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Thread: Would you give everything up...

  1. #1
    GOLDEN DREAMS RealtorGal's Avatar
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    Question Would you give everything up...

    Pat Lipinski is often criticized as an overbearing stage/skating parent, for the role she played in her daughter's success in gaining initial media attention, and for her criticism of the media after Tara won the OGM. That got me to thinking...

    What would YOU do if it had been YOUR child?

    Also, would you basically give up your entire life to devote yourself to your child's career (skating or other talent), which may or may not ever materialize?

    Just curious...

  2. #2
    Custom Title heyang's Avatar
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    I think a lot depends on the family and financial situation. If there were no other kids and there was financial security, I would want to be supportive of my kids. However, I don't think I'd just hang around the rink all day.

  3. #3
    Gliding Along dlkksk8fan's Avatar
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    What would YOU do if it had been YOUR child?
    Personally I'm not a pushy person and if I had a child that was olympic material and loved skating, I would do everything in my power to help them reach their potential. Well the Lipinski's had the time and money to be involved and push their kid with what ever means they thought right. Tara's "goal" with her skating was winner the Olympic gold medal and she did everything she had to to achieve that goal even if it meant injury to herself.
    As a parent I wouldn't allow my childs health to be sacrificed for such a goal.

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    If my kid had talent, I would do everything to give her the opportunity to pursue her dreams. I would also be sitting in the stands all day just to make sure that the coach had my kid's best interests at heart.

    The Lipinskis weren't any different than MK's parents so I don't understand why they were singled out. In fact, every successful skater out there has a skating parent sitting in the stands. Todd had his mother, MK has her father, Kristi's mom Carol was up there as well.

    Also injury is a fact of life in sport. Look at gymnastics: there are gymnast who died vaulting or suffered paralysis. I don't think the Lipinskis forced Tara to perfect her jumps. I think that drive came from within Tara to master the tricks and when she mastered her jumps, she was the happiest girl in the world. How can anyone fault Pat for not stopping her daughter?
    Last edited by soogar; 03-29-2004 at 12:04 AM.

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    That is a very difficult question to answer, RealtorGal. However, I do think that it helps when there is only ONE child in the picture. I think it was a little easier for Pat Lipinski to do what she did with Tara because there were no other children. Tara had her complete attention. But, I would have to imagine it put a tremendous strain on her marriage. I'm not sure, it just seemed Tara was a little young to be away from her father for such extended periods of time. I don't know how close they were as a family or how the marriage was, but personally, I wouldn't want my child to be raised semi-fatherless for 3-4 years if I could help it. But, LOL, then again, if my child was a phenomenal talent like Tara was and really wanted something....it would be impossible to say really. It seems like a bad idea to disrupt a family like that, though, even for an Olympic Gold Medal. I mean, come on, it is hard enough to get most fathers to stick around willingly....LOL!

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    Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult
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    It is very difficult to say what I would do as I am not in the position of having an ultra- talented child. I like to think that I would not give up my own life to pursue my childs career but that I would be supportive, loving, disciplining etc, the things a mother should be.

    1) I would want any child of mine to be happy with the choices they make and to never feel that they were pushed to do something by their mother. I am not for a second implying that Tara was pushed or didn't want to be there, but it is all to easy to get caught up in your own excitement and forget that what the child wants for themselves may be entirely different to what you want for them.

    2) I would not want my child to suffer for lack of one parent being around. There are too many children growing up without parents through no fault of their own and I could not justify bringing up a child who does not know one or other of their parents as well as they could/should simply because you were too busy running from pillar to post to find the best coaches, choreographers, costume designers etc.

    3) If there are other children involved it is simply not fair to raise one so far above the others that you create an uneasy atmosphere between siblings and a feeling of one child being loved more than the others. How could I justify saying to a child 'I'm sorry I cannot afford to spend time with you or money on you because your sibling needs it all for their career'

    4) This is an entirely selfish reason but what on earth would I do when my child grows up, leaves home and starts to make all their own decisions and decides they don't need me around any more. I haven't seen friends in years, I haven't had a social engagement that hasn't revolved around my child, I have become distanced from my family because I have been travelling around the world with my child.


