During my recent vacation in Florida, I had to examine a very serious question posed to me by my 26-year-old son. I have to give you a little background on what actually happened so you will know how we started this discussion.

TSM

We were laying on our towels on a hot scorching day with quite a crowd of people sharing this beautiful stretch of white sand and deep blue water. At some point during our outing, a bald-headed man wearing swim trunks and a stretchy swim shirt came running up the beach yelling for Tyler. Several asked him what to look for and he said “he’s five years old and has on a long sleeve swim  shirt and we can’t find him.” He was not the dad, but a friend who was in the same travel group.

This frantic search went on for a good 15-20 minutes. I told the man to be sure folks were searching along the water’s edge because a little boy is more likely attracted to the water and the action closest to the water. My son, who is a rescue swimmer ran down to the water and began hunting for the little guy. In about 10 minutes, Tyler was found quite a ways down the beach. He was ok and he was scooped up and loved on by his Mom and Dad who had been in frantic tears just moments before this.

A few minutes later, as we were sitting at the water’s edge with the waves lapping up over our toes, my son asks “give me some advice on how to avoid what just happened to me when I have children one day.” It was an interesting question and something I haven’t thought about in a long time. But I told him the number 1 piece of advice I could give him was to make the rules very clear with your children and let them know the consequences if they don’t follow the rules. And you must follow through with those consequences. We also started talking about parenting and how your life will forever change once you have children. I told him the days of sitting on your towel and drinking beer and listening to music at the beach will be gone. You will have to be actively involved in your children’s lives on vacations to be a great parent. If your youngster wants to learn to ride a boogie board, you should be prepared to show him or her. Same thing for building a sandcastle, hunting for sea shells and the list goes on and on. I told him you always hear that having children is life changing, and this is one of those times when things change forever.

My son started talking about little Tyler again (I could tell he was troubled by how this little boy could go missing for nearly 30 minutes). He said “I think I might put a GPS tracking device on my kids. It could be on the ankle or wrist and that way I would know where they are at any moment.” That might be a great use of technology, but we also talked about parenting and how you always have to be on your toes. That GPS tracking device does you no good if your child wandered out into the water and got pulled out by the undertow. Parents have to be so alert in situations where children could get lost in a crowd. It’s especially true when they are at a place that is so exciting like the beach, or amusement park, etc.