Monday, August 29, 2016

When Your Child Gives Up A Sport





"Are you sure you don't want to go back to gymnastics?" I asked my daughter as Simone Biles flipped through the air during the Olympics. My mouth dropped open. I could barely walk on solid ground properly and this chick was cartwheeling on a BALANCE BEAM.

"Nope," Natalie replied quickly. "I'm done." She even made a slashing motion with her hand.

I stared at the girl on the beam. My hopes and dreams of Natalie being like that one day faded away because I won't lie: when I first signed her up for gymnastics and saw how easy she made it look, I thought, wow, maybe she has that something special. I mean, yes, sometimes she'd fall flat on her face, but she inherited MY genes, so it's a given.

Natalie started when she was five.



She moved up the classes throughout the year. Rec Gym 1. Rec Gym 2. Rec Gym 3.







And then she was invited on the team. I should have known then that Natalie was thinking of giving up on gymnastics when I told her she'd have to practice two times a week. Plus wake up early on weekends to compete.

"No way," she went, wrinkling her nose. "I'd rather play." She wavered back and forth a few times. She liked the idea of being on a team. But she didn't want to do the work that came with it. She wanted to be with her friends. So she remained in Rec Gym 3, but sometimes after class she'd go, "The teacher yelled at me again."

I knew why. Natalie would space out in class. When she was supposed to be practicing handstands, she was staring in the corner. When she was supposed to be cartwheeling on the beam (like the Olympian--only she'd fall off like 80% of the time!) she was twisting a strand of hair on her finger. When she was supposed to race towards the teacher to do a flip, she'd be giggling with the friend behind her and the teacher would have to snap at Natalie to "pay attention."

That's what Natalie was told a lot: "Pay attention. Do what you're supposed to be doing." And Natalie just didn't have the heart anymore. In the beginning it was fun. But then it got tough. More serious.



"It hurts!" Natalie would mouth at me when doing the splits.

The other kids would come bounding out of the room after the class, vowing that they'd be practicing splits, cartwheels, and flips all weekend long. Meanwhile, Natalie was like, "Can we get some McDonalds? Can I go play with my friends now? My bones hurt. Gymnastics isn't fun anymore."

Then we moved. I thought maybe she'd change her mind. I told her about gymnastics places I found.

"I told you: I'm done," Natalie would insist.

"No thank you," she'd answer primly other times.

So when Natalie told me no again as we watched the Olympics--really, it was me watching--Natalie was messing with her iPad. She wasn't even interested in the girls who flew through the air expertly. I realized, this is it: she's truly done. My heart tugged a little. But I knew I wouldn't press the issue anymore.


She was done.



And I had to be okay with it.

52 comments:

  1. Please don't give up sport or gymnastics

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have to. I don't want to force her to do something she's no longer interested in. It's not the way I want to parent. Perhaps in a few years she'll change her mind.

      Delete
  2. I guess it's up to her! I had Zachary in karate for awhile but he didn't like it and I couldn't force him to go!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think it's good for kids to be in an activity or sport but I agree that it needs to be something they are interested in. My girls are taking dance and they love it. The day they don't, we'll switch to something else. I can't force it and I don't want them to feel like it's a punishment. There are certain things they sometimes complain about-always having to go every week when sometimes they'd rather good off, for example-but those are things that I think are good for them to learn. Once they are there, they love it and anytime I've mentioned doing something else, they both immediately say no. But again, if they don't like it anymore one day? We'll stop.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Natalie might be starting choir soon, so that's something! She seems excited about it.

      Delete
  4. You absolutely cannot force a child to do something they don't want when it comes to activities, would you want someone doing that to you? If they are in the middle of a session then you make them finish because they made a commitment to the team, but why force them and have then harbor bad feeling towards you and the sport?

    ReplyDelete
  5. That's so awesome of you to listen to her and let her make the choice! Too many parents force their kids into sports or activities and it's just plain sad.
    I still think you should get her into modeling! That was my jam back in the day and she's so photogenic!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. It's better to listen to them, than to force to continue something that is no longer fun for them. They will learn so much more from activities if they truly enjoy them.

    ReplyDelete
  7. We have struggled with this too - first two years of tae kwon do then a few months of guitar. We didn't give up right away but listening to them is key. He has missed one minute of either one and has found a sport he likes. I think you did the right thing!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Looking back at what my parents pushed me on, it was a wonderful patenting decision on their part. In life we can't give up because it's not fun anymore. Kids are bored at record speeds now. Of course I'd rather play on an iPad. I even noticed my daughter wanting to do less when iPads came into our lives. I let her give up dance for swimming because she loved swimming but now I've learned she loves lots of things, that wasn't the problem. The problem is even things she loved eventually got boring or hard. This was a character trait only I could push her through as a parent an adult with insight better than my 9yr old. That's why I'm the parent. Too often today's culture is letting the kid make patenting type decisions. Studies are coming out saying the last 20yrs of this parenting style is harmful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I respectfully disagree, but I appreciate your opinion. I won't push Natalie to do something she no longer enjoys. She whined driving to the practice and she whined after. She didn't want to practice at home as instructed by her teachers so basically they were wasting their time because she didn't care to improve. Perhaps in a few years she'll try again. She's saying now that she wants to join choir, so at least it's something. But I do not agree with forcing a child to do a sport they no longer wish to do. Granted, I DID make her finish out the year. She wanted to quit mid-way and I said no. So she at least learned that she had to finish what she started.

