Merry Christmas, Tony Hawk—The World Thinks You’re a S*** Parent

Rebecca Sparrow poses a question about the controversial photo of Tony Hawk and his daughter: What business is it of ours anyway? 

Unless you’re a teenager or Avril Lavigne, it’s entirely possible you have no clue who I’m talking about. Tony Hawk is a 44-year-old professional skateboarder. He’s famous for being the first man to land a 900-degree aerial spin on a skateboard (I have no idea what that actually means but it sounds impressive.) He’s like the Godfather of modern skating and skateparks. There are Playstation games about him. Rides at themeparks.

So in a nutshell: Hawk is cool. Or he was. Until he posted a photo of himself and his four-year-old daughter Kadence – skateboarding in a concrete bowl without helmets.

You can see where this is going, can’t you?

Hawk posts a photo on Instagram and says: “Updated frontside fling photo courtesy of @msk8blake. She is learning to skate on her own, so we might not be doing this much longer.”

The world replies: “You’re a f*cknuckle. Put a helmet on her, you douche”. Okay I’m paraphrasing but you get the gist.

Nothing like a public smackdown in the week leading up to Christmas!
Pouring gasoline onto the blaze, Hawk fought back and posted a second helmet-less pic of his daughter skateboarding and said “For those that say I endanger my child: it’s more likely that you will fall while walking on the sidewalk than I will while skating with my daughter.”
You know what this reminds me of?  The Steve Irwin/Baby Bob/Crocodile Dangling incident of 2004 when Irwin took his four-week-old son into a crocodile enclosure and craddled him under one arm while he dangled a piece of raw chicken meat in front of a four-metre croc.

To gasps from his audience, Steve Irwin cradled one-month-old Robert under one arm while dangling a piece of chicken from the other in front of a four metre (13 foot) crocodile.Once the meat was snapped up, Mr Irwin turned to his son and said: “Good boy, Bob”.

The crocodile expert defended his act, which included his American wife Terri carrying Robert into the crocodile enclosure.
He said he was in control the whole time and the baby was never in danger. In any case his children had to grow up to be “croc savvy” living so close to such reptiles.

“If I could have my time again I would probably do things differently,” he admitted. “But I would be considered a bad parent if I didn’t teach my children to be croc-savvy.”

Mrs Irwin said her baby enjoyed the experience.

To say Irwin received a backlash is an understatement. He was reportedly devastated by the furor his actions caused.

So here we have two experts in their fields breaking the rules the rest of us live by. Irwin—one of the greatest wildlife handlers the world had seen—had his children growing up around the types of animals that could chew them up for breakfast.  Hawk—legendary skater and a man who has his own 45 sq m skate park in his backyard—allowed his daughter to skate with him without protection.

So do these experts know what they’re doing? Or are they—in an attempt to show off—putting the lives of their children at risk?

Actually there’s a third question to ask… What business is it of ours either way?

And I say that with all sincerity.

Maybe we should respect their judgement and butt out? Maybe they have the expertise to judge a situation in a way that we can’t.

Should Tony Hawk’s daughter have been wearing a helmet? I don’t know. I WASN’T THERE. But what I do know is that I’d hate for any of you to follow me around for 24 hours and notice some of the screw ups and blunders I make with my kids. Yesterday I found my 10-month-old in the bathroom about to lick the toilet brush.

Being outraged by the actions of other parents is seductive—mostly because it allows us to briefly revel in the notion there are worse parents out there than us.  So I see photos of Tony Hawk’s daughter skating with no helmet and I get to think, “You know I may have left my 10 month old baby unsupervised and allowed him to come close to licking GOD KNOWS WHAT off a toilet brush but I can tell you right now that when he goes skating, he wears a a damn helmet.”


So all I’m going to say to Tony Hawk is “Yo, yo, wassup dawg? Have a merry Christmas”.

And my gift to you, Tony? I’m going to mind my own business.


Originally appeared at Mamamia

By Rebecca Sparrow -Rebecca Sparrow is a contributing editor at She is also the author of four books including The Girl Most Likely (which is in development as a feature film) and Find Your Tribe (and 9 other things I wish I’d known in high school). You can read more about Bec on her website which you can find here, or follow her on twitter here.



About Mamamia is one of Australia’s most popular websites for females under 40, discussing the latest trends, issues and what everyone’s buzzing about.


