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Do you come from an unconventional background?

(38 Posts)
Azzie Mon 21-Oct-02 14:55:31

At the weekend while walking in the Peak District we came across a group of New Age types living in the woods, including some who had quite young children. Dh and I were wondering what impact an unusual childhood like this has on people at school (not easy to invite your friends home for tea to a bender in the woods, I suspect), and whether when children from unconventional backgrounds grow up they hold on to their parent's beliefs or go to the extreme opposite? Anyone got any experience of an unusual upbringing?

titchy Mon 21-Oct-02 16:09:45

No experience of wierd upbringings I'm afraid, but surely the children wouldn't go to school? A lot of people with so called alternative lifestyles home educate, or claim to (sorry that was slightly sarcastic - don't mean to offend anyone).

Traveller children usually do go to school but often aren't there long enough to make friends, and so only socialise with each other.

Don't know whether they would go along with their parent's ways or rebel and become accountants though. I would have thought the former if only because their experiences, ironically, would be more limited than if they had had a conventional upbringing.

anais Mon 21-Oct-02 21:30:55

Titchy, I'm intrigued at why you think a child in that situation should have more limited experience. Not criticising, just interested. IMO experiences would be different, though not necessarily more limited.

mumsywumsy Tue 22-Oct-02 21:17:09

Does this apply to Army childen too ?? maybe it doesn't ...but then its the closest i cud think of ...

I moved to 9 schools + University in 23 years ! and after being married the wanderlust is still very much apparent as we have shifted house 5 or six times in 10 years ....and also are thinking of migrating ....

As for making friends still in touch with school/college buddies ! think one learns flexibility early ...adjusting to new people, attitudes...and my experiences were not at all limited worked well for me !

tigermoth Wed 23-Oct-02 10:44:14

For seven years in my late teens, early twenties, I went out with a boy whose family lived on a houseboat. He was one of six children. His father supported the family (not very well) as an artist. In pursuit of business, he was gone for days at a time. His mother had the herculean task of raising a succession of toddlers without much money, no running water, in a very confined space, and facing the danger of them going overboard. I don't know how she did it. They all went to normal state school - I think home education would have been an impossibility.

When I first knew the family, sibling quarrels were rife. But the most divisive factor was the attitude to their father. Half the children blamed their father and wanted a 'normal' life, the other half tolerated him and enjoyed the freedom of the life they had.

These alliances have survived into adulthood - and strengthened if anything. One of the children will not give his father his address, has not seen him for years, but will see some of his siblings, and another has emigrated and is uncontactable to all to family.

The siblings who tolerated this life still see both parents regularly.

CAM Thu 24-Oct-02 10:34:42

My very own sister has brought her children up in an unconventional way in that when her twins were about 5 and her dd a baby they went off travelling around France, Spain and Ireland with her dp for 3 years or so. My parents (teacher and RAF) thought she had gone completely bonkers but her twins (now 16) became and remain fluent in Spanish and are the most self-sufficient and nice boys I know. They have recently obtained apprenticeships to conventional jobs, one in engineering and one in catering. When she stopped travelling she settled in Wales in the middle of nowhere and her children went to a Steiner school where the most important things were art and music. They learned to read very late compared to other schoolkids,however they all went to a normal state school from age 11 and the 2 boys caught up enough to do very well in their GCSE's. I have to say that my nephews and neice are all very intelligent but there are gaps in their knowledge of how the conventional world works, which I can't really explain except to say there is a lack of "sophistication".

rozzy Thu 24-Oct-02 20:31:49

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slug Fri 25-Oct-02 14:58:53

Don't know how unconventional this was, but I'm one of 11 children. Our favourite game was swapping names whenever one of our siblings brought a new friend home. Sometimes it would take weeks for them to sort us out. We used to go on holidays in shifts, mum and the younger ones one week, dad and the older ones another. I can remember when my youngest sister was born, my eldest sister, then 17, had a different classmate home each lunchtime to hold the baby, apparantly she kept a diary, everyone got a turn but you had to book weeks in advance. Having said that, apart from one sibling who appears to have a problem with contraception, none of us have had more than the regulation 2 children.

