My daughter is enrolled in gymnastics and it is competitive. She has been in gymnastics since she was 3 years old. She is now 9 years old. I am surprised to see how political it has gotten, I see parents aligning with “the right people” and children being passed over for competitive teams because the next child’s family has connections, money or something that lends to additional leverage. I feel like it has gotten out of control. While I want to support my child in her activities/interests, I also want to make sure that she remains humble and doesn’t get pulled in the wrong direction. One of her friends recently told her that she made the competitive team, and my daughter felt inadequate. Do you have any suggestions here?
When we look at today’s society, it seems that we are in constant competition. If we look everywhere there tends to be a hierarchical approach. Some are on top, and others are at the bottom.
Was this the vision that God had for us? I don’t believe this was the direction or life God envisioned for us.
The statement loving your neighbor as you love yourself, sounds so easy doesn’t it? But why does it become so very hard for us?
What if we could be free from judgement? What if we could teach our children how to love others unconditionally without strings attached?
Could we teach our children to give of themselves first, and that the best benefits in this life come from extending the hand and helping another?
The North American culture has the tendency to believe that we have everything we need; we are more advanced and are a level above the rest. But are we really? “The greatest weakness of North American spirituality is that it is all about us: fulfilling our potential, getting in on the blessings of God, expanding our influence, finding our gifts, getting a handle on principles by which we can get ahead on the competition. And the more there is of us, the less there is of God.” (Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Place, p.335)
The more of “us” the less there is of God.
We want independence, we leverage, so that we have a step about the rest.
As parents, we have the ability to make the difference, one child at a time.
God does not relate to a hierarchy, He wants us to see that through Him and through love of others, that we can have a life of abundance.
We need to remove the instant gratification from our lives and the pursuit of power.
The first step is to show our children through our actions that we are meant for more.
We are here on this earth for a short time, and need to make the most of every moment or situation.
I would explain to your daughter that your goal as a parent is to see her happy but not at the expense of others. Your daughter is likely feeling inadequate because all of her friends are participating and she is not. There are other options - you can enroll her in a skill development program that is all inclusive, if this is her interest area. You can also ask her why she is feeling inadequate. If it is because she is comparing herself to others, then you need to sit down and reassure her that she is beautifully made.
Often children will look externally to feel good internally. Why? Because they see what their friends have, look like, or act and see the attention that comes with it. Instant gratification.
We have to build self-assurance in our children without looking for external influences to define who they are.
How do we build this self-assurance? First and foremost is to show this through our actions, and then explain that they are unique and God created only one of them in this wonderful world, each for a specific purpose.
Psalm 139:14 (NIV)
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
Romans 8:28 ESV
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
You will also need to explain to your daughter that no matter what, in this life you are proud of her and that you want her to flourish in the abilities or talents she has been given. If by chance she makes a top-notch team, it is important not to boast about our accomplishments in front of others. Instead, she should use her talents to build others up - by extending the hand to get them involved or teaching them through her own abilities.
In addition there is also an opportunity for her to explain to her friend how she felt in this situation. I have a feeling that her friend may have not known the impact of the words or actions. Our children sometimes say or do things without realizing the impact on the other side. Some children are very resilient where others may not be. Through this you will enable her to explain how she feels and it could help shift the perspective on both sides.
Children need to learn how to be equipped to resolve their own issues.
I am sure her friend never intended to have this sort of impact. What a wonderful opportunity to provide a different perspective here.
You are doing a wonderful job as a parent, you have identified that you don’t want your child to get caught up in the competitive race and to be humbled by her actions. This is a step forward. Children need us to help them navigate through these issues and equip them with the much-needed information to make good decisions.
Dear Lord God, I pray for our children. I pray that they see through You life is full. I pray that we as parents help them understand that life is full when we love one another. I pray that our young children do not look to external influences to define who they are. I pray that they look to You and they know internally they are beautifully made. I also pray for all of the parents that want they best for their children, may they have clarity in the moments where it is required. Help them teach, mentor and influence their children through You. I pray for this in Jesus Name Amen.
Blessings to you beautiful lady,