Friday, August 28, 2009

I just feel like complaining a bit

There's this article about a 13yo girl who wants to sail around the world by herself (another article says she would make regular stops into port). Now, personally, I don't think I'd be prepared to let my 13yo spend two years by herself sailing the world. But I think it's kind of crazy to have anybody by themselves on a boat that long!

However, that's not my big issue. My issue is that because of her plans, the Dutch court was close to removing her from her parents' custody over this. Right now, the father is sharing custody with the state.

What's their issue?

Caroline Vink, a senior adviser at the Youth Institute in the Netherlands which advises the Dutch government, said the biggest questions was whether a 13yo could understand the consequences of her decision.


"Two years out of school will have an impact on her normal development [I can't help but gagging here]," she said.

EXCUSE ME??? It wasn't that long ago that 13-14yo girls were marrying, taking care of entire households on their own, going off in covered wagons to their new homestead with their husbands, who'd be working out in the fields or forests all day--possibly gone for days at a time--with their babies in tow. And, oh my gosh, heaven forbid she's not in SCHOOL for 2 years. (Homeschooling is not recognized by the Dutch government, just in case you were wondering.) Somebody with the nickname powderhound wrote in the comments section for the article link shared below:

It's pretty pathetic that these "child protection" authorities think that she would suffer more from the maturity, life experience, and wisdom gained from two years of self-sufficiency - as opposed to two years in a peer-pressure cooker of a high school, obsessing about makeup and boys while playing computer games and going to the mall.
I could not agree more!!

Teens are so underestimated. Granted, I wouldn't let my daughter go, but you know what? I didn't spend the first 4 years of her life raising her at sea, like this Dutch girl was. I haven't spent her life teaching her about boats. I didn't train her to be able to do some solo sailing at age 6, as this article indicates . I'm not this Dutch girls' parents, and this girl seems to have been raised to be very mature, very aware, very *real*. Caroline Vink goes on to say:

"It is wonderful to have dreams, but they have to be realistic."

It seems to me this Dutch girl is probably more rooted in reality and in what's possibility than most of us. It's not a dream for her: it's planned out in full and possible.

From a government point of view, I can understand the need to intervene. I mean, can you imagine just allowing anybody to let their 13yo sail off on their own? It'd be insane. But the attitude behind it, that a 13yo can't be capable of "understanding" it all properly, and the whole school aspect... Ugh.

You know what? When I was 14 and living in Yellowknife, I spent 4 days taking care of 3 kids who were 6, 8 and 9. Where were the parents? They had gone down to Edmonton for a wedding. I had been babysitting for them regularly from the time I was 11--started with just the youngest at that point, who was then 3. I could have taken care of those kids for ages. I knew how to cook, take care of the house, keep routines, do laundry... I was a fantastic typer and could have worked as a secretary or done all kinds of jobs. I was responsible and knew how to take care of pretty much everything. It's how I was raised. Just because most kids get caught up in the "teen culture" of today, doesn't mean that teens are inherently irresponsible or incapable of making big decisions for their lives.

No comments: