastics. She may not be shooting for the Olympics, but she could coach instead of working at McDonalds, she gets better parts in her plays because she can flip and she is in great shape! And I do let her off the hook occasionally, but it's when I see she's tired or just needs some down time. I gave her the opportunity to quit at the end of the season and she chose to stay for one more. She knows there is no quitting until after states. I realize she has one foot out the door, but I choose to see the other one that is still in! The glass is half full!
My third is younger (9) and completely identifies with being a gymnast. I suspect there will come a time when she will challenge that too! Freakin kids!
This wasn't very helpful was it! LOL!
 
B

Billy

How she feels about the sport: "I love to compete, but I just feel like gym is taking over my life".

I am thinking of just risking the leo & coaches' fees costs, & giving her more time to decide. She said she would like to keep going for now, and think about it some more. This means I will be responsible for the fees though, which we can afford, but I don't want to teach her to be irresponsible w/ finances either, you know? Is this wise?

Poor kid, such big decisions at such a young age! She has been posting here & everyone is saying "dont' quit!", so she's just feeling really conflicted, I think.

Like an another mom said here, it is really unbeleiveable what they do w/ this sport, and it is only worth if they love it.

Probelm is, she DOES love it, she just doesn't love the idea of all the hours! And it's really the competing that is her favorite part of all of it, so it's not like going a couple of days a week, non-team, will do the trick.

:eek:URG!


Two things: I think your DD is old enough to understand that if she wants to be a part of the team and compete, she needs to truly be a part of the team in her commitment. And quitting mid-season is really unfair to her team. And second, I think she is probably old enough to understand the financial aspect, as well. She shouldn't be allowed to throw money away, even if you can afford it. That teaches her that it's okay to quit no matter what has been invested (personally and financially) by herself or other people and that's not a good lesson.

I think you should encourage her to stick it out. Ask her what kinds of concessions can be made, within reason of course, that can make things easier for her. And if she decides she wants to quit after this season is over, and after she's really had time to think it through, let her.
 
D

Deleted member 1703

Msl529 -

have you read a book called The Roller Coaster Years by Charlene Giannetti and Margaret Sagarese (ISBN 0-7475-3604-X).

It is a book which focuses on the 10-15 year age band or the middle school years.

I found it enormously helpful. It wont have an actual answer of course, but may help you understand her confusion and how to help her come to a decision.

I also found the physical growth section very enlightening. When you read that is normal for them to grow about 12 inches during this period and put on about 10 pounds a year it is understandable that they are tired a lot of the time. The book calls them "growthletes"!

In fact, now that I have picked it up again, I am going to give it another real good read from cover to cover...
 

Livinatthegym

Member
Feb 4, 2008
204
Region IV
Whoever said their gymmie was driving them to drink here, in the past few weeks....I'm right there w/ you!!!

That would be me. Hang on while I put down the glass. . . .

When's your season? If not until spring, no way would I tell your dd she has to commit, right now, to the whole thing--unless you have to pay for the entire thing, including tuition, up front. That could make for a very long, painful school year. If the season ends in Dec., I can see asking for a commitment now.

Got to agree with Rainee, too, who pointed out that there's a wonderful life after gym. Dd1, who left in April after Regionals, is having a marvelous time just trying new things. She's as active now as she ever was in the gym.

Your dd is definitely old enough to understand finances. Dd2 is still "on the fence" about staying in the gym (Gym knows this). So, we did talk about just what gym "costs". It's mostly the travel that would hurt this year. The meets are all quite a haul. There are probably only a couple in-state optional meets scheduled during the season, so we always have to travel a good distance. We'd have to go to Wisconsin twice as Regionals are there this year. Dd2 says that makes her feel "pressured." Well, too bad. There are realities she needs to be aware of.

Since I have a fundraising account from last year, the amount OOP I'd pay for this year is negligible, so that does not have to figure in to the decision. Dd2 figures she'll know what she wants to do by September sometime. By then, she'll be juggling gym, piano, and confirmation. I don't think 7th grade jazz band starts that early, but she'll still have a pretty full plate.

