Sunday, June 13, 2010

A question of parenting

Imagine that I were a working- or lower-middle-class parent who sent my sixteen-year-old daughter across the country, driving alone because she liked to drive so much and she was such a good driver and I wanted her to express her independence. Imagine further that on the trip she had a horrible accident or was raped or killed. What kind of parent would I be? Who would be responsible? Who would we blame?
Now, imagine that I were a wealthy parent who put my child in an expensive sailboat and sent her around the world to sail, because she was such a good sailor and enjoyed sailing and I wanted her to express her autonomy. Imagine further that she got into trouble about halfway through her trip—quelle surprise—and that another country's government had to charter a passenger plane to try to find her and then had to rescue her. Would I be a good parent? Would it be just to ask that country's citizens to pick up the tab for my parenting decisions? Who should be blamed for the mess?
In short, what makes the second real parent better than the first hypothetical parent? And, what makes either of them better than the "Balloon Boy" parents?


Jesus J. Ruiz said...

I see where you are getting at. I think its intent. In any sport, one assumes risk. The balloon boy incident was a publicity stunt. As far as the child driving across the country - the parents can't be blamed for crazy people out there. I actually did that :) I went on a bus to San Francisco without as much as a day's notice to my mom. However, for some reason as the oldest my mom always gave me a little more independence. Good question though... :)

Tyler Hower said...

I'm more than a little suspicious that a lot of what goes on in the Sunderland family is similarly a publicity stunt. And, I seriously believe that the Sunderland family's assets are what should be used to pay for her rescue.
The fact that others are expected to pick up the tab for a foreseeable occurrence and that no one seems to question the appropriateness of this troubles me. In general, what concerns me is the way in which the issue of responsibility is used as a stick to punish some, while others are allowed to escape any responsibility for their decisions. And I see this episode as just another example of this phenomenon.

Tyler Hower said...

Then imagine that I attempted to sell the story as a reality television concept.

Anonymous said...


When I heard this initially about the paternal parent lamenting about how kids should reach for the stars - I wanted to jump into my television and strangled the effin bastard. We all know this attempt by his daughter, was a fulfillment of his ego.