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16 Years Old Around the World

June 15, 2010

She had a goal: sail around the world all on her own while she was still 16.  Her parents were for it, she was for it, and–because it ended in a costly maritime search–it seems American society is against it.  They say it’s because the parents were trying to monetize the trip with a reality show of some kind.  But that wasn’t the real reason people are upset.

Too many of us have swallowed the idea that adventure and danger is verbotten.  Yes, it cost money to track her down after the storm.  If 3 foot waves scuttled her, sure, she shouldn’t be out there.  But 30 foot monsters and she’s still alive?  She knew what she was doing.  Adults need rescue regularly, so don’t let her age be a barrier.  Her parents determined she was fit to attempt the journey.  Who are we to say she wasn’t?

America used to be filled with pioneers.  People who thought and chose for themselves.  Why are we discouraging that today?  I cringe at the dumbing-down of our children and the spirit-dampening that routinely flattens dreams.

Dare!  Dream!  Pursue!  It used to the American way.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. dawn permalink
    June 19, 2010 7:15 am

    Actually, this is Matt. Some have said “she was a minor, and if I were her parent I would never let her go into a place like the Indian Ocean by herself! Why, that’s irresponsible, reckless endangerment ( never mind that her brother did the same thing successfully, so that’s ok).
    Now, if she were training for some Olympic competition or World cup, why, that would be different (why, no one seems to be able to say) where 14 year old girls routinely fracture and break young bones and can fall off balance beams and break their necks any time,
    So the real question is, as a parent, where do I draw the line? Where is my responsiblilty to protect my children versus encouraging them to embrace very dangerous challenges?
    Is it when my 15 year old wants to skydive? Be the youngest to scale Mount Everest? Sure, all that training and preparation breeds character and maturity, but how valuable will that be if they die? Yet if its for competition, and they “win”, then all is forgiven.

  2. June 19, 2010 7:52 am

    Where we draw the line is on a case by case basis. To say “no 16 year old should…” denies the fact that each child is different and capable of more than the mythical “average” kid. Certain things, like drinking, driving, and use of explosives, okay, for the safety of all, limit that legally (but then, I know a lot of 16 year olds who shouldn’t be allowed to drive). But to make blanket statements about the fitness of parents who allow their kids to dare great things when, in their judgment, the kid is ready for it is off-base.

    Dare to dream; prepare to execute.

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