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Traveling with Children is Extreme

Parents Choose Life of Child, Traveling Life is as Extreme as Any Other — While riding through the mountains of Arizona on archaeology survey, a friend in the back seat of the truck began talking. She talked about extreme parenting styles. She talked about Jehovah Witnesses not utilizing medicine or taking their kids to the [...]

Parents Choose Life of Child, Traveling Life is as Extreme as Any Other —

While riding through the mountains of Arizona on archaeology survey, a friend in the back seat of the truck began talking.

She talked about extreme parenting styles. She talked about Jehovah Witnesses not utilizing medicine or taking their kids to the doctor when they are ill. I think she may have meant Pentecostals, but that is irrelevant. She said what they were doing was child abuse. I nearly jumped into the conversation before being struck by the realization:

People are going to say these things about me. People are going to criticize my style of parenting. People are going to say that it is child abuse to raise Petra on the road, not providing her with a steady home, and for not rearing her within the bounds of institutionalized education. My parental style will be seen as extreme.

As extreme as those religious folks who don’t believe in the use of medicine.

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Wade from www.VagabondJourney.com
Western New York, USA, January 6, 2009
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But all parental styles are extreme. All parents domineer the early lives of their children. This is normal, a child lives the life of their parents until they become adults and choose their own Path. The parents choose what they feel is the best life for their children — the life that they chose to live themselves — and hope that it is good enough.

Wade and Petra in the Museum of Natural History in New York City

Wade and Petra in the Museum of Natural History in New York City

All parenting styles are extreme.

I believe solidly that it is no more extreme to raise a child traveling than it is to remove a toddler from thier parents to be sent to day care all day long. I feel that it is no more extreme for a parent to teach their child their skills and work than it is to send a kid to be rigorously and forcibly taught by strangers who are governed by heavey hand of The State. I believe that the young adult who has traveled the world, learned to speak a half dozen foreign languages, learned to write publishable articles, knows how to interact with people from different cultures, and who really knows about their world stands just as good — if not better — a chance at getting into a good university than a kid who has been mashed through the hambuger grinder of a USA high school.

Chaya and Petra in Grand Central Station

Chaya and Petra in Grand Central Station in New York City

To speak of parenting extremes, allowing your child to be ripped from their family to be indoctrinated and molded by a modern government is extreme for sure.

All children learn. Most children are taught. Not every persons life will be the same, not every educational set is appropriate for every child.

I will teach my daughter how to travel. I will teach my daughter how to look people in the eye and determine character with a single glance. I will teach Petra how to be independent and make finite decisions with snap of her fingers. I will teach my daughter to convert currencies without hardly a thought. I will teach her to quickly do math in her head to subvert being short changed. I will teach her how to not be ripped off, how to save money, how to make money. I will teach Petra how to look around in her surroundings and walk a path that keeps her safe. I will bring her to dangerous parts of the world and show her that the people there are not to be feared. I will teach my daughter speak foreign languages. I will teach her how to communicate with people from other cultures, the rudiments of self confidence, how to walk with her head up, how to read, how to write. I will teach her to believe only what she experiences, and not what she reads. I will teach Petra how to juggle. But, more than anything else, I will provide my daughter with the infinite bounds neccessary to teach herself, to explore, to look at the world she lives in face on and find her own Path.

Which will not be the path that thousands have walked before her.

It is true, I may never teach my daughter the quadratic equation, but who the f’ck ever used such a thing?

Wade and Petra at the VLA in New Mexico

Wade and Petra at the VLA in New Mexico

Filed under: Travel With Family

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3411 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Rochester, New York

11 comments… add one

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  • Bob L January 9, 2010, 11:22 am

    *It is true, I may never teach my daughter the quadratic equation, but who the f’ck ever used such a thing?*

    Uhhhh, I have….

    I can’t wait until Petra is a Teen. Since all Teens revolt against their parents, she will probably get some 9-5 job in a cubicle and make ton of money and never go anywhere…..And never get a tat…..

    Petra is going to live a one in a million life. I hope you will continue to share your lives with us.

    Bob L

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com January 9, 2010, 12:41 pm

      Bob,

      Haha, I sort of figured that you would be one of the few representatives on the planet who actually use high school math haha. Have fun with that haha.

      Yeah, Petra probably will rebel and want to wear nice dresses and go to college. Hopefully, her upbringing will prepare her for that. Maybe Chaya and I are attempting the “converse parenting strategy” where we raise our child the opposite of how we want them to end up haha. Maybe more parents should try traveling with their kids to trick them into becoming doctors and responsible, sedenatary people haha.

