Raising an Olympian- Gymnast Gabby Douglas

Natalie Hawkins, the mother of Olympic Gymnast Gabby Douglas, found out quickly what it meant to let go… Gabby went on to place first in Olympic Trials, guaranteeing her the first spot on the USA women’s gymnastics team. After her powerful and stellar routines you will find Gabby and her affectionate smile giving glory to God.

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Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Watched the video. Saw it was sponsored by P & G which reminded me  of all the commercials they ran during the Olympics along the same theme. The commercials and video made me sad. How we have lost sight of what is really important in life. Sent her daughter away at 14 or 15 to train. The cost in earlier years - for all these athletes. I can't imagine sacrificing those years with my three children, time that can never be regained.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

JobK's picture

What the Douglas family did was really not so uncommon. Step out of our wealthy, modern western culture and go to other parts of the world - or for that matter stay in our own culture but go back in time 150 years or so - and teenagers like Gabby Douglas leaving home to get married or to go find work on farms and factories was/is routine. In those economies and cultures, "teenagers" didn't exist. As soon as you were old enough to either do manual labor all day (or be an apprentice to a craftsman if you were lucky) or bear children, you were an adult and off on your own. Or perhaps the child stays at home - or with relatives - but one or both parents leave for months or years to find work to support the family. The latter scenario is common right now with military parents deployed in combat zones, and for migrant workers (including but not limited to illegal immigrants).

Also, how different is it from sending a teen off to boarding school, which the wealthy often do? Or to be a foreign exchange student? If she had earned and availed herself of a scholarship to an exclusive boarding school in France whose graduates have a straight line to the world's best universities, would that have been a case of misplaced priorities? As it is, she is soon to be a millionaire, can have her pick of elite universities to attend, and is now in position to financially aid her mother and sisters.

Her mother is on disability and cannot work, is losing her home to foreclosure, and is in the process of ending her marriage to her husband, who has been away from home for 7 years while serving in the military (currently in Afghanistan). Which makes the choices made by this teenager and her family not that much different from the many teen girls who for economic reasons left Virginia (and South Carolina and Mississippi) to go to New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Detroit to work as maids and seamstresses mere decades ago. 

Solo Christo, Soli Deo Gloria, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura
http://healtheland.wordpress.com

PLewis's picture

I was thinking more of missionary kids I met while in school - where the parents were in a country that did not have adequate high schools and sent the kids home .. either to live with relatives or to boarding school.

The first time I heard/saw Gabby was in the all around qualifying .. Her countenance showed she was something special ..  then right after she was doing an interview and said something about meditating on things as she read the Scripture .. and we knew .. We could see it on her face before we ever heard she was a Christian .. To me that says a TON .. 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

JobK wrote:
What the Douglas family did was really not so uncommon. Step out of our wealthy, modern western culture and go to other parts of the world - or for that matter stay in our own culture but go back in time 150 years or so - and teenagers like Gabby Douglas leaving home to get married or to go find work on farms and factories was/is routine. In those economies and cultures, "teenagers" didn't exist. As soon as you were old enough to either do manual labor all day (or be an apprentice to a craftsman if you were lucky) or bear children, you were an adult and off on your own. Or perhaps the child stays at home - or with relatives - but one or both parents leave for months or years to find work to support the family. The latter scenario is common right now with military parents deployed in combat zones, and for migrant workers (including but not limited to illegal immigrants).

I hear you Job. When you find a time machine, let me know. In the meantime, I am stuck in 2012 where kids are not considered grown until 18 years of age. Not sure how many cultural settings have kids moving out of the house today at age 15. Nor do I know how  often those kids move entirely away from all familial ties - i.e. out  of the village and  across the country. Also, losing one parent (military duty) is different form losing both parents and all home surroundings. Furthermore, my post was about priorities. Are you going to  equate a parent leaving to find work to support the  family with a parent sending a child away to compete in sports?

 

JobK wrote:
Also, how different is it from sending a teen off to boarding school, which the wealthy often do? Or to be a foreign exchange student? If she had earned and availed herself of a scholarship to an exclusive boarding school in France whose graduates have a straight line to the world's best universities, would that have been a case of misplaced priorities? As it is, she is soon to be a millionaire, can have her pick of elite universities to attend, and is now in position to financially aid her mother and sisters.

Again, priorities. I don't care where my child might receive a scholarship, I'm not forfeiting my opportunity to parent my 15 year old for financial gain.

 

JobK wrote:
Her mother is on disability and cannot work, is losing her home to foreclosure, and is in the process of ending her marriage to her husband, who has been away from home for 7 years while serving in the military (currently in Afghanistan). Which makes the choices made by this teenager and her family not that much different from the many teen girls who for economic reasons left Virginia (and South Carolina and Mississippi) to go to New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Detroit to work as maids and seamstresses mere decades ago.

