One of the contributing editors at Outdoors magazine wrote this op-ed piece that touched a nerve with me.
Remember Abby Sunderland, the 16-year-old girl from California who attempted to sail solo around the world, only to be rescued by a French fishing vessel?
Not surprisingly, her parents have received a lot of flak for allowing their daughter to sail alone in the first place. Bruce Barcott, editor at Outdoors, said the opposite.
The Sunderlands were simply exhibiting a rare virtuous trait: "brave parenting."
Now that Abby's OK, the inevitable storm of criticism is raining down on her parents, Laurence and Marianne, who wished their daughter bon voyage when she cast off from Marina del Rey, Calif., in January. Allowing a 16-year-old girl to sail alone around the world — were they insane?
Not at all. Unusual, yes. But hardly "the worst parents in the world," as I've heard them called recently. In fact, they may be the opposite. Like Paul Romero, the father of Jordan Romero, the 13-year-old Big Bear Lake teenager who climbed Mount Everest last month, the Sunderlands are practicing something bold and rare these days: brave parenting.
Raising kids today (I have an 11-year-old and an 8-year-old) is like working on a construction site with an overzealous risk manager. Everywhere you look there are signs reminding parents that Safety Is Job One. We're told to cut up hot dogs and grapes to prevent choking, to lash the kids into car seats, to never let them out of sight at the park. A certain amount of this is progress, of course. I'd rather my kids not launch through the windshield like human missiles in a head-on, thank you.
But in our obsession with safety, we've lost sight of the upside of risk, danger and even injury: raising bold children prepared for adventure and eager to embrace the unfamiliar.
Okay, I will stop right there. First of all, Abby Sunderland's parents were also reluctant to allow their daughter to sail around the world solo.
But she insisted so they caved. "Brave" parenting? I don't think so.