      Thanks,

      Wade

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  • Rea January 9, 2010, 11:27 am

    Ignore the naysayers!

    By following your own dreams, you free Petra up to do the same herself one day.

    That’s far more important than the exaggerated benefits of a “secure, stable household” and probably the most important lesson a child (or indeed, a person) can ever learn.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com January 9, 2010, 12:38 pm

      Thank you Oscar! I appreciate your good words. We surely will.

      Wade

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  • Bob L January 9, 2010, 2:31 pm

    Rea Wrote: **That’s far more important than the exaggerated benefits of a “secure, stable household” ***

    I disagree, sorta’… I think a secure, stable household is VERY important. It is the normal definition of secure/stable that I disagree with. I don’t see it as being a house, town or even country. I see it as having a family and friends that you can count on, that are always there. I see supposedly secure stable households where the kid is plopped in front of a TV, and the parents, on the rare occasions when they are actually home at the same time, fight continuously. Not very secure and stable to me.

    I think Wade and Chaya will create a very secure and stable household for Petra. It will just have a variable landscape surrounding it.

    BUT, I have a question for Wade and the other travelers out there. I seems that most travelers concentrate on cities, big and small, and seldom spend time in the tiny towns, the forests and parks and other almost non-populated areas. For example, Wade, you are a farm boy, or at least came from farm country. You learned the values of tramping the woods. How do you think you will show the value of that to Petra? Or will she be brought up mostly as a city girl with only occasional trips to the woods. This is more or less a rhetorical question, as I know you don’t really know how the next few months will go, much less the next 20 years. But I would love to hear some ideas on this, or maybe a post or two. I am thinking that some archeology work might be a good way to break Petra in to the uninhabited areas.

    Bob L

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com January 12, 2010, 10:19 am

      Bob and Rea,

      I agree, a secure and stable life is important for a child, but I don’t think that this necessarily demands a house or a permanent place that you stay in.

      “I think Wade and Chaya will create a very secure and stable household for Petra. It will just have a variable landscape surrounding it.”

      This was a good way to put it, Bob.

      “BUT, I have a question for Wade and the other travelers out there. I seems that most travelers concentrate on cities, big and small, and seldom spend time in the tiny towns, the forests and parks and other almost non-populated areas.”

      Good question, Bob. There is one answer: Work.

      Since I began this internet publishing project I have been tethered in to internet connections. This is probably the worst part of this occupation, and the reason why I am trying to come up with the money to pick up a Blackberry with an international data plan before leaving the USA again in early February. I don’t know if I will have the money though. Before I began writing on the internet I would avoid cities at all cost — or I would just go to them to get drunk.

      Someday I will find the space to dig into the 7 years of notebooks that I kept before writing on the internet and publish something from them. This website has redefined my travels a little — both for the good and the not so good.

      The search for other work also keeps a traveler close to cities — like it does lots of other people. In Eastern Europe, I was working in hostels; in Istanbul, looking for work as an English teacher; in Hangzhou, I was studying Chinese and teaching.

      Though I do think I spend a good amount of time far away from cities to balance it all out. Thanks for the observation, it is good to hear such things.

      Thanks,

      Wade

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  • reina January 10, 2010, 5:59 am

    The only thing-I moved around on 3 continents with my parents… Your little girl should have the opportunity to make friends and to play, in a full immersion kind of way, all by herself and with other children when she gets a bit older. I know a few precocious children, who spend practically all their time around adults and are totally used to being the center of attention. Not that great…..

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com January 12, 2010, 10:21 am

      Reina,

      Yeah, it seems as if it is easy for parents to create monsters . . .

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  • Rea January 10, 2010, 3:31 pm

    Hey Bob,

    I agree completely.

    That’s why I stuck “secure, stable household” in inverted commas. I’m not saying a secure environment isn’t important for a kid – of course it is! – what I’m saying is that what is usually thought of as a “secure, stable household” actually isn’t all that secure or stable to begin with.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com January 12, 2010, 10:21 am

      Really good point, Rea!

      This is true.

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  • Andy Graham January 11, 2010, 4:27 am

    Wade, I sense you have reservations, or you would not blog about the baby. There is no right answer, it is all a maybe.

    If I had a child, I would travel, but stay in same city 2-3 months minimum. Travelers normally lose the plot, they have no routine that stabilizes them.

    As my friend, I can see you need a woman in your life to travel. This is a good thing.

    I can travel for 12 years because I am stable in my mind, I do not become the places I visit. A child becomes its parents, if we look at parents we can see the child. My parents have been married for 55 years. I can travel…

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