She Came Home Without One: Do You Let Your Teens Go to the Beach Without You?

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Our children grow up with our likes and dislikes. They learn to embrace what we do and often fear what we fear. But what if your fear is based on a personal experience and unfortunately effects their lives?

I grew up on Long Island. The neighborhood had maybe 20 houses and no other streets feeding it. Brook wasn't a tight community but everyone knew each other and this is where your main group of friends came from. There actually weren't a lot of girls on my block, so I did a lot of babysitting.

As with most neighborhoods, there was that one Mom that stood out as the coolest. Ours was Mrs. Clark. She was the mom of three boys and I always thought how sad it was she didn't have a girl because she was so crafty and just sweet. It wasn't uncommon for the Clarks to take a group of the neighborhood boys with them wherever they went. Their house, cars and hearts were always open.

Storm a brewin' - Atlantic OceanThen it happened. In the summer before my senior year, tragedy hit our small neighborhood. Mrs. Clark took a bunch of boys to the beach. A storm came out of no where. Despite lifeguards and the boys being strong swimmers, Mrs. Clark came home one boy short. His body was never found. I will never forget watching Mr and Mrs. Clark walk home after talking to the boy's parents. I had never seen devastation on someone's face before.

Being the family's babysitter I pretty much lived there for a while. The parents and most of the neighborhood spent days at the beach searching for their son. I stayed behind to help with their younger two children and to update family members as they called. The Catholic Church has a special mass for children, and I hope no parent ever has to have it said.

As you can imagine, this tragedy had quite an effect on our small community. It was years before Mrs. Clark was herself again. I was surprised to learn while I was in college that the family had another child and named him for their lost son. They never moved away.

Fast forward some 20 years. We live in Florida, about 30 minutes from the beach. My kids know the rule. They're not happy about it but they know it just the same. They may not go to the beach unless I am with them. Is this irrational? Of course I don't think so. When the youth group at church goes to the beach I go along, they always need drivers anyway.

This really wasn't so much of a problem when they were younger. Most families I know usually don't take a group of kids in addition to their own to the beach. But now their friends are driving and they want to go to the beach for the day. Em's in college; how can I really tell her not to go to the beach with her friends?

We went to lunch Friday to celebrate Sail Academy Graduation, and one of the moms asked if I spent the week worrying about Patrick and the water. Surprisingly I didn't. In fact it didn't even occur to me to be worried as they were on the river not in the ocean. 

So I have this fear based on an intense experience; when do I just let go?

Photo Credit: Donnaphoto.

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