I've yet to see a girl walk out of the gym without some angst over the decision. Annoying as it may be, all the waffling is pretty normal. Let me pour you a glass while we wait this out.
 

gymjourneymom

Proud Parent
Mar 9, 2008
1,331
Hi there, I've been reading your post, I feel for you & your DD. Unfortunately, I don't have much advice to offer:( It's a tough decision only she can truley make. My DD did level 6 for 2yrs due to beam fear issues...she wanted to quit so often during that 1st year of 6(she also started middle school that year). But her love of the other events kept her in it. She had a great 2nd year of 6(state champ!) and is now training level 7. She had a goal of "making it to optionals...to get her "own routine". That was her motivation. And now here she is working on "her" routine....but struggling to get her giant! It's always something with this sport...some new obstacle to overcome...some new goal to obtain. I have such respect for these kids!!!! I have a niece in her( twenties now) who quit way back when, due to fear of doing a flyaway. She says she still regrets that she didn't "stick with gymnastics". I think her encouragement has helped keep my DD motivated too. So we've just been taking it level by level. 2 of my DD teammates quit this summer b/c "they want to try new things". Our gym does have a "group gymnatics team" which many of the gymmies "retire" to(DD's 2 teammates moved to "group gym team" together). The practice/competition schedule is much less restrictive...so the girls can "have a life" & still do vault & floor skills. Since some gymnast(like my DD) wouldn't be caught dead being a cheerleader...it's a nice way for them to keep up skills & stay in the gym. Maybe you could look into that??? Another gymmie quit & is now a competitive rock wall climber(who knew here was such a thing???). My DD knows that I will always support her decision to stay/leave gymnastics. But when/if she decides to leave...she must replace the sport with something other then video/computer games(LOL). Have you seen the "Remember When?" montage??? It really hits home about what these girls really go through...but also all that they get from gymnastics. About a month ago we were out at a fair(about an hour from our home). A group of "little girls" came running up to my DD....they are rec. class kids...but recognized my DD from the gym!!! They were in awe of her....it was soooooooo cute!!! They followed her around like groupies!!!LOL. I think the whole experience made my DD realize that she is a role model to the "little ones"...and it also helped to motivate her to stick with it. But ultimatley...she knows gymnastics is a life changing committment(for both the pros & cons of it) and only she can decide if it's the right choice for her. Best wishes to you both in this difficult decision. :fortuneteller:Don't you wish you could see in to the future to know what the "right" choice would be?!?!?
 
M

msl529

Thanks! I'll take a nice 'oaky' Chardonnay! LOL!

'Season' starts in Fall. 1st meet in Sept., L6 States in Dec.

Her gym also does Prep-Opt in Winter, so if she took Fall off, she could still do Winter. Prep Op is AAU, so less pressured, as I UNDERSTAND, thus far. We've never done it before, as we did not have it in CA.

DD still cannot articulate what she'd like to do in place of gym, so 'life after gym' may not be so fun. We'll have to come up w/ somehting.

I'm taking her to gym now, & am thinking of running this all by her coach.

Will keep you posted.

Thanks again!
 

gym law mom

Proud Parent
Dec 23, 2006
2,527
I would certainly talk with the coaches. How does dd appear to them? Is she draggy around the gym or seem just fine to them? Does she seem really interested in practice or just going throught the motions?

She is old enough to understand that you don't just compete. There's alot of work that goes into learning every skill and then every routine. IIRC, you had moved during the school year and just maybe she still feels like a "new" kid at school since every afternoon(except weekends) is leave school and to to gym. Can be hard to make friends that way.

Tell her its just not worth being miserable all the time and look at doing prep-opt in the spring. More time for her out of the gym, but still will have the gym experience w/competitions. She may be looking for someone to really help her decide at this point. Even writing down a list of pros/cons might help make things a little clearer.
 
M

msl529

BTW, I was answering 'Livinat' w/ the Chardonnay thing! I will be waiting to hear how your saga goes over the next couple of months as well...join me for a cry/crab/vent session online anytime!!!
 
M

msl529

I would certainly talk with the coaches. How does dd appear to them? Is she draggy around the gym or seem just fine to them? Does she seem really interested in practice or just going throught the motions?

She is old enough to understand that you don't just compete. There's alot of work that goes into learning every skill and then every routine. IIRC, you had moved during the school year and just maybe she still feels like a "new" kid at school since every afternoon(except weekends) is leave school and to to gym. Can be hard to make friends that way.

Tell her its just not worth being miserable all the time and look at doing prep-opt in the spring. More time for her out of the gym, but still will have the gym experience w/competitions. She may be looking for someone to really help her decide at this point. Even writing down a list of pros/cons might help make things a little clearer.
Thanks! I did try to push the time off & compete in Winter today. Her reply? "Oh I'll probably just stick w/ it Mom, you know how I can't live without gym..." AAGGH!!

I think I'll committ her to the looney bin on account of her Schizophrenic tendencies!

We shall see what we shall see....
 
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