Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Risky Business

After reaching the summit of Mt. Everest on May 19th, Samantha Larson became the youngest person to scale the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. She is 18 years old.

The radio station I listen to was debating whether an 18 year old should undertake such a risky endeavor. (200 out of 2000 climbers have died while scaling Mt. Everest.) The argument against was that at 18, she has a long life ahead and it is an unnecessary risk. On the flip side, they argued that she has an adventurous spirit and was well trained for the climb.

My first response was in favor of Samantha's accomplishment. After all, the point of life is to LIVE. If climbing mountains is Samantha's passion then by all means, she should pursue it with a vengeance. And we never know what the future is going to hold so we've got to live so there are no regrets.

But then I started thinking about her parents. Her Dad has trained her since middle school for these climbs and accompanied her to the summit. So in essence, he has been encouraging this risky hobby. Should the worst have happened, the guilt he would live with would be unbearable. Is encouraging a dream worth the risk of enduring a lifetime of grief over the loss of your child?

It's a tough call for me. But what do you think? Would you have encouraged this pursuit if you were Samantha's parents?


Andrea May 30, 2007 at 6:37 PM  

Heck no! We have had plenty of discussions around our house with regards to this, simply from watching those people head up Mt Hood only to risk their lives and the lives of those people that come and rescue them. There are plenty of things you can encourage them to do that get their adrenaline pumping without doing stuff that is really risky.

Anonymous May 31, 2007 at 7:23 PM  

This is kind of a touchy subject for me. I get infuriated everytime I hear of climbers needing rescued. Sorry, but if you choose to do something that risky....YOUR problem. Who pays to rescue these crazy people? SERIOUSLY!!! Who would CHOOSE this? Remember when you were in PICU and while referring to the kids that were there due to abuse you said "I can't believe their parents CHOSE this!" ? Well, I feel that if you encourage your child to do something with such a high rate of tragedy, you're kind of asking for it. Preparing them the best you possibly can is I guess responsible. ???? Of course this is coming from a mother of a baby that has a less than 10% chance of survival. I would do everything in my power to INCREASE the odds of her living a long and healthy life. I know, I know... you're all saying " she could die in a car accident", "she could get hit walking across the street", but what are the ODDS? So, without hesitation, I ask, "Why would a parent encourage an activity that would reduce those chances?"
Robyn and baby Lexie too

Mindy May 31, 2007 at 10:06 PM  

I wonder how much of her childhood was spent training instead of doing "kid" things. You only have one time in your life to truly act like a kid and a huge amount of time to do grown up things like climb mountains and pay bills. Didn't a 71 year old just climb Everest, too? Like you Lori, I wonder how her mother felt at the bottom with her husband and daughter in extreme danger.

Anonymous June 1, 2007 at 5:54 AM  

I have very mixed feelings about this topic. I have always felt that you should live life to the fullest, but again like many have said this would put others in danger too if they have to rescue her. Being an adrenaline junkie too it is hard to say no, but as for letting my child do it.... hmmm. I wouldn't want them too, but if they are going to be as wild as my brother was they will get seriously injured doing other things too. At least she has been training with her father. My family never encouraged adrenaline rush activities, so my brother sought them himself and now he has no arms and almost died. Had they given him safer options would this have happened, who knows?? I am afraid if I don't give my children SAFE options to get this rush they may end up like Dave because Joshua sure is showing some of the same tendencies as my brother. Will he be climbing any mountains in 15 years? Maybe, but if I have anything to say he better have TONS of experience first. That is truly a tough question.

Anonymous June 1, 2007 at 8:27 AM  

Extreme mountain climbing is pretty crazy. But I just got my 7 yr old son a motorcycle because it's been something he's talked about since he was a toddler. He has a natural talent for it, but it is still nerve wracking! I know there are dangers involved, but I can't keep my kids in a bubble and protect them from everything (much as I'd like to sometimes).

Lori June 1, 2007 at 9:48 AM  

I was really curious what the various opinions would be. I know I was a very protective parent with Lillian (note I drew the line at very protective, not overprotective.) But I think I would have let her do "extreme" activities WITHIN REASON if it was truly her passion. Probably because the idea of losing her never seemed like a possiblitity.

When she was diagnosed, we wanted to move into a bubble somewhere to protect her. But in hindsight, that would not have been much of a life. I wonder how losing a child will change us as parents. Will we be even more protective? Or will we live each day as though it was our last? Time will tell but I hope Lillian's life and death has taught us about joy not fear.

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