Would you let your 16 year old sail around the world alone? By Alison Rhodes, The Safety Mom, founder of Safety Mom Solutions

By The Safety Mom

I was sitting at O’Hare airport last night when a man turned to me with his computer and said, “Would you let your 16 year-old sail around the world alone?” I thought he was joking. Then he showed me the headlines.

Ah yes, another subject for my parenting hall of fame. OK, here’s my rant – WHAT IDIOT ALLOWS THEIR 16 YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER TO SAIL AROUND THE WORLD ALONE?!?!

Apparently the answer is Marianne and Laurence Sunderland of Thousand Oaks, CA. The conversation must have gone one of two ways: Abby, the 16 year-old came up to her parents one morning and declared that she was bored with school. “Hey mom and dad,” she must have said, “how about I leave for a while and sail around the world? I’ll keep my curfew every night on board and this will be just as good an education as going to school.” Now what parent wouldn’t say yes to that?

Or, scenario 2 – Like the “Bubble Boy” case in CO where the parents wanted to get some attention for a potential reality show for themselves, the Sunderland’s thought, “Hey, Abby’s got a good head on her shoulders. Sure she’s only 16 but I’m sure she’ll be OK by herself in the middle of the ocean for however long. And, if she makes it, we could probably get on The Amazing Race with her!”

Yesterday Abby was reported missing but thank God she’s been found alive in the Indian Ocean 2,000 miles from either Australia or Africa without a mast or rigging. The nearest search and rescue ship is at least 30 hours away from her position but she sent a radio signal that “she was fine.”

Meanwhile, mom, dad and her six siblings sit awaiting word of her fate.

Alison Rhodes is the founder of Safety Mom Enterprises and Safety Mom Solutions, the premier baby proofing and child safety company in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area. Alison is a family safety expert, TV personality and consultant.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Would you let your 16 year old sail around the world alone? By Alison Rhodes, The Safety Mom, founder of Safety Mom Solutions

  1. This story just blows my mind. Why would I send a child across the world in a boat when neurologically they are not yet finished with their development? Why would I send a child across the world in a boat before they can get their driver’s license, get married without permission or for many states- are just a few years past the legal age to be left home alone without supervision?

    So once again I think we need to give a course on common sense parenting before allowing kids to graduate from high school! Add this to the list of items for the curriculum.

  2. Julie

    Well, seems mad to most sane people, but of course it’s all for money. The older brother did it, got the record (briefly) and so I dont think it was a case of the the daughter going to the parents but the parents saying “hey, lets reclaim our title”….the kids were obviously geared up to do this from the beginning….all for money

  3. Stef

    How could you know its all for the money? It seems to me that this girl knows and understands sailing and had a dream. Because of her extensive sailing training and of course, her brother’s successful solo trip, her parents made the decision to allow her to go. She seems very determined and educated, from what she writes on her blog. She probably understands the possible consequences better than anyone else. She is not your average everyday 16 year old and her parents understood that. What would be the difference between her going now or making the decision to go on hew own when she is 18?

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