I have been really thinking about getting a RV and living full time for a while. The hardest thing for me is my kids - some want to do it and some don’t.Facebook User
This is a tough spot.
We were there too.
When we proposed the idea of a 1-year RV adventure to our then 12 and 13 year old we had mixed results. The oldest (our son) was excited about the idea. Our 12-year-old daughter didn’t like the idea.
We talked. I showed her photos of different places. I showed her different types of RVs.
I talked about the types of people we might meet - and that there were other families traveling that we could meet.
I even talked about the dogs she might meet (my trump card).
Ditching Suburbia Manifesto Shirt
Suburbia-ditchers have different values than most people - tell the world what they are:
Simpler Living. Closer Family. Richer Education. Uncommon Adventures.
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The problem with trying to “reason her into going” is that she wasn’t making her decision based on logic.
Her response was emotional and fear-based. She might miss her room. She might miss her toys. She might miss her friends.
It’s easy to choose comfort (the known) over discomfort (the unknown).
We realized our daughter didn’t have the tools to make this decision in an informed, reasonable way.
This was a decision for the adults to make.
It’s unfair to your child to expect them to make this decision for themselves.
The Greater Good
Ultimately we had to make the call. Would we ditch our plans and keep her happy? Or would we ditch the suburbs knowing she wouldn’t be happy, but hope it would work out?
We decided the advantages traveling could offer were worth the risk of her short-term unhappiness. There was too much to do, to see, and to learn by traveling.
There are times when, as parents, we have to willingly subject our kids to short-term pain or discomfort in hopes of a future greater good.
Black Hole of Anger
For the first 6-8 weeks of our travels our daughter was a black hole of anger in the back seat of the truck.
She was sullen. She was cranky. She would say nothing the entire day except for singing along to one line of one song from a CD we’d listen to:
Let me go home
Why don’t they let me go home
This is the worst trip I’ve ever been on.Sloop John B, Beach Boys
Sometimes you just have to let the anger play out. We didn’t always handle the situation gracefully. I like to think we were tolerant so long as she didn’t slide into disobedience.
She said “I just want to go home.” and I asked her what she meant by “home”.
“Back to Michigan. Or the trailer. I don’t care. I just want to be home.”
Don’t discount the value of adversity. While we never wish for it directly, looking back we see the most growth from tough times.
Our gamble paid off.
From that point on she was engaged in the trip.
- Buying identification guides for what she was finding on Virginia Beach.
- Playing with neighbor kids and blogging about it.
- Swimming with Manatees.
- Becoming a Cactus Expert.
- Learning horsemanship.
- Trying BMX racing.
I could go on.
You have to take a risk to earn the reward.
Our daughter still loves our lifestyle. Moreso when it involves animals. But still.
Our son though - remember him? All excited as a 13 year old to head off on adventure. That lasted about 4 years. Then he was done.
We’ll talk through that in another post.
Are Your Kids Onboard?
Current or potential ditchers - how are your kids handling it? Do you have one who is a passenger but not a traveler?