For Parents Sometimes I love gymnastics, sometimes I hate it

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Livinatthegym

Member
Feb 4, 2008
204
Region IV
Great thread. So many perspectives.

I'm looking back on this from the other side. We've been done with gym now for 14 months. I think I can honestly say I regret ever taking my oldest to the gym. I won't go into the whole medical saga except to say that all our doctors concur: darn little that can be done for her knees short of stopping activity. Great. My 16 year old is essentially given the choice of 1. play with a lot of pain or 2. stop playing sports. Sixteen is too young to have to give up sports. Of course, I hear all the "it wouldn't have happened if the conditioning had been better" Really? Then wouldn't all the athletes have issues? It was just a freak accident. As in, well, gee, who'd a thunk it? But dang, you see a lot of those freaky accidents in the gym. Never happen to my kid? Ok, just keep those rose-colored glasses polished up. I now believe I must've been insane to let a child with a still-growing body spend all those hours in the gym pounding her joints.

As for the other "benefits" of determination, organization, etc. Well, I'd argue that's just who our kids are. Those things are part of thier personalities and gymnastics wasn't needed to bring those out. They'd have come out in softball, track, or swimming. In dd1's case, I might even argue that gymnastics took those inherent traits and honed them a bit beyond what's healthy. Good grief that kid can be like a pit bull.

Then, I have dd2. I don't regret one second of her gymnastics career. She avoided seious injury, and she had a great time. She was part of the optional team, and so trained the ridiculous hours, too. What's the difference between the two? Who knows?

It's terribly easy to get sucked into the gymnastics family lifestyle where everything revolves around the next level, the next meet, the next skill, the next practice. Gymnastics sucks your time and your money, and who wouldn't be resentful sometimes. What's important is probably to look at that resentment honestly and determine if you're just feeling a little down or if this sport is leading somewhere you don't want your family to go. Is it making one child the center of attention all the time (not a problem for us becuase both were in)? Is it hurting financially? Do you have time to do anything else and do it with joy? Or are you just cramming things in and dashing off to practice (do you like the lesson that teaches)?

If you're just a little down and your child is still healthy, well, it's probably only a down day, and we all have those. You're probably in a good place in your relationship with gymnastics overall. But if find you resent it more and more, maybe it's time to rethink your family's invovlement in the sport.
 

exgymnastmomx3

Proud Parent
Jul 17, 2009
140
With my dd just starting out in gymnastics (this is her 2nd year), I haven't even scratched the surface so to speak of the trials and tribulations of all that gymnastics entails.

It is so refreshing to hear a newer gym parent start out and have an understanding of the journey they may be taking. I can't tell you the number of parents who come into the sport with rose colored glasses on only to get totally sucked into something they don't see coming and then being devestated when things don't end up the way they thought. The kids who end up staying in the sport for the entire journey are few and far between as seen in the statitstics showing that 75% of gymnasts quit by age 12 and by the huge number drops between levels. Most parents just don't see it all coming. By the time they are sucked in to the sport (and it's very, very easy to do so!) they aren't prepared for the financial, emotional, physical, spiritual, etc. toll that this sport can take on their child. So many parents after years in the sport do say that they wished that they knew what they were getting themselves into when they began. It's not that those of us who are farther in the journey are trying to be negative or bum anyone out, it's that some of us wish we had been more prepared and had truly prepared ourselves (and our families) for the marathon that gymnastics is.
 

exgymnastmomx3

Proud Parent
Jul 17, 2009
140
I'm looking back on this from the other side. We've been done with gym now for 14 months. I think I can honestly say I regret ever taking my oldest to the gym. I won't go into the whole medical saga except to say that all our doctors concur: darn little that can be done for her knees short of stopping activity. Great. My 16 year old is essentially given the choice of 1. play with a lot of pain or 2. stop playing sports. Sixteen is too young to have to give up sports. Of course, I hear all the "it wouldn't have happened if the conditioning had been better" Really? Then wouldn't all the athletes have issues? It was just a freak accident. As in, well, gee, who'd a thunk it? But dang, you see a lot of those freaky accidents in the gym. Never happen to my kid? Ok, just keep those rose-colored glasses polished up. I now believe I must've been insane to let a child with a still-growing body spend all those hours in the gym pounding her joints.


