Freedom or foolishness?
Should a 13-year-old be allowed to sail solo around the world? I say no.
(Shawn Benjamin)
As a 13-year-old, I was desperate to become a singer. My parents accommodated my desire by arranging a singer teacher, driving me to lessons twice a week, and listening to endless Eisteddfod appearances and choir solos.

I am not a singer now.

As a teenager I did not know enough about life to decide what I wanted to do with mine. I do, however appreciate the effort my parents went to, in order to give me a real shot at the dream.

But are all dreams equally sensible for parents to support? For Dutch teen Laura Dekker the dream is bolder, braver and potentially life-threatening. She has a vision of becoming the youngest person to sail solo around the world.

Unlike me, she has the skills that are required to reach for this audacious possibility. Laura grew up on a yacht, having spent her first four years sailing around the world with her parents. She is a skilled sailor who could physically cope with the challenge.

But social workers, even liberal Dutch ones, argue that it is too dangerous and at her age she does not have the maturity to fully grasp the full implications. Laura has now been placed under the joint custody of her father and the state while authorities think about it a bit more.

To me, there’s not much more thinking to do. You are only 13, no, you can’t sail around the world on your own, nor can you go to a club where they serve alcohol.

There are many things that teens are physically capable of, that they would love to do, but that as parents we have a duty to prevent them from doing. To me, the physical, emotional  and mental hardships of two years sailing the world alone fall into this category.

But then, admittedly, I am the kind of mother who won’t let her son have a scooter even when authorities do think it’s okay. I’m a woes, I should probably not expect everyone else to be as over-protective.

If Laura was your daughter, would you let her go?

Read more by Adele Hamilton

Read Parent24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Everything from parties to pre-schools in your area.

Jobs - Find your dream job

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

Java Developer

Network IT Recruitment
R450 000.00 - R500 000.00 Per Month

Financial Manager

Communicate Recruitment: Finance 3
R750 000.00 - R800 000.00 Per Month

Property - Find a new home