      Delete
  9. My daughers both gave up on dancing some years ago and whilst I was secretly pleased that I didn't have the hassle of taking them across town and sitting in in a waiting room (the only dad in a room full of mums) I was a bit disappointed that they wouldn't be starring in the West End.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Don't worry too much, love. I think children go through phases until they find something they truly enjoy and with her natural, athletic ability, I'm sure she'll find something that she's amazing at, but also makes her happy!

    Sondra Barker
    Pretty Fit Foodie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! She'll be joining choir, so I think she'll enjoy that. She also mentioned wanting to try out track in middle school.

      Delete
  12. I think you are doing the right thing, if she is no longer interested in it then there is no reason to force her.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The splits do hurt in the beginning. My coached pushed me down into them until I could do them myself, lol... It's good you're not forcing her to do something she isn't interested in.

    ReplyDelete
  14. It looks like she knows what she wants. Don't worry Mama. She'll find a passion, maybe next year, maybe in high school.

    I relate, though. I thought my son was talented in baseball, and he was, but he didn't LOVE it. He only liked it. Once it became year-round and intense, he lost interest. 2 years later I still feel like maybe I cheated him by letting him be done with it, but he has never once missed it or expressed interest in it again. He's really happier doing other stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  15. She was fully done. You gave her chances. She was done and told you. I so agree with that. I quit some things as a kid, but not everything. That was key. As long as it wasn't just a pattern, but a matter of me knowing when something hurt more to do than to skip.
    I saw one dissenting opinion above and I respectfully disagree as well. I'm doing what I love because of my parents supporting without pushing. Maybe some gentle nudging, though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All personalities are different. I benefitted from the push because I pushed past and enjoy rewards from things I would've given up and not stuck around to see the reward. I've seen this in my own daughter. The look of accomplishment and self esteem boost when I've pushed her past "I don't wanna anymore" is beautiful! Amazing! What do y'all do when your kids don't want to do math anymore? Do you push? No? What the heck?!

      Delete
  16. I think you should keep an open mind though. Thats what we're all here for- not to all agree right?! But to all be heard and learn from each other. So I'm curious what you do when she no longer likes homework or a school subject? Do you still make her do it or let her lead the way? In my experience- and don't already be thinking how you'll cordially disagree with me (cause we're here to learn from each other and learning doesn't always mean agreeing but just listening- I went through this with my daughter. Loved dancing. It got hard. Hated it. Loved singing. It got hard. Hated it. Swimming. Same. If you notice a pattern I'd be re-thinking letting your child lead the way and it would be time for you to lead the way as a parent. Sounds like you're learning as you go...and we all are but if we can glean insight from each other, all the better. You're not going to learn anything from everybody agreeing with you but you'll feel better. And hey I sometimes write posts too just for confirmation. But if you disagree id at least repeat some words that you understand from the other person or you missed a chance to learn and your open mind is closed, only looking for confirmation and dismissing everything else. Because I don't you're used to, or like, people disagreeing with you when it's simply a chance to learn from each other.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel like I am keeping an open mind. I had her finish out the year. And then she said she no longer wanted to do it, so I didn't sign her up again. For me, if a kid isn't enjoying what they like, it's a waste of money. Not quitting math is different in my eyes: it's something that is needed in order to graduate. Gymnastics is not.

      I do appreciate you opinion and I never mind when someone disagrees with me. I've been blogging for years and tons of people have. It's the ones that come across as rude that I don't bother with any longer. But I appreciate how you gave your opinion in a tactful way and didn't try to hide behind an anonymous account like some do.

      Again, I get what your opinion is but I simply do not agree, and that's okay too.

      Delete
  17. I think you're definitely making the right choice in letting her quit. I was involved in quite a few things as a child that my parents didn't let me quit and I still hate that I had to do them for as long as I did. Of course, there are other things I wish I would have done longer but I know that it's my own fault that I gave up on them.

    ReplyDelete
  18. My daughter always sounded like your daughter, and I'm afraid she will want to quit things too much! I will follow her lead of course, because I won't force her to do something she absolutely does not want to do. I think she would be AWESOME at gymnastics but she's already told me she doesn't want to try because she's not good :(

    ReplyDelete
  19. In 6th grade I quit pointe, stuck with ballet though. The only reason I quit pointe was because I wanted to hangout with friend's after school. I regret it to this day.
    She will maybe lose muscle memory but always will have the gymnast in her!
    Also...Simone doing floor. That last move....damn...

