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Thread: Would you give everything up...

  1. #16
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    To some degree, every parent gives up a large portion of their lives for their child. That's just parenthood. I haven't ranked first in my own life since 1985.

    However, that's not the same thing as focusing everything on my kid's career. I wouldn't do that. It's not healthy for either of us. You have to maintain a balanced life for all the members of your family. Children, even gifted ones, need the security of a strong family. It's also very important as a parent to maintain your perspective and have a solid set of priorities. It's necessary for making decisions that are in the LONG TERM best interest of your child. Perspective and priorities tend to get all messed up when you narrow your focus.

    IMO, that's where Pat and I differ. Nothing comes before the health of my kids. No medal on this planet would justify my child's suffering. I would have had my kid off the ice in a heartbeat. I would not have allowed her back on the ice until a Dr said it was ok. Any limits set by the Dr, for example- no loops, would be strictly followed or hell would be raised and put on display.

    Maybe my kid would hate me for it. That's ok. I'd rather she hate me for saving her hip, than for not letting her pierce her naval and dye her hair blue.

    So, in short, I would willingly make sacrifices. I've gotten good at it. I would not allow our lives to revolve around my child's career.
    Last edited by SusanBeth; 03-30-2004 at 01:46 AM.

  2. #17
    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    I'm an old fashion guy, I would instill in my child that it's not if you win but how you play the game. My child would be loved whether in first place or last.

    Joe

  3. #18
    ~ Figure Skating Is My Passion ~ Ladskater's Avatar
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    Many parents have sacrificed a lot of luxuries (and time) over the years in order for their kids to figure skate - whether they make it to the top or not. Tara's parents would not be the first nor the last. Of course, if a child has a lot of talent then the sacrifices are worth it.

    I don't think I would push my child in any endeavor unless they loved it. Figure skating usually does not require much pushing - most kids love it - I know I did.

  4. #19
    Forum translator Ptichka's Avatar
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    Greate topic.

    1) I think there is nothing healthy about parents "giving up their whole lives" for something. A part of growing up is seeing one's parents lead normal lives. That's how a child find out how to deal with social, financial, cultural and all other problems he/she will encounter later on in life.

    2) I, too, think that Sarah has had the best of both worlds. As to equating sport with education -- I strongly disagree. In a sport such as figure skating, one only makes a good career out of it if by being in the very elite. How many skaters are pushed just as hard as Sarah was without ever "making it". Also, unless you are someone like Christie Yamaguchi, one's career is fairly short. Now, take education. That's something that NEVER goes away. One can always capitalize on it to succeed. Take Sarah Hughes, Debbie Tomas, Telney Albright -- they had a choice of what to do when they no longer wanted to skate. Compare that with Katya Gordeeva. After Sergei died, she had no choice but to skate on her own even if she was not crazy about the idea -- she simply did not have the basic education to do anything else.

    3) There is nothing wrong with expecting one's child to work hard if you are putting in time and money for it. The question is -- what is sacrificed. In general, I think American skaters manage to have far more normal childhoods than, say, their Russian counterparts.

  5. #20
    cranky girl guinevere's Avatar
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    Originally posted by eliza88
    I have often thought about what it would be like to be an elite athlete/raise an elite athlete...
    I don't recall reading much about his upbringing, but Michael Weiss' parents were gymnasts, his father was even an Olympian. Mikey's dad is aften pojnted out in the stands, and I'm sure both parents are incredibly proud of their son, but I wonder how they handled his early training years (IIRC, Michael took up figure skating because his sister (s?) was doing it).

    Many other posters have articulated how I feel about this issue. I would hope that a parent would keep the long-term interest of their child as the highest priority, but I truly can't say what I would do if I had an insanely talented (and preternaturally driven!) child. But, it seems to me that the criticisms of the Lipinskis - particularly Pat - have come not so much from the family separation, but from Pat's own behavior and comments in regards to Tara's skating. Many top skaters move away from their families, and whether you think this is ok or not, Tara had a relatively good situation for this: she still lived with one parent, she got to fly home frequently and spend time with her dad, and she had many options available to her because money was not a problem. But I do think Pat became way too involved in Tara's skating, and the guilt thing is just terrible.

    guinevere

  6. #21
    Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult
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    Doggygirl - I am glad that you and your Mum managed to reconcile your differences over your choice to quit your sport.

