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April

2016

To The Grandparents Of Traveling Families (with love)

FAMILY, TRAVEL

trask

sueiro

Hola, friends! Happy Friday! Do you have plans to adventure this weekend?

P.R.I.N.C.E! We love you! He was a true example of someone living life for his craft and on his own terms. Enough said. Just do it! Time is not endless.

How are you? Every week, I say that I am going to post more often and then life just goes bonkers over here in Ecuador. Trust me when I say that a lot is going on and I will share it all at some point. While I’m off gathering the items for our donation on Monday, finishing up design deadlines, packing for a weekend getaway, and much more, I have a post that I’m excited to share with all of you.

I’ve been wanting to finish this post for a very long time. I finally did it! I see the topic of “extended family objecting to travel” continually on many of the alternative education/travel Facebook groups I belong to. I also receive emails from grown men and women struggling with how to deal with their parents opinions about their choices on how to raise their kids and live their lives. It’s heartbreaking. These people I’m in contact with are making a choice to spend an enormous amount of time with their children, to educate them globally, and to venture into the unknown without their tribe. They are giving their children an epic childhood, learning how others live around the globe, and putting memories before stuff. They are trailblazing a way that feels right for their families, and many of them lack support from the people who are the closest to them. It saddens me. This is a bad example of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE! How many times have we heard these words? Yet many people still can’t get it right. Folks, there is no excuse for not supporting your grown children and their choices, unless of course, those choices are harming the grandchildren in a real, quantifiable way. It’s that easy, really. Do you love your grown children? Yes? Then it is time to congratulate them on the big jump they’re taking. They’re forging their own path into a lifestyle that they feel is best for their family. Love them for it. Respect them for it. And tell them you support them. Period. There are no excuses.

It took my mom YEARS to stop complaining about my living far away. But she came at every occasion (at least once a year), had a great time and ended up being quite proud and happy about our international life. She was able to see that it was a choice that was challenging but equally enriching and exciting. One that also added fun and learning to her life. She is a phenomenal mom and we continue to grow together. ~ Tracey

My parents have been awesome at this. They come to the places we travel. They take it upon themselves to teach the kids when they are around. They have always supported our choices without criticism. They send care packages and actively cultivate individual relationships with each kid. They’ve supported, financially, the travels of our kids when they’ve gotten old enough to chase their own dreams and my parents lead by example, continuing to learn, travel and explore as they age in addition to being involved in social justice causes around the world. So proud of how my mom and dad have grandparented. ~ Jennifer Miller

This is a difficult topic for me, as it is for others, I know. I can think of all kinds of suggestions for my dad but I’m not sure he would listen to them. ~anonymous in New York

Our choices for our children are not necessarily an indictment of the job you did raising us. We love you, and we loved our childhoods, even though the childhood we are offering our children looks very different from our own. You raised a person/persons confident enough to take risks and live life creatively. Thank you! ~ Lisa Stuart

My parents and mother in law have always been supportive of our choice to homeschool. They try to contribute when and where they can. They are pin pals with my son. My dad seeks out curious gifts (metal detector, flight lessons, treasure maps, robots, and drones), but mostly I would say their support comes in being active in my children’s exploration and interests. They read with then, create with them, and play with them. My mother in law would stay up until midnight reading with my son when she came for a visit. She gave my son a passion for finding adventure in literature! ~ Laura Mozingo Morgan

“My mom was the gypsy of our family, and instilled that sense of adventure in me from a young age. Unfortunately, she died unexpectedly when I was 22 and never got to see what young gypsies and global citizens her grandchildren have become. So to any grandparent out there, I would just say, cherish life – your own, your children’s, and your grandchildren’s. Be open to the experiences life sends your way, even if they are unexpected. Ask your kids how you can best be supportive. Plug in. Build sandcastles with your grandkids on a beach in Bali. Share a crepe in Paris. If not in person, then on Skype. Your family may have moved far away, but sharing their adventures could bring you closer than ever. ” -Jen Silver, http://l.facebook.com/l/4AQF1uJ8LAQExW91MlZR2eTczHu7TfSb7HhvpKQzyQtkGRA/SilverLiningLife.com, Fam of 5 fulltime traveling since 2007

