Everyone is talking about Abby Sunderland and her failed attempt to circumnavigate the globe on a solo sailing mission. Was it too young? Was she trained enough? Were her parents exploiting the adventure to get notoriety, fame and money?
The answer is maybe to all of these questions. Certainly, there is a lot to worry about in this situation and a lot to consider with regard to any child who wants to push themselves to accomplish a seemingly difficult, if not impossible task.
It is okay for kids to have lofty aspirations…it makes them work hard, motivates them, pushes them to try harder and do more. Parents should push their kids to work hard to achieve the goals that they want. Built into that, they also have to be aware of the limitations their own child has. If your child wants to be the next LeBron James but is totally uncoordinated, you are not going to push him to play hours of basketball to support a dream that won’t happen. However, if you child is talented in an area, committed to training hard and learning the necessarily skills, you may encourage her to reach for the stars. Maybe it’s not impossible to achieve.
The main problem with the Sunderlands’ situation is that they consciously chose to put Abby in harm’s way regarding the weather in the Indian Ocean in order to break the world record. Was she capable enough? Yes. Was she skilled enough? She had to be to survive once her mast broke. But it seems that the WIN was the motivator, as that’s what pushed them to go at this time.
The take away message is this: know your children. Know what they are capable of and what they are not. Encourage them to try and fail and try again. Encourage them to push themselves past the point they think they can and then do it again. Teach them that it’s okay to have goals and to shoot for them. And be there to help them figure out what worked, what didn’t, and how to try again.
Here’s the clip from this morning: