Someone asked me the other day what I thought about the whole Jessica Watson sailing around the world at age 16 thing. Unusually for me, I’m kinda a fence-sitter on this one. I don’t know Jessica; her sailing prowess or her emotional maturity. My first gut reaction is “It’s reckless, she’s too young”. Though I do remember thinking, “Well, what if Jesse Martin’s parents had said no to him?”
Apart from the very embarrassing container ship incident, she is by most accounts a pretty good sailor, though there has been a lot of criticism by expert sailors over her safety checklists and “amateurish” approach. She seems to be pretty mature for a 16 year old, if a bit smug for my liking, though I admire her adventurous spirit and her determination.
So I was pretty happy to reserve judgement and just hope for the best for Jessica, until I read that her father stated in an interview with 60 Minutes reported here that he would rather lose his daughter than deny her the chance to chase her dream!!! What the hell!?!?!?!??! I still don’t know what to think about Jessica, but I sure as Hell know what I think of him…
I was totally disgusted with this glib disregard for his main duty as a parent, that being keeping his daughter safe. Even from herself. Would he REALLY rather his 16 year old daughter DIE than face her pouting and huffing because Daddy said “no”. What a slap in the face to those parents who have lost a child. And I’m not just picking on Dad here, Jessica’s Mum might need a good hard look at herself too.
This sort of pandering parenting where Mums and Dads are petrified of “stifling” their “extraordinary” children by setting limits or, Heaven forfend, saying no to them is responsible for they very worst of the attributes we are currently tarring “Gen Y” with. That being those lazy, indulged, self-important, air-of-entitlement brats who think they don’t have to start at the bottom and that the world owes them. By the way, I’m pretty sure we had people like that in all generations. I’m pretty sure everyone from Caesar to Winston Churchill was complaining about those bratty teenagers. But this feels like another post, back on topic…
Sure, we need to tell our kids to believe in themselves, and that yes, they are extraordinary (even if it’s just to us). But we also need to give them a sense of reality. More importantly, we need to keep their safety our highest priority. I am so angry at this man I’ve never met for forgetting that. It makes me wonder what’s more important to him, having a daughter, or having a record-breaking daughter and interview fees. Mee-ow.
Did anyone ever consider saying “Well, Jessica, that’s some great ambition you’ve got there, and we’d love to help you. Spend a year working with a professional sailing crew, learn all you can. Then, try sailing to Fiji – if you make it without smacking into a whopping great boat, bang-up job, now try sailing to Africa...” You get my drift.