As we set out to become expats 6+ years ago, there was no shortage of people that thought the idea was crazy. When we set out to explore the world with no "home", people had no problem telling us it was weird, that it would never work, and that it would do damage to our children. In short, we have had our fair share of experience with people we love NOT supporting us in our quest to live free, be happy, and show our children the world.
At first we felt hurt, then we felt a bit angry, but then we had an awakening about the entire thing. A sense of gratitude has enveloped us as we realize just how much their lack of support has taught us.
So how did we do it?
First, it wasn't easy and it wasn't overnight but it WAS completely within our control. The way we chose to handle it belonged to us and focusing on that helped immensely. The first step in the whole process was taking control of ourselves and in seeing that our reaction was the only thing we could control and really the only thing that mattered.
Focus on doing what you feel is right for your family. Listen to what people say because they may have some very valid points, but at the end of the day YOU need to make the decisions that are best for your family. No matter what others are saying learn to put that aside and do what you know is right. Even though so many thought we were crazy, we were confident that what we were doing was right for us. We knew if we didn't at least try this lifestyle, we would regret it. So we decided that no one else was going to be responsible for that!
At first I was feeling selfish, completely wrapped up in how unreasonable they were all being and feeling like the world was against me. "How could they not support this amazing thing we are doing?", I thought.
But when I turned the tables I really saw things much more clearly and even sided. When I put myself in their shoes, and it took a year to lick my wounds and do that, I saw that no one was against us at all. They were all just grieving! We took our parents grand-babies away. No more play dates, poker games, golf foursomes, BBQs, birthday parties in our core group of friends.
It hurt to know that we would be gone and even worse that we showed no signs of grieving at all. We were excited and totally wrapped up in this big leap we were making, so much so that we didn't really think hard enough about how our move would impact loved ones.
Although we need to do what is best for our family, it is also important to maintain a relationship with those at home who we love and who love us. Digging deep and looking beyond ourselves is an important step in understanding the motivations for the lack of support. It may be the one thing that salvages the relationship!
I think another important piece is to reach out to your loved ones with the knowledge that no matter what they may never accept what you are doing. Sometimes people cannot see beyond themselves and how what we are doing affects them. After all, we couldn't see beyond ourselves, either.
They may also be so wrapped up in societal norms that they really cannot see or understand the benefit of long-term travel. They are also likely to be unaware that others do live this life, are happy, and that children benefit greatly from this lifestyle. Show them articles, introduce them to your friends that live the same way, and try to explain and educate them. It can't hurt and quite possibly may help a lot! But remember, it is OK if they don't understand, most people won't.
Let it go
At the end of it all, if nothing else works and the negativity is still flying, you may need to accept that a break for the relationship is in order. It can be really hard to accept sometimes but if the relationship is bringing nothing but sadness, then it may be just too toxic to you and your family's happiness.
Many people seem to think that because they have been friends for decades or because it is family that you never let that go. I disagree completely. Just because someone has been in your life a long time does not mean that you have to sit by idly and let a toxic relationship hang around. Do all you can to smooth the situation but if all that fails be prepared and willing to let it go, even if just for a short time, knowing that you did your best.
In a nutshell, we all have to do what works best for us. Some of these tips really helped us so we wanted to pass them along. They worked and helped with some skeptical friends and family. But nothing works as good as the passing of time. We have gotten to the other side in all this by staying positive and in focusing on all the lessons we have learned.
It has taught us to see beyond ourselves, never to judge others situations (OK I may still be working to perfect this one), and most of all to do what we feel is best.
Follow your own paths with no regret or worry of who is watching, what they are thinking, and what they are telling others! It's your life to lead and it's an amazing gift!