Why do you think your grown children are choosing this lifestyle? Are they trying to piss you off? No. Are they indirectly saying their own childhood sucked and they are going to do it better and different? No. Are they just rebelling? No. Are they doing it for their own glorification? No (ok, maybe one or two are). Your grown children are choosing this lifestyle because they believe this is the best way to educate and raise their children. They are doing it because they are on a quest to raise globally minded, internally motivated, self loving human beings who can go on to enjoy passion driven lives full of happiness. This choice has nothing to do with you and it should never be taken personally.

How did your grown children get to the point of being able to forge their own path on the road less traveled? Any ideas? Because of you!!! Something in the way you raised them has given them the ambition, intelligence, insight, passion and determination to create an epic childhood for their children (your grandchildren). That is pretty darn cool. You played a part in this! You raised them to find a path authentic to their beliefs, to dream big, and to bring those dreams to fruition. You had a part in all of this. A very positive part. However, if you don’t support their decisions, then you risk losing all credit and destroying your relationships with them. Personally, I don’t think it is worth it, do you?

So what’s the big deal? Why do families (frequently grandparents) object to traveling and homeschooling? I’ve heard many reasons, but the most common ones are as follows:

SOCIAL: The relatives fear that the grandchildren will not know how to socialize, function in an office, be in a relationship, be a team player, and so on. The majority of the traveling families I have met say that the social benefit of their travel life has yielded the most growth in their children. I know my kids are able to socialize outside of their age, gender, race and religion. In addition, these travel kids learn how to be a team player almost daily. They need to! This lifestyle is anything but pampered and if they want to get stuff done, they need to learn to work as a team. In regards to the office aspect, most travelers don’t consider that a factor. If they know how to socialize outside of their tribe and how to be a team player, they’re all set for an office environment. However, most of us are not raising children with the office environment in mind. We’re raising our children to find their passion and know how to turn that passion into a career. If that happens to be in an office setting, the same tool set will apply.  If you want to read an amazing post about the social aspect, this is a great one.

EDUCATION: The relatives fear that the grandchildren will not be able to get a job, have a career, or earn money in the future because of an inadequate education. The education a child gets through travel and being exposed to other cultures, languages, and religions can be taught outside of a textbook. This is an education that stays with you forever, not one that restricts you.

FEAR OF OTHERS: The relatives have a fear of abduction, murder, terrorism, bombs, what others think, the list goes on. Here’s the facts: we’re more likely to be killed in a car accident or by a recklessly used gun than by terrorism or abduction. Most travelers look at statistics, ignoring the fear tactics used by the media or family members. And worrying about what other people will think is silly. If you’re worried about what people will think of your grown child traveling with your grandchildren, you’re going to have to get to the bottom of that issue personally.

MONEY: Grandparents fear their grown children are creating career suicide and will not have enough money to retire. I cannot speak for all traveling families out there, but 90% of the families I meet are very fiscally responsible. Both partners work in some capacity, contribute to retirement/college funds, live frugally and have medical insurance. On the other hand, shouldn’t we consider the happiness of the family as well, instead of just focusing on one’s career?

LACK OF COMMITMENT TO FAMILY: Almost all of the families we meet traveling miss their extended family immensely and still have a strong commitment to them even though they are far away. Just because someone is not next door does not mean that they do not value their family and are not there for them. I see many traveling families more committed to the extended family than some others who have lived in the same city for decades.

I am choosing not to elaborate on the above too much because this post is not about the objections. However, I did feel it was necessary to at least identify them.

Notice anything from the list above? One of my least favorite four letter words pops up over and over again: F-E-A-R! Fear is the reason behind most of this list. I can’t speak for every traveler, but most of us are very against fear as a motivator. I am not a professional psychologist, but I do hear from families that many of the extended family are projecting their own FEARS onto them. Not cool. I’m sorry, but we have a “don’t project your fears on our family” rule in our home. Whether you are 20, 40 or 70 it is your responsibility to get your own fears in check. If you can live with your fears, fine. But they become a problem when they’re projected on others.

