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Growth Spurts: Olympic Dreams…and Realities

I absolutely loved watching the Olympics! I love the competition, the excitement, the dreams, the challenges, the emotions, the life stories. I cannot imagine all the time, work, and dedication these athletes have put into their sports. And I’ve noticed that, in many cases, the athletes’ parents have been just as dedicated in helping their children achieve their goals. After all, most of these athletes have been in training since early childhood, so you know their parents have been waking them up early, feeding them, driving them to and from training sessions, doing their laundry, buying their equipment, etc., etc., etc. for years. So much dedication all around!

I love it when these athletes recognize their parents’ sacrifices and are so quick to thank them when being interviewed. I love that the cameramen find the athletes’ parents in the crowd and let us see their reactions to their children’s competitions. (I think we can all agree that Aly Raisman’s parents are the most entertaining to watch. If you haven’t seen them, please do look them up on YouTube.) And I love the commercials that portray this love and dedication between parents and their kids, even if they do make me tear up. Every time.

Those of you who have young athletes can identify, I’m sure. You know how much work is involved and how invested the entire family has to be. You know the joy of victory. And you probably bob and weave and lean and hold your breath and squint through hands over your face just like Aly Raisman’s parents do, as you watch your own children perform. You believe in your children! You are their greatest cheerleaders and their biggest fans! This is as it should be.

But there’s also the other side of competing and performing: when your children don’t win. They may stumble or freeze up or somehow not meet an expectation at a crucial moment. They may injure themselves so badly, that a dream is now out of reach. Or they may simply just not be good enough to compete at high levels. It is at these times that our children may need us most. They need us to continue to support them and be there for them, and it is our job to instill in them the fact that our love for them is not based on how well they compete or perform. And who they are is much, much more than the sum of those competitions and performances. Their character is what is on display at all times. Have you noticed how easy it is to spot a sore loser or an arrogant winner? Isn’t it ugly to see a pouty silver medalist? Why, the majority of those who compete in the Olympics are in full knowledge that they will not go home with a medal of any color, yet they are thrilled just to be there. Don’t we love those kinds of attitudes? It is character that will outlast any performance that is given in life.

Whether your children play sports, act, sing, play an instrument, design, write, draw, dance, compose, analyze, build, or display their talents in other fashions, be their greatest supporter! Help them find what they’re good at and look for ways for them to use their talents. But don’t neglect their character. Teach them to be gracious, no matter if they win or lose.

 

Carrie Bevell Partridge once dreamed of being an Olympic volleyball player but quickly realized that this was an unattainable dream, because, well, she wasn’t that good.

About The Author

Carrie Partridge

Carrie Bevell Partridge grew up in Memphis, TN with her parents and four siblings. She attended Mississippi College, where she met her husband Kevin. They have been married for 20 years and have five children. They live in Ridgeland, MS. Carrie has written the “Growth Spurts” column and managed social media for Parents & Kids Magazine since 2011. You can read more of her work at carriebevellpartridge.com and Facebook.com/carriebevellpartridge.

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