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Old 29-09-2015, 08:28   #1
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Break in teenagers life

We plan to make some longer 1-2 years sails with our 12 y.o. son in two years. Than he will be 14-15 and I wonder what influence it can make for his life?
Have you any experience in come back to school, friends after such break?

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Old 29-09-2015, 10:34   #2
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Re: Break in teenagers life

It would be a great experience for him. Of course you will have to be some what hard line on home schooling and working with the school district, but the adventures you have will actually teach him more than any book. Good luck.

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Old 29-09-2015, 10:43   #3
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Re: Break in teenagers life

I am responding as an experienced cruiser (without kids) and as a long-time high school teacher. First off, you do not see many teenagers cruising, mainly it is kids from 0 to 12. I think it depends on the kid completely. If they have totally bought into the experience and heavily involved in all aspects of running the boat (standing watches, doing maintenance, etc, etc) it can work. If the kid is willing to go because it is the parents dream it can be more of a problem. Early teenage kids are very much peer-dependant and it can hard to leave friends behind and equally hard to make new friends in the places you visit.

From an educational perspective, a lot depends on the parents' expertise and on the ability of the kid to work effectively independently. Are you able to sort out problems in chemistry or computer science? Can you provide discussion of poetry? There is certainly a great deal to be learned from cruising for a young person, but he (or she) must also be prepared for what follows in their lives.

Certainly I would have your son involved in the discussions now and see what his take is on it. At worst you might have to wait until he is in post-secondary.
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Old 29-09-2015, 13:19   #4
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Re: Break in teenagers life


As the educator above said, a lot depends on the young person, as well as on the expertise of the home schoolers.

Having said that, our experience of others' kids is that if they're used to and enjoy the boating environment, they find other age cohorts almost instantly wherever you voyage to. They learn excellent people skills, and learn to relate extremely well with adults. They learn to think for themselves based on reality living rather than fantasy.

It is the parents who integrate the schooling into the days at sea and ashore who have the hard job. The schooling has to be undertaken with great attention to detail, and come before [other] play. All the other yachties understand this and fit it in.

A number of the children we've met thus have been 2nd generation cruisers, and some, even third; for at least those, their youthful cruising was not too much detriment to their futures.

Ann & Jim, U.S. s/v Insatiable II, SE Qld, for a while
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Old 29-09-2015, 15:50   #5
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Re: Break in teenagers life

My new brother-in-law moved to BC, Canada via their sailboat from South Africa; it was a mixed bag of feelings among the kids (if you ask them now). I do know one loved it, and one hated it.

I've contemplated it with my youngest daughter; she just turned 14 (the older sister is 22 and out of the house)... and she's not convinced because she is so social... (I am not!). I know unless she's fully onboard and excited about it, it's probably not worth trying to do.

School wise, I've experienced a stint of homeschooling because of a bad experience with a small hick-town school. I didn't have any problems, in fact, she nearly jumped a grade in the 6 months we schooled at home, but it depends on the commitment of both parties... (and it doesn't hurt if you can analyze Homer and do a little advanced algebra on the side).

So... I'm holding out for the start of college; unless she shifts gears.

Good luck!
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Old 29-09-2015, 15:58   #6
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Re: Break in teenagers life

Your current school will likely give you much gruff and say it can't be done if you consult with them, as they do to my friends who want to take their kids abroad for a year or so. Pshaw. As long as you have a healthy relationship and commitment, there is no need for your kid to fall behind on school work, and the additional experiences that they will gain will be incalculable.

As for friends, they will likely have to make new ones when they get home. 2 years is a huge chunk of these kids lives. However, kids move to new schools all the time and make new friends, so, again, the kids will survive.

The key is that this isn't a "break" in their lives. It may be a change of pace, but you aren't just putting their life on hold for a year or two: you are offering them experiences without par.
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Old 29-09-2015, 16:10   #7
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Re: Break in teenagers life

From personal experience...

We took a 16 month sabbatical to sail the Caribbean when our son was 14 and daughter was 4. He loved the experience, and he has just finished making the passage from Bermuda to Azores with us. He has become a very good sailor.

When we were on our trip, he was very good at sticking with school work. He completed his tenth grade year while we were gone. Lessons were mailed back to the US (this was before widespread internet) and exams were proctored at schools along the way. My wife taught history and English, I taught Physics and Algebra II.

Our son stood watches and was very involved in boat maintenance. He earned money by waxing boats for one dollar a foot. That means he would spend all day hand waxing the topsides of a 45 foot boat from the dinghy for $45. He was very proud of the money he earned.

A lot of the cruisers took a liking to him, and he spent a lot of time with other adults. I think it made him more mature and much more comfortable with adults in general.

When we returned to our home and his high school for his Junior and Senior years, a lot had changed. He still had his best friends that he came back to, but some of the other school dynamics had, of course, changed.

I could sum it up by saying that it was a great experience for him and us. We became closer as a family. He is looking forward to the day when he can go cruising on his own, but for now is content with his wife and an S2 9.2 on a freshwater lake.


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Old 29-09-2015, 16:31   #8
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Re: Break in teenagers life

Having raised three kids and my Wife an 8th grade school teacher, I believe it completely depends on your family and your kid, it can be the best thing that ever happens to them to the worst thing that ever happens, somewhere in the middle more likely of course.
If the kid is somewhat self motivated with school now then I bet all you'll have to do is guide and assist them, my Son on the other hand, absolutely despised school and I don't think it would have worked for us taking him. Both his Sisters would have been fine though, although they would have missed the Social aspects of school

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Old 29-09-2015, 20:10   #9
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Re: Break in teenagers life

you don't say where you are currently located, so this may not apply;

Removing a teen age lad from many US high school environments will reduce his exposure to drugs, gang violence, peer pressure to do things best not done, social stigma based on race, economic status, religion and choice of football teams etc.

