"I NEVER THOUGHT I’D BE JEALOUS OF A 12 YEAR OLD" PJ MADAM, REPORTER, ON EXTREME PARENTING

"I NEVER THOUGHT I’D BE JEALOUS OF A 12 YEAR OLD" PJ MADAM, REPORTER, ON EXTREME PARENTING

Posted by PJ Madam on Sep 19, 2016 9:08:16 AM

That was until I met Shannon Sweeney from America.

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She skis, rock climbs, ice-skates, surfs and plays hockey to name some of her talents.

Are they extreme sports? Are her mum and dad ‘extreme parents’?

Well, here’s the debate.

Her parents, Patrick and Christen, believe that by exposing Shannon to risk and fear, she’ll be more likely to develop resilience and determination later in life.

By all accounts, it’s working.

We had to film Patrick, Shannon and her 10-year-old brother PJ reenacting their attempted summit of Mont Blanc last year.

However, the only way to get to our location was to climb down multiple sets of metal ladders bolted to the side of a cliff for the next 1000 metres.

One slip could be fatal.

(Did I mention I’m scared of heights and am completely uncoordinated?)

Patrick gave me a harness for the first few sets until I gained my confidence while Shannon and PJ followed steadily behind.

Whenever I’d catch a glimpse of the drop below, Shannon would remind me “it’s ok, just try not to look down”.

She was an experienced climber for her age, and instead of ‘knowing it all’ she gently coached me through it, elevating my nerves perfectly.

This 12 year old was oblivious to how she handled my fears with great maturity.

The crew and I reached the bottom highly relieved and without a scratch.

At that moment, I understood exactly why some parents want to expose their kids to risk at a young age.

I could also see why others think it's madness.

Clinical psychologists argue that a child’s brain and body isn’t fully developed failing to ascertain what’s dangerous and what’s not.

The back yard is enough. Why push the scratches and bruises to broken arms or even worse?

When Patrick, Shannon and PJ tried to summit Mont Blanc, the children were swept away a short distance by falling snow.

They were roped to their father, who was roped to another rope himself.

As far as alpine climbing went, they couldn’t have been safer.

They were also experienced for their age, having summited several mountains before this.

But this experience rattled them enough to abandon the climb.

They got down the mountain the same way they came up – by themselves. No helicopters. No rescue crews.

Tut-tutting may continue long after our story goes to air.

But think of the children in the middle of it all.

It’s too easy to judge someone’s parenting style from one incident.

It doesn’t account for how children are treated on a day-to-day basis, or how much time their parents spend with them.

Reading negative comments about their mum and dad on social media is probably far more emotionally damaging than the failed trek up Mont Blanc.

I believe Shannon, PJ and younger brother Declan are on track to becoming well-adjusted teenagers and even more resilient adults.

Not because they were raised by ‘extreme parents’ but because they already come from a happy, stable and emotionally healthy family.

Kids just want to be loved by their parents.

“I love them obviously more than life itself and I wouldn’t do anything that would ever put them in harms way,” said Patrick.

“I want them to be healthy… happy, confident kids and if I can do that as a parent then I’m doing everything I can”.

Patrick certainly is.

Topics: Fearless Parenting

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