Life IS risk!

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Posted by Barry on January 26, 2006 at 13:43:31:

In Reply to: Re: PADI meets Chucky Cheese posted by coralcuts on January 25, 2006 at 18:25:29:

I'm not really trying to start an argument here, perhaps taking more of a devil's advocate tack, but the consensus so far seems to be that we don't have enough data on the effects of diving on our young. The sport is still relatively young itself.

I suppose you could say that the things we learn now will benefit the sport for centuries to come. Pioneers in any field are often known for the stumbles they make on the path to greater knowledge, and consequently pioneers are known for the sacrifices they encounter. The beneficiaries of that pioneering spirit often take for granted the sacrifices made by people before them.

Am I saying that it is OK for our children to be used as experiments? No not really. Yes of course there is risk. But I reject the idea that life is supposed to be lived in a risk-free environment. There is definitely a way that you can make sure your children remain 100% safe, and that is by making sure they never leave the house. To be sure, you could lock them in your backyard nuclear fallout shelter and feed them 100% nutritrious paste intravaneously. They would never come to any harm. But is that risk-free life a life worth living?

Let us make sure we weigh the negatives against the positives before we let the (possible, unproven) negatives rule our lives, or turn this into yet another yawn-inducing PADI-bash. I for one look forward to the day when I can share diving with my children, since it is the most positive, inspirational thing I have ever done (granted, my children don't exist yet, and once they arrive THEY will be the most positive, inspirational thing I have ever done). The positives I see that are specific to diving with your children:

1) Sharing an awe-inspiring experience with your child, one they will NEVER forget

2) Teaching them about the need for conservation and sensitivity to the environment

3)Showing them that the world is MUCH larger and more diverse than they could possibly imagine, thereby giving them a healthier and more sensitive opinion of diverse cultures

4) When adults become scuba certified, their random dive-buddies are the peers they observe the most when they are trying to learn the sport. Do you want random dive-buddies to be the divers your children use as role-models? Or would you rather have YOU be their role-model?

This is related to point #1 above, but foremeost to me is the idea that by diving with our young-uns we are creating fantastic memories that will give them something to hold on to as the banalities and responsibilities of life begin to take a larger role. I for one use my happy childhood memories as something I constantly hold on to when the weight of the world begins to pull on me, tempting me with the allure of drugs & alcohol and other easy fixes for whatever ails me. Remembering that the world is actually a beautiful place whose realities can often be more fascinating than our imaginations is something that keeps me centered & happy, and would be exponentially more difficult if my parents did not make the act of exposing me to incredibly unique experiences a priority when I was a tot.

Having said all that, I've only encountered one diver who was a minor. I was in Belize and met a man and his 13-yr old daughter. He had previously gone through an ugly divorce with her mother, and since the mother had primary custody and moved themselves to another state, these dive trips were how the father & daughter would spend their short time together. They had an inspiring relationship, and the girl was by far the best diver in the group judging by her air consumption and technique. Not necessarily due to experience, but due to the sheer resilience of youth. Yes, children are still developing their bodies, but one thing they have that we do not is that enviable resiliency. Personally I'm not worried at all, but I must qualify that by stating that I don't intend on taking my children below 30 feet until they are teenagers, barring any new evidence to suggest otherwise.

Of course, every benefit I've just described could also be accomplished by snorkeling, so I guess I've just shot my whole premise in the foot. But I've killed the final 45 minutes heading into lunchtime, so thank you for the diversion. :-)

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