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Surprise: Lost-at-Sea Abby Sunderland's father had reality TV deal in works before she set sail

Well, are we really surprised that Laurence Sunderland had a significant financial motivation for allowing his underage daughter Abby to sail around the world by herself? Did we really believe for a moment that it was sheer stupidity that caused Mr. Sunderland to allow his daughter to almost drown in 30-foot waves somewhere in or near the Indian Ocean?

It now all comes out that prior to Abby Sunderland's launch from Marina del Ray, California, in January, her father had signed a deal for a reality show, oddly and poignantly to be named "Adventures in Sunderland". According to a press release, the show was all about Magnetic Entertainments efforts, where:

“We follow the family in their day-to-day lives as shipbuilder Laurence Sunderland and mother/teacher Marianne try to balance work and family. Their philosophy on building strong well rounded adults is to mentor their seven home schooled children into setting goals, creating a plan to reach those goals, and implementing them.”

If that doesn't meet the definition of a serious psyche disorder on the part of the parents, then we really do live in a democracy where crazy sells and is perfectly legal.

Criticism of Laurence and Marianne Sunderland had already started to swirl shortly after a tracking team lost contact with lonely little Abby a few weeks back. Panic set in, understandably, as no one could be sure if she was alive or not. Finally, radio contact was made, ultimately she was rescued and is now on her way back to health - and hopefully on her way back home, where she can be a normal teenager. In theory, anyway.

I don't care how mature and talented your children are, they are still children until they are 18 (and even then, they remain children, often for a lifetime) and should not be allowed out of sight of their parents or legal guardians. As a possible extreme, remember Elian Gonzales in 1999 who was picked up in the waters between Cuba and Florida after his mother drowned at sea? Ultimately, he was returned to his father, as he should have been. Many at the time in Little Havana, Florida, were advocating for little Elian to make his own decisions. That's baloney. As long as a legal guardian is alive, they have the right to make decisions for their children - and should. To shirk that responsibility, as the Sunderlands did with their daughter Abby, shows at best how incompetent they are as parents. To factor in money, as we have known for years that the parents of Gary Coleman did, makes it almost a crime. Perhaps it was a crime what the Sunderlands allowed to happen, but who's really going to pursue charges, especially if the only damage to Abby or any other child is emotional, which is always hard to prove in a court of law.

Even though I feel that children in an environment like the Sunderlands are always in danger - home-schooled by parents with poor financial and parenting skills who see their kids more as balance sheet items than as children - I am hard-pressed to ask for an investigation. Unless other evidence surfaces, I am in favor of leaving the Sunderlands alone - and definitely pulling the plug on a reality TV show, which apparently has already happened.

In the meantime, watch for more wacky parents to make a bad decision, get on Oprah or TLC and then find a dead rescue worker or dead child on their hands. At worst, they may become a tale of morality.

At best, they may get nominated for an Emmy.





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