World record keepers should abolish age as something to be beaten, because it will lead to tragedy.
And in all of these things, eventually that will happen. And at that point, it will be the fault of the particular parent (it will seem), and they will take a lot of heat. But are those parents any worse than the ones that sent their child out, and the kid was lucky? Not in my estimation.
In the pro-level mountaineering community, there has been a controversy for years about whether it is responsible for a parent to go into dangerous terrain, such as K2. This has particularly been true of mothers who where killed with very young children. I remember Rob Hall calling from the top of Everest, and speaking to his pregnant wife, as he was dying. These people have taken a LOT of heat, but were they any less irresponsible, than the parent who successfully summitted?
I hear what you are saying about parents, Steve, and their motivations. I can't help but think that there is something warped there, in these attempts. Does that come from the current concept that every child is "exceptional" in Every Way? That they are the 1 out of 100 that survives..everything?
I sure don't know. But it just makes me shake my head.