I have polled many other traveling alternative education parents and they have shared their best suggestions as to how extended family (particularly grandparents) can support their family lifestyle in a way that is unconditional and growth driven for everyone. In a way that can keep family relationships strong and supportive, rather than judgmental and dissolved. These suggestions came from families who have parents who are shouting from the rooftops about how awesome their grown children are and from families who are estranged because the constant criticism and lack of unconditional love became too overwhelming and destructive. I think it’s a fabulous list. Thank you to everyone who participated.

For your grandchildren:

ASK ABOUT THEIR SCHOOL: Ask your grandchildren about their alternative education or travel life. Open your mind to learn about this new style of education. We are never too old to be enlightened. I was not homeschooled. I didn’t even know any homeschooled kids. Will went to an all boys, parochial, mostly Cuban school in Miami. The two of us could not have come from backgrounds any further from the worldschooling education path. Yet, we had a daughter who was interested, so we educated ourselves and it’s proven to be a blessing. In addition to learning something new, asking your grandchild about their education will bring you closer to the parts of their life that you are so removed from. As a result, it will strengthen your bond. If they know you are truly interested in what makes them tick they will ultimately respect you for it.

VISIT THEM IN THEIR NEW LAND: A fellow traveler whom I respect tremendously told me that her parents don’t say anything negative about her lifestyle choice, however they don’t say anything positive either. Plus, they have never once come to visit her in any of the countries she has lived in. This makes her very sad. She moved outside the US with just her child (single mama here), built a business on her own and they have never come to see it or told her how proud they are of her. If you are grandparent reading this right now (and you have the means) start planning your trip right now. This very day. You are truly the one missing out on seeing something magical unfold before your eyes. I have seen my children prosper and grow in a foreign land and I can tell you it is MAGIC! Go see your grown child navigate a new land, go see your grandchildren communicate and you will leave so full of happiness that you will never regret it.

SUPPORT THEIR INTERESTS: I just love the quote from my friend Jennifer at the top of this post. Go back and read it again. Her parents put their time and money into adventures the kids are passionate about. I often get emails from travelers who are sad that the grandparents buy the grandchildren things they want them to have, not what the children are actually interested in. I think it is important to remove the word “I” from any statements you are making regarding your grandchildren. This means no, “I want them to dress, play, do, look like (fill in blank).” Find out what they love and support it, no matter how crazy or ridiculous you think it is.

KEEP IN TOUCH: Call them on Skype, FaceTime, the phone, etc. Email them. Instant message them. Send short videos. Whatever works for your lifestyle and your level of technology, but please keep in touch. As grandparents you have to make the effort. I am sure all of you remember having small children, working full-time and barely having time to use the bathroom. You are now in that retirement zone. Reach out to them, be annoying, be aggressive (in a good way), and keep the lines of communication open. Keep in touch!

HELP TEACH YOUR GRANDCHILDREN: Another one of my favorites. Teaching children takes a tribe and I realize this more and more as we travel and worldschool. I depend on the kindness, expertise, and dedication of others in our local community and across the world to help me teach our children. However, there is no greater gift than having a grandparent teach what they know to a grandchild. Distance should never be a problem, considering all the resources we have today. Call them on Saturdays and read them a story, start an email chain where they have to use two new words on each correspondence, send them videos of great discoveries in the name of science, take them on a trip, the list is endless. Make the time to teach them. I can guarantee that in the end you will learn from the experience as well.

TAKE AN ADVENTURE WITH YOUR GRANDCHILD: This is my favorite. My mom did this last summer and it was super cool. Do you vacation? Then start taking one grandchild each time you go. It’s really quite simple. Right? It does not have to be a trip to Antarctica. It can a weekend trip or even a day trip, just something to show them that you value their travel path and would like to be part of it. You could even plan the trip with them, do research together, send emails back and forth about your findings, make them stay within a budget, etc. Become part of their travel and worldschooling world through travel. If you don’t have the means to take them on a trip then take them on a virtual trip and maybe send them a care package with goodies, books, and videos for the virtual trip. Find ways to support their travel life through adventures together.

