Advice for a parent?

Just wondered if any of you have had this problem and can give me some advice...
I've two daughters, aged 11 and 9, both very successful runners. I've done what I can to help them in every way, from transporting them to events, to talking through problems with training: I didn't think I was 'pushy', just interested and supportive. In the summer of this year, my younger daughter had an outburst where she said she'd never enjoyed running, but only did it because she was made to. I backed right off, saying she could choose whether she went to training at the club, whether or not to race: I didn't want to make her do anything. She cut the training down and, not surprisingly, has had three poor showings in recent races. This week, she has said she doesn't want to do any running at all, ever again. I think its a great shame, because she's been very competitive in the past, winning races for her age group. I'm also sad to say that she will still have to accompany her sister and myself to athletics meetings and cross-country events on a lot of weekends for the forseeable future. I'd like her to reconsider and return to training, but I rrally don't want to put on any pressure. Advice appreciated!


  • nightmare

    i have just pulled both my older two from swimming because they said it had stopped being fun and become work - the older one was in tears actualy because he felt he was letting me down

    but then i never thought either of them was going to swim for england or anything

    they both do other sports though so i am happy that they are still getting exercise.

    she is still a baby really
    she may decide to go back to it in a couple of years
    or even as an adult
  • I've been on the wrong end of this problem, was pushed to play the piano at age 5, as a very sensitive child I never liked to tell my parents I hated it. I played until I was 13, since giving up haven't played a note. And despite doing fairly well (competitions and exams) i quickly forgot how to read music, it's like I blanked it out. For your daughter to have an outburst now could be a good thing, she is still young enough to reconsider, and by attending events with you and your older daughter, and being on the outside looking in, having to hang around or stay in the car, she may decide to get her trainers back on. Make sure to ask her what she would like to do/has planned to do whilst you and eldest are racing, show the interest in what she has planned and sh may lighten up a little. Good luck.
  • and don't feel guilty jon

    you thought you were helping

    you have no doubt stood at trackside with a stopwatch/coat/drinks bottle/sandwiches etc

    got up early in the morning to get your girls to events
    and stood shouting encouragement in all weathers

    when you could have been training yourself
    or sat on your bum reading the paper
  • Jon - perhaps there could be a problem at the running club, that your daughter has fallen out with someone or something like that, which could manifest itself in that kind of outburst. Just a thought. I guess it's also worth remembering that girls of that age are growing up and coping with going into adolescence and maybe that is also part of her confused feelings.
  • Im not a parent, but i can empathise with Dartmoor plodder here

    Do you think the yonger lass might want to do something different to her sister, and thats why she has said this?

    Jon, you can only do the best you can
    I dont see you have anything to feel guilty about either-you have listened to your daughter
    just wondering

  • I've three much older kids, and whilst I'm older, I'm no wiser - but I guess it's at about 11 when the kids start forming their own minds and following their own wishes - with my eldest it was cricket 'cos he didn't like the bunch he played with and with the youngest it was decideding she couldn't be humped with dancing despite having umpteen certificates and stuff - option is either frogmarch them in tears and impose your will or leave 'em alone - I did the latter probably thru' laziness.....but they've ended up ok and the two out of the three that were competitive never lost it, in many ways I wish they had. Good Luck and start saving up for Uni!

  • Don't feel guilty. Kids always try to please their parents (even if it doesn't seem like it!) She would have been aware of your pride in her achievements (as she should have been) and this would have added to her own internal drive to push on - she has made a choice to withdraw. I think you should accept her choice but try and find a non confrontational time to chat about it and take away any expectation from her so she can relax and think about it. I would apologise to her for having to drag her to events etc but ask her to tolerate it. She may decide it's not ever for her but she may, once the pressure is off, think she'd like to do it just for fun.

    It's a choice she has made and you have to respect that. Don't feel guilty though. I wish I could keep my daughter running but it's hard work and I'm not as committed as you have been.
  • 9 seems a bit young for club running ?

    Can you just not let her race for a bit - see what happens ? Maybe she needs a rest.
  • I do sympathise Jon, it's very hard when you just want them to enjoy the sport you do, especially when they show some talent. My 18 year old daughter is only just showing some signs of returning to running after a five year gap, she was a very keen gymnast in particular but had to give it up at 13 with knee problems, fortunately that's all cleared up now she's grown up.

    My 12 year old loves running & 16 year old is into his football club. My 16 year old used to run a lot with me but has developed his own interests - he'll still join me now and then for a 'fun' session. Perhaps have a little break for your younger girl and maybe do a low key fun race in the summer sometime where there's no pressure?

