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DF! Masthead

The Freedom Advisor

Dear Advisor,

I'm interested in dropping out of our government-controlled economy and have been looking into "permanent tourist" strategies. These sound great for myself and my wife, as we love to travel, but we have a 15-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son. We homeschool them, but... Is it possible to PT with children?

Weedpatch, CA

Dear Uncertain,

Just about anything is possible with good planning and enough money, but maybe the first question to consider is whether or not you should.

At the very least, you would have to explain your ideas to your children and see if you can get them signed on as willing and interested partners--probably not an easy thing to do with a teenage daughter who doubtless has many friends and interests where she is. If you force your children to go along with whatever plan you adopt, you set yourself up for no end of potential trouble, since you would soon be (technically and de facto) outlaws. And you'd need to be clear as you can be about what to expect in the places you'll be visiting--things like what their TV is like, what's the availability of current movies/videos/games and specific brands of personal products, and what the food is like. All of these are things your children are probably going to want to know about before deciding. If you haven't visited your planned destinations before, whatever you say is going to be something of a guess: be certain to get that across to your children. You can talk up the adventure part while acknowledging the uncertainty and less-than-pleasant aspects of your destinations, but in the end each person needs to make the decision for her- or himself.

This is important because your kids could accidentally, or not so accidentally, give you away if they are not fully with the program. If you can't persuade them to join you in your PT adventure, you should explore possibilities for having them stay with relatives or very close, trusted friends--preferably in a jurisdiction where your PT plan will have you visit from time to time.

Even if they do agree to go with you and cooperate in your strategies, there's a good chance they will say things you really wish they hadn't, on an almost daily basis. Children make lousy conspirators. They just aren't able to master the kinds of deceit and conversation-handling required to keep a low profile; it's contradictory to their wanting to learn as much as possible about the world. This means that you need to consider how tight-lipped your children can be, and what level of privacy/security you need. It may be that these are at odds, and that a PT strategy just won't work for you right now. Or you may decide not to be fully honest with your children about what's going on... but that has its own set of associated challenges and potential problems later on.

Here are some other considerations:

Deciding to PT as an adult, or a couple, can be a hard enough decision. Children--of any age--complicate the process infinitely because of all the questions surrounding their best interest. At times your best interest and what you perceive to be in your children's best interest will conflict; you need to have a clear idea of how to handle those potentially agonizing situations so that you aren't blindsided by them.

All of this having been said, it's hard to imagine a better way to teach one's children how to Do Freedom than to take them with you when you do it! Some of our contributors have done this, in a variety of ways, so keep reading for some firsthand information and insights on PT'ing with children.

Best of luck,

The Advisor


Dear Advisor,

My wife has been nagging me about "all the money" I spend on my "crazy political stuff" (which is actually less than she spends at her fitness center every month). I really love her, but this is driving me nuts. I just don't know what to do.

Mike in Boulder

Dear Mike,

There are two potential issues here, and it isn't clear from your letter which is "driving you nuts"--it likely is a little of both. Is it the money issue, or is it that she doesn't seem to share your values? Have you asked her this question? If it's the money, that can probably be addressed with a straightforward discussion of your budget, coupled with a reminder that you don't interfere with her ability to spend discretionary cash on whatever she wants (you don't, right?) and that you deserve the same courtesy.

If it's the latter, it looks like you might have a very serious problem. This probably wouldn't matter that much if the difference in values were over something trivial, say whether ice cream is better than cookies, but that's not the case. Your politics, if you're like most freedom-lovers, is a central part of who you are, and if your wife doesn't share your values in this area--or at least understand them--your relationship can become tense and strained. Whatever else you do or don't do, you must face the fact that you two are very different.

Could part of the problem be that she feels threatened by outside activities that appear to cut into your "together" time? Your wife's interest in her fitness may be very important to her self esteem, as it is for many people who go to fitness centers regularly. If you're a serious freedom activist, you know the importance of being ready for any fight, whenever it comes, whatever the terms. Perhaps you could start accompanying her to her fitness center occasionally, getting the double benefit of better fitness for yourself and some time together with your wife.

If it's just that you're different, you should be able to come to a mutual understanding with her. Have you ever sat down with her and had a serious, calm conversation about this? Have you told her how very important your ideas are to you, and how--just as you wouldn't want to prevent her from doing things that are important to her--you hope she can take pleasure in the fact that you are doing something you love? Have you actively listened to her concerns or objections to your political ideology and/or activities? It may be that you haven't successfully communicated some of your beliefs to her, and she's "filled in" the missing pieces inaccurately and has concerns based on that context. Or, she might not understand where you're coming from and its implications. Despite many freedom-lovers' apparent wishes, cool reason and logic just aren't persuasive to all people. If that seems to be the case with your wife, you need to be creative in finding ways to communicate your values so that she is more likely to understand. This may take some time, perhaps even becoming an ongoing dialogue between you two. Books and other literature you might suggest to her (and vice versa!) could be very helpful, too. But if she won't sit still long enough to hear you out or seems unwilling to try to learn about something that interests you so deeply, you've got more serious problems than just the difference of values.

If it turns out that she's actually hostile to your views, and hates that part of you, you've got to make some decisions. The best you can hope for in such a situation is some kind of truce, where you both agree to shut up and leave each other the hell alone about those things on which you disagree. Such awkward silences can make a marriage last, but people making that choice should think about what they are giving up. Long-term happiness is difficult in a situation where each person has major parts of his or her way of being locked away, unable to be shared with their partner. Such a "partner" would never fully, enthusiastically join you in the endeavors that mean the most to you. That partner will not fly at your side during stormy times when you need them most, nor during times of soaring triumph, when you most want to share with them. At best, that part of you that cares about freedom will always be lonely and unfulfilled in your partnership. At worst, your spouse might turn you in should she discover that you're breaking some law (it might be worth bluntly asking this question, but be prepared for a painful revelation if you do decide to ask). Is it worth it? It might or might not be, but that should be a conscious decision you make, and not a life-draining habit that you've stumbled into and stuck with for lack of thinking it through.

We will deal in more detail with some of the things you've raised, Mike, in future issues of DF!, so hang in there and keep reading. You're in a tough spot, my friend, I hope it works out for you!

The Advisor

(c) 2000


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