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Allaying Parental/Familial Concerns

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Re: Allaying Parental/Familial Concerns

Postby Grampahawk » Sat Apr 13, 2013 10:51 pm

awilsondc wrote:This is difficult because it's natural for family members to worry about each other. People with little experience hiking and climbing mountains could easily feel that being out in the middle of nowhere with no people around and no easy way to get help is extremely dangerous. In reality, the danger is much less for an experienced hiker or climber as most people know the limits of their abilities and know how to read a situation as far as when to turn back if necessary. With people who worry about me I often describe to them times where I have felt that my safety could be at risk and turned back from a summit attempt and that helps them realize I am aware of the risks, know my limits, and practice safety in the mountains.

Another way you can help family members feel at ease is to carry a SPOT, or InReach, or similar personal locator and rescue system. The Delorme InReach appears to be the best, especially when paired with their GPS unit. It will enable you to actually send and receive text messages in the mountains as well as alert rescue if you need assistance. It's somewhat spendy ($250 for the InReach, $250 extra for the Pn-60w GPS), but you may get the concerned parents to foot some of the bill if it will make them feel less worried about you.


My wife always worried about me so my climbing partner borrowed a SPOT from a friend for our Mt Forbes climb. It got knocked off in the tri-level blow down area on the approach and we didn't realize it until a few hours later. The wife went mental as she watched the SPOT not move for 3 days. She thought we had been mauled by a grizzly or broke a leg. So, in that case it added to the concern. However, a SPOT did save a life on Pico de Orizaba. A climber in another group had HAPE so bad he was coughing up blood. His group was able to get him down to where he was picked up by a guide and brought to a hospital.
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Re: Allaying Parental/Familial Concerns

Postby chugach mtn boy » Sun Apr 14, 2013 6:54 am

It's the way of the world. My parents were mostly worried about me doing things on my own, because they were convinced I was a clueless babe in the woods and wanted me to be with someone who knew what they were doing. Years and decades of experience didn't change that assessment.

Recently, my 89-year-old mother was talking to me about what would be done with her golden retriever when she is gone. I said, well, he's such a great dog, I could take him to live with me in Alaska and he could be my hiking companion sometimes. She suddenly looked terrified. No, she said, that would be way too dangerous for him. (You see, the poor dog would be out there with somebody that didn't know what they were doing).

So, how am I with my own daughter, who by any objective measurement is a solid climber and extremely competent all-season wilderness traveler? Worried as hell, of course. But for me it's not so much imagined fears as fear of the known--the fear that comes from knowing that someday she'll push her limits and something unexpected will happen and suddenly there will be real danger of losing my kid. The one difference in my own parenting, from the way I was parented, is that I don't give her a hard time about it. I still worry.

All of my own close shaves with death have happened in the mountains, and mortality among my climbing friends has been higher than among the others. I'm not one of those people that says there's more risk driving to the gym than there is on the mountain, because there's not. But so far it's been worth it.
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Re: Allaying Parental/Familial Concerns

Postby ozarkmac » Sun Apr 14, 2013 1:18 pm

Yesterday I watched as my 21 year old daughter packed for a weekend of canoeing and climbing in the Ozarks. She rolled her eyes to her boyfriend as I asked about her first aid kit. Last week I had to reassure my 80 year old mother that I wouldn't hurt myself when I headed into the woods with friends. I've been doing that for more than 40 years. Parents have been worrying about kids since the earth cooled. Reason and objectivity have nothing to do with it. Let'em worry and go have fun.
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Re: Allaying Parental/Familial Concerns

Postby lisae » Fri Aug 16, 2013 6:45 am

My folks never worried about me. But my mom was always traveling to dangeous places without leting me know where she was going. One time, I was trying to call her for several days. I finally called one of my sisters - my mom had gone to Nicaragua to pick coffee. Another time she was traveling in a rural area of Mexico where they were rebels. The bus she was on came to a road block, the rebels got on, carrying machine guns, and asked paggenger for $20. She would only give them two dollars because that was the going rate.I

I worry about my kid, especially when he is near a drop off. I can't watch, just like I couldn't watch him climb trees when he was a little kid. I just keep my mouth shut, becuase he is very cautious.
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Re: Allaying Parental/Familial Concerns

Postby rgg » Fri Aug 16, 2013 7:28 pm

Castlereagh wrote:... I've tried the usual arguments, there's risks in everything, from sitting on a couch and playing video games to walking down the street, but it makes no difference. They argue that I'll never understand the worry that parent feels for a child, but I feel like that's just a false metaphor, if that makes sense ...


Very few people feeling strongly about anything can be convinced by mere rational arguments: emotions always trump reason, no matter how well you present your case. The best outcome will be that your parents will worry silently. The only way that may allay their fears is if they would experience the outdoors themselves - but not everybody is willing and able to even try that.

My own folks have passed away now, but when I started traveling to faraway places, they were worried a bit as well. Fortunately, as they were used to a bit of traveling themselves, albeit only in western Europe, they could relate to that. But when I started to travel further away, they got concerned that it might take a long time for me to get back home in case something happened. I understood that, for they had some health issues, but there was nothing immediate. Yet no logical argument could stop them worrying about it, so I stopped trying.
However, while they could relate to the joys of traveling, and even had some experience with short and easy day hikes, I soon progressed from hiking to climbing mountains. And when I did, I had expected them to get more worried, but to my surprise they weren't. Maybe they didn't really catch on to what I was doing, or perhaps they simply thought of it as the logical next step. Either way, I didn't mind at all, I was happy that they didn't worry too much. If they had been, I would never have been able to stop them doing that.
Nowadays, my sister sometimes lets on that she worries a bit about me when I'm in the mountains. Not quite the same type of relationship as with parents of course, but still she worries. She's in no shape to travel to remote places herself, let alone go mountaineering, so she won't be able to really understand what it's all about. Consequently, when I'm traveling and a mountaineering accident makes the news, I know that she can't help but think that one day I might be featuring in a similar story.
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Re: Allaying Parental/Familial Concerns

Postby Grampahawk » Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:11 pm

awilsondc wrote:This is difficult because it's natural for family members to worry about each other. People with little experience hiking and climbing mountains could easily feel that being out in the middle of nowhere with no people around and no easy way to get help is extremely dangerous. In reality, the danger is much less for an experienced hiker or climber as most people know the limits of their abilities and know how to read a situation as far as when to turn back if necessary. With people who worry about me I often describe to them times where I have felt that my safety could be at risk and turned back from a summit attempt and that helps them realize I am aware of the risks, know my limits, and practice safety in the mountains.

Another way you can help family members feel at ease is to carry a SPOT, or InReach, or similar personal locator and rescue system. The Delorme InReach appears to be the best, especially when paired with their GPS unit. It will enable you to actually send and receive text messages in the mountains as well as alert rescue if you need assistance. It's somewhat spendy ($250 for the InReach, $250 extra for the Pn-60w GPS), but you may get the concerned parents to foot some of the bill if it will make them feel less worried about you.


FYI- I thought a SPOT was a good idea also. But while doing Mt Forbes we had to hike through an area of tri-level blow downs on the approach and it got knocked off the pack. We didn't realize it for several hours and were not going back to try and find it. My wife freaked out as she watched the progress and it stayed at the same place for three days. She thought we were mauled by a grizzly or broke a leg or something. We did find the SPOT on the way back. And I have known people who have used them successfully. But I thought I'd share.
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