  • Thanks everyone! You've cheered me up on a bad day, when I still went to help at a Primary Schools X-Country event, even though I didn't have a child running. I came away feeling downhearted and guilty, but you're right: a while away from training and competing can't actually do her any harm. I will try and think longer-term.
  • Been there and out the other side.

    Like you both my daughters were promising athletes as juniors, and both lost interest. It was hard to let it go at the time, but I had a chnage of lifetsyle myself (I changed careers quite dramatically) so I was more ready to use the time on other things.

    As it turns out they both returned to running. The eldest now lives in Australia and is at elite level as a racewalker. The youngest still runs on the fells and soundly thrashes her old dad
  • Go easy on the lass, Jon. Don't mention running to her, don't pressurise her to replace the running with something else, and if she herself comes up with something else she'd like to do, don't push her to be competitive at it.

    None of my kids is particularly athletic, though they're physically active and do lots of sports at baby-level, but having been pressurised to achieve academically myself, it took me several years of parenthood to stop subconsciously trying to repeat the pattern with my own children. I suspect the two youngest will accuse me, one day, of having been too relaxed and hands-off with their education, but it's the least stressful way of getting it wrong :o)
  • DustinDustin ✭✭✭
    Jon - you don't say how they got into running. Did they get involved through school (unlikely) or were they taken along to a running club (your own)? You also mention that they have been succesful in the past, I imagine that aged 7 or 8 she is more likelier to have 'gone with the flow'.
    You mention she will still have to accompany you to other xc and track meets, is it not possible for her to spend the day with a friend? (You could reciprocate the favour on a different occasion)

    My eldest daughter is nearly 9 and have to say haven't pushed her into running (although she does run at the school and the local 5km) although I do encourage her in other activities in which she has an interest.

    However, on a more general level I think she is at that age ( if she's like mine) of seeking her own independence and doing what she wants: Just ask the parents of any other 8-9-10 year old.

    I wish you luck...
  • Our childen are not ours, they are their own. You have to let them make their own decisions. If they want to run you can encourage them to commit and train, but if they don't then don't push them. They will only hate it and it will affect any enjoyment they have from the sport for life. Just because you enjoy and are good at running does not mean that they will share that. My children have all taken up different sports to me, and the benefit to me is that supporting them has widened my enjoyment of sport.
  • Jon - I've watched this happen with my daughters too, although it was cycling not running. They rode the Under 12's cyclocross league for several years and I took them track training, which they loved. My younger daughter even won the Under 12's league one year and was extremely proud. We cycled everywhere and would go cycle touring and camping in other countries, which they also loved. Then they both gave up suddenly and refused to touch a bike for a few years - just out of the blue like your daughter. At 17 my older daughter suddenly started cycling the 8 miles each way to college and also took up racing again, sounding beating me! Then she announced that she was going to spend several months cycling around Europe by herself in her gap year! Now she is 20 and a committed touring cyclist, off to different countries as often as possible. At 18 my younger daughter prefers to be driven everywhere by the latest boyfriend, but occasionally says that she might - just might - go for a bike ride.....

    So, it's common but it doesn't matter in the long run. They will learn to be themselves and chose, out of all the things you have shown them, the sports and activities that suit them best. As parents we just give them opportunities to try things. They need support in finding their independence. Your daughter sounds as though she needs some space to think.
  • *soundly*
  • J D, if my experience is anything to go by there is nothing you can do. I never considered myself pushy but when discovering at 8 my son was a talented runner I did all I could,(although I believe we are without realising, it PERSUADING our kids to run.) like yo took him tio a local running club, went to meetings with him and he is a good middle distance runner, however he started to suffer terrible nerves , even throwing up on the side of the track before a race, he soon went right off the idea and there was nothing I could do to improve the situation, hence he stopped running and just sticks to football.

    He enjoys outdoor activities and loves PE at school so I just make sure he gets enough excercise which after all is the important thing , not actually competing!! he often rides his bike 10 miles or so with me when I am running, so setting a good example is all we can do and maybe one day they will return to running, if they dont , hey ho !! as long as they are fit and healthy and excersising thats what matters.
  • I also think that there's a point at which Dad becomes an embarrasing old fart, who talks far too much, tells bad jokes and dresses like their teachers.

    So anything that Dad is interested in is cringingly uncool and not to be entered into under any circumstances.

    Its quite natural teenage rebellion. The only thing you can do is let them make their own way and their own mistakes.