    For me I think Sarah has had the best up-bringing in terms of pushing her career. Her parents supported her through her skating career. They carefully monitered her public appearances, looked after her and supported her. They found a good coach and invested a lot of time and money in her but ultimately left the coaching to the coach and they were her family. They stood back and allowed Sarah to make her own decisions with regards her future after the Olys and while I am sure their must have been a certain amount of relief that she chose the academic route I always get the impression that it was ultimately her decision and that her parents would have supported her had she chosen skating.

  7. #7
    Hopeless fan Doggygirl's Avatar
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    Interesting Topic as always RGal!

    Diver chick, several of your points really hit home to me. I grew up as a child athlete in the sport of baton twirling. Since the real competitve part of that sport is never televised, many people do not realize it's a WHOLE lot more than what you typically see in front of the band during the parades. So my comments will be from the child athletes point of view, and also reference how this impacted our family and especially my Mom who was absolutely a stage Mom.

    Originally posted by diver chick
    It is very difficult to say what I would do as I am not in the position of having an ultra- talented child. I like to think that I would not give up my own life to pursue my childs career but that I would be supportive, loving, disciplining etc, the things a mother should be.

    1) I would want any child of mine to be happy with the choices they make and to never feel that they were pushed to do something by their mother. I am not for a second implying that Tara was pushed or didn't want to be there, but it is all to easy to get caught up in your own excitement and forget that what the child wants for themselves may be entirely different to what you want for them.

    DG: There is a very fine line for both the child and the parent. (my Mom& Dad were and are still together, and I had two younger brothers). I don't ever think I had the *true* love of my sport that people like, say, that MK seems to. As a child, there is no way I could make decisions like a rational adult. There was a lot about the sport I loved, and believe you me WINNING was a big one. There were so many times I would rather be doing normal kid stuff, but I was on a very strict training schedule most of the year. Up at 5, to the gym for 2.5 hours practice. Shower, then school. Home from school - another 1-2 hours practice at home (they cut a floor out of a bedroom so I had two stories to work in from the basement LOL). Dinner, homework, sleep, repeat. Similar to the FS training schedules we've all heard about. Of course Mom was the taxi driver and coach for all this training. I had professional teachers, but in those days anyway in that sport, you saw your teacher once or twice a month (usually out of state at the higher levels unless you get lucky) and Mom is the coach the rest of the time. I was often giving the choice to keep going or quit. Thinking back on it, I can't quite say for sure what % of my decisions to keep going were because my Mom wanted me to keep going and I knew it, vs. my own love of winning despite the work and sacrifice along the way.

    2) I would not want my child to suffer for lack of one parent being around. There are too many children growing up without parents through no fault of their own and I could not justify bringing up a child who does not know one or other of their parents as well as they could/should simply because you were too busy running from pillar to post to find the best coaches, choreographers, costume designers etc.

    DG: Our family hung in there despite the fact that my Mom's life revolved around me at least 90% of the time, and my life revolved around baton twirling and school 90% of the time. There is NO DOUBT this took a huge toll on my father and my brothers. While we all got through it, and have done the work to put the past behind us and establish incredibly tight family bonds which will last forever, there is NO DOUBT that this is a valid concern.

    3) If there are other children involved it is simply not fair to raise one so far above the others that you create an uneasy atmosphere between siblings and a feeling of one child being loved more than the others. How could I justify saying to a child 'I'm sorry I cannot afford to spend time with you or money on you because your sibling needs it all for their career'

    DG: My brothers absolutely felt this. They had little access to Mom. And from my perspective as a child, I felt I had little support from Dad. What I realized as a young adult was that Dad NEEDED to focus on my brothers because he was all they had most of the time.

    4) This is an entirely selfish reason but what on earth would I do when my child grows up, leaves home and starts to make all their own decisions and decides they don't need me around any more. I haven't seen friends in years, I haven't had a social engagement that hasn't revolved around my child, I have become distanced from my family because I have been travelling around the world with my child.

    DG: My mother really, really suffered from this when I quit at age 17. She was angry to the depth of her soul and probably didn't speak to me for over 2 years. (sad) We have since repaired all this, and through lost of soul searching, she realized she was living her life and her competitive spirit through me. We fixed all this when I was in my early 20's and have had a very close relationship of a whole new kind since then. And she went on to pursue her own competitive sport - she has been showing horses and now ponies / miniature horses for years. Everything came out right in the end, but it was dicey for awhile.


