If the idea of jumping out of a perfectly good airplane makes you less nervous than the idea of telling your mom about it, don’t worry: You’re in good company. In fact, there’s a worried mom biting her nails about pretty much every young skydiver in the sky. That said: Young adulthood isn’t a job for the faint of heart, and skydiving is a great metaphor for the act of leaving the proverbial nest, so y’know what? You can think of this as a celebration of her excellent work.
Since skydiving happens to be such a popular high school graduation present (and college spring-break activity, to boot), we’ve counseled more than our share of eager 18+’s through the conversation, and we’d like to help you, too! Here’s what you should know.
1. IF YOU’VE REACHED THE AGE CUTOFF, YOU DON’T ACTUALLY HAVE TO TALK TO MOM BEFORE THE JUMP.
The minimum legal age to do a tandem skydive in the United States is 18–with no exceptions. Some very serious laws govern our sport, and this is one of them, so you’ll be required to show a valid photo ID when you roll up to the dropzone.
Since there’s no wiggle room on the age limit–for example, no waivers granted for parent permission–you’ll need to sit tight until that 18th birthday. That means that pulling your mom aside when you’re still a legal minor won’t get you anywhere. Our suggestion: Gather your data, celebrate your 18th birthday with a safe, glorious jump, and then tell her all about it as a courtesy.
2. DON’T TREAT HER LIKE THE ONE-WOMAN AUDIENCE OF YOUR PERSONAL KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN.
If you know that the idea is going to freak her out, it’s probably not a good idea to make a list of reasons that skydiving is safe and then hit her up for money. Trust us–it’s not going to be a fun chat, and it’s not going to work. Instead, use the time between right now and your eighteenth cake-day to save your pennies for a jump at a safe, reputable skydiving operation.
3. SHOW HER WHAT A SMART COOKIE SHE RAISED.
Your mom’s job was to raise a responsible, switched-on human being that navigates the risks of the world with savvy and wisdom. This is your opportunity to show her what a great job she did! Skydiving, after all, is a great place to show off your well-honed ability to calculate risk.
In order to show mom how smart you are, you have to be smart first–and that, like so much else in this world, requires thoughtful research. First, go to the right place to identify the safest dropzones in your area. Hint: look at the database maintained by the United States Parachute Association. USPA member dropzones follow a higher standard of safety, training and maintenance than other dropzones, and they’re more closely regulated.
Notably: The USPA also maintains safety statistics for skydiving, and those stats are pretty eye-opening. Guess what? Tandem skydiving is safer than vacuuming. So, just so you know this going in: Mom is the badass, not you.
4. THINK OF IT AS AN INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEW.
You’re not going to show up at the dropzone in a suit, holding a resumé, but hear this: skydiving just might end up being what you do for a living. Insane, right?! You might be surprised by the fact that so many skydivers show up for that 18th-birthday jump and never quite leave. In actual fact, loads of the professional skydivers that make up our industry community got their start in the sport before their 20th birthday.
While you’re hanging out at the dropzone before or after your jump, make it a project to ask the pro skydivers about their story. Most of us will be stoked to tell you all about how we went from one starry-eyed tandem to a career with hundreds (even many thousands) of jumps safely under their belts. So: maybe you can play this off as career research.
5. ASK HER IF SHE WANTS TO COME ALONG.
But hear us out. You can be absolutely certain that you don’t really know your mom as well as you think you do. (Check back about that with your future-self at around age 30, and you’ll be, like, yep.) She wants you to be safe–of course!–but once she knows the facts about skydiving as well as you do, she might just see the benefit in giving it a try herself.
When it comes down to it, convincing your mom that skydiving is safe won’t be as rough a road as you might think.
P.S. If you need a secret weapon, here’s our favorite quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, faith looks up.”