I personally do not think that a child/young person of 16 is equipped mentally and emotionally to handle a solo sailing expedition around the word, and I do believe that talented / gifted children can still be nurtured and parented whilst maintaining a sense of normality that I believe is vital when bringing up children.
Here is the Newsweek article that got me thinking.
I also believe that a 16 year old today is far more advanced as compared to when we were 16, but I still feel as a parent that it's my responsibility to ensure that my child does not grow up either too quickly or too slowly. Do you also consider this normal?
What do you think about this? I am really interested in learning what parents of young children today feel about this topic.
I don't think you can evaluate a person's abilities solely on age alone, even as children. I'm quite certain that there exists one or more 16 year old human beings on the earth that, with proper training, would be able to mentally and emotionally deal with the difficulties they would face at sea. There are likely younger children than that that could deal with the situations that would arise in such an attempt.
It sounds like that's not your essential question though. You seem to be asking:
Should particularly gifted/intelligent children be allowed to take life altering/threatening risks prior to the age when average intelligence people would normally attempt such tasks?
To be blunt, yes, I think that children with the ability to do so, the desire to do so, and a strong dream should be allowed to make some such attempts.
However, that does not absolve the parents of their basic duty to provide due care and protection to their child. 16 years seems to be a bit on the young side, but would anyone have blinked at an 18 year old attempting this? How much do things change in 2 years? What about 17 years? How much change occurs in one year?
We already give 16 year olds the ability and freedom to control machines weighing a few tons at speeds exceeding 70MPH alone.
Still, how in the world did they not know exactly where their child was after some time? In this day and age with GPS, satellite phones, and emergency beacons, how would someone possibly equip their child with an expensive boat, provisions, training, and not provide 2 of each of the basic emergency safety and communications equipment that can be used?
I think sailing solo around the world, climbing Mt Everest, flying around the world, etc are extreme cases, though.
As an adult I've had to come to grips with my own limitations in terms of development and learning. I can't do everything I want to do, and if I focus on one thing, I necessarily put aside other things that may also benefit me. There is a truth to a "well rounded" person, in that someone who extends themselves to an extreme in one direction does go off balance, and will not be able to do or handle things that others take in stride.
It may be that allowing a child to focus on one thing to the exclusion of other important activities may be detrimental in the long term.
I had the same reaction to this news article about a 13 year-old boy climbing Everest.
My thoughts were less about safety than about the psychological effects of achieving your "life's dream" - and becoming a celebrity - at the age of 13. How can it go anywhere but downhill after that?
answered 16 Jun '10, 05:15
Interesting questions, Emi. For now, a few thoughts. I'll likely edit this later into a more thought out response.
answered 15 Jun '10, 21:30