Spoiled Children of Divorce

Exemplary Children of Divorce – Olympians Phelps, Ohno, Miller, Mancuso
March 12, 2010, 12:21 am
Filed under: creativity, Exemplary Children of Divorce, Uncategorized


That’s all I can say.   It seems that Children of Divorce really excel when it comes to taking home medals at the Olympics.  At the last Summer Olympics, Michael Phelps won more medals than any Olympian ever.  Julia Mancuso, Apolo Ohno, and Bode Miller all set records for most medals at this Winter’s Olympics.

The main talent that these athletes have is their ability to go fast.  I wonder if one requisite for going fast, in addition to being born with good hardware and a disciplined work ethic, is anger.  Julia Mancuso’s mother is quoted on Wikipedia as saying that her daughter “took everything out on the slopes” as a response to her parents’ divorce.  These aren’t team players.  They work by themselves.  And I don’t know if it transfers over to Ice Skating because I’m remembering what a crappy childhood Tanya Harding had.  So, Children of Divorce might only be good at certain sports.  This also may just be a good crop, or generation. Or divorced parents are getting better at their parenting skills.  Probably this is just the first in a couple of generations who didn’t grow up on Wonder Bread.

Michael Phelps.  I’ve talked about him before.

Apolo Ohno’s parents divorced when he was an infant.  He was raised by his Father in Seattle and has very little or nothing to do with his biological Mother and half brother.  His Father says that he started Ohno in sports in order to give him something constructive to do while he worked 12 hour days at his business.  Ohno started in swimming when he was 6 years old and then began speed skating when he was 12 years old.  Last year Apolo added another sport to his repertoire.  He won the last season of the reality TV show Dancing With the Stars.  So, there goes my theory about Figure Skaters from Divorce not being able to compete.

Julia Mancuso’s parents divorced when she would have been around 8 years old.  Before that, when Julia was 5, her Father was convicted for smuggling pot.  Julia is the middle of three sisters.  Both parents seem to still be in her life.

(I’ve just been notified that Julia’s rival in women’s downhill skiing may also be a Child of D!  Lyndsey Vonn.  Yay!)

Bode Miller grew up on an organic farm in New Hampshire.  His parents were hippies who run a Tennis Club.  After the divorce they lived on opposite ends of their 500+ acre farm.  They divorced when Bode was around 8 years old (3d grade?). He grew up with no electricity, maybe even no running water.  (ugh).  Bode is the 2d child of 4. I don’t know if his parents have remarried.

Men’s Journal has published an interesting article on Miller which talks about how divorce gives kids a lot of freedom to not follow rules.  Bode is often called the world’s most “Creative Skier.”  This is kind of funny, but after I watched him ski I was sort of trying to channel Body Miller while I was driving.  I don’t know anything about Alpine skiing but I thought it was cool how he seemed to be messing with the flags and the lines in the snow.

I did not get a ticket.  I did not crash my car.  Don’t know why.  Maybe all the police in my area are from divorce and were channelling Bode as well.

Who else?  There’s probably more.

7 Comments so far
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you forgot the best :LINDSEY KILDOW_VONN

Comment by karin

I think so many times us children of divorce become perfectionistic control freaks, and what better outlet for that than to funnel it into a sport? For those children of divorce who are athletically inclined, I can’t think of a better way for them to physically work it out.

I really love this series. I’ve been thinking of a post I’d like to do on my site that would work in tandem if you wanted to write the compliment to it in this category. Would you mind if I emailed you with my idea?

Comment by Carolyn (the grown up child)

Wow Karin, I read that Lindsey Vonn is alienated from her Father but didn’t know her parents were divorced. Thanks for the information! Do you know what age she was when they divorced?

Sure Carolyn. Let me know.

Comment by toothless

Hey toothless – I love these articles of yours on exemplary children – and it’s great to hear stories of success like this.

I didn’t watch much of the Olympics but I did see the women’s downhill race that looked completely bonkers and the commentators said it was more challenging than the mens! You must need nerves of steel to cope with it, so I was interested in and very impressed by Lindsay Vonn – I could see the determination in her while watching (and I know absolutely nothing about skiing at all).

I did a little digging on the internet and found that her father was also an accomplished skier and coached her, and it seems as if there was a lot of friction with him controlling her and when she broke away from him, her career flourished. I think that’s a warning to parents out there who want fulfil their personal ambitions through their children rather than letting their children have a say in what they want (hmmm – that’s one of the themes of your blog, isn’t it, put the children first!).

Anyway, I was unable to find any details of when her parents divorced though reckon, from what I’ve read, that it was fairly recently but over 4 years ago. Hope that helps!


Comment by Sal

Hi Sal, Thanks for the extra information about Lindsay Vonn.

That’s interesting that you think that I’m saying to put the children first. It never really entered my mind that I was saying that. Hmmm. I think I’m just saying to let them have a childhood. Since I’m not trying to give advice to parents here I’ll just try to avoid this topic.

Comment by toothless

Hi again Toothless! I think what I was trying to say was that your posts are specifically aimed at supporting the children of divorce rather than the adults involved which is in line with the general theme about the adults considering the children’s views, wishes and needs rather than putting their own first. Like Carolyn’s blogs, I think yours are great as there seem to be very few specifically aimed at the children (be they grown up, or still “children”).

In “normal” (though I don’t really like that word – what on earth is “normal” these days?!?!?) situations, parents can still press their own views and objectives in life onto their children (which I acknowledge is a whole different subject and could stir up a massive hornets’ nest if you started covering that!), but in divorce situations I think this is exacerbated and the adults need to take a step back and recognise that the children’s needs are just as important, if not more important, as their own. After all, the children are people too and are the only truly innocent parties involved.

Comment by Sal

Hello, me yet again (sorry – I promise I’ll go to bed now and not add any more to this blog.)

I just wanted to say I’ve just found some information on someone you may be interested in (apologies if you’ve already covered her in your blog). Clara Hughes, a Canadian athlete, has won multiple Olympic medals in both Winter and Summer Olympic events – a truly amazing achievement! It seems as if her parents divorced during/before her teenage years and she was in a real mess over this, then switched on the TV to see the 1988 Olympics, set her sights and never looked back.

By all accounts, a truly inspirational woman. She led the Canadian procession for this year’s Winter games and won a medal (in her late 30’s). She’s also involved in humanitaran work for disadvantaged young people. – do look her up!

Comment by Sal

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