    I have a good friend who is a very very good swimmer - at sixteen she was on the reserve squad for the Sydney Olympics. And for the three years previous to that she was swimming competitively outside her age group because there was no-one to challenge her in her own. She was up every morning at 5am to be at the pool by 6am, in school by 9am and back in the pool by 4.30pm. Constantly abroad at training camps because Ireland doesn't have an Olympic size pool and almost every other wekend was taken up with competition.

    One day she decided enough was enough, she had no social life, she had no time to spend with friends and no time to study so she gave it up. Just like that at 17 she decided she had had enough and wanted to quit.

    To me her mother dealt with this in a way I would like to think I would, should I ever find myself in the same position. There were no tantrums, no accusations, no throwing the amount of money or time spent back in her face. Her mother realised she was old enough to make the decision for herself and all she asked was that my friend thought long and hard about what she was doing before walking away from the sport.

    You give your child what you can without sacrificing everything and to me it is more important that at all times you remain your childs mother. Sometimes that means getting angry and pushing your child when they need it, sometimes it means being a shoulder to cry on or an encouraging voice when training hasn't gone well. It means telling them it's okay to miss training when they are injured or if they want to go to the prom, or that it's not okay to miss training because they want to watch tv. Telling them it's okay to go for a pizza with friends every once in a while because one pizza won't ruin their figures/diets whatever.
    Leave the coaching and lecturing to the people you pay to do it and be a parent to your child - they need that more than anything.

  7. #22
    Salchows and Shimmies!!!
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    guinevere: Mike Weiss's Dad was a shining example of how to be a bad skating parent. Mike's sister used to skate and she gave up the sport because of pressure from her father. I know a woman whose daughter competed with Mike's sister. At one competition, this woman's daughter secured the fourth and final spot to move up to the next level comp. As Mom was helping her get out of her skates and pack up, one of the skating officials ran into the locker room and told them to get out of there, NOW. Apparently Mike's sister placed just out of the medals and the chance to move on, and Daddy was in a complete meltdown, raging around, and the official's were actually frightened for this woman's daughter!! I couldn't dismiss this as hearsay as a few other people have told me "Papa Weiss" temper stories that would raise the hair on the back of your neck. Supposedly, Mike finally layed down the law with his Dad about pressure and his skating, and Papa backed off; However, I still recall poor Mike in Nagano wearing his Dad's too tight Olympic sweater from his gymnast days in the 60's. Papa Weiss had made a big thing out of Mike getting to wear the sweater if he made the Olympic team. It was actually sad. The sweater didn't fit at all and Mike just looked miserable and nervous out there in practice while his father watched, arms crossed and serious.

  8. #23
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    What a great read this thread turned out to be. Thank you for the first person experiences from Eliza, Lynn, Diver Chick and especially Doggy Girl.

    Mathman

  9. #24
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    I grew up in DC, and I was very involved in ballet, jazz, tap, acting, the whole thing. I was lucky enough that my parents could be financially supportive and help me join a reperatory company. But both my parents worked, a lot. And while they never had to sacrifice spending time with me, they werent able to play the role I would have liked them to in my dance career. Because they were so busy, they werent hanging around the studio finding out where the auditions were, finding out when a master class was being held.

    I started to audition for roles in kenedy center productions and it looked like i was going to get really serious about dancing as a career. But then we moved to San Antonio where my parents had job oportunities that would allow them to work less and make more. It was kinda frustrating because all of a sudden they were able to spend more time being advocates for me, but there were no opportunities for me to dance there.

    I think it's hard for parents to find the right balance in their involvment. But it's a fact of life that those with parents who are at every practice, or are giving lots of support to their child's career are going to get more oportunities. Being a pushy parents works, as long as the pressure is not directed at the child.

    Just my 2 cents

  10. #25
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    How about Sasha and guilt? Her family moved across the country so she could skate under Tarasova, and after 18 months that relationship went bust.

    Not only were Sasha and her parents inconvenienced, but there is another child in the family who was also uprooted. The life of a teenager in suburban Connecticut with its subzero winters is a large departure from life in sunny California.

