Saturday, June 12, 2010

the most strong minded commenting in a long line of possibilities

I read Motherhood In NYC and her recent post and commenters* HERE brought two comments out from me that are the most strong minded and slightly pissy comments I've ever felt the need to post.

What do you think of it all?


* Boy. I sure said comments a lot in this short sentence.

Unknown said...

Yikes! I don't know if it softens the blow of the judgementalism for all the judge-y moms to be so self-aware of their judge-y-ness. I think the pursuit of world records to be silly and arbitrary, but no more silly and arbitrary than pushing kids to get the best SAT scores or go to the best colleges. I don't know much about that sailing family, but I'm going to assume they know their kids and they trust their daughter for good reason. I also have a bee in my bonnet about infantalizing teenagers, but that's a gripe for another day.

rachel... said...

Just read Marinka's post and your comments. Your first one? Perfect. After honestly thinking about this for a bit and not just rushing to form an opinion or a comment, I absolutely agree with you. The second one? Slightly pissy. And also perfect. The attitude of Marinka's post (and so many of the comments) is exactly what I was trying to address in my blog post recently about what happened with my toddler and about why parents (and mothers especially) are so quick to judge the parenting choices of others, like doing so adds some kind of protective shield to our own children.

Unknown said...

I commented there but I think it's awesome. I'm pretty sure I would let my kid do this at 16 under the right circumstances. Would I be worried? Ummm, enough to probably not eat until he or she got back, I mean, I worry each time my husband drives to work, a lot. I've seen some disasters and know what can happen but if this girl is prepared and grew up sailing and this is her dream, hell, go for it! I hope to give my children experiences like this!

A.Smith said...

Maggie dear, I believe each one of us raises our children according to what we believe is best for them. When I was 16 I was living in a foreign country - even foreign to my own - and going to the University. I got my Masters at 18 and my Father had to fudge with my age for me to be allowed to attend, btw. I was a girl in every sense of the world. And the world was very different then.

I don't know what to say about the 16 year old girl who is following her dream. Would she be safe running in her neighborhood but ending raped and murdered while we all assumed she was safe? I do believe in hubris and nothing can change that. We cannot even prevent what is happening in our own backyard.
We can certainly change our behaviour but I don't believe we can change the butterfly effect.
Hugs from here.

Catherine said...

Yes but Maggie May what about all those parents of 16 year olds that LET THEM OUT OF THEIR PADDED CELLS! Disease floats in the air! They could get skin cancer from the sun exposure! Run over by a bus if they attempt the cross the street alone! What about all those irresponsble parents who buy their kids PONIES they're really dangerous too (no, they are) Etc, etc... there are a million ways to die and only one life so in a way fuck 'em.

On the other hand all the way around the world at 16 may be a little foolhardy... but then I know bugger all about contemporary sailing so I certainly wouldn't presume to judge.

Jeanne Estridge said...

My comment was, "Wait till your kids are 16--you'll want to send them out on the ocean without a boat."

And I stand by it.

Paula said...

I have totally thought "what would I do" as I watched this scenario unfold over the past few days... I have felt nothing but admiration for an amazing family that supports and trusts their daughter to do something that very few 16-year-olds would even consider. I was over joyed to hear that she was safe and actually have been waiting to hear what her next move is... Will she continue on??

If I were her mother I would probably be starving or puking or pacing with worry but I would also be the first one to greet her on her successful return or hug her for an admirable attempt.

I can only hope that my children have such dreams of greatness and I will be there to nurture and build those dreams. Together I think we will be able to decide what is a good decision for all of us and what is not. To me that is when the true motherly instinct will kick in. I don't expect instinct will always be rational...

Marinka said...

I think you were awesomely strong minded and I not at all pissy. Unfortunately.

I admit to being judgmental in this situation. Maybe because I get seasick.

Ida Mae said...

this line:
We have to judge our children as individuals not as a theory.

I agree with you

~ida mae

adrienne said...

oh my.

i don't watch television or read standard newspapers, so this is the first i am hearing about the story.

kudos to you, and to this Young Woman's parents for having the courage to go against the grain.

it seems so much more reasonable to make a decision for oneself, based upon one's own experiences, then to pass judgement based upon soundbytes on the evening news, brought to you by the good people at exxon, or viacom, or mcdonald's.

the 'pirate' mantra in many of the comments was enough to send me over the edge.

do people know the reality of the pirates off the coast of somalia? do they know that megacorporations and rogue governments have been dumping toxic waste causing children, babies to develope forms of cancer that don't yet have names? do they know that the first of those brave, shoeless souls took to sea on fishing boats to protect their families because no one else would?

ignorance is a crying shame. it really is.

Whitney said...


I love to read what you write. Your words settle in my heart like a worn book in your hands after an endless day.

Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Good for you, Maggie. I think you spoke well. As usual.

"No matter what parents do there is a culture that wants to blame them for what happens."

