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What We Can Learn From Jessica’s Parents

May 15th, 2010 · 3 Comments

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Solo sailor Jessica Watson’s boat Ella’s Pink Lady
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16-year-old Jessica Watson returns home
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Jessica’s parents Julie and Roger
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As Jessica Watson sailed into Sydney Harbour this afternoon, I joined the group lining the South Head foreshore to witness the historic moment. It was incredible to see that little pink boat make its way through the Heads. I shed a tear when I was back in front of the TV less than an hour later as she stepped off Ella’s Pink Lady and into the arms of her parents, Julie and Roger.

As much as I was overjoyed for Jessica achieving her dream to sail around the world unassisted, I was relieved for her parents. Imagine what they’ve been going through for the past 210 days.

Jessica was correct when she stated that she’s no hero, just a regular person fulfilling her dream. The real heroes in this story are her parents. How difficult must it have been for them to go along with Jessica’s dream in the first place? I worried that my teenage son would have trouble coordinating the two-bus trip that he needed to take to get to and from work experience last year. In hindsight, I worried for nothing and so, too, it seems did the nation’s parents who feared the worst as Jessica sailed out of Sydney Harbour seven months ago.

My 16-year-old watched Jessica’s historic return on television and heard her speak of living your dream. I asked him if he had a dream that he wanted to fulfil. Less grand than circumnavigating the globe by sea, his centred on his pet passion, cricket. Easy for me to be able to encourage him to realise that dream. If he’d declared that he’d always wanted to skydive, bungy-jump or something equally as dangerous like sailing solo around the world unassisted on a 34 foot yacht, I’m not sure that I would have the courage that the Watson’s showed to let him go for it with my blessing.

Jessica’s parents showed enormous faith in her. They supported her throughout the journey and were incredibly restrained when her boat was rolling on its side in treacherous conditions. For 210 days they were amazing and remained optimistic that she would make it home alive. I’m certain that I wouldn’t have been that strong if it was my child alone in the ocean.

So while Jessica has become an inspiration for young people globally, Julie and Roger Watson have become heroes to parents like me for whom loosening the ties don’t come easily. There is much we can learn from them about trusting the judgment of our teenagers and encouraging their dreams.

Tags: Adventure · Heroes · Parental Bonding

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jill // May 17, 2010 at 11:49 am

    I thought Jessica’s parents were insane when they let her go, but now I think they are great. Hindsight is a funny thing.

  • 2 admin // May 17, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Jill, I agree with you. I thought they were incredibly brave to let her go and now I think they are heroes because they did. What would we be thinking of them if disaster struck instead? We must embrace the outcome or we’ll never be able to allow our teenagers to move forward and try new things. x

  • 3 lisa // May 19, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    has made me think twice about my over parenting

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