    Sasha lived temporarily in NYC with the Petrenkos, then moved to live, again temporarily, with her new coach Robin Wagner. This can't be much of a normal life! I've often wondered if it's the pressure of her parents' expectations (or her perception of their expectations) that affects her so greatly that she inevitably makes a mistake in her FS and misses out on winning the big championships.

    Even in finally winning a World medal, you could see the unhappiness in her eyes on the podium.

  11. #26
    Hopeless fan Doggygirl's Avatar
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    Hi again...

    Mathman, glad you found the real life adventures of Doggygirl interesting. On whole, I took TONS of really positive stuff into my adult life. I wouldn't change a single thing. Even the rift with Mom worked out well in the end. Once we mended things, we forged an adult relationship that we both treasure. Who knows what would be different for both of us without that rough spot. Bottom line is that we are both happy where we are in life now.

    Diver Chick, I think you have a great perspective on the "balance" of things. I think you are so right that under some situations kids need a push to practice if they are serious about wanting to compete (i.e. practice instead of watch TV). I also agree that kids should have choices between attending Prom and practice/competition. You would be a great Sports Mom!

    I'm reading The Second Mark right now and just finished reading the section on Jamie Sale's background. Sounds so far like her Mom "got it right" in terms of balance. Obviously Jamie's Mom willingly made significant sacrifices but it doesn't sound like she ever pressured or guilted Jamie about it.

    It's a shame when parents pressure or guilt their child athletes about ANYTHING the adults decided they were or weren't willing to do.

    DG

  12. #27
    Forum translator Ptichka's Avatar
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    Euterpe,

    1. I would like to think that there were other reasons for the Cohens to move. I am an East Coast girl myself, so I think New England is great. Perhaps Galina wanted to be near more Russian community as well as have Sasha train with TT.

    2. By now Sasha is an adult. So I have no problem with her living for a while with the Petrenkos, and then with Robin. I mean, 19 is old enough to live on one's own!

  13. #28
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    I agree that Sasha's move was not necissarily a big strain on her family. They lived in the OC before, and although I'm sure its not like the television show, I dont think that money is a problem for them. And her younger sister is an acomplished concert pianist, this move may have provided her more opportunity to be exposed to the arts. I may be wrong, but I think that she has been doing some big performances in NYC since the move.

    Also, Sasha is at the age where she would be going to college or getting a job if she wasnt a skater. As a college student moving up to school and back every school year/summer I can relate. I think that her experience with jumping coaches and living arrangements may be a good thing as far as her identity formation goes.

  14. #29
    Keeper of Michelle's Nose berthes ghost's Avatar
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    Maybe this is veering off topic, but you guys are confusing me with the info about the Cohens.

    - It was my understanding that Mr. Cohen stayed in SoCal for his job. Not a small detail in my book. Has he since found another job in NE, or are they still "separated"? Living near other Ukrainians may be interesting to Mrs Cohen, but I'd pick living with my husband anyday. Also, things said about break with TT make me think Galina has become very "americanized".

    - The info on Natasha and her music is interesting as it would make some sense, rather than the younger kid uprooted because of the older one.

    - They moved when Sasha was 18, i.e at a time when most kids go away to college, which made it odd to me that the Mom and Sis went along. Living alone or with roomates of the same age at 19 is not the same at all as living with another family (Patrenkos, Wagners) i.e Mom, Dad, kids, dinner on the table at 5pm etc... Everyone has differing levels of independance/daring,etc... so this is not a dig, but when I read Sasha's journals about how she doesn't drive by herself or how she lives with Robin at 19, it makes me think she's not so mature/independant.

  15. #30
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    It's true that many young corps dancers with the NYC ballet companies are living on their own without their parents and little supervision as young as 16 and 17 in big, bad NYC. Their lives are as totally caught up with dancing as figure skaters' lives are with skating.

    From what I understand, Sasha is 'looking for an apartment' in NYC where she will live on her own. Having lived in NYC for a good part of my life, I don't see how that will improve her current situation. At least living with Robin outside the city, they can drive to Connecticut and bypass the city traffic. If she lives IN the city Robin would have a horrendous drive to pick Sasha up and then bring her back home. Yoicks! Great for Sasha (who doesn't drive), not so great for Robin.

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