READ TO THEM: I love this one. When you visit, make sure you make time to read to them. Reading to a child creates an amazing bond and memories that last forever. If you can’t come visit then maybe try reading to them via Skype or tape yourself reading a book and then send it to them so they can listen to the audio before bed. Another option would be to send them a care package with books about their location or their next location. Support the lifestyle choice through books.

REFRAIN FROM TALKING ABOUT HOME TO MUCH: As much as you are still at home, they are creating a new home and their new normal. I know it is hard to come to terms with this. It is ok to talk about home, however every conversation should not be about how much home misses them, how their bed misses them, how this has changed or that has changed. The grandchildren need time to adjust to their new lifestyle. Try starting conversations off by asking about their life, their school, new adventures, the weather in their land, etc. Embrace their new lifestyle fully.

For your grown children:

SAY SOMETHING: Tell them you are PROUD OF THEM! Saying nothing and acting as if they are not on this road less traveled is just as destructive as vocally opposing it.

BE THERE FOR YOUR GROWN CHILDREN: They still need you.

And for those of you travelers who are reading this and saying YES, YES, YES, I have some suggestions for you as well (and for myself). Let’s look at it from the grandparents point of view for a minute. I truly believe that family members are giving their opinion from a point of love, with maybe a few exceptions. The grandparents want what they believe is best for their grandchildren. Unfortunately, they are coming from a different generation with the lack of knowledge related to this new style of education/lifestyle that we have so actively searched out. We have to remember this and be sympathetic to the fact that this is so incredibly foreign to them. This is not always easy if someone is constantly telling you how wrong you are, but let’s all try to spread love and understanding. And if that doesn’t work then some ties are just meant to be broken. I hate to even say this, however, I’ve met a couple of families (very few actually, thankfully) where the grandparents opinion was so strong and destructive that the family had to make the decision to become estranged. Although this would never be my first suggestion, I can see how it could become exhausting after years of attempts to create a peaceful environment. All this said… cut the family some slack if they are unfamiliar with this lifestyle choice. Help them understand your why and you will be tremendously surprised as to the outcome. So many grandparents come around after years of watching this all unfold. They may even become the biggest advocates for this lifestyle.

I cannot speak for the majority, but I can speak for many of our traveling friends and for us personally that leaving family (especially grandparents) was incredibly hard. It was hard for us to make the decision to leave knowing we would miss all the special moments extended families share. I’m going to guess that when grandchildren leave the grandparents there is a bit of abandonment felt and for that we feel great sadness as well.

So, if this post has made its way to your desktop, email or is sitting on your counter I ask of you one favor. Read it twice and then call, email, PM or write a letter to your grown child and tell them how much you love them and how proud you are of them for forging their own path. Whether or not you agree with their lifestyle choices is not relevant because it’s not your choice, but how you handle your relationship with your grown child will be something that will forever be remembered. How you unconditionally love them, embrace the differences and allow them to be them is key. They are doing something amazing and hard, they need your support and they need you to shout it from the rooftops. Share this post with other grandparents of traveling families, hell, share it with every grandparent you know. And then rejoice in the amazing children you made that have taken the road less traveled with your grandchildren.

And in closing, this post was written for the grandparents of traveling families, however, I think it is a post that can apply to many of our lives. The big take away is to love unconditionally. But, also to keep our opinions about how others live their lives to ourselves. No good can ever come of it.

Talk to me, grandparents! How do you support your grown children’s choices regarding education, travel and more? I would love to add your suggestions to the list. And if you are one of those grandparents who is incredibly proud and supportive of your grown child and their choice to forge their own path through the travel lifestyle, homeschooling, or something other unusual lifestyle trend, please comment. If you are the opposite I truly hope this post has shed some light on what they need from you.

And for the record… I LOVE GRANDPARENTS! This is not meant to be an attack on you at all, but it is meant to be a plea. I have a front row seat and connection to many traveling families. I can speak from experience, they need you and your support more than you could ever image. Please be there for them. Gracias!

Have a fantastic weekend and please share this post.

