Facing fears about raising kids on a sailboat

Kid crew at Admiral Marina

I was not programmed to be different. If anything, my life until we left to go cruising was a careful series of practical steps designed to fulfill the American Dream. Why would we choose such a different life for our growing family?

I know that the way our children spend their days, or the way that they learn, is wildly different from the norm. This is risky, right?

Will our children be socialized? Will they get into college? Will they be able to relate to their peers? WILL THEY HATE US LATER?

I’m honored to have a guest post on KludgyMom, talking straight from the heart and venting a little about the fears I’ve faced to become an unconventional family- click here to read more on Raising Kids Dangerously.

Are you thinking about taking the leap? What do you wonder or worry about? Let me know in the blog comments or on Totem’s Facebook page, and let’s chat.

Fearless readers know that reading this on the Sailfeed website alleviates worries on Totem.

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11 Responses to Facing fears about raising kids on a sailboat

  1. Colleen Mariotti March 15, 2014 at 4:52 am #

    I loved reading your post, Behan. I never imagined I would step quite as far outside the box either but the fast track was just too fast for us and we are SO glad we took the leap. We are only 6 months on land to your 6 years at sea and already we have lived more life together than we ever could have dreamed. The nomadic life has truly placed our sense of home with one another and it is incredible how much that has changed us as a family. We loved so many things about our life before and we are so grateful to you for inspiring us along the way. Happy Sailing. We are driving to Barcelona this week!

    • Behan Gifford March 15, 2014 at 9:30 am #

      Love it Colleen! I’m so happy to know I’ve helped inspire your family along the way, just as you now inspire me. Happy trails!

  2. kirsty higgins March 15, 2014 at 5:51 am #

    Hi Behan, we made the decision a few months ago to put our house up for sale and take to the water. We thought that we would take our children out of school when we sell up and spend 12 months or so doing some shorter trips so that we can all get used to sailing (i have no experience). Our children decided that they didn’t want to go back to school after the christmas holidays so we have all come face to face with unschooling and we are loving our new found freedom. I feel like a bit of a freak as some of our tiny community are shocked that our kids are no longer going to school however I know that this is the right decision for us. We are all so excited about what lay in store for us in the future and in the meantime we love reading about your adventures with your family on Totem! Thanks so much for sharing your insights and ups and downs with us.

    • Behan Gifford March 15, 2014 at 10:02 am #

      thank you Kirsty! it can be hard to be different- especially in a small community. it became much easier after we left, and had our decision validated instead of questioned by the people around us. know that you have a lot of excellent company!

  3. kirsty higgins March 15, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

    that is a really heartwarming thought Behan!

  4. horizonstar March 17, 2014 at 11:58 pm #

    Hi Behan,
    You certainly should hope that your kids don’t become socialized into the American way of life and values. Because the world they are going to live in will not feature an endless cornucopia of consumer goods and a 30 second time frame of pleasure in their ownership before satisfaction requires a new object.

    What it will feature is an ocean stripped of its life forms by Co2 acidification causing the collapse of the lower end of the food chain. And on land, an increasingly hostile climate wreaking havoc with food production. The skills as seasteaders they are acquiring may just turn out to be survival skills.

    • Behan Gifford March 19, 2014 at 8:21 am #

      horizonstar, it’s true. the last thing we want for them is to be socialized to the way of life that is systematically destroying this planet. 🙁

    • horizonstar March 20, 2014 at 6:14 am #

      When you are on line next time—-
      http://oceanacidification.net/

  5. The Howell Family March 18, 2014 at 11:16 pm #

    Behan and Family, so thankful for your blog it is our morning reading, a kind of devotional to help us remember our Goal. We (my wife and 2 girls 8 and 11) got bit by the bug a year ago and purchased our first boat back in August never sailing before we brought a friend and made the 500 mile trip bringing s/v Abby Singer our 37′ 1982 Irwin center cockpit home. This trip with its ups and downs was one of our all time best family events. Abby currently sits an 1/8 of a mile from our house undergoing many repairs and updates including new hatches a new ac / dc power panel. Chain plate replacement. Etc etc ect. We are trying to not get overwhelmed with the process of liquidating all the crud we have collected from our land lives any recommendations on how to curb the overwhelming feelings and keep trudging forward are much appreciated.

    As far as kids go we all ready home school and travel with them for Dads work so this adaptation should go well. Our biggest concern is our daughters dance. They are (putting it lightly) avid dancers with 6 to 8 classes per kid a week. Mom also takes dance and has taught her whole life so they could take lessons from her. Our question is, is this realistic.

    So you have some basis for your answers it may help to know our “goal”.

    In a nut shel. It isl to cast of on Dads 40th birthday a year from this June and head south with hopes to be in Rio for the 2016 Olympics. From there decide if we want to keep going or come home.

    Any comments thoughts or concerns are greatly appreciated. Thank you again for your support. We feel like we would not be doing this if it had not been in part due to your blogging and positive words.

    • Behan Gifford March 19, 2014 at 8:19 am #

      Hi Howell Family- it really is overwhelming when you go through the process of making the transition. I remember sitting on our porch as we had a massive garage sale with tears streaming down my cheeks. It is HARD! That part ends, though, and you come out on the other side feeling so literally and spiritually lighter: it is worth every bit of difficulty you go through. While I can absolutely imagine being back in our home community on Bainbridge Island again (I miss it, I miss my friends) it is impossible to think about retuning to prior lifestyle, house, etc. We’d be on Totem in the habor instead.

      Regarding dance, if it’s realistic for mom to teach the girls, it sounds to me like you’ve got the biggest concern about leaving your shoreside community fixed! Not to mention, you can expand it by seeking out opportunities to learn dance styles and techniques in the places you visit. What an amazing opportunity!

      We’ve been joking about sailing to Rio for the Olympics, but it might actually happen. Stay in touch! I wish you all the best, and am so grateful that you’ve shared how this blog has helped you down the path to your dream.

  6. Steph April 12, 2014 at 6:06 am #

    Hi there!
    My name is Stephanie and my husband is active duty Coast Guard officer. Has has 1-3 years left in his career. We have four children (almost 8 down to just 3). We have been dreaming about cruising for about a year or so now, and after spending a week in the Bahamas, we are starting to talk more seriously about taking the leap in the next few years. We are currently homeschooling our kiddos, but my husband is more worried about finances and how to continue the lifestyle. What is life like for the kids, socially and school-wise – would love to learn more about the lifestyle. Life is short, and we want to enjoy every minute of it. Thanks so much! stephanie 79 at comcast dot net

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