You replace these factors with responsibility for self, meaningful tasks and responsibilities, the chance to interact with both peers and adults from many cultures, the chance to know his parents as people rather than just family figures, and very likely a better level of education.

Does not seem a hard choice to me.

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Old 29-09-2015, 21:10   #10
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Re: Break in teenagers life

You know your kids better than us strangers and the personality of your kids (and you) will have a lot to do with the success. The folks that had a great time and experience are always the ones quick to share their stories of family fun, unity, discovery and excitement and I think they are the majority from the cruising family boats we know.


We saw several teenage kids that were brought out cruising as teenagers in Mexico and a couple did literally ended in disaster. One teen made the entire family so miserable that they left the boat on the hard, flew home and sold the boat. Another teen actually snuck off in the dinghy and hitch hiked to the nearest town to catch a buss back to the States!

So while generally YES it's a GREAT idea and I would say GO for it. It isn't all going to be wine and roses if your teen feels you ruined their life by taking him away from their friends (you know how melodramatic teens can get at times). But you know your kids best...are they excited about it or already telling you they don't want to go?

Generally I think casting off with younger kids is easier because you can get them unplugged from the mess of society before it sucks them into the circus. But I wouldn't hesitate to take my kids cruising as teens. After taking our kids cruising for 4yrs (9yrs old to 13yrs old) and now still living aboard for 3 more years as they attend "normal" high school, both of our kids would leave behind the "normal" school in a flash to head back to Mexico. They are always asking me when we are going again and my answer now is, "Your mother and I are going soon, you guys can go as soon as you buy your own boat!"
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Old 30-09-2015, 02:55   #11
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Re: Break in teenagers life

Thank you all for reply.

There are advantages and disadvantages of such voyage.
The most frightening thing is that he loose contact with his friends and may come to school as ''stranger''. We had three weeks sail with him the summer but it is not this same as 18 months, even you visit new places.
14 years it is hard time for him, starting looking for its own way in life.
School matters are not so important as there will be time for learning and time for play. Anyway he will come back to new colleagues so it is the thing which frighten me as his friends will be in higher school.
The idea is also to take him out of 'rat race'' which is becoming, in my opinion, more and more common these days. To show that there is something more than new smartphone, Facebook etc.
As Ann T. Cate wrote it force on young man to be responsible and learn interpersonal skills.
from my point of view there is nothing better than to learn on your own experience things which you can later confirm in books.
Still have two years for observing but preparation must start soon.
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Old 30-09-2015, 07:20   #12
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Re: Break in teenagers life

As the parent of a child who is now post-teenage years I would "ditto" what a64pilot said--good, bad, somewhere in between, it depends on the child.

The teenage years can be very difficult, no matter what the environment is. It is a time when a child is discovering their own identity, separate from their parents. This invariably involves a certain amount of friction, and sometimes quite a lot. It is usual for the most friction to occur between the child and the same-gender parent. That is, between daughter and mother, or between son and father. The son has to prove to himself that he is not just a clone of his father, the daughter likewise with the mother.

Whether this process of the child establishing their own, personal identity is easy or hard depends on a huge number of variables. Even within one family--where the children are seemingly raised in identical ways--it can go very easy for one child and very hard for another. In my own family, that was the case for my parents. One of my sisters went through her teen years quite easily, and the other with an extraordinary amount of conflict and difficulty (personally, I was kind of in-between).

Obviously, I can't tell you what to expect from your child. Even for you, it will only be a guess (though clearly a more informed guess than anyone here can give you). All I can tell you is to be prepared for this. Be aware that there will be challenges. Taking your child cruising may make it easier, may make it more difficult, or may not make any difference at all.

If you believe it is the right thing for your family to do then I say "good luck to you!" If you have doubts, though, I would suggest that you get them sussed out before you cast off the lines. However it works out, I do wish you the best of luck.
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Old 30-09-2015, 07:37   #13
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Re: Break in teenagers life

I'd think about keeping the trip to 12 months so he is only away from his school, sports and friends for one year. It will be much easier for him to pick up again on the return.

Also, offer him the chance to have a friend join him on the boat during a school vacation week or two.

Finally, have you checked your son's susceptibility to sea sickness offshore? I had one friend who had to give up a family cruise because one child was just too miserable to continue.
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Old 30-09-2015, 07:41   #14
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Re: Break in teenagers life

As a kid I was in 5 schools in 5 years. Grades 6 - 10. At that age 1 yr. might as well be a decade. 18-24 months and he will come back a stranger and will find his social circles have completely changed.

There are pros and cons. Learning how to engage strangers and meet new people becomes very easy. Making and keeping lasting friendships becomes very, very difficult. Decades later, my social skills have developed to where I have a huge network of acquaintances and very few close, close friends.

On the other hand, how many of us honestly have close relationships with our friends from our early teens?

Who is to say what is 'right'? What does the kid have to say about this?
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Old 30-09-2015, 08:32   #15
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Re: Break in teenagers life


Finally, have you checked your son's susceptibility to sea sickness offshore? I had one friend who had to give up a family cruise because one child was just too miserable to continue.[/QUOTE]

We had 6-7B and it was OK , but it does not guarantee that it will not happen.

I must admit that all my friends are people met at University, so my son has not very close ''best friend''. He has several but I do not think he will continue it in future.

But it is very good idea to take friends onboard during the sail, it gives the feeling that nothing is left forever.

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