Good Parents Let Teens Follow Their Dreams -- No Matter How Crazy

sailboat sunsetI don't know about you, but I wasn't the most motivated 16-year-old in the world. Don't get me wrong; I wanted to get into a good college and pass my driving test and all of that, but would it have crossed my mind to spend nearly two years sailing around the world? All by myself?

Nah, not so much.

Basically, I wasn't a visionary like Laura Dekker of the Netherlands. Now 16, she set sail from the Caribbean island of St. Maarten in 2010 with the goal of being the youngest person ever to circumnavigate the globe. Impressive, no? And she's almost done!

Of course, quite a few people found Dekker's goal foolish, not impressive. Her father was not one of those people, however, and he stood up for his daughter's dream even when Dutch authorities threatened to charge him with truancy for letting Laura miss so much school.

I hope I'm half as brave as Laura's dad when my kids are her age ...


I'm sure the man was scared to death, even though he knew his daughter to be an experienced and extraordinarily capable sailor. How could any parent wave goodbye at his little girl as she set off to cross the seven seas completely unsupervised without his stomach tying itself up into a giant knot of dread?

I don't think it's possible, which is what makes me call Laura Dekker's dad a brave man. Now that her trip is nearly over and all is well, we can relax a little bit and think about the incredible insight, strength, power, confidence, resilience (I could go on all day) a 16-year-old girl would gain from accomplishing such a feat.

Allowing and encouraging Laura to take this voyage was probably the best thing her father could ever do for her as a parent. After this, Laura will spend the rest of her life knowing there's nothing she can't do.

That's why I say I hope to be half as brave as Laura Dekker's father.

(Although, honestly, I also kind of hope my kids aren't nearly half as brave as Laura Dekker. Not yet!)

Do you think Laura Dekker's father did the right thing by letting her follow her dream?


Image via Kathy/Flickr

Read More >