Parenting a child who is interested in extracurriculars is a special form of parenting, considering the additional expenses, commitments, and yes, safety concerns.
Sometimes parents have to make tough decisions on behalf of their children, admitted the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Throwawaytallgymnast was ready for their daughter to move on to something else when they realized she was too tall for gymnastics after hitting puberty.
But when they were accused of taking their daughter’s passion away from her, the Original Poster (OP) questioned what to do next.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for not wanting to continue supporting my daughter’s gymnastics training?”
The OP watched while their daughter’s passion for gymnastics grew.
“When my daughter was young (she’s now 12), we introduced her to gymnastics. She was totally hooked and kept asking for more and more lessons.”
“We encouraged her, thinking she would eventually lose interest. Now she is 12, training 20 hours a week, spending weekend after weekend competing at high-level competitions.”
But the OP had concerns.
“The problem is, she is 5’7 already and still growing.”
“She is starting to have ambitions for a D1 scholarship or even the Olympics. That makes me very worried.”
“Being 5’7 basically kills her chance of going to the Olympics. D1 gymnastics scholarship is already rare, and the odds of her getting one with her height are even more rare.”
“It makes me feel bad that our daughter is very, very dedicated. She’s almost always the first one at the gym and the last one to leave. She watches replays of her routine on our drive to training, turns down social events because she ‘needs to train,’ and does extra conditioning at home.”
The OP no longer saw a future in the sport.
“Yet I cannot justify blowing thousands of dollars a year and hundreds of hours in time every year to gamble on something with so little chance of success.”
“All the hours spent at her training, driving her to competition are already causing our family life to suffer.”
“She under-rotates her skills because of her height and gets injured more frequently than others. Her academics are suffering because of her gymnastics commitment. Her life is going in the wrong direction because of gymnastics.”
“I think the bandaid is better ripped off earlier than later. My husband agrees.”
The conversation went worse than the OP hoped for.
“I broke the news to my daughter. Frankly, it breaks my heart to tell her to give up something she has worked so hard for.”
“I told her I knew she is a hard worker and that she would get a much better reward if she channels her hard work elsewhere, like in school, or another sport.”
“H**l, she plays tennis with the family only casually, yet she was able to win a few u12 tournaments locally. If that’s not talent, I don’t know what is!”
“Needless to say, she did not take that well. She cried and cried and cried, locking herself in her room, refusing to eat, saying maybe if she doesn’t eat, she will become shorter.”
“I told her over and over that I love her, and I just want the best for her, but she wouldn’t have any of it.”
“I tried to reason with her, telling her chasing a ‘dream’ is a privilege, not a right. No use!”
The family was becoming divided on the situation.
“My husband has now softened even though we used to have an agreement.”
“Our family is now phoning us to try to persuade us to let her continue training, even offering support for training costs and pickup/drop-offs.”
“If she has the right body type to be an elite gymnast, or if she is tall like she is, but is not struggling because of her height, I would support her unconditionally. However, that is not the case!”
“Sometimes I feel like giving in, but to think it through, I was the person who drove her to trainings and competition, I am the breadwinner who paid for her training.”
“It should be my right to call it off, especially as a parent.”
“Help me out, Reddit. Am I in the wrong???”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some were troubled by how the OP approached the situation.
“YTA. You are taking away her passion instead of trying to come up with a compromise that still allows her to train and participate in what she loves.”
“I was a dancer and too tall for anything but the corps in ballet. You know what? I continued to dance into my late teen years.”
“I was aware of my limitations but dance was never taken from me. You are taking something from your daughter without even discussing it with her or trying to work something out.” – sheramom4
“YTA. It is ok to prepare your daughter that she is most likely not going to be able to do the Olympics because there is a specific body type needed for success.”
“It is not ok for her hard work and passion to only be reasonable if she can be elite. If you had instead gently pointed out that her height meant that she was unlikely to be elite but told her that if she wanted to continue with gymnastics or instead consider a related sport or art that you would support her, that would be ok.”
“It is ok to say that your family cannot afford to do the training anymore, it is not ok to say you are only willing to do it if she is a winner.”
“You smack of being an elitist, seeing only value in winners and not in passion and hard work and love of the sport.” – imperfectnails
“YTA. You introduced her to the sport and heavily encouraged her in it. She’s spending 20 hours a week and weekends working on it. You state that she’s in high-level competitions.”
“Your reason for stopping her is that your ego won’t see a return on your investment. You’re talking about D1 athletics and the Olympics. If that’s your measure of success, your children will disappoint you every time.”
“You put her into gymnastics when she was young. You fostered this now that it’s inconvenient to you, you’re done? News flash, kids aren’t supposed to be convenient. They’re supposed to be work.”
“If you’d lead and focused on her academics or how she’s getting injured, that would be reasonable. But based on how you wrote this, her injuries are afterthoughts. Her academics are a useful excuse. Based on how this reads, you’re embarrassed that your talk daughter is no longer as good as she was.”
