It has been said that we are all just 2 bad choices away from disaster. Think about it. You might receive forgiveness or be able to rebound from one bad choice, but two bad choices will almost seal your doom. Our job as a parent involves training our children to make good choices so that when they are not with us or when they are adults they will make good choices.
Our daughter has been an outstanding gymnast progressing up the levels, winning or finishing in the top 3 in every event. She trained over 20 hours a week and had one of the top all around scores in the nation for level 6 gymnasts in 2013. As she progressed, the sacrifice to perform at this level increased. She could not participate in other sports, could not enjoy being with the family most nights, could not participate in the school musical and on and on it went. She absolutely loved gymnastics. This summer she had a lingering injury and took 3 weeks off to go to camp and rest at home. It had been years since she experienced this type of margin in her life and I think she recognized the sacrifice that was otherwise shielded by the non-stop routine of school and gym. Following the break she went back to the gym and came home in tears saying she wanted to quit. We listened, but this was not a decision that she could take lightly. We had some long discussions about her talents, desires, dreams and wishes and instructed her that she should go back to the gym for two weeks, get back in the routine and see if her mind changed. This was too big of a decision to make on emotion coming off vacation. We told her that this was her decision and we would support whatever decision she would make. If she decided to remain in gymnastics we would give her 100% support and if she decided to quit gymnastics that we would be excited for her decision and give her 100% support, but it was very clear that this was her decision and hers alone.
At 12 years old beyond trusting in Jesus as her Lord and Savior, this was the first really big decision she had to make. As parents we had the privilege to allow her to think through the consequences, picture what life looks like on the other side of the decision, and completely own the responsibility of the decision. Fortunately, either decision was not going to have significant negative consequences, but did make a huge difference on her young life. It was exciting as a parent to be there over the next couple weeks to listen to her reason out and become comfortable with her decision. In the end she decided to stop competitive gymnastics and enjoy more of her friends, participate in the school musical, run cross-country, and volunteer at the church with the children’s ministry. As a family we got to have our little girl back for evenings, dinners, and weekends. We will not plan our lives and schedules around the gym. We are just a month or so beyond the decision and she is still very pleased with her decision. As her parents we are very proud of her stepping up to make this decision on her own and support her along the way. These are the great moments of being a parent and witnessing your young ones mature and grow in their ability to make good decisions.
During our lives we have lots of two degree adjustment decisions, but only a few ninety degree turns that shape our future and life. Decisions of who is Jesus and what do I do with his claim, where we go to school, what career we pursue, who we marry, kids, and mid-stream career changes. These are all life changing and life shaping decisions. To give our children a place to practice and experience making a few of these decisions in the safety of their home before the consequences are so great puts them in a position for successful decisions in the future. Be there for you kids. Recognize the opportunities to help shape and develop your children. Nothing will make you prouder than to share in their success.