Eric and Charlotte Kaufman with their daughters, Lyra, 1, and Cora, 3.   (AP Photo/Sariah English. File)

Eric and Charlotte Kaufman with their daughters, Lyra, 1, and Cora, 3. (AP Photo/Sariah English. File)

The Kaufmans are possibly the most talked about family in America. The family of four were recently plucked from their sailboat, The Rebel Heart – their home for the past seven years as they sailed around the world. The boat had lost all its steering and most of its communications six days ago, and was taking on water when rescuers found the stranded family. Making the matter most crucial was the condition of their 1-year-old daughter, Lyra, who was feverish and vomiting from possible salmonella poisoning. The family arrived in San Diego today, and will be taking time to recover before talking with the press.

See the full story here.

The fact that Eric and Charlotte Kaufman, parents of Lyra and her 3-year-old sister Cora, were sailing around the world with such young children is causing a passionate debate among families across the nation. Some are accusing the Kaufmans of reckless parenting, putting their young children in peril by staying at sea when they began having children. Others are applauding the young family for taking on such an adventure.

My take? Every family is different, and every family has their “norm.” For the majority of us, sailing around the world is not something that would be normal for our family. But for the Kaufman’s, they were sailing before the kids were even born. Those children saw being at sea as every day life. It’s no less normal than the families who live in huts in the middle of a jungle, families who have only one parent, kids who live in the projects, kids who live in mansions…. (speaking of which, you should check out the photo project of “Where Children Sleep” by photographer James Mollison for an eye-opening look at the economic differences in families around the world).

This was what the Kaufman family knew – sailing as a way of life.

And bad things happen in families, things we don’t plan for. The Kaufmans didn’t plan for their boat to break down, or for their toddler to get as sick as she did. Houses can burn down, leaving a family displaced. Pipes can break, roofs can leak, homes can be burglarized. Kids can catch colds, catch pneumonia, catch cancer. It doesn’t matter whether a family is on a sailboat around the world or cooped up away from germs in their home. The unplanned can happen.

Did being at sea make it more difficult for the Kaufman family to receive adequate care? Sure. But should they have stayed close to shore once they had kids? I don’t think so. Having been sailing for so long, I don’t believe the Kaufman’s were guilty of reckless parenting. I believe they were including their kids in a lifestyle they had already laid the foundation. And I hope that when little Lyra recovers, the family is able to take to the seas once again.

What do you think?

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  1. Billy C

    Every day THOUSANDS of children are born in to family’s that have lived for generations on welfare , to parents with drug addictions or who will live in abusive house holds.
    If I where to have my choice to spend my first years at sea or
    be raised with little hope of a good life I would gladly take the former. That being said I would not even think of taking a toddler or new born out to sea on my boat.

    April 9th, 2014 7:52 pm

  2. Marc Tan

    I have travelled the world and many other cultures live their Whole life on boats as a family. Their livelihood is the Ocean and they take the family with them. This is a different way of living and some people think in a box since they would never do it and call others reckless parenting!

    April 10th, 2014 8:15 am

  3. Dar

    Their rescue should simply be chalked up as them getting good value from the taxes they’ve paid in the past. Some people take well fare others get food stamps. These people required a rescue. Not a big deal as far as I’m concerned. Good on them for living a life outside of the “norm”. Different strokes for different folks.

    Haters gonna hate.

    April 10th, 2014 10:20 am

  4. Art

    While this can be summed up as common practice as people state here, these people that do this are idiots as they are putting themselves and their kids in danger, danger and illness are around every corner and it is these idiot parents responsibility to to keep their kids out of such and to stay as close as possible to quick rescue and or treatment of said above. If they choose the former then yes, they should be considered reckless and should be charged accordingly with the cost of the rescue and possible criminal charges of endangering their kids.

    April 12th, 2014 6:38 am

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