**Spoiler alert** the post below contains information regarding the Gabby Douglas Story. I understand if you prefer to watch the movie before you read this post, but please come back and read it! Thanks 🙂
This past weekend I watched The Gabby Douglas story on The Lifetime network. It was a great depiction of Gabby and also gave us an inside look into her family life and the sacrifices that were made in order for her to get to the point of winning a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics in London. I would recommend this movie as a great one to watch with your family and especially young girls. It shows them sacrifice, handwork, how to be champion, and to never give up on their dreams.
I have to commend Gabby’s mom Natalie, without her sacrifice, selflessness, and her willingness to push her children to follow their dreams Gabby wouldn’t be the champion she is today. She is a great example of a parent not willing to kill their child’s dream even though it might not be the dream she envisioned for them or uncomfortable.
At one point in the movie Natalie (portrayed by actress Regina King) became angry when an excited Gabby came home and stated she wanted to be trained by Olympic Trainer Liang Chow which meant she would have to move to Iowa to train for the Olympics and be away from her family for two years. She had no family in Iowa and limited money and resources. In a conversation with her Mother, Natalie asked God why her daughter? Why was she blessed with this amazing gift and dreams as big as the sky? Her mother then reminded her that she too had dreams at one point in her life to be a great lawyer, and once she began having children and the trials of life detoured her dream. Natalie’s mother then stated this powerful and oh so true quote.
“It’s nothing worse for a mother to see their child’s dream go unanswered.”
This movie was a great example of how to support and push your children to follow their dreams and as parents we have to do our part even though it might be tough at times to not kill the dream because our own limitations.
Here are my thoughts on how not to kill your child’s dream.
1. Cultivate the dream. At a young age Gabby was doing one-handed cartwheels, flipping, and tearing up her mother’s house! Her mother saw something special in her gymnastic skills before she had her first class. Once she realized this, she enrolled her into gymnastics classes and began cultivating her dream. What classes or workshops should your child no matter what age be taking to cultivate a gift you already recognize in them?
2. Exposure. I feel like it’s a parent’s duty to expose their children to what’s right and also to new areas of success. Many parents think their child’s only successful if they are a teacher, doctor, or lawyer, but success can be found in many different careers. It is up to us to make sure our children know all of their options.
3. Know they will face opposition. Opposition comes along with the dream. There will be peers who will find negative things to say about your child and family members who don’t agree or support the investment you’re making into your child’s future. While in gymnastics training many times Gabby was the only African-American girl, she was teased about her nose, hair, and height, but her mother had instilled into her at a young age to trust in what she knew about herself and not to listen to the criticism of others.
4. Your child’s dream could hurt. In the movie, Natalie continuously made hard sacrifices for Gabby to be in the best gymnastic classes which included traveling, uniform costs, and time away from school, but one of the hardest things for Gabby’s mom to do was to let her move to Iowa for two years to train. She didn’t know anyone there or have the means to support her, but she had to trust and believe this was the plan for her life and to do what she could to support them.
5. She didn’t let her quit. As driven as Gabby was she had a moment when she wanted to quit, she told her mother “Gymnastics is not my passion anymore”. Many time as parents we can allow our kids to quit too easily. If things become a little too difficult or problems arise, we give in to their sad faces and say that’s ok, you can stop. NO! If Natalie allowed Gabby to quit and come back home before the Olympics, her future would’ve been much different as it is today.
Want to quit, consider this.
Quitting is harder than trying.
Quitting is not an option.
Quitting affects not only you, but also your family and everyone who made sacrifices for you.
Gabby stated she wanted to just be normal. How many times has an exceptional child said this to a parent? Her mother poured right back into her. “You weren’t made to be normal, everything you’ve done in your life has been exceptional. Why settle now? “
6. Give encouragement. Regardless of the stage of dream your child is in, they need our encouragement. They need to know they can do it, they were made to be exceptional and above average, it’s ok to experience loss, and most of all they need to be encouraged to have fun and enjoy every moment.
7. Teach your child to speak things into existence. Another part of the movie that really stuck out to me is their family motto, “Today should always be better than yesterday”. They lived and formed their lives around this statement, even though things got really tough at times, they always knew that a new day was a new opportunity. What’s your family motto, quote, or scripture? What can you teach your child that will stick with them throughout their lives?
The real Gabrielle Douglas in the beginning of the movie stated this statement and I feel like this is key for anyone who wants to be a champion in any arena in his or her lives child or adults. Read it, print it out, post it, and let your child read it, or read it to them.
“You want to know how to become a champion? It’s easy. Turn your dream into your goal, plant it deep in your heart and then for the next ten years eat, sleep, breathe, laugh and cry without ever taking your eye off your goal not even for a second. You want to know how to stop becoming a champion? I actually tried that once. Believe it or not that was a lot harder. “–Gabrielle Douglas
Don’t let your fear as a parent, put fear into your child. Be their biggest cheerleader whether they are age 5 or 45. Their success depends on it.