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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day 58: Adventoursome Teen

So you'd have to be living in a basement here in Los Angeles if you have not heard of Abby Sunderland, the Thousand Oaks 16 year old teenager who attempted to sail around the world. She sailed out of Marina Del Rey in January with Bon Voyages from her parents, siblings and supporters. Unfortunately last week her and her boat met with Mother Nature and treacherous waves sunk her boat and left her afloat in the middle of the ocean some 400 miles from land. Thank goodness this brave young woman survived the brutal ocean waves and was rescued by a French fishing vessel.

I actually believe the waves made at home in public opinion have been greater then the waves Abby confronted on the ocean! Talk about a fire storm of opinions and critics weighing in on this expedition. Her parents have been called "crazy" and worse for allowing their teenage daughter to take such a voyage -- her older brother - by one year - made the trip successfully just last year. Her folks have been lamented for being abusive and irresponsible. While others have complimented them for raising their children (there are seven with an 8th child due any second) with passion for sailing and chutzpah to handle themselves independently of their parents.

I'm somewhere in the middle.

Okay don't get hysterical if you think I'm crazy too for finding some value in their parenting... let me speak my case before you go crazy yourself! My initial reaction to both of their children making such a trip, was oh my gosh they have too many children so they don't care if one gets lost at sea! But after learning more about Abby and her training then I thought good for them for teaching their children enormous responsibility, confidence and a great taste for adventure. I mean while most parents are worrying about whether their kid gets into the "right" college their daughter is living a once in a life time adventure that she loves and that as far as I can see probably teaches her more about life then any 4 year academic program could ever begin to!

I almost envy them and their kids for being so bold and strong. I mean isn't that the goal of parents? To raise our children to be curious and adventuresome? And yes of course all that while also protecting them. Our first job as a parent is to protect our kids. Make sure they eat right, sleep enough, study efficiently, play with the right friends, on an on. But perhaps in our quest for all this we lose sight of also allowing them to be who they are and if that includes sailing the world (at any age) then perhaps we need to embrace the person they are. Or not. Some parenting experts are saying it is the job of the parent to say the risks are to high.

I mean if Abby had been 25 years old the waves would still have gobbled her and her boat up. The ocean doesn't care how old you are.

It does, however, matter how experienced you are, and from what I have read, Abby is quite an experienced sailor. Okay for a 16 year old because how experienced could she be, right? I know you are saying that out loud as you read this post.

I guess I'm just ambivalent on this one. I mean is the public outcry because she is a "girl"? Is it because she is "16" (the age we allow our children to drive an automobile which many believe is far more dangerous than the ocean), or is it because we believe the mind and body are just not mature enough to handle an adventure of this magnitude alone? Not sure. All I know is that I'm very happy this beautiful and gifted teenage sailor is home safe.

I am also proud that she has a spirit that for many takes a life time to meet. She inspires me and I could be her mother.


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Thank you so much for your interest in my 49th year! I appreciate your support! -Robyn