    My daughters still both regard me as a intolerable old git in running terms. They're both of the opinion that I should retire at once to save them further embarrasment. I'm actually secretly convinced that my elder girl only got married so she could, on the rare occasions she finds herself competing with me, further distnace herself form the artheritic old fool she thinks I have become.
  • "I also think that there's a point at which Dad becomes an embarrasing old fart, who talks far too much, tells bad jokes and dresses like their teachers."

    I have made of point of my ambition to be the most embarrasing parent in the school. Apparently I regularly achieve a pb at this activity. The think it's deliberate and therefore quite cool.

    Talks too much - check.

    Tells bad jokes - check, I get them from the forums.

    Dresses like the teachers - I can beat that, I am married to one of their teachers - their mother.

    Success is sweet!
  • It is a shame though isnt it ?? when they get to that stage, I was sunday lunching with 2 girlfiends yesterday and wanted my 13 year to come along, his words ??? "no thanks ILL look a right bell end !!!!! sat with 3 women" , charming !!! he went to his cousins and ate a chicken sandwich !!!

    I must admit he does boast to his mates that I run marathons, but oh my god... woe betide if I dare turn up to meet him or watch him playing football if I am actually WEARING my running kit.
  • I work at the same 16th form college my daughter goes to and I can never remember that she's changed her name by deed poll. So she has to deal with meeting me in the corridor and being called by a name nobody else knows while surrounded by friends! Not cool!
  • just being married to a teacher - or even being a teacher - is so pathetically far from the most embarrasing job a parent can do that you aren't even trying.
    My Mum had the most embarrasing job possible.
    Our school nurse.
    Checking for nits was bad enough, but..
    Can you imagine being 14 & having your mum standing at the front of the class explaining how to put condoms on bicycle pumps?
    truly, there can be no worse fate!
  • Ouch! Poor IDG!!

    Jon, I don't think you should feel guilty but at the same time don't push her to do what she doesn't want to do - you'll only cause rows and unhappiness in the short term and in the long term you'll probably guarantee that she'll never run again.

    Nothing worse than feeling like you're letting your parents down - make sure she knows you just want her to be happy and healthy. Is there something else she would like to do instead? Maybe she could do that while you're at meets with your other daughter? Just leave her to it, make sure she has something to do to occupy her when she has to come to meets with you, and if she misses it she can always put her trainers back on.
  • Hello there

    (this is Dr Nic under MM's log in)

    I've not read the rest of the thread but obviously did read your initial post. I don't know how much this helps but:

    I swam a lot as a child, in clubs and galas from about five (?) to about 11. I liked it a lot but then just remember really hating it and feeling very pressured and even got out 75m into a 100m race (!) I gave up completely, carried on doing sport but didn't swim at all until I went to University, where I started swimming again for fitness. I never did go back to galas though. In 2004 (at 27) I swam the Channel, something I'd always wanted to do all the time I was in the pool as a child. I did it without pressure from anyone (other than myself) and had fond memories of all the swimming I did as a child. I know willingly train hard in the pool upwards of five times a week and have various other swimming goals in mind (none of them galas!)

    I don't know how that's meant to tell you but I suppose I just wanted to give you some hope that your little girl may well return to running as an adult once she has had some time out, and that these things sometimes suit us at different times in our lives. Certainly the foundations you have given her will be there for life for her to remember fondly and return to if she wishes.
  • I wish this forum had an edit function - I meant "I don't know how that's meant to help you"
  • Thanks again for the supportive messages! It wasn't an interest of mine that I led my daughters into, though. It was my oldest daughter's passion and something I took up, rather than standing and waiting for training to finish! A couple of years ago, both of my daughters, who started running through their school, could beat me easily. I encouraged them to join the club and took out a 'family membership' as the best value option... only then did my competitive running begin! I think the desire to do something different from her sister, coupled with finding she could not always beat her friends has been the problem for my youngest.
  • Fell Runner - LOL

    Jon Dwyer - our three are all well into their twenties now. The pattern was more or less the same though. Don't let it get you down; your daughter's outburst is most unlikely to be due to serious long term resentment at your "pushiness". But you can make something positive out of the situation by helping her to be proud of her decision to quit; it's probably the first time she has made a choice completely independently of her mum and dad. And you can show you continue to support her even if she's stopped doing something you personally really rated. She'll then know your love for her is not conditional on her pleasing you all the time.

    Another aspect: helpers at these events are in short supply. You'll probably be doing everyone a favour if you carry on getting involved ...
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