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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Helicopter and Sailboat parents



Recently I had the pleasure of watching Maidentrip, the story of Laura Dekker, a 13 year old girl who wanted to sail around the world alone. It's available on Netflix streaming.

She was living in Denmark and the government didn't want to let her go. There was a 10 month legal battle in which the government tried to take legal custody away from her father. (It's all about protecting the children, right?) She won her case and left on a two year journey to sail around the world.

So there she was, a 14 year old girl on a 38 foot sailboat. There were no support ships. A handful of times family members flew out to visit her in various ports. It was a good story. Kids normally mature a lot between 14 and 16. Now imagine how a young person would mature during those years while sailing around the world. From the movie it was clear Laura was a kid who knew exactly what she wanted to do and had mastered the skills to do it.

Contrast that to children who were raised by helicopter parents. A kid with parents like that never get to make any important decisions alone. Can you imagine them weighing the merits of the different paths through the Indian Ocean? The northern route has better weather but the possibility of pirates. The southern route doesn't have pirates, or anything else except possibly really bad weather and giant seas. Thanks to cell phones helicopter parents stay in constant contact even through the college years, ready swoop in at the least hint of trouble.

Thank goodness I grew up before helicopter parents were a normal thing. While I didn't get to sail around the world at 14, my parents let me do a lot. I got to take open canoes through class III rapids alone. I went backpacking and camping without adults. I even went off hunting on my own. While it wasn't technically legal until I was 16, my dad allowed me to go We'd leave the hunting camp at dawn, and head off into different directions. We wouldn't see each other until after dark. That was hunting “with” dad. By the time I was 16 I had my own hunting license and could go totally alone.

My dad grew up a lot wilder than I did. He learned to be self reliant and saw the value in it. I probably would have had even more freedom as a kid, but my mom was pretty freaked out as it was.

So I feel a bit sorry for those kids who grew up with parents ever ready to smooth the way. At some point they will have to deal with life on their own and they lack the experience.

-Sixbears

11 comments:

  1. You do know that kid died trying her "round the world" boat ride--Right? Maybe you shouldn't use an example where the government was right. Kind of like the story of teenage boy that wanted to fly around the world solo this year and died on take off because he was 16 and lacked the life experience to handle a critical malfunction. Letting your minor child perform a stunt that regularly kills men with 30 years or more at sea is NOT "fostering independence" anymore than trying to keep them from killing themselves stupidly is being a "helicopter parent".

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    1. --actually she is ALIVE and WELL!!!! please get YOUR facts straight!!!!

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    2. She is alive and well. Just spoke at a boat show.

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  2. There has to be a happy medium some where between a "helicopter parent" and one that lets their kids do anything they want, whether dangerous or not.

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    1. Laura was an extreme case as she's an incredible sailor. There are young people who have skills beyond their years and should be able to pursue their dreams.

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  3. Actually she is from Holland

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  4. My g-daughter and her best friend were in a huge room with both mothers present. The best friend made fun of my g-daughters birth defect. G-daughter texted her mother who texted the other little girl's mother. The other mother texted her daughter, reprimanding her for texting. The mother apologized to my daughter by text message. The little girl texted my g-daughter, sitting right next to her, and apologized.

    That, to me, is just beyond comprehension. My g-daughter could have waited to tell on the other little girl. But, no, everything flew around the room. This was some sort of important meeting. I wonder if anyone got anything from the speaker's message.

    My daughter is a helicopter parent and proud of it. Maybe in NYC it is necessary, but I doubt it.

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  5. I remember that young girl when my only was a senior in college tried to fly solo in Wyoming went up and down in the middle of a nice housing section of the city and dead as a doornail only 11 years of age..Really? I never let my only child who was a wild child do stupid things, she went on a car ride with an inexperienced teen driver and told him to stop and had to call us this is well before small cell phones were even available, he crashed his brand new car and got badly hurt this before her graduation from high school and junior college the same week..She told the fellow if he did not stop she would kick his butt all the way across the Columbia River which is mighty big..She was fine he was badly injured and missed walking in his high school graduation and never did try to finish his associates degree either...She remember when I told her and her Daddy too, you are our only child I don't give a flying fig what other people let their kids do remember you are our ONLY and usually the passenger in cars gets killed and to boot, I bought that Worst Case Scenario book when she was in junior high and had her read it from cover to cover, she was allowed to do and go many places we never were allowed as she was mature and made good decisions knowing I was waiting up for her when she arrived home safe and sound and I would call my hubs in a new York minute to fetch her if she needed help, I don't drive my bike would not have gotten me to most places in our semi-rural county to get her..She made great choices and lives in NYC and does well, travels all over the world for her job on their dime and still makes good choices..She remembers her parents love and care about her and she has confidence, but we never ever let her man an airplane or a boat on the high seas, no we did not, just plain stupid I think!

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