Thursday, February 02, 2012

Dangerous Hobbies with the Kids

Menna Pritchard scales Three Cliffs Bay on the Gower peninsula with Ffion onboard 
This photo that goes along with the article, When it’s best to leave baby behind: A poster-girl for anti-cottonwool kids or the ultimate in maternal selfishness?, by Judith Woods on The UK’s Telegraph made me gulp a little extra hard.

Menna Pritchard is a rock-climber and apparently wants to include her child in her hobby. While I think it’s great she’s trying to find a way to combine mothering and hobbies, this might not be the safest decision. Especially when you note that Mom has on a helmet, but toddler doesn’t.

“Pritchard, 26, who is studying outdoor education, has said she regrets the fact that two-year-old Ffion wasn’t wearing a hard hat, although she also pointed out that this particular ascent at Three Cliffs Bay on the Gower peninsula near Swansea was so easy-peasy it didn’t, strictly speaking, require one. But any second thoughts about carrying her child up the cliff? Not a bit of it.

So does that make Pritchard a heroic poster-girl for the anti-cottonwool kids campaign? Or is she a marrow-chilling example of maternal selfishness?”
Woods goes on to describe the horrible accident that occurred in 1995 when a mother died on a treacherous mountain climb leaving behind young children.

“The prevailing opinion was that, as a mother, she had a duty of care not just to her children, but to herself…It must be noted that, by contrast, fathers who engage in dangerous activities come in for relatively little opprobrium. It would seem that in the popular imagination pursuits as diverse as skydiving, polar expeditions, insane Atlantic crossings in ever more unsuitable craft and fighting on the frontline with the Armed Forces fall under the all-encompassing rubric of “a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do”.”
So where does the answer lie for mothers wishing to pursue dangerous hobbies? Should fathers feel free to risk life and limb, but not mothers?

I would have to think that I would vote on the side of safety. If I was into mountain climbing, I would not stop following my passion. But I don’t think I would drag my child along with me.

We’re all going to die sometime and while I don’t want moms rushing to a premature grave, I don’t want them to hold themselves back from living their lives fully either. After considering the risks and benefits, I’d think you would make the choice that made the most sense.

And while I think it’s lovely to show an amazing mountain view to a child, I’m just not sure if it’s worth risking life and limb for.

What do you think? Would you include your child in a potentially dangerous hobby?


  1. Anonymous10:53 PM

    Danica Patrick is on record as saying that if she was pregnant, she would stop auto racing. I wonder what she would do postpartum.

  2. Good question. Do we just want to protect our kids when they are in utero? Or do we need to protect them after birth by doing our best to be sure we'll be around to mother them?

  3. Gramdma12:05 AM

    The child looks very frightened. Mom with a helmit, the child without one, and the man behind approving of all of this. Call DCF. Go mountain climbing if you wish, but get someone with a brain in their head to take care of the child.

  4. I just can't imagine that something like this would ever be safe to do with a toddler...