Rhubarb Fri 25-Oct-02 15:08:46

CAM and Rozzy may I ask how your relatives went travelling with their children? It is something I desperately want to do with my dd who is 2.6 but have no idea where to begin.

titchy Tue 29-Oct-02 09:40:03


I just feel that if a child lives a traveller-type lifesyle they are not going to have the opportunity to watch tv much, see friends in conventional homes, talk about what their hobbies, what their parents do etc etc, so doing something like becoming an accountant, teacher or whatever must seem very alien and unachievable (this is why it is generally the children on middle-class, well educated parents who go to university). Coming from a conventional background you have all the conventional opportunities available, but can also choose to 'drop-out', as many do!

rozzy Tue 29-Oct-02 14:16:39

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Rhubarb Tue 29-Oct-02 14:29:25

Rozzy, I have been advised against travelling with a toddler in tow. The arguments against are basically; she won't get anything out of it, she needs stability and security in her life, I am not giving her any say in the matter, it would be extremely difficult to travel with a toddler and so on. As a child I also moved from house to house and from school to school, as a result I never made any lasting friends (I have only one friend from school), I was always the new girl and was picked on relentlessly, I never developed any confidence and my education was a disaster. I have now overcome the education (I have a degree too) but feel that the negative aspects of moving have affected me badly. I don't want that for my own child, but what I am proposing to do is to go travelling for a year and then either come back to this country and settle, or settle in another country.

rozzy Tue 29-Oct-02 14:43:20

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monkey Tue 29-Oct-02 18:56:04

rhubarb, just to but in, I moved around a lot as a child, and I suffered a lot too, and have low confidence & hate meeting new people because I found it all so relentless. I was picked on, always had the wierd accent, and only have 1 friend from school too.

But anyway, aside from empathising with you on that point, I agree with rozzy that at your dd's age, there wouldn't be any long lasting negative effects like these, esp. if you're planning to settle at the end of a year. Personally, I don't think it'd be that hard with 1 child. Would you be going on your own or with dh too? Maybe you could borrow another kid for a week, then that'll highlight to you how easy it is with one!

Alibubbles Tue 29-Oct-02 20:51:08

I was an air force brat and went to 13 schools.
i would never do that to my children. My DH says that I blame my parents for disrupting my education, but who would move their children in the 2nd term of 'O' leverls and the second term of A levels, and having to end up taking the rest of the year of as I couldn't go to any local school as all the syllabus was different. ( At least Nat Curriculum solves that nowadays)

When DH and I bought a house together I did not want to move until forced to by lack of space, I still hate the idea of moving though I would desperately like a bigger house.

I look at houses every week, but I probably won't move until the children are at Uni, but not looking forward to it!

The upside means I am able to make friends anywhere!

rozzy Tue 29-Oct-02 22:04:51

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susanmt Wed 30-Oct-02 01:28:35

I had an unconventional upbringing at the time as my Mum left us when I was 12 and for 3 years I stayed with my Dad. Doen't sound mad, but in 1982 this was weird. My Dad was awarded custody of me and my brother and sister, and it was an unusual enough case to still be part of the Edinburgh Uni Family Law course in 1990! (my best friend was on the course and recognised us from the reports she had to read).
I am so glad I did it, I am very close to my Dad, who is an incredibly special man.
As far as we are concerned, we have every intention of taking off for Central America to work for a few years int he next couple of years. SO our children are going to have the unconventional upbringing. Anyone I know who has experienced this (one good friend was brought up in Tanzania where her parents were missionaries - she speaks swahili as well as she does english!) has felt it truly enriched their lives!