    For me I think Sarah has had the best up-bringing in terms of pushing her career. Her parents supported her through her skating career. They carefully monitered her public appearances, looked after her and supported her. They found a good coach and invested a lot of time and money in her but ultimately left the coaching to the coach and they were her family. They stood back and allowed Sarah to make her own decisions with regards her future after the Olys and while I am sure their must have been a certain amount of relief that she chose the academic route I always get the impression that it was ultimately her decision and that her parents would have supported her had she chosen skating.
    This experience obviously shaped my own life in a zillion ways. I know my experiences working hard, learning how to win AND lose gracefully (tears in the car only please!), etc. all made me a tough competitor in the business world, in college, etc. - all good stuff. I don't have children and at 46 won't have children. I've never really thought about whether, or under what circumstances I would go this far if I did have a child. That's a real brain burner. Good thing I don't have to make a call on that one!

    DG

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    You also have to consider that Tara was probably practically fatherless anyway. Jack Lipinski was a very successful attorney who was making an "eye popping 6 figures a year" (Brennan's book). Pat Lipinski has constantly maintained how she has had the dream house etc and that she didn't need her daughter for money. I'm in law school and I know successful attorneys: they WORK a LOT of HOURS for that money so Jack probably doesn't spend a lot of time at home anyway.

    The same thing goes for Sarah's father. He's a tax attorney in a Manhattan firm. I have a feeling that to live in the nice Long Island house, provide lessons for 6 kids in hockey and figure skating, he too is working a lot of hours. I also think that the Hughes family pushed their children in the education department just as hard as Tara's did in the media/beauty pagent department. The Hughes wanted their kids to be Ivy League educated professionals : so far 3 of their kids attend Ivy League schools. I'm pretty sure that Sarah's household is pretty high pressure with all the lessons (violin, skating), top notch prep school, SAT prep etc. I'm not sure how well rounded Sarah is. She struck me as kind of a snob (even though I'm very impressed with her).

  9. #9
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    I'm sure Pat Lipinski may be a great mom in a lot of ways. However, she did do one thing that I hope I won't do if I ever have a talented child: I think she heaped a lot of guilt on Tara for essentially splitting up the family to pursue a skating career.

    I think the message was put out to Tara, loud and clear, that she had better work damn hard at skating because her mom was giving up time with her husband in order to live with Tara at her training site. I believe Pat was quoted in the media as saying pretty much that. The quote was something like: "She needs to work hard, because we are giving up our lives for this."

    I think it would be hard for a child to deal with that kind of guilt. And I fear that this attitude of Pat's may have contributed to Tara's overtraining and subsequent injuries.

    On the other hand, I can certainly understand how Pat felt. It must be pretty hard, as an adult, to have your life essentially taken over by your 12-year-old and her career. I think I'd have a tough time handling it too.

    The Hugheses had a better situation because they found a way for Sarah to train on the Olympic level, yet still live at home and continue to attend school. And they were able to trust her coaches and stay out of the skating themselves, which also probably made things easier for both them and Sarah. Maybe just the fact that they had 6 kids instead of 1 kid helped keep it all in perspective.

  10. #10
    I like pie. Tonichelle's Avatar
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    I'd give up a day or two or a week during a competition, yes. I wouldn't sit and be at every practice arguing with the coach and trying to run things.

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    I think MK's parents guilted her into working hard. In an interview, MK's dad said that he told his daughters that if he was going pay for all those lessons, they would need to make sacrifices and work hard. That's realistic. Unless money is like water, parents are going to expect performance for their dollars.

    I imagine that once the parents start making sacrifices to the point of separating the family, the skaters feel the pressure. Look at Todd and how much his parents sacrificed for his skating. I'm sure that when he was experiencing his bad competitive years in the sport , he felt a lot guilt that he didn't do well. His is a happy story in that he rebounded and made a lot of money. However what about all the other skaters whose parents have done the same but don't see the benefit? I'm sure that there is a lot of guilt whether or not the parents directly or indirectly heap it on them.

