Kids Do the Darndest Things!

Yo ho ho and a bottle of...

Yo ho ho and a bottle of...

From guilt-barfing on live TV to getting you in trouble with the law if junior throws Kegfest ’09 in your living room, ya just never know how your spawn will unwittingly cross the legal line for you!

That’s why today we focus on another story from the annals of parenthood and its vicissitudes, the tale of Jessica Watson, the 16-year-old Australian girl who is trying to become the youngest person to sail solo and unassisted around the world.

Interestingly, Jessica’s mom, Julie Watson, thinks allowing her minor child to sail the world’s seas alone for approximately 8 months, is a great idea. Others, citing the incident a few weeks back when Jess was making final preparations for her trip, and her yacht collided with a cargo ship, think it’s maybe not the wisest decision and seek to have mama’s head examined.

This recalls the case of Laura Dekker, the 13-year-old Dutch girl who wants to do the same thing. The difference, though, is that Laura’s mother, Babs Muller, quoted in the newspaper, Volkskrant, feels her daughter shouldn’t do it. She said that though she believes her daughter is one helluva sailor and is technically capable of completing the journey, she “was not mature enough to deal with the psychological challenges of two years of being on her own.” Muller goes on to say, “If it were up to me, Laura wouldn’t go.”

Why isn’t it up to Ms. Muller to decide what’s best for her daughter? Because, according to the NYT, on August 29th, “a court ordered Laura placed in the custody of child-care authorities for two months, and appointed a child psychologist to report on her capacity to cope with the risks of the voyage and lengthy isolation.”

These cases raise an interesting question, beyond the obvious (who knew Australians were more permissive parents than the Dutch?): Would this fly in the U.S.? Would we applaud the efforts of a minor to sail unassisted around the globe for 8 months, or would we call the parents jackasses for putting them in harm’s way and seek to have them locked up?

Thoughts? Comments? Let us know…

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