Mother Nurture: Life lessons from the mothers of America's Best and Brightest

Linda Armstrong Kelly Mother of LANCE ARMSTRONG "If you shelter your children, you don't really do them any favors."

Instead of pushing Lance to pursue a certain sport, Linda's approach was more to let him figure out what he was good at. "I think you have to help kids find their passion. . . . Once they find it, you've got to really focus on it. In Lance's case, he realized that he wasn't a great football player or baseball player, but that he was good at running and swimming, which I realized when he started doing triathlons at fourteen." To help him develop as a runner and swimmer, Linda would get up every weekend to take Lance to his races. More than focusing on winning these races, Linda said she made it about setting a goal. "I just felt like it wasn't important to stress winning all the time because you don't win all the time." Her expectations really boiled down to ethics, morals, values, and how you treat people.

Linda's parenting style was defined largely by helping Lance cultivate his in dependence. "I wasn't packing his bags for him when he went to triathlons," she said. "I wasn't reminding him to get his goggles, his swimsuit, and his equipment and all that because I figured, you know, if he doesn't show up, that's his problem. So I didn't baby him in that respect. He realized that he had to be responsible. My role was to drive us there, get a hotel, get the food, and to cheer him on." It was this sense of ownership over his own life that Linda said was paramount to helping Lance get where he is today. "If we had to go to a different race, I would say, 'Okay Lance, you need to find directions on how to get there.' I mean, he was literally driving to Tulsa, Oklahoma, when he was fifteen with me in the car and getting us back home. . . . I just thought if you shelter your children, you don't really do them any favors." Linda makes no mistake, however, about the priority she put on Lance: "My son was my number one commitment."


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