Parenting According to the Olympic Parent

The parental Olympics are almost as fun to watch as the actual Olympics. This week we're talking about going for gold as a parent.

One week in, and I'm experiencing an Olympic-sized inferiority complex. 

It's not so much the feats of awesome athletic prowess displayed by the athletes themselves that inspires this feeling. There is no question that I have never remotely been in their league. It's the parents. Olympic parents are almost as front and center as the athletes themselves in the 2012 London Olympics coverage.

The mom and dad cams are trained on them in the stands as they watch their kids go for the gold, and commentators and talk show hosts seek out their justifiably proud gushing after their kid successfully climbs the platform. Tearful athletes recount the tireless support, encouragement, and sacrifices their parents made to help them achieve their dream.

And then there are the commercials. I don't even feel I'm worthy of buying Pampers after that Procter & Gamble commercial. (See it here)

Sit down Tiger Mother, have another espresso ; Olympic parents have taken the floor, and they are sticking it.

All over the world, little kids are up late, glued to the television (a rare exception to the "screen-time" rules in many households), imagining themselves to be the next gymnastics, swimming, or soccer star to take a crack at being the very best in the world.

Parents are pointing out the incredible dedication and work that each athlete has put in to be there.  I'm still trying to explain to my five year-old why Ryan Lochte flips 650-pound tractor tires down the sidewalk. Sounds fun to him in theory, though.

I have to confess, though, that my kids haven't been watching too much of the Olympics coverage this time around. By choice, my husband and I haven't started our kids in competitive athletics just yet. We're not opposed, we just want them to have a few years to jump in the pool purely for the fun of it, all gangly cannonballs rather than precise form, before they decide if they have a true passion to spend years in the water, or on the field, going for gold.

I am enjoying watching the Olympics though, through the lens of a parent. I'm wiggling and wincing right along with them.

If my kids do get that Olympic glint in their eye, I am also learning from some of them, particularly parents like Mike Maroney, the dad of gymnast, McKayla Maroney, one-fifth of the "fierce five" who brought home the first gold in their event to the United States since 1996.

Responding to Matt Lauer of the TODAY show, asking what advice he could offer to parents of other Olympic hopefuls, he said: "The best thing a parent can do is just support them and let them live their dream. Don’t make it your dream. It has to be theirs, because if they want it bad enough they’re going to be able to achieve it, and just give them all the tools that can give them that opportunity to have the success that their dream is all about.”

Mr. Maroney, you get a gold medal in my book.

What do you think about the Olympic parents? Are any of them inspiring your cheers, or jeers? Tell us in the comments section below.


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