Again, time machine. 15 decades ago is not 15 today. Totally agree on the cultural shift that has taken place creating teenagers, but it's what we have today. I was not aware of the details of mom's life, which are indeed very sad, but that doesn't change my position. 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

PLewis wrote:
I was thinking more of missionary kids I met while in school - where the parents were in a country that did not have adequate high schools and sent the kids home .. either to live with relatives or to boarding school.

The first time I heard/saw Gabby was in the all around qualifying .. Her countenance showed she was something special ..  then right after she was doing an interview and said something about meditating on things as she read the Scripture .. and we knew .. We could see it on her face before we ever heard she was a Christian .. To me that says a TON ..

Again, priorities. Are you going to equate missionary situations with sending your child off to compete in games (assuming the case can be made for mission boarding schools - topic  of another thread)? 

Are you also arguing that this was a beneficial spiritual development for Gabby, more biblically  sound than parenting would have been? Even if you are, I'm not aware of any verse that says you can measure spiritual maturity by the countenance. My Mormon sister studies scripture diligently and meditates daily on what she reads - and she also claims to be a Christian. My point is, you have no way of knowing her spiritual state, so it can't begin to play into the evaluation here. 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

PLewis's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

PLewis wrote:
I was thinking more of missionary kids I met while in school - where the parents were in a country that did not have adequate high schools and sent the kids home .. either to live with relatives or to boarding school.

The first time I heard/saw Gabby was in the all around qualifying .. Her countenance showed she was something special ..  then right after she was doing an interview and said something about meditating on things as she read the Scripture .. and we knew .. We could see it on her face before we ever heard she was a Christian .. To me that says a TON ..

Again, priorities. Are you going to equate missionary situations with sending your child off to compete in games (assuming the case can be made for mission boarding schools - topic  of another thread)? 

Are you also arguing that this was a beneficial spiritual development for Gabby, more biblically  sound than parenting would have been? Even if you are, I'm not aware of any verse that says you can measure spiritual maturity by the countenance. My Mormon sister studies scripture diligently and meditates daily on what she reads - and she also claims to be a Christian. My point is, you have no way of knowing her spiritual state, so it can't begin to play into the evaluation here. 

Of course I'm not equating "games" to mission work ..  and I don't think I'd have considered that path for my child .. tho' that level of competition requires a different effort than playing little league.

I have no way of knowing her heart - but the point I was making was that from that competition it was clear her heart seemed different that the other girls in the competition .. and it was refreshing and lifted MY heart.

 

Don Johnson's picture

But in several interviews of this girl, I see  her constantly talking about Scripture, insights she gets from the Word, etc. She seems to be much more than the usual sports figure "thanking Jesus" after a victory. Don't know anything about her other than what I read in the paper, but there seems to be more to her testimony than most.

So, I'm not sure I would have sent a child off like that, but she seems to be a pretty spiritually minded person, from all reports.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Teri Ploski's picture

That by sending her away, she actually was much more spiritually grounded than she would have been had she stayed at home?  That perhaps God used that time away with another family to teach her much more than just sports?  We don't know the other family, but it certainly seems that not only did she benefit sports-wise, but the host family seemed to have done a great job in loco parentis.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Teri,

I think you are discussing separate points. God could have, and might have, used that time as you suggest. He often uses human mistakes for His own purposes. That doesn't change my contention that this was a display of bad priorities.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Not being a sports-minded person, it's hard for me to think of sports as a viable career choice- but why not? It employs lots of people, the free market bears it, it isn't immoral to be an athlete, etc... so I have to set aside my own biases to try to consider this situation. 

Therefore- if I'd send my kid to train for their chosen career (which I would), but that career happens to be a sport or sports-related vocation, I can't really imagine a reason not to do so at the moment. Yes, it would be a very tough choice, and I'd have to be very confident that my child was ready for that kind of challenge. However, an Olympic athlete has already proven quite a lot by default.

Nevertheless, I would not allow my girl to cram herself into a teeny-weeny outfit like that to be viewed by millions of people. The male gymnasts get to wear clothes, so I see no reason why the girls shouldn't. That would be my main objection, as far as gymnastics goes. 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

I was objecting to the age more than the profession. If my 18 year old wants to go to college, join the military, or train for the Olympics - go get 'em. But my 15 year old is not moving half way across the country for someone else to finish raising (nor is my 7-15 year old going to make sports the highest priority of his or her young life to get to the Olympic training stage).

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

It depends on the 15 year old. Some could be ready for the challenge. It might not be 1818, but not all parents allow their children to indulge in cultural expectations of adolescence.