The purpose of this study was to examine parent-child influences associated with highly competitive gymnastics participation. Athletes (n = 24) responded to self-report measures of perceived parental influences, and the athletes’ parents (n = 39) responded to interview questions regarding the influence of their child’s gymnastics involvement on their own behaviors. Descriptive analyses of gymnasts’ responses revealed that parents (a) frequently attended meets, (b) encouraged their child’s participation extensively, (c) demonstrated positive affect toward their child’s involvement, and (d) held positive beliefs and realistic expectations about their child’s competence. Parents’ responses indicated large time and financial investments as a result of their child’s involvement and indicated that their child’s participation positively influenced such behaviors as (a) attendance at gymnastics meets, (b) reading sports-related literature, (c) watching sports on television, (d) participating in fitness-related activities, and (e) parenting in general. These findings support theory and research that advocate the reciprocal nature of parent-child socialization effects in sport.
Maureen R. Weiss and Carl T. Hayashi are with the Department of Exercise and Movement Science at the University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403.