Sunday, April 15, 2012

Am I Over-Parenting?

We are trying to be the best parents, studying and reading all we can and still we can be doing it all wrong! I think it brings out one of the worst fears a parent has and allows us to ask a not-so-simple question: am I over-parenting in sports and in life, or am I challenging my children enough so they accomplish more in life? Finding this balance is the key and for most of us parents,  there have been times when this balance is lost and we don't even know it!

One day, a few months ago, my daughter, after 8 years of serious Olympic gymnastics training (since she was three years old!) told me she was quitting.  She liked doing it and was good at it but what she had never told me was that she did it mainly because she thought that it made me happy. She liked the sport and was excellent at it, but there was a point when she would have to choose between playing soccer or flag football with her friends in a more relaxed environment or training for the upcoming regional championships. I was willing to stay with her as many hours at training as she needed and travel as far as she had to go for a competition. There were no emotions comparable to the feeling I had of coming back with the trophy or gold medal after 5 hour at the competition: I was having fun.

I did gymnastics when I was young, but I was never as good as she was. I was heavy and tall so I couldn't jump so high, so seeing her jump and turn with such perfection was beyond anything imaginable. One day, someone in the family told me that she thought my daughter didn't like the sport as much as I did, and that she did it because I loved it. Those words struck me, but I dismissed them; I felt all the love she had for me and how hard she was trying to demonstrate it to me, but at the same time we never talked about it. Until that day a few months ago, when we had the conversation, she was now twelve.

She told me (and I thought she was so mature when she said it) that she knew that at this level she would have to sacrifice her friends, play time, free time and more on training and that she rather enjoyed being with her school friends and play team sports for fun even when they didn't win much.

I felt happy we talked, and sad that it ended. I told her I was proud of all her accomplishments in life and proud of her, just because of herself as she is. I asked her to never do things for me, to do things that she knows are the right thing to do, and do them for herself.

I love you Clari!

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