1. Remember: fun is essential. What was the tweet Nellie Biles sent her daughter Simone just before she began her first day of competition? It was this: “Long terms goal is here/embrace the experience and have fun. I love you – Mom.”
2. Give her household responsibilities. Think Olympians are exempt from doing their part around the house? Think again. When a fan congratulated Anthony Hernandez, father of Laurie for being “all smiles,” the father quickly mentioned, “She doesn’t smile when she has to do her chores, which are waiting for her.” Laurie is in good company. According to the Washington Post, Simone’s chores include feeding her four German shepherds, doing the dishes, and cleaning her room.
3. Always focus on personal best over victory. The internet blew up at the London games in 2012 with the Raisman’s all too relatable body language as Aly performed. Mother Lynn explained in an interview with People “I get nervous because I know what goes into it and how many hours she’s prepared and how hard she is on herself, and I want her to be happy and go out there and do the best performance she can do. “So when it’s over, she is happy no matter the results…”
4. Be her biggest fan. Keep the focus on the child’s needs, allowing her to set her own goals. In this article, Madison Kocian says that her parents, Thomas and Cindy, are her biggest fans, “They will do anything to help me succeed and be happy.”
5. Be her role model. Laurie Hernandez’s mother, who was in the Army Reserves, is an inspiration to Laurie. Laurie says, “My mother was in the Army Reserve for six years. She taught me the importance of following rules, finishing what I start, never giving up, leadership skills, teamwork, staying positive, motivated and how to pack the military way when I’m traveling!”
6. Be there for her. After receiving a phone call from her daughter crying after a big competition, Gabby Douglas’ mom Natalie vowed to never miss another one of her competitions. “I heard her say that she was all alone and had no one to celebrate with. I cried and told her, ‘I will never miss another competition as long as you’re in this sport – no matter where you go on this continent or another. I will always be there for you. I don’t care if I have to stand on the side of the road and panhandle,” Natalie told the Chicago Tribune.
7. Know your role. Coaches coach. Parents parent. In the words of Nellie Biles, “”My job is mainly support and to help keep her focused, relaxed and grounded.”
8. Remember: You are raising a person, not a gymnast. Perhaps Wanda Hernandez said it best: ““Our goal as parents is to keep her grounded at all times. Regardless of the outcome in any meet or championship, we are truly proud and amazed of who she is as a person.”
For some terrific photos of the the Final Five parents watching their daughter perform, check out this great article!