I had the joy of taking my oldest to a dance competition a couple of weeks ago. I truly mean joy because it was a wonderful time of focusing on her, spending time with other mothers that I love, watching fantastic routines, and learning more and more about how people tick. I was very thankful for the dance company that we go to- modesty is celebrated, age-appropriate moves and costumes are so noticeable, and technique is emphasized. Olivia could see what a difference it makes to have teachers that lead with that kind of vision.
What did strike me was how we respond to our children during competitions. We have fertile ground during these times to work on their worldviews (and our own!) by processing these events in light of who God is, who we are in Christ, and where we live.
What I mean is that when we win, we give God the glory for allowing us the chance to go, for providing the funds for it, for the ability to dance. We remember that everyone worked hard on their dances and we are grateful that we were able to do our best. We remember that awards are fun to have, but they are temporary. Next week’s competition could have a different outcome. There is no room for pride, only gratitude.
When we lose, there is also tough ground to walk on- we must help our children process this too in light of those very same things. We were not cheated out of a victory, we were not wrongly beaten by our opponent, we don’t tear down the other competitors to make our children feel better. We must help them accept the outcome without fostering a victim mentality. If they did their best, we are thankful for their work. We praise what we see in them. We acknowledge God’s sovereignty and we appreciate what our competitors can do too.
My child did not “deserve” to win and some other child only won because of some huge moral failure on the part of a judge. Judging is subjective and we are at the mercy of the judges that day. Another competition may have other results and you grow and practice what you can, but you do not foster in them the idea that they were “robbed” or that the competition is “fixed”. The Olympics came to mind- A track star who trains for YEARS and has a once-in-a-lifetime chance to compete pulls a hamstring and can’t race. An amazingly difficult blow to a competitor. How we respond to that kind of challenge is developed all along the way in these little competitions. We learn how to compete- how to process loss and winning. These weekends matter and so do our words during them.
I am thankful to say that the ladies I was around all weekend celebrated their daughters’ experience, built up their daughters and were grateful for their teachers and their studio. It made me thank God for His goodness to me to give me such genuine ladies to walk with in this life.