Rebel Heart and Dangerous Parenting

April 25, 2014

The saga of the Rebel Heart and the family rescued from sea has been bumping around my brain for several weeks now.

If you live under a rock and haven’t heard about it, here is a quick recap: Blogger Charlotte and her family set sail on Rebel Heart for the South Pacific. It was their dream to circumnavigate the globe. With their two children on board, the husband and wife sailing team, had high hopes for the journey when they set out from San Diego. But, as often happens, things did no go as planned. The Rebel Heart, a 36-foot sailboat, was approximately 900 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico when the couple’s 1-year-old became sick. In addition, the boat became disabled and was facing 12-foot seas. California Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing and the U.S. Navy’s USS Vandegrift were dispatched to help the family. When the Coast Guard team arrived, they were able to remove the family from the boat. Shortly after, the Navy sunk the Rebel Heart.

Moving forward, many bloggers, media and parenting “experts” have come out to gang up on the Rebel Heart family – calling it dangerous parenting. Many others have also come out in support of Rebel Heart for the family’s bravery to live a life outside the norm.

The family is a sailing family. They lived on their boat – it was part of their life. Many other families across the globe live on boats with their families. Many travel regularly with their children. Many are nomads. Many live lives that would be considered odd or dangerous by the average American.

But, why do we decide that we are allowed to judge those that live differently than we do?

We should be helping the Rebel Heart family up instead of tearing them down. These are parents that believe what they are doing for their family is the best. They made the best decisions they could at the time. They had no way of knowing what the outcome would be, but they went for it. They tried to reach their goals. Aren’t the rest of us trying to do the same thing, albeit in different ways?

How is taking your family on a boat journey any more dangerous than trying to drive your kids to Disney World? Or trying to drive them anywhere for that matter?

I tend to become skeptical and annoyed when these new parenting descriptions pop up. They just trends like anything else. They are just hot-button words that are supposed to lump parents into one category or another.

“I’m an attachment parent,” or “I subscribe to the theory of lean-back parenting,” or “I’m a tiger mom,” or “panda dad.”

All people are different so it seems to me that all people would be different as parents. We are all trying to make the same decisions. In some cases, maybe we go on an adventure in the wilderness – some may consider that dangerous parenting. In other cases, we hold our crying or sick child and let him sleep in our bed – others might call that attachment parenting. Are we really trying to fit ourselves into a box to be a certain type of parent or are we just relating what we are already doing at home with a trend or style of parenting currently being talked about in the news?

I don’t think any check-box type of parenting is better than another. Isn’t the goal to love our kids and raise them to be kind and productive members of society? Isn’t the goal to teach them to be good humans?

You tell me …

Read Rebel Heart’s blog here or find them on Facebook.

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    Welcome to Adventures in Drool! Talking about green living, getting rid of plastics and toxic chemicals in our homes and raising happy kids on a budget. Join the conversation ( and don't forget to Like us on Facebook!

    Rachel Swick Mavity, author of the blog, lives with a reformed drooler (Droolface), who at age 3 loves to get muddy, drink homemade smoothies, giggle and flirt with old ladies. Her current drooler (Birdy) enjoys spitting up on work clothes and leaving drool trails as a way of showing her love.

    Mavity previously worked as a journalist for seven years at newspapers from Pennsylvania to Maryland and Delaware. In Sussex County she worked for several newspapers, including the Cape Gazette. She lives in Lewes with her husband, Ryan Mavity, their son, "Droolface," and daughter, "Birdy."