Oh, how true. People see these things happen and they always happen to other people. I've seen it all. Many people like to keep their head in the sand and believe that their child's experience will be all good. As far as being insane, it is far too easy to get sucked into that little world of gymnastics and not see straight for awhile. Trying to keep a level head is extremely difficult, especially if you are in a very competitive gym. One gym we were at for many years almost had a cult like atmosphere. The further you got in, the harder it was to keep your common sense. When everyone around you is acting "insane" it's so easy to go along.


As for the other "benefits" of determination, organization, etc. Well, I'd argue that's just who our kids are. Those things are part of thier personalities and gymnastics wasn't needed to bring those out. They'd have come out in softball, track, or swimming. In dd1's case, I might even argue that gymnastics took those inherent traits and honed them a bit beyond what's healthy. Good grief that kid can be like a pit bull.


I couldn't have said this better. SO, SO true. I hear many people (who are at the beginning of the journey) say how gymnastics has been so great for their child because of all of the traits that gymnastics creates in their child. I don't believe it was gymnastics that made my kids like that, my children were like that. My oldest was 8 before she ever walked into a gym and she was organized, determined, etc. She was in ballet for a few years before gymnastics and she showed great poise, confidence, and all of those things. Her preschool teachers said the same things about her. Gymnastics didn't make her what she is. She has a twin brother who is a great runner. He's always been the same way too. Sports can be great for many, many reasons, but no matter what my twins chose to do, it wasn't the sport that made them who they are and I make sure that they understand that just because they are great at what they do and many people identify them as "a gymnast" and "a runner", that is not who they are. That is not their identity.


Then, I have dd2. I don't regret one second of her gymnastics career. She avoided seious injury, and she had a great time. She was part of the optional team, and so trained the ridiculous hours, too. What's the difference between the two? Who knows?

Always interesting, isn't it. Having 3 in the sport myself, one can't know exactly why one ends up one way and one ends up another.

It's terribly easy to get sucked into the gymnastics family lifestyle where everything revolves around the next level, the next meet, the next skill, the next practice. Gymnastics sucks your time and your money, and who wouldn't be resentful sometimes.

Well, I know that most of the parents that I speak to on a regular basis have the same honest feelings that I do. We talk all of the time at the gym about our experiences. The basic theme is that when our girls started, it was quite exciting and fun and most of us found that to be a good time. Almost like the honeymoon phase, if you will. (Someone mentioned this type of thing related to cheer moms) We are usually quite willing to participate in the gymnastics world doing what we can do and being a part of it all. Working meets, fundraising, driving, etc. Then at some point, there is a shift and the reality sets in. Many of us have to drive further, the expenses keep going up, injuries begin to happen, coaching issues, etc. We keep plugging along with a positive attitude and keep doing this because our child loves it. As they go up in levels, things just keep getting more and more intense. Drama, traveling, coaching issues, expenses, time, stress, pressure, homework demands, other siblings, extended family, friends?, etc. This really seems to be a questioning time for many of us. What are we doing and why? I think if you just traveling forward without stopping to assess the situation, you'd be nuts. We start wondering what this is all for and start to also assess the well being of our children. There are many great things this sport can bring to the table, but many negativies as well. Trying to balance it all out is like a juggling act. There are a lot of feelings as parents of athletes in this sport we have. Resentment can be one of them, as well as joy, excitement, pride, anxiety, etc. I think if you are doing your job as a parent, questioning and assessing things on a regular basis is just a neccessity.

What's important is probably to look at that resentment honestly and determine if you're just feeling a little down or if this sport is leading somewhere you don't want your family to go. Is it making one child the center of attention all the time (not a problem for us becuase both were in)? Is it hurting financially? Do you have time to do anything else and do it with joy? Or are you just cramming things in and dashing off to practice (do you like the lesson that teaches)?

Yes! Assessing this on a regular basis is so important, but unfortunately, by the time someone usually gets to this point, their child or children are so far into the lifestyle of gymnastics that it's really difficult to stop the train. That is sometimes where I question whether we should have gotten on the train at all! Many of us have found ourselves in that situation and ultimately it's up to the parents to stop the train if they feel they need to or have to, but that is a very difficult thing to do once they are far into the sport. I have seen this numerous times where maybe the parents want to get off, but now they are just along for the ride. This is a very difficult stage for many people and causes so much emotion.

Thank you for a great perspective!
 
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