Running a family hooping business from home means that there’s little-to-no separation between hooping and our family life. And that works for us just fine! Lafayette (we call her Laffy) may have just celebrated her first birthday, but she’s already played with more hoops than many adults will ever see. 6 year-old Navi is often a source of inspiration for this column and now declares she wants to “make hoops” like her daddy and me when she grows up. This week I found myself thinking about how other parents weave their hooping lives into their family lives. And more specifically, I wondered how their hooping practice informs their parenting. I posed the question online and got some incredibly thoughtful (and thought-provoking) answers. No surprise, the family that hoops together has a whole lot of fun together. But as it turns out, they get much, much more. Read on for some downright inspirational stories.
“Several of my children entered our home through adoption and have survived some of the ‘hard places’ in life. I started using hooping as a therapeutic tool, and actively teaching other parents in similar situations to do the same. When children experience early childhood trauma, it literally affects their physical core. Hooping forces them to make a decision: fight it or dance with it. As soon as they see another child hooping, they work harder to fight their survival instincts, lean into the vulnerability and let their core (and their pain) open up and be released. It’s beautiful. As is the case with all of us, I learn the most about myself through my children. When my inner core is stiff and fighting the hoop, it has always been a direct reflection of how I’m fighting my own opening up in my home that day, as a mother. Many times I don’t want to be vulnerable and playful when things are hard. But my hoop calls me out every time. It leaves me standing there, like a rock, with nowhere to hide my internal struggle. And just like I’m teaching my kids, I have a choice: fight it, or dance with it. I can’t really ask something of them that I’m not willing to do myself. It’s humbling. It’s beautiful, but mostly humbling.” -Christine Moers, mother to Sadrack (16), Mackenzie (14), Andrew (13), Marah (13) and Precious (9)
“The first time I appreciated the importance and impact hooping had on my parenting was on a cross-country flight early on in my hoop life. As the flight attendant came to the point in her safety speech about oxygen masks and those traveling with children, it was as if I was hearing the message behind the message for the first time. It had always seemed counter-intuitive that a parent would put their own oxygen mask on first and THEN attend to their child. But then I realized that without making sure I had adequate oxygen, there was no way I could properly take care of my child. The idea of personal responsibility for my physical, emotional, and spiritual health suddenly made sense, and I began to look at taking care of myself as necessary for the greater good. No one else would or should do this for me, and the resentment for all the silly sacrifices we make as mothers, day to day, moment to moment, is meaningless and detrimental to the health of the family. Hooping then became more of a personal mission and practice of sustaining myself so that I could bring my best self to others. Paddling, breaking, reversing, constantly changing currents and planes all speak to the resilience, receptivity and intuition necessary to mother and partner with my family. When I develop my skills within the hoop, I also hone those same skills that help me navigate the world outside it.” –Beth Lavinder, mother to Erica Lavinder Chiba, age 14 ¾
“As a hooping father (what a phrase!), I find that each year that has past since my daughter’s birth has had its crazy and even more crazy moments. Hosting two jams a week along with class, I am spending a lot of time in the hoop. I get to take Rylie with me most weeks, and she hoops and dances with everyone. I guess there is little other way to put it but to say that my hooping is inspired by my family. I have loving support from my wife (the person who gave me my first hoop), and my daughter is a dancing machine. I encourage my daughter in many ways, as does her mother, but when I see her dance and hoop, I am brought back to the reality of why I hoop. For those with very young children or one on the way, remember that each year will offer up new life experiences. Be patient; there may be longer stretches in between your hoop sessions, but do it when you can. Soon your kid will be showing you up and you will be asking yourself how did this happen? Then you’ll find yourself practicing all night! Hooping parents make good hooping babies.” -Richard Hughes, father to Rylie, age 3
“I think my kids witnessing the process of me learning to hoop and then learning to perform has been invaluable for showing them how to handle failure, frustration, disappointment, and fear, as well as how to persevere and be dedicated. In my learning videos, you can see them in the background often, and I love that so much. They see me prioritize taking care of myself by doing something I love. They see me being active. They see me happy and passionate and fulfilled.” -Brianna Fricke shares her life with Nic, 11, and Ella, 7
“I have a 15 year-old stepdaughter. We don’t often get the chance to hoop together, but when we do, we have a lot of fun. It’s a great way for us to bond, particularly at a stage in her life that is challenging for all of us. Her weight is a concern to her, and she always asks me if hooping will help her lose weight. I usually reply, ‘Well, it might,’ while adding that the physical benefits I’ve experienced from hooping – increased muscle and strength, more energy, and a better self-image of my body- are motivators, too. She shrugs, but I do hope that what I’m saying – as well as my refusal to get hung up on my weight – will be meaningful to her one day.” -Anne-Marie
“As a traveling family, hoops are a great way for us connect to people who may not have hooped since they were kids. I also love that I have a fun activity to do with my kids that gets us all moving and flowing together. I also really appreciate that I can disconnect and have some ‘me time’ without really leaving my family. I put the headphones on and hoop until I am sweaty.” -Chasity School, mother to daughters Lydia (8), Lilah (7), and Laini (5)
“My kids see me take real pride in my hooping accomplishments. As women, we can so often be self-deprecating. It was hard for me personally to learn how to graciously receive compliments. I am proud that my daughter sees people give me praise and sees me accept it. I think this is huge for girls.” -Leah Barber, whose children Nina, Charlie, Fritz, and Veda, are ages 10 to 3
“I like that my hooping demonstrates to my children that parents have our own passions in life and that it is okay to make space for that in our lives. I definitely feel like I am a more centered and rational parent with some hooping under my belt. I also love that we dance more since I took up hooping. I rediscovered a lost part of myself in the hoop and my kids are benefiting from that.” -Rochelle Nielson, mother to a 5 year-old son and 3 year-old daughter
“Through my hooping, my children see me model self-love even with a body that our culture would deem substantially less than ideal. They see me pursue my passions. And possibly most importantly, they see me model positive stress management on a daily basis. I can’t tell you how many times my kids hear ‘Before we talk about (insert questionable choice they’ve made here) let’s have a five minute dance/hoop party so we can all calm down first.’ And I’m less likely to yell at someone if I’m out of breath from shaking it like a polaroid picture.” -Jenna Boettger Boring, mother to Verona (2) and Finnegan (1)
Are you a hooping parent, grandparent, or caregiver? Tell us what your hooping practice has brought to your experience of parenting!
Lara Eastburn has been dancing in meadows and singing with the moon while spinning in circles for eons at Superhooper.org. Lara is also the driving force behind Circumference: Online and Live business & marketing classes for hoop makers, instructors, and performers.