I believe this wholeheartedly. Parenting is a whole lot harder than it was a couple generations ago. I sometimes feel like I'm screwed regardless of the direction I follow, so I go with my heart and pray for a good outcome.

Elizabeth said...

I agreed with and loved what you said, Maggie. I am, perhaps, a tad condescending when it comes to these matters, always slightly amused at the umbrage expressed by "good" mothers who think they can control so much of their children's lives. I quickly realized what control means or lack thereof when my first baby was diagnosed with an unknown seizure disorder. When I read this story, the only part that made me roll my eyes was the born-again Christian thing -- it sounded like this girl was completely able to handle sailing around the world. My own husband is from Switzerland and when he finished high school became an apprentice and then began working. I think Americans are frightfully spoiled and anxious about all the wrong things -- probably because we have the luxury to be so. I'm with Adrienne on this one -- where's all the outrage about corporations poisoning our children, etc. etc.

Traci W. said...

I so had to comment on her blog as well. I think your comments were in perfect order. The judgmentalism going on there is terrible.

I don't admit to being a great parent. I have screwed up my kids just by trying to do what seemed right at the time only to find out years later that it was probably the stupidest thing I could have done.

But, that being said, I have tried to do right by them and to encourage them to be independent, free thinkers. It is hard to do when you worry about them all the time, but they have to grow up someday.

Mary said...

Torn on this - and only torn because I would have been vomiting with anxiety if that had been my girl alone on the sea. Here in Oz with Jessica Watson having returned safely this has been big news as you can imagine. People who know Jessica well say she is the most amazingly together 16 year old - and my suspicion is that Abby is the same. And I know I am encouraging my kids to consider gap years at the end of school, far away if need be. So it really depends on the child does it not - surely you would not send a dysfunctional, immature 16 year old away on the oceans, but an experienced, self possessed 16 year old - a different story.
But oh my god I would still be sick with worry rom tine to time - how you could not be as a loving mother/parent!!! Our lot in life - set them on their way as strong beautiful people but catch them in our loving arms if they need us to..

Elisabeth said...

Hi Maggie, I agree - scary judgmentalism plus plus plus.

Who writes the rule books on parenting here?

You might like to take a look at a blog that seems to me a touch more intelligent and empathic about the whole deal.


Thanks for raising the issue.

mosey (kim) said...

Being judgmental is something I just can't abide. In myself or others. In this particular case, my response to hearing about the trip was one of admiration and awe for the attempt. And when she was lost, one of empathy for how hard it must be to be that parent, waiting at home helplessly.

Live and let live. Let people make their own choices. Even though I can get judge-y (love that word, JJ Keith) with the best, it's not a quality I admire or aspire to, but rather one I'm conscious of trying to eliminate.

I think your comments were right on.

Drax said...

"Crazy! Ridiculous! Fame whores!" is MY NEW BATTLE CRY.

I'm Katie. said...

I think the world is far too big and great and complex for me to understand. Perhaps it was reckless or inspired or just what their daughter needed or maybe they were careless or fame hungry or... just... too different for us to "get it". I kinda admire people who dare to push insane limits in the face of a caterwauling society. I guess we'll never know unless we sit within their heads.

Ms. Moon said...

I agree with you, Maggie May. We don't know the capabilities of that child. And I think that we do protect our children way too much because WE are scared. Ah! I have so much to say about this but let me just say now that I feel sorry for children today.

Brigindo said...

I agree with both your comments and quite frankly don't mind that they are a little pissy. It is so easy to be judgmental and so hard to realize that we are all flying by the seat of our pants when it comes to raising our kids.

I have a couple of thoughts on this particular version of helicopter parenting. One is that now having a child over the age of needing my consent, the worry really doesn't get any better. If she is mature enough to do it at 16 neither the dangers nor the parents' worry would change if she were 19.

The other is that I think this comes from a very base fear that is cultivated (from pregnancy) in our culture. I think the way of alleviating that fear is too judge/blame the parents and affirm that you would never do the same. Unfortunately, as you pointed out, there are many dangers for our children right here at home and no matter what type of parent you are, you can't (and I would add shouldn't) protect them from all of them.

I find this attitude, which makes many mothers feel better, a shame as it ultimately makes our life harder.

Caroline said...

It's not about telling our kids how amazing they are (empty compliments and providing luxuries are worthless) it's about allowing them to discover that for themselves. I think this young lady's parents are actually right on with their decision-making and are likely raising some exceptional children.

p.s. I agreed whole-heartedly with both of your comments.

Elenka said...

Yeah, but, it's one thing to carry out dreams, but to do so KNOWING that if something goes wrong SOMEONE ELSE is going to have to go and attempt a rescue at great cost and great danger. The parent's admitted they don't have any money!!!!! So someone else had to go bail them out....It's not right.
What happened to her was not a freak, out of the blue thing.....The chances were great that weather was going to cause major problems. I find it arrogant that the parent's still went ahead with this plan...unless they had a plan for rescuing efforts that I don't know about.
Anyone know what their plan was?

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