“But yeah, diving is a good sport to switch to. So is equestrian vaulting.” – River_Paradigm
“I don’t have enough of the letters Y, T and A to emphasize sufficiently how strong my answer of YTA is for this.”
“You said, ‘I tried to reason with her, telling her chasing a ‘dream’ is a privilege, not a right. No use!’ THIS is your idea of ‘reasoning’ with her?”
“Why should she believe anything she hears about dreams that are more ‘acceptable’ when you helped foster this dream and now are finding a reason to rip it away? She would be 100% correct to expect you to do it again!”
“And you tell her that pursuing her dreams is a privilege and not a right, then wonder why she reacted the way she did? Tell me, how does one earn the ‘privilege’ to pursue their dreams? How are the people who aren’t allowed to pursue their dreams identified?”
“Mind you, I am not speaking of success, I am talking about trying to succeed. How do you decide who is allowed to try to succeed at something and who is only allowed to do what is ‘approved’?”
“You also said, ‘I am the breadwinner who paid for her training. It should be my right to call it off, especially as a parent.’ Oh, the answer to the question is money. Nevermind. Remember that one day in the future she will have money, too.”
“YTA.” – Lost_Type2262
“That’s a really bad way to look at your child. She’s not a stock, dude. I don’t think you meant it the way it came off, but that came off really, really cold and uncaring.”
“‘If the cost/benefit of my child’s happiness isn’t in my favor then why would I continue to finance the activity she enjoys?'”
“Just, oof. YTA.” – ZilorZilhaust
While others agreed the OP’s tactics were terrible, they could understand the OP’s concerns.
“I am going NAH. Ex-athlete here that peaked at a whopping 5’2” in a tall people sport. I completely see both sides.”
“Constant overtraining is just going to lead to a lifetime of injuries. I am 46 and need surgery on three joints. But I loved playing and no one could tell me to stop so here I am broken by age 40 and in for a lifetime of pain.”
“Maybe try diving? Same skills, not the same height limitations?” – EpiGirl1202
“Seriously I don’t know if people know how much of a monetary and time commitment it is. It’s different if you have sponsorship, but it can literally drain a family’s financial situation down.” – zfg2022
“NAH. Life isn’t fair. You’re her parent and it’s time to step in before she seriously hurts herself. She’s going to hate you for a while but that’s being a kid when a parent says no and you’re both going to have to live with it.”
“That being said, she needs to be able to talk to someone about this and it’s not going to be you, so therapy would be good.”
“Also, because she’s going to grieve the loss of her plans and need to change her goals. Don’t minimize her feelings of grief, they’re valid. Good luck.”
“Just a side note, don’t try to push something else to ‘take the place’ of her passion. That’s like immediately getting someone a puppy after their beloved older pup has passed on. Be kind and offer hobbies but don’t push.” – Kamintha
“At age 12, my son was in the same place with gymnastics in terms of time commitment, work ethic, love of the sport, and some national-level success. Fortunately, he decided to take a step back, because he wanted to snowboard with his friends and his gymnastics coach wouldn’t allow it.”
“In high school, he took up pole vaulting. It utilizes a similar skill set and fearlessness, there are significantly fewer participants, and height is an advantage.”
“Your daughter would not have to worry about not being good at it now, because most people don’t start any younger than she currently is, and she would have a head start with her gymnastics background.”
“My son practiced 10-15 hours per week for six months out of the year and earned a scholarship to a great university. He was a three-time D1 All-American, had his education paid for, traveled and competed all over, and made connections by attending a top university which helped propel him into professional success.”
“Hopefully your daughter will not feel that her time and dedication have been wasted if she is able to transition her skills and work ethic into a new endeavor.” – ColoNana
“I’m going with NAH. Former gym mom here. Gymnastics at that level is extremely hard on the body and hard period. And it’s so expensive! $300+ a month plus privates, assessment fees, meet fees, choreography, travel expenses, and competitive leotards are $300, plus warm-ups.”
“Our gym honors seniors and their parents equally because the family has to be equally committed in order for the athlete to succeed. Many of the elite gymnasts homeschool or go to those modified programs designed for kids who spend 20+ hours of practice (usually sports or music).”
“It has one of the lowest retention rates for a competitive sport. Those who make it that far truly love it. It’s a huge commitment to your time and finances, and it’s not for every family.”
“I’ve seen gymnasts excel at other sports once they hang up their grips because they’re so strong, but I haven’t seen athletes from different sports switch to gymnastics and excel. I’ve also encountered tall gymnasts and sometimes plus-sized ones.”
“Honestly, I see both sides and wish you and your family the best.” – alisounofbath
The subReddit was thoroughly divided on this one in how they perceived the OP encouraging their daughter to end her gymnastics career at the age of 12.
While some could understand where the OP was coming from, many were hung up on the financial returns the parent seemed so focused on, as opposed to their daughter’s passion and love for the sport.