Azzie Wed 30-Oct-02 06:21:40

Rhubarb, I think that at your daughter's age you would be fine, but if you're going to do it, do it soon. My ds is just 5, and for about certainly the last 12 months has had some very definite friends who he would miss very much if we upped sticks now. Plus, my experience of changing schools at a young age was very painful, and I found it hard to make friends (but this may depend on the child - I was shy and hopeless at sport).

At your dd's age you are her main stability, so provided you are constant she should adapt. Again, it probably depends on the child, but certainly we've never had any problems travelling with our two children (we've never done a long trip like you're suggesting, but our two seem to settle just about anywhere). Yes, there will be challenges in travelling with a toddler, and it won't be quite like the old backpacking days, but it will still be exciting.

As for your dd being too young to get anything out of it, who knows what sticks in little minds? And surely a happy and excited mum is going to have a positive effect on your dd? You'll see and do different things with a little one in tow, and in my experience a small child is a great icebreaker in many places.

Take a look at the Lonely Planet book 'Travel with children' for some practical tips on getting about and for inspiration. And when you go make sure you have access to e-mail somehow from time to time to let us know how you're getting on!

janh Wed 30-Oct-02 09:54:45

Alibibbles, the National Curriculum doesn't solve the GCSE/A level syllabus problem, unfortunately, there are still different exam boards and different papers and a choice of texts, topics etc for teachers within the same ones.

janh Wed 30-Oct-02 09:55:11

Alibubbles, so sorry for typo!!! (It always happens when I don't preview!)

Alibubbles Wed 30-Oct-02 11:18:13

janh, I know, I moved in the middle of the spring term the first year of my O levels and then I had to take two terms off and start again with my A Levels.

I should have said it is helpful for primary and upto KS3

SueDonim Wed 30-Oct-02 13:23:02

I agree that children get their security from their parents rather than from their circumstances. We've moved a lot, ds1 had lived in 7 houses by the time he was 8! And now we've moved halfway round the world, when dd1 was in the middle of her Standard Grades. (It was either that or life with DH on the dole.) However, having just returned from parents night she is doing very well indeed and is on course to get excellent marks.

From our experience, I think doing something different can encourage a child to be more adaptable, self-sufficient and out-going. Our oldest has a degree, a good job, is married and has lots of friends. In fact, looking at the seven siblings in mine and DH's family, our children are the only ones who have not dropped out of uni, have spent time abroad, have friends all over the world and generally lived a bit.

Rhubarb Wed 30-Oct-02 21:39:06

I think our problem is that firstly, my dh is not keen to go at all; secondly she is not a very social child at the best of times and we don't want to worsen her by isolating her in different countries where she cannot speak the language, nor stay long enough to meet playmates; thirdly we have no idea where we want to go or what we want to do when we get there!

Twink Wed 30-Oct-02 22:07:10

Oh Rhubarb, I really feel for you, I've followed things on the other thread and as many others have said you really aren't alone in feeling how you do - I'm completely crap at dealing with other kids and find dd really hard work. It's better now, she's just 3 and we can go out and 'do' things together.
For reasons I won't go into now the 3 of us have to travel to the Far East at the end of the year, part of me is dreading it (prospects of 12 hour flight, jet lag, tummy upsets etc etc), but on the other hand I'm really looking forward to showing her places which are totally different to her usual environment. Sure, in an ideal world we'd be travelling when she was more likely to remember stuff but that's what photos are for.

Don't worry about your dd being solitary, it's pretty normal at her age and to be honest, (I'll no doubt get shot down for this) helps her self-reliance; my dd is likely to be an only too and I'm trying to encourage her ability to play alone (ie NOT WITH ME !).

Language only seems to be an issue if you let it; she was happy mixing with children in Europe this year despite no common language - and I managed to get fish scaled & gutted using sign language and smiles.

Any chance of you making the Christmas London do ?

Rhubarb Wed 30-Oct-02 22:29:54

Twink, thanks for your heartening comments! I would love to make the Christmas do, but unfortunately the trains are still delayed at the weekends, meaning a 5 hour journey there and back. Maybe next time when they are back to normal.

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