    Also I would like to add that I think that Sarah was just lucky. I don't think that her parents had even though or aimed for the Olympics in Sarah's future (just her being an Ivy League professional) and she was just lucky that she had the ability and the good fortune to live near a coach whose style suited her.
    Last edited by soogar; 03-29-2004 at 12:52 PM.

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    Hopeless fan Doggygirl's Avatar
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    A couple more comments....

    I have no idea what is or in not true for any of these skaters and their parents. All I can speak to is my own experiences and opinions. So here goes with the opinions.

    1) If "parents lives are taken over by their 12 year olds and their careers" then something is seriously wrong. This implies that the 12 year olds are making the decisions. I would hope that the parents are making the decisions as to what sacrifices they are willing to make, without any guarantee of result whatsoever. At least that's the only healthy way I can envision it working.

    2) I'm saddened every time I hear about a child athlete where the parents heap guilt on them. The adults are the ones with the power to make the decisions. The kids can only do their best. If the parent is making a huge investment, and the kid just isn't into it, then that's the parent living their own dream through the child and that is a dangerous and slippery slope. It's one thing to insist that a child practice. Even kids who love their sport dearly are still kids, and aren't necessarily motivated to practice everyday. BUT....there is a fine line there with how hard to push. The line is not easy to find, but guilting a kid is just not fair IMHO. But I know it happens.

    DG

  13. #13
    What if the Hokey Pokey IS what it's all about?
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    When I was growing up I did gymnastics. I would have loved to have the support of my parents and better training (more than the 2hrs/week at a YMCA class!). I constantly asked for private training--nothing would have pleased me more than working out in the gym 5-7 hours/day. I would spend my weekends at the UCLA gym during open gym times--get help from others there, practice more etc (and a nice occasional bonus of working out at the same time with Mitch Gaylord, Tim Daggett, and Peter Vidmar!) Would I have ever made it to the elite level? Who knows but I would have liked to explore my potential.

    I have often thought about what it would be like to be an elite athlete/raise an elite athlete. I think with anything you start out small--the kid enjoys it so you continue with the lessons. Pretty soon the lessons increase as does the desire from the child so you do a little bit more, etc. Pretty soon you might be living in an apartment away from your husband so your talented child can get the best training. If either of my daughters showed promise/dedication for a sport I would like be able to support them in any way possible. I would not be able to split up the family like the Lipinski's, I would probably take the approach that Sasha's family took and relocate everyone. I can't even begin to think of the financial strain!

    I would NOT hang out at the practices all the time--that's just too overbearing for me and I think puts more pressure on the child (actually I would be working to pay for all the training!). I would stop in periodically--see how things are going, lend my support, etc.

    I have often thought that winning the Olympic Gold must be the ultimate experience! It's gotta feel great! But then I think of how few win and how many try. We are sometimes so wrapped up in being the best that we lose sight of just having fun! I may have been no elite athlete but I can sit here and remember 20 years ago doing a back layout on the spring floor at the UCLA gym that was sky high and had a perfect landing! I guess my message is it's not always about being THE best but being your best! I would do what I had to do to assist my children in becoming their best because that is a good feeling!

    eliza88

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    eliza, your experience in gymnastics is similar to mine. I, too, studied at the YMCA. I was extremely flexible at that time, but I lacked strength.

    My real talent lay in music. My parents never supported me in that much either or in my desire to earn a college degree, but I did it anyway. I've played several instruments, but the piano is my friend. One of my favorite shows was Fame because I wanted to go to a school like that. I probably didn't have the talent for the Julliard, but I would have done well in a conservatory. I take lessons at a local university now. My biggest beef with my parents is they always supported my brother 200% in whatever he was trying to do. I just hope that when I have kids that I will support them as equally as possible and as much as possible without "going over the line."

    Doggygirl, it's great to hear that you and your family have reconciled your differences.

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    Tara's mom is a dedicated mom. She devoted all her time, money, and energy to help Tara. Maybe she is not a perfect perfect woman, such as sometimes she would say something unpleasant about other skaters who happened grab her Tara's spotlight. But that's understandable. In the heart of every skating parent, his/her daughter/son's wellbeing is always most important. In these world nobody is perfect.
    For me I can devote all my time and money for my daughter's skating, but I can not handle relocating and family split up.

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