This week Sami introduced us to another young family that has gone off-grid to live in a micro-home. He asked readers if they want more of such stories and one commenter inquired:
"Intruiging, but I always wonder what will happen in 10, 15 years when the kid is older. ...Could you find some who has teenage kids that have done this?"
The micro-home trend is new enough that it can be hard to find stories of kids who have been raised in this manner. A generation ago, commune-style living was more the trend, but there was one consistent alternative lifestyle option of the '80s and 90's with close parallels to off-grid, small space living: small boat cruising.
Like many micro-homes, most cruising sailboats reflect a great deal of thought and care in design. Maia Selkirk, recently featured in Seventeen magazine's I grew up on a boat observes "It's a pretty house, but it's very small." She offers real insights into the teen experience:
"There's limited privacy. I can't even resort to the age-old teenager trick of slamming my door — because I don't have one."Maia goes on to discuss the travails of dating under the eyes of the close-knit cruising crowd, boat sleep-overs, her education, and other issues that any parent committing their kids to an alternative lifestyle path will want to consider.
So if you want to know more about dragging your family into a lifestyle where friends warn that you "can't do that to the kids!" then check out these reports of experiences in the sailing community, weighted heavily towards the experience of growing up with parents who live differently.
You will hear the same reasons why families sail as why they choose any other off-grid lifestyle, mostly that Wealth is not about things you own – it’s about things you do. Click on the link to Sophia's posts to learn what it is like to be the daughter of the mom who wrote that article.
You will learn that these kids grow up different. But they grow up with big ideas, unafraid to pursue them. They grow up conversant in the world around them, curious to learn more, and active in educating others. Do they miss out in society because they cannot make a joke about (insert recent sitcom here)? Sure, but they soon learn that any people who cannot quickly embrace the differences probably aren't worth knowing anyhow.
You will also learn that these kids grow up the same. Their parents worry, love them, try to give them what they need to have a great life. More mainstream options support alternative educations, more technology helps them to stay connected to the community they left, or may return to.
Some, like Igor Bely, continue sailing as adults, often leveraging their journeys to spread messages about our impact on the planet. The son of Donald Massaro (pictured above) plans to become a naval architect. Others dream of becoming veterinarians, marine biologists, or game coders. Many go on to teach, in one capacity or another.
We hope that more news on those who are forging a path into the unknown territories of alternative life choices will inspire others to follow, inspire society to conspire to help them (think medical care), and result in even more stories like the fantastic adventures we linked above -- without fear that the children will suffer.