Earlier this month, we asked you to share your questions on how to raise an Olympian with Cheryl Davis and Jacqui White. Cheryl and Jackie's answers are below!
Cheryl Davis and Jacqui White are the mothers of two-time World Champions and six-time U.S. Champion - and now Olympic Champion - ice dancing pair, Meryl Davis and Charlie White. Affectionately known as "The Moms,'' Cheryl and Jacqui have been supporting and cheering on their children side by side for the past 17 years.
ablackdolphin asked: I would assume that at some point each child gets frustrated with the sport no matter their talent and will then say that they want to quit. How do you know when it's time to encourage them to continue on and/or when to support or encourage them to quit or take time off?
"The Moms" answered: When kids say they want to quit, we feel that a lot depends on the child's age. If a child is young and they want to quit, we think you should try to encourage them to continue at least through the season. If they are older, as in high school, we would suggest taking some time off to think about it and if they really don't want to go back, to not push them to go back to skating. If your child doesn't have a passion for skating, they won't enjoy it or succeed.
ablackdolphin asked: When starting young children off in a sport that they have a natural talent for how do go about ensuring that continuing is your child's dream and not just your dream or your child wanting to make you proud.
"The Moms" answered: When starting a child in a sport where they have a natural talent, follow your child's lead, it should be about how much and how far they want to go with it. Remind them your proud of them and love them for other reasons besides how they do in a sport.
ablackdolphin asked: How did you ensure that their education outside of the sport was not affected and that they did not fall behind?
"The Moms" answered: For our kids, education was always a priority. We didn't take them out half days or even consider home schooling. When they went to competitions they took work with them and often submitted work via computer so they didn't fall behind.
ablackdolphin asked: I hate seeing my kids sick let alone deal with an injury. Injury is always part of training. I'm currently training for my 1st half marathon in three weeks and I'm dealing with an injury. I never realized how emtional an injury can be. How have you been able to help your children deal with injury physically and emotionally?
"The Moms" answered: We've been lucky that our kids haven't experienced a lot of injuries, but when they did we made sure they were handled with the best sports medicine attention and also made sure they stayed out of training until they were fully healed. Emotionally, you just have to be supportive and remind them that it's better to get back out there healthy.
ablackdolphin asked: How has the lifestyle of training affected your kid's relationships with their friends?
"The Moms" answered: It takes extra thought and work to maintain friendships when you have a rigorous training schedule, but it's worthwhile to put in the effort. We've always encouraged our kids to make time for their friends, even if its just a catch up text or phone call or get together for a cup of coffee or movie, they have tried to make it a priority. Friends, like family, help keep the important balance in the athlete's life.
papercutout asked: Can you discuss the financial aspect of raising an athlete at this level? Is training to be an Olympian something that middle class families can afford? Is it enough to just work really hard at the sport?
"The Moms" answered: Different sports have different costs that go along with them. Figure skating is one of the more expensive sports at the elite level. There are resources available along the way through skating clubs and private sponsors, but for the most part, as parents you can expect to pay for all of it until the skater reaches a level of success that puts them on a team envelope with the skating federation. Then they have funding that helps with the expenses. Many people of modest income have had very successful skaters, but it can be financially difficult. It's a personal decision that families have to make.
papercutout asked: At what age did you and your child begin considering training at an Olympic level? Is there such a thing as being too old to begin training?
"The Moms" answered: We did not decide at any particular time to have our kids start training at an Olympic level. It was a natural progression of increased time and training over a long period of years.
ablackdolphin asked: What is the thing that has surprised you the most about this path you've taken?
"The Moms" answered: The thing that surprises me the most of the path we've taken is the fact that we never intentionally set out to go to the Olympics with our kids. Our skaters and both families lived in the moments of our lives and set only short term goals along the way. Meryl and Charlie wanted to win Nationals, then set their sights on the Grand Prix Final and so on. It was always one day at a time, one step at a time, and the journey brought us to the Olympics!
ablackdolphin asked: How do you deal with issues that come up with other siblings? Paying enough attention to them, making them not feel left out, handling jealousy?
"The Moms" answered: We have always made spending time with our other kids and their activities a priority. They are all special to us.
ablackdolphin asked: Did you discuss a plan B for if they were not able to continue on the Olympic path?
"The Moms" answered: Education is the Plan B for not continuing on the Olympic path. Both families have always stressed the importance of education and both Meryl and Charlie have continued in school and plan to go back full time when they are finished with their competitive careers.
Thank you so much for joining us, Cheryl and Jacqui! All of us at CafeMom send sincere congratulations to you and your children!
More answers in reply below.