    ReplyDelete
  20. Good for you for listening to Natalie. She knows her mind and what she likes. I started dancing when I was three and gave it up for a year when I was 10. Mainly because the teacher wasn't teaching and only paying attention to the "cute" ones. My mom let me quit and I took swimming for a year and then went back to dancing. At 16, I turned pro. It was in my blood. I put my daughter in dance when she was 4, not because I wanted her to follow in my footsteps though. At 5, she went to a Tae Kwon Do birthday party and loved it. So, after a one month free trial we decided to sign her up. At 9, she became a black belt. She took the summer off to try other sports and decided she wanted to go back to TKD to get her second degree black belt. She also tried dance again last year at the rec center. She liked it enough but her love is TKD and she didn't want it this year. The problem I have is people asking me if I'm disappointed because she's not dancing and I did. I'm not. She's not an extension of me. I lived my dream. She can live hers and I'll be there cheering every step of the way.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I was the child that my mom didn't not force me to stay in sports. I chose to become a police cadet and now I work in law enforcement.
    I agree with your approach! Choir is fun and still an organized group. Plus you can practice singing while your playing or eating McDonald's! ��

    ReplyDelete
  22. I was the child that my mom didn't not force me to stay in sports. I chose to become a police cadet and now I work in law enforcement.
    I agree with your approach! Choir is fun and still an organized group. Plus you can practice singing while your playing or eating McDonald's! ��

    ReplyDelete
  23. I think as parents we have to choose our battles. There are certainly things worth pushing and then again, there are things that are not. I would hate to become overly pushy with my child, and have her/him resent me. I've heard of many stories where parents overly push their kids do and it creates a wedge.

    And though those situations occur, I also think we need to be cheerleaders and push our kids (again, choosing our battles). Sometimes, (here comes the parent issues) I wish my parents pushed me more.
    This parenting gig ain't easy, fo'sho.
    All the best always!!
    XOXO
    www.mrsaokaworkinprogress.com

    ReplyDelete
  24. My daughter played one season of soccer and loved it so she played another season. Halfway through the second season she was complaining about going. I told her she had to finish the season since she made the commitment, but she didn't have to play again. She is now trying t-ball this fall. If their heart isn't it, what is the point? My parents did the same for me. I played until I no longer felt the desire for the sport.

    ReplyDelete
  25. That's a shame but I'm with you, don't force them...! She'll find something that she truly enjoys - hard work and all!!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Aw, that's too bad she doesn't want to do it anymore, but hey, that's her choice. She's the one who would have to do the work. My parents never forced my brother or I to continue a sport if we weren't enjoying it. Their only rule was that we had to finish the year or season so we didn't let our teammates down, and I fully support that rule and will be enforcing it with my daughter when she's old enough to participate in sports. But ultimately, the choice is up to the kid, not the parent. If they don't want to compete anymore, it's a waste of time and money.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I gave up so many sports as a child and I wonder how hard it must have been for my parents after investing so much time and energy! Eventually I found my calling in singing! Can't wait to see what your daughter falls in love with next!
    Kyla
    Wanderlustkyla.com

    ReplyDelete
  28. I imagine this is how my dad felt when I gave up tennis. He loves the sport so much and he would LOVE if my love was comparable to his. But I just found other ways to occupy my time and he had to accept it!

    ReplyDelete
  29. My girls dance. a lot. like 10-12 hours a week each. and no, they are not Maddie and McKenzie Ziegler, but they love it. It's where their friends are and they've been going to the same studio since they were 2 years old.. however, if they really didn't want to do it anymore, I'd let them pick something else.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Kids just wanna have fun, it's different when we look at them and their possible potential as grown ups. I guess 'cause I'm not a parent you need to give them options and support, not only financial but to just be there for them and let them choose. :) She's adorable.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I think it is great that she is open enough to tell you when she is done. Sometimes parents want their kids in activities they are no longer interested in. I have a little one and although he is only 15 months old, I will only let him be a part of activities for the time period when it is fun for him. If he says he is done, then that's it. We are done. I wont want him to give up on things when they get hard, but if he is not having fun, then we are done.

    ReplyDelete
  32. My husband always says to put the kids in activities that they enjoy. So we try to put them in 2/3 activities and then cut down to one seeing the interest level.

    ReplyDelete
  33. It must be rough seeing your child not interested in the dreams you had in mind for them, but letting them create their path on their own is so important. My cousin wanted his son to be into hockey so badly, but he just wasn't keen or able to play. He was sad, but understood it was not for him.

    ReplyDelete
  34. It can be difficult to watch our kids let something go. But the reality is that they already have a soul that is primed to do its own special thing. We just have to listen and support as parents! Great post, thanks for sharing this moment in your life!

    ReplyDelete
  35. My son is there right now. He's been in football for three years, switched to a new little league team, and they wont put him in the game. If he does not want to continue on, i understand, but I feel like I should encourage him to quit either, I dont know.

    ReplyDelete
  36. AHhhhhhh been there myself!!! My parents wanted a super jock and I was as girly as one could get. When I finally was old enough to make decisions I wanted out of all sports and enrolled into dance. All these years later I still don't think my parents have recovered lol

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for the comment!

Share This

 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...