  1. On a skateboard, I’d feel safer having no helmet on, being held by Tony Hawk, than with a helmet but alone.

  2. Safe but not smart says:

    SERIOUSLY!!!!!!!!! Has anyone seen this skate?? She is probably safer there with him then 80% of children are just being carried by their walking parents!!!! but I have to say that he SHOULD have made the point to kids who will do what he does, that until they can skate as well as he can they should wear a helmet, like the pro’s do in competitions…. In fact if I was a helmet company I’d have my reps out to his house as quick as possible handing the daughter a range of helmets and a sponsorship del for them both to wear our helmets in any future postings of them skating!!!!

  3. How’s it going for Irwin these days? It is public business when a child is endangered. We hear the same crap from NASCAR drivers who think they should be able to ignore speed limits. One miss (even a mechanical failure) is more likely for Hawk on his board than me walking down the sidewalk. He should worry more about his daughter’s safety than his aging ego.

    • Steve Steveson says:

      But unlike NASCAR drivers he is not in a completely diffrent situation. They are talking BS ignoring the fact that other people are around and that the road is not a race track. That and whilst skating can be dangrous it is nothing like as dangrous as auto racing.

      If he was out skateing down the street you MIGHT have a point.

  4. I think our (Western) culture often goes hysteric when it’s about children. Something like “Chldren are to be protected from everything and not risking any minor injury or pain. Ever!”.
    Hah! Like life is working like that! :roll:

    Besides, on a planet where third-world children die in thousands everyday, obsessing over these small hazards is frankly ridiculous. It just shows how dumb, narcissistic and out-of-touch with reality some people are.

    But, you know, criticizing someone is such a cheap thrill! 8)

  5. Shawn Peters says:

    Great article and strong take. In general, people just love judging parents’ missteps. It is the socio-domestic equivalent of rubbernecking a car accident.

    However, I wouldn’t equate this to the Steve Irwin thing, tho.

    Bringing a baby into an wild animal enclosure is a stunt intended to get a reaction from an audience (just not the one he got.) That infant had no idea what was going on.

    But look at Hawk’s daughter’s face. I can say that there isn’t a 4-year old I’ve ever met who wouldn’t BEG their dads to take them with them on their skateboard and swing them into the air if their dad (or mom, or uncle or aunt or cousin for that matter) was capable of doing so.

    In some families, it is “Push me higher on the swing daddy!” On others it’s “Throw me on the beanbag chair!” In Tony Hawk’s family, it’s “Frontside fling, daddy! Do it again.”

    Is it safe? No, not technically. But is it our business? No, definitely not.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to make sure my 7-year-old son didn’t see this picture.

  6. Great article. As a person who falls down while walking (not kidding. Not disabled, just really clutzy), I would TOTALLY trust Tony Hawk…but you know, anyway, it’s not my business. For so many reasons: just because he’s a skateboard pro, doesn’t mean that he owes anyone any explanations for his parenting choices.

  7. OMG we can claim moral superiority over a celebrity! Rejoice!

  8. Revo Luzione says:

    I say: Bravo, Tony Hawk. The world needs more men who teach kids to take risks, to spend time with their kids. F*ck these judgemental buttmonkeys. Great article, by the way.

  9. I’m a support worker for adults with learning difficulties. As part of my job, we encourage them to partake in ‘risky’ activities, as long as the positives outweigh the potential negatives, and it’s planned properly. I’ve seen somebody with no independence grow, through careful risk assessment, from someone with no independence, to someone who goes out and about by themselves, with no support. That is because of positive risk taking.

    For people to call Tony Hawk a bad parent is unbelievably judgemental and downright ridiculous. To assume that he, as a father, didn’t make a mental risk assessment of the positives and negatives of skating with his daughter, is an awful assumption. One of the biggest problems our society has is this inane desire to see the worst in people.

    When I see those photos, I see a beautiful bonding experience between father and daughter, one that she’ll probably cherish as one of her earliest memories. People who see otherwise should look and themselves before casting judgement. Look at his daughters’ beaming smile. THAT is worth more than critical opinions of people who should just keep their noses out.

    If more fathers took the time to do activities like that with their children, the world would be a much better place.

  10. Keyword “Professional” yes stuff could happen but he has been skating for over 30 years.

  11. Grow up, people. There was once a time when a child was able to ride a bike without a helmet, without being mollycoddled like a toddler until age 15 and everything turned out OK. Tony Hawk is one of the greatest skateboarders with the longest career in the industry. The man has probably skateboarded every single day of his life, several hours a day, for 35 years and is probably more comfortable and dexterous on a skateboard than most people are on their own two feet. Try to appreciate the context of things before flying into a knee-jerk idiot rage of indignation.