Besos,
Jessica

{Neither Will or I had a traditional American childhood. Of course, there were glimpses here and there, but overall we were raised different from the majority of Americans. I know in my heart that this played a very big role in the people we are today and our ability to realize that no dream is out of reach. Thank you mom, dad, Rosa and Hugo.}

COMMENTS (10)

10 thoughts on “To The Grandparents Of Traveling Families (with love)

  1. Beautifully written. As the parent/grandparent of this travel family I recognized FEAR was my contribution. It is something I struggle with daily, and I know that they know it’s out of love. I do try hard to fight the fear though, really. Sometimes the fear gets in the way of recognizing the bigger picture.
    You are right when you said that this travel life is hard for grandparents. It’s so foreign to us, I can only liken it to landing on a different planet and trying to figure out how to traverse all the strange things in this new world. Remember travel families thought, talked and planned for a long time before stepping into this lifestyle, as much as two, three years or more. Grandparents didn’t have that time to adjust. We are old, set in our comfort zone way of life and need time to get to where you already are, be patient we will get there.
    You are wonderful parents raising amazing, smart, confident children in a lifestyle that’s not the easy road to travel but you do it with such ease you make it look easy which is why it’s thought of by some as one big vacation. I can tell them from first hand experience they are wrong. I don’t think most people understand the commetment, hard work and dedication it takes to live a travel life, to sacrifice everything to expose your children to a wonderful way of life. I am so PROUD of all of them it brings tears to my eyes. So be patient with us, we love you and only want the best, and happiness for you all.
    So many people have told me they are living the life they would love to live by following this blog, and are in awe of your travel life style. One person called themselves a voyeur. This blog is making it possible for those who can’t, to see they can.
    To the family and friends of travel families I have this advice. Stay in touch. In this day of electronic communication it’s easy. Go visit. Travel families always make room for company and welcome them with open arms. Share encouragement. It’s good to hear positive reinforcement that your doing great. Don’t criticize. Even if you disagree, don’t, they don’t need to hear it. Here’s the big one parent/grandparent go see them, embrace the adventure. Don’t be fool enough to lose them because YOU don’t agree with their lifestyle.
    Proudly Written by: Iris Trask the, Mother, mother in law, grandmother of the Sueiro Travel Family.

    1. Ah mom, thanks so much. We love you and are so happy you visit as much as you do. The kids lives are only enriched by your time with them. I like that you offer advice from the grandparents point of view, this will be very helpful to many of my readers. And thank you for overcoming your fear. We never put our children in dangerous situations, ever. And you can rest well at night knowing that. I am so happy you commented. We love you!

  2. I totally admire what you are doing jess and will…i think of you often as in OMG the moves…i have to assume you live a very simple life..i.e. not moving beds and couches..lol…so you also do without all those sundries that are pure and simply cancer causing agents…a simple lifestyle but not an easy one i am sure….seems to me a LOT of sacrifice but very very rewarding.. i can not imagine the creative things you have had to do to make all this happen ..and you avoid the stress of a NORMAL life which really isn’t normal and quite stressful here….i am guessing you don”t worry about changing clothes or outfits every day or twice a day….come on you wear a pair of slacks or a blouse ONE day and it needs to be laundered ? not unless you really PERSPIRE heavily or have a bladder problem…not that i know about that..lol. With your lifestyle i know you have to be resourceful, frugal , and creative. YOU LEARN HOW TO DEAL WITH IT and
    though your lifestyle is much different than your mom”s and dad”s….we both know that you learned a lot of “resourcefulness” from them and undoubtedly from will”s family as well…which gave you a head start and the opportunity for your mom and dad to experience these adventures is truly a dream come true! So obviously you have made the right choices but the most important part to me is —-one of my favorite sayings is “HOW DID THIS PERSON GET TO 40 YEARS OLD ALL BY THEMSELVES??? your children will never have that problem…you are giving them the ULTIMATE education…carry on…we do miss you but are REALLY happy to see you in august !!!!

    1. Thank you Aunt Rosie. You have no idea how much your support means to me. And that you took the time our of your busy life to write this. Besos. We miss you and will see you this summer.

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