Olympic Decathlete Ashton Eaton's Mom on Why You Should Let Your Kid Dream Big
Ashton Eaton's mom knew from early on that her son was on a quest for greatness.
By Liz Alterman
Olympian Ashton Eaton's mom, Roslyn, knew from the time her son was very young that he was on a quest for greatness. She also believed it was her job to help him achieve that dream any way she could. After setting world records in both the decathlon and indoor heptathlon events, Ashton is going for gold in the summer Olympics in Rio, and, as always, his mom will be there beside him, cheering him on.
The Stir had a chance to speak with the Olympian and the woman who's had his back every step of the way at Procter & Gamble's launch of the newest installment of the "Thank You Mom" campaign.
When asked if she had any advice for parents whose children also aspire to compete at the highest levels, the proud mom said honoring your little one's dreams from an early age is essential.
"Before Ashton was ever an Olympian, he was just a little boy," Roslyn says. "I would say just pursue whatever dream you have, no matter how far away or unattainable you think that might be -- because there's truth in that."
Roslyn says that when her son was just a little boy, he wanted to be the "fastest man in the world" and said he wanted to be the first person to run the Grand Canyon. "He had never seen the Grand Canyon," she says. "But that's when I knew he wanted to run and he wanted to do it big."
She first heard about this goal at a fourth grade parent-teacher conference. "So, I would [tell other parents], 'Don't miss a parent-teacher conference!'" she laughs. "No, I would say, 'Listen, watch.'"
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While Ashton attended the University of Oregon, where he became a five-time NCAA champion, Roslyn said her role changed. While she missed seeing her son, she recognized that he'd grown to embody the values she'd instilled in him -- strength and determination -- and it was now her job to sit back and watch his journey unfold.
It was during college that Ashton fell in love with his University of Oregon teammate and fellow Olympian Brianne Theisen. The couple married in 2013.
While Rio is first and foremost in their minds, Ashton noted that when the time comes to start a family, seeking advice from his mom will be one of the first moves he makes.
He says, "I've already asked my mom, 'When can I call you when we have kids, because I'm going to need to figure out how to do this thing!'"
The athlete laughed before adding on a more serious note that he's truly had an amazing role model.
"She was always very supportive and I remember always being able to attempt something that I thought was interesting," he says. "It seemed like any time I'd say, 'That's cool,' or 'That's interesting,' the next week or month I was in it, doing it, on a team, or checking it out."
Ashton and his mom agree that giving your kids the tools they need to succeed, whether it be confidence or track spikes, is the most important thing you can do to raise a champion.
Image via Liz Alterman
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