Daughter JESSICA WATSON
Everyone agrees that parents have a huge affect on their children. For the next few weeks I want to look at a number of parents that have raised children who have become daring, successful, inspiring, clever, ground-breaking, radical ... in their field. These Parents are Worth Watching and have a lot to teach us.
How did Jessica Watson’s parents raise her so that she was personally equipped and willing for such an historic event?
“On 15 May 2010, after 210 days at sea and 24,285 nautical miles, 16-year-old Jessica Watson sailed her yacht, Ella’s Pink Lady, triumphantly back into Sydney Harbour. She had become the youngest person to sail solo, unassisted and non-stop around the world. It seemed the whole country stopped to welcome her home.” Back page True Spirit : Jessica Watson.
Jessica said, “My parents had always encouraged me to dream..” P.20
JESSICA, AN ORDINARY GIRL –
“People often ask me how I talked Mum and Dad into allowing me to sail around the world. The truth is I put in the groundwork and gained their trust with these smaller adventures.” P.21
Jessica was the second eldest of 4 children. As a child she was timid of water and swimming. In early sailing days Jessica was frightened to go far out from shore. At times when the weather was not good, she chose to stay ashore. But as she watched others, especially her sister, come in after sailing in harder weather filled with excitement and stories, she realized her fear was keeping her out of the fun. “I didn’t want to be left on the beach, waiting for everyone to come back bragging about a race. I wanted to be in the thick of it.” P.10
From these shy and normal beginnings, how did she develop into a young woman determined to embark on such a courageous trip?
JULIE AND ROGER WATSON, ORDINARY ADULTS -
Jessica's parents, Julie and Roger, were born and breed in New Zealand. As newly-weds they moved to Sydney Australia, and then drove to the Queensland’s Gold Coast to start a new life. By profession, Julie was an occupational therapist, and Roger was a boiler maker, worked hiring out televisions and later went into selling real estate.
PRACTICES JULIE AND ROGER INTRODUCED INTO THEIR FAMILY -
1 1. NO TV - Julie and Roger had no TV in their home, because they believed people had become dependent on television. They saw it restricted people’s lives and kept them indoors and inactive. “Apart from not having a television (which definitely put us in a minority) my childhood was very normal.” P.9
2. BASIC CAMPING - Julie and Roger regularly took their family camping. Mum and Dad “were big on camping trips and we would get away as often as we could. Dad would give us the choice of either going to one of the local Gold Coast theme parks for the day or spending the same amount of money to head off camping for a week at our favourite spot. Camping always won.” P.9
3. GAVE OPPORTUNITIES BUT NO EXPECTATIONS - Julie and Roger provided opportunities for their kids but never pressured or held expectations for them to live up to. “Mum asked me once if I felt pushed into sailing. I didn’t. It was just something we did. It became our family thing and, if anything, we kids pushed Mum and Dad into sailing. We didn’t play netball or soccer or do nippers, we went sailing.” P.10
4. FREEDOM, REAL-LIFE RESPONSIBILITIES, TRUST - Julie and Roger gave their children a lot of freedom to explore and apply what they had learnt. With this came responsibilities where they were expected to fulfil what they knew the kids could do. “When tying the dinghies on the roof of the car after a long weekend on the water, Emily and I were trusted and expected to do just as good a job as any adult. I never felt like a dismissed kid who was seen and not heard, but rather as a person with my own valued opinions.” P.11
“My parents made a purposeful choice to let us have space to explore and they trusted us to do the right thing. No matter what, in their minds, that was the right way and the only way for them to parent their children,” P.21
5. KIDS LEARNING ALONGSIDE PARENTS, WORKING TOGETHER AS A TEAM, STRONG RELATIONAL FAMILY BONDS - Julie and Roger chose to travel around Australia with their children. This opened the door to 5 ½ years of living and educating the children primarily on board a boat. Navigational studies and radio licenses were learning experiences shared with the children. “It didn’t take long to establish a routine for docking and leaving a harbour. We all had a job and were all an important part of the crew.” P.12 “..most of the time we travelled alone, just us, and because of that Emily, Tom, Hannah and I became very close.” P.13
6. BENEFITS OF EDUCATION PRIMARILY BEING THROUGH REAL-LIFE EXPERIENCES - Julie fitted the children’s studies around the real-life experiences of sailing a boat and exploring their new surroundings. "We'd swim, snorkel, collect shells and explore beaches, islands and waterways. There would be walks up to lighthouses, down gullies and to find waterfalls." P.12 At times we needed "to stop in various ports to wait for bad weather to pass and to stock up on provisions... Mum and Dad used these stops to make us catch up on our schoolwork so we were always pleased when the good weather returned." P.13 "Living on the water also meant that we met all sorts of characters and old salts ... it was fascinating and often inspiring to hear about their sailing and boating experiences." P.14
7. PARENTS TRUSTED IN THEIR CHILD'S IDEAS - Julie and Roger listened and waited time to see if Jessica’s idea lasted. “Mum says when six months had passed and I was still totally focused on making this dream a reality, she started to believe I would achieve my goal. She threw her support behind me.” P.19
8. PARENTS SUPPORTING BUT LEAVING THE CHILD TO TAKE THE LEAD - Julie and Roger knew how to support, encourage, be involved but they didn't take over. “By this time Mum was behind me 100 percent because she recognised how serious I was. I would use her as my sounding board to bounce ideas off about attracting sponsorship or gathering knowledge.” P. 28 “Even if my parents had the money (which they didn’t) they wouldn’t have bought me a boat. At this point, they may have come around to the idea and were helping me where they could, but this was my thing, I had to put it together and show them I had what it took if I had any hope of their continued support.” P.28
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ you could begin reading Jessica's book, True Spirit, to your children. That way you will definitely be inspired to rethink areas of your parenting.