DEAR ABBY: My daughter "Beth" is in a variety of sports -- basketball, soccer, etc. Even though she's not a great athlete, she sometimes scores and always enjoys herself.
My parents went to one of Beth's games and seemed disappointed that she wasn't one of the best scorers on the team. This bothered me, but I never said anything. They never went to another game.
Today I received a call from my mother, who hinted that I should take Beth out of any sports that she is not so good in. Abby, Beth is only 9 years old, and my feeling has always been that as long as she wanted to play the sport and tried her best, then we'd stick with it.
I never had half the courage my daughter has as far as starting new sports and events with new people -- and now I think I know why. I'd be grateful to hear your opinion on this. -- ANONYMOUS IN BOSTON
DEAR ANONYMOUS: Your mother's thinking is outdated. Involvement in team sports is not only a means of staying in shape, it also helps girls gain self-confidence and self-esteem. Physically active adolescent girls have a good time, improve their body image and feel better about themselves. Starting early is important.
I consulted Linda Feltes, public relations director for the Melpomene Institute for Women's Health Research, a non-profit membership-based organization that helps girls and women of all ages link physical activity and health through research, publication and education. She told me that a University of Virginia study has shown that if a girl doesn't participate in sports by the age of 10, there is only a 10 percent chance she will be physically active by the time she is 25.
Continue to encourage your daughter's participation in sports. She is forming a healthy habit that will probably last a lifetime.