  12. John Bailey says:

    Do I think the kid should have been wearing a helmet? Yes. It’s a risk versus reward thing: IF they fall then her dome is at least somewhat protected.
    But (concerning some of the comments) damn people, that’s some rude shit you posted about the man.
    I throw my little boys up in the air playing with them, I’m pretty confident that they’re not going to bust it but I don’t have ANY guarantee of that. We jump off logs, play baseball, tumble down hills and many many other things that could be dangerous without protection – and we laugh and have fun doing it.
    Calm it down. You can be critical and still be reasonable.

  13. Cale Helmer says:

    We’re so quick to judge yet how many of us grew up riding our bikes without a helmet? It’s a right of passage regardless of the inherent safety issues. Tony Hawk; a professional boarder, taking is daughter for a ride without a helmet is no more dangerous than an absent minded parent checking facebook on their phone while pushing their kid on a swing. Get over it.

    • Or checking your text/email while driving with kids in car. Far more dangerous, and I’d bet so many more have done that.

      • Joanna Schroeder says:

        Always remember that for those who were injured/killed because of a lack of helmet, there isn’t a “we’re just fine” – the logic doesn’t stand.

        There’s a guy who walks our neighborhood, probably like 45 years old, who is mentally disabled because of a head injury as a kid (or teen, can’t remember which). He hitchhikes to the grocery store every day, buys a 6 pack of beer, then goes home to drink it. That’s his day. He says, “I used to be normal.”

        I don’t mean this as scare tactics and I do NOT come down on Tony Hawk (see my latest piece on the Good Feed Blog) but we do have to be realistic that “we all turned out okay” is bullshit. Lots of us didn’t, they’re just not “us” here having this discussion.

        • Joanna Schroeder says:
        • Cale Helmer says:


          To begin with let me suck up by saying that I really enjoyed piece referenced above. You make some valid points that hit close to home. But I think the real issue here is the ‘bubble wrap parenting’ or ‘helicopter parenting approach’ we tend to take now days. We don’t let our kids do anything without a safety net, crash helmet and 6 gallons of hand sanitizer to wash away the germs. We’re always ready to swoop in at a moment’s notice to rescue them from; what we perceive as, imminent danger. Whether that be making them wear a helmet, telling them not to run on a playground, buying BPA free products or telling them to not climb too high up a tree. We’re marginalizing our children by always protecting them from the dangers that make childhood….well…childhood. Kids will fall. Kids will get hurt and while we as parents should be ready to soften the blow, we shouldn’t always be there to stop the blow from happening. We learn from the past behaviour/experiences of others, but we also learn from making our own mistakes.

          There will always be a percentage of the population who are not “us” as you put it. People who have suffered severe, life altering consequences because of an accident, etc. I understand the risks associated with living with a brain injury . My Father not only suffers from one but also works in the Acquired Brain Injury field and deals with severe cases everyday. I’ve heard more than enough “I used to be normal” stories to scare the white off rice.

          Call it fate, natural selection or just really shitty parenting that’s lead these folks to their lot in life but to play devil’s advocate to your point for a moment, as much as we can’t take the approach of “we’re just fine” as solid logic, so too can we not assume that every child will suffer irreparable and egregious harm when they do something reckless; like not wear a helmet when skateboarding.

          So perhaps a better approach is to agree that no one set logic can define the outcome of a person.

    • Agreed. Total crap. He is the best skater in the world. Let his kid live a little, not be wrapped in bubble wrap from head to toe. I think I am part of the last generation that was allowed to play outside unsupervised even after dark sometimes. The kids of the noughties don’t get many kicks. You protective parents who are pointing a finger bristling with the danger of it all…well your kids are going to hit fifteen and just rebel in a bad way because they can’t breath from all the smothering and suffocating control you’re imposing on them. By the way-life is dangerous. A professional skater, no the best skater in the world knows what he’s bloody doing. In any case a broken bone or a bruise is character building and I doubt she’d regret these moments with her dad even if that did happen, all the cool kids at school got their casts signed by everyone, as I kid I was always jealous. Oops sorry I have to go, I’m babysitting so I’d better go check that the porn channels on the television are still locked, I mean I don’t want them seeing a theatrical demonstration of something that resembles the process of why we are physically all here..let alone see a tit or two. Building a generation of sissies.

    • Most swings don’t have concrete underneath them. A fall from 1m or more with a child’s skull onto concrete, ESPECIALLY the corners is a bad thing for anyone let alone a child. She should have a helmet.

  14. I would not be worried about Tony Hawk skating with my kids without a helmet. They’d be in better hands than with me in full out armor. As the model for a generation, however, he does have some responsibility to demonstrate safe practices. Though this is not a PSA.


  1. […] Sparrow of The Good Men Project came to the Hawk’s rescue, asking what business is it of ours. Well, none. And well, kind of some if he’s posting pics […]

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