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Home Forums General Discussion Discussion: Children and Off The Grid Lifestyle

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    I’m hoping that this topic stays polite and friendly. It’s one that my friends and I have discussed at length, just to learn about each other. We’ve all had various childhoods from farm, city, suburbs, hippie (converted bus) and as current parents, we want what’s best for our kids. As far as I’m concerned,  there is NO “Right/Wrong” on this topic. It’s the same as people who like coffee vs. tea, meat vs. veggies, sand vs. forest…you eat, drink, move to whatever makes you happiest.

    So, what do you think of children being raised “off grid”? And how much grid is too much or not enough? I read that many “off gridders” have cell phones, internet and plasma tv’s, however they power them. I guess if you don’t have internet, then you won’t be part of this discussion. Should off grid kids only be home-schooled? Do they get access to the internet, then? Do you feel they will automatically want to move back to the city, when they get of age? Or, are you hoping that they, too, build a tiny home and live off grid? What about proms, dances,  sporting events and other means of learning how to engage with people?

    I’m curious about this subject because I was raised off grid, for the simple reason that there was no grid to hook up to. But, it was the early 1950’s, and if the bad things that daily happen now were happening, they skipped my neck of the woods in Northern Minnesota. We had old AM battery radios for news/music and the library in town (40 miles round trip) where we could get books to read. The milk tank driver and mailman would give us daily updates. I was an only child, had no one to play with, so I got involved with the milking/farming at a very early age and ran around like a wild thing.

    Other farmers who had a bunch of kids, had trouble. The boys were almost always sneaking off to smoke or screw around; the girls were more ‘trapped’ inside the home. However, when they all got older was when serious drinking/drug use/pregnancy came about. Of my graduating class (36 kids: 20 boys, 16 girls), 8 of the girls were pregnant. NO ONE stayed to farm; they all wanted to live in town and not work so hard or be so far away from theatres, groceries, central heat, etc.  We went into The City (Duluth) twice a year and all I wanted to do is live there when I grew up! Chinese food! Movie theatres! Roads without ruts! Nice clothes that didn’t smell of manure or have hay stuck in them!

    So, is living “off-grid” something best left up to adults, who’ve raised their kids in the city/suburbs, and are now retiring to a more agrarain life style? Drugs are SO easy to get now adays and even in the  rural area of modern day Michigan where we live, there are substance abuse programs for kids and birth control clinics. They’ve had to put in speed bumps on the one main street because of the drag racing by teens. With the internet and cable, even though all the local teens are living in Tiny Town, USA, they are hooked into the global community and for the most part, HATE living out here and can’t wait to bolt into Detroit or Chicago when they become of age. Of the teens I know, none are “sitting on the dock of the bay”, or canning or watching stars or sipping coffee from the deck, watching the deer trot by. They are sitting in front of their laptops, playing video games or Facebooking and dreaming of urban things.

    So, I’m wondering what your take on this is. Should kids be raised with other kids in city/suburban areas and then as we age, we go “small” and back to the land, or will raising kids off grid have any long term effects beyond fond memories for them?

    Looking forward to all kinds of discussion and your stories of childhoods, too. :)


    I grew up in the suburbs of Fort Worth, spent some time in southern California but was born and raised in Texas near Fort Worth. I ALWAYS wanted to live like I am now, in a wild area with few people around, not totally isolated but not jammed up next to people.

    The only child I had is grown, grew up in the burbs of Fort Worth and in a smallish town in Oregon. Now my hubby and I are empty nesters (his kids are grown, they grew up in a burb of Dallas)… we now live in a tiny community, off grid (just us, the other residents are on grid), if I had it to do over again, knowing what I know now, I would absolutely raise any kids I had off grid. Yes there will be some kids who don’t turn out as well, I suspect it has more to do with parenting then the environment, there will be kids who turn out very well, again I believe it has a lot to do with the raising and not so much the location. I will agree that the location does have some influence, if you are surrounded by drugs, alcohol and violence, with no nature, never seeing where food comes from, more concrete and asphalt than soil and greenery… I would think life would be much harder like that.

    Even if I didn’t live off grid, I would want to raise my kid(s) in a small town, far far from the crime, pollution and problems of life in the city or even a mid-sized town, I would want a very small, almost micro town where everyone knows everyone.

    Not sure if this is what you were looking for Cahow, but that’s my 2 cents.



    I feel that in some ways those of us who are living off grid are making our way of life seem so difficult that we are possibly scaring folks away. We (off gridders) talk alot about having to haul water or catch rain, pooping in buckets, fighting the elements etc. etc. that it can sound like more of a hassle than a joy filled life. From my personal experience it is no more difficult than living on the grid. I grew up in a house in the country with electricity yet cooked and heated with wood only. We had an outhouse my whole growing up and hauled water from a well. We did laundry with a wringer washer. 2 parents, 8 kids. Fast forward to now. I live off grid….very rural with solar power. I still heat with wood and now cook primarily with propane with a wood cookstove for backup. I have an automatic washer & do laundry on sunny days so solar power does the job nicely. I line dry. I have a well with elec. pump, septic system, shower, flush toilet, and on demand propane water heater. My biggest challenge now is doing it all on my own since my husband died unexpectedly several months ago. I would have the same challenge if I were on grid. I have made the comment that my way of life might be more challenging with young children. The isolation can be difficult and you need a certain discipline with solar power. You need to monitor your usage….do everything you can during times of peak sun and in the evenings, nights, and on cloudy and stormy days when running off batteries you need to limit your elec. usage. Ironically these are the times when you tend to be stuck inside and would like to be watching tv, doing computer or whatever. I guess what I’m trying to say is you can have hardships living on grid or find peace and comfort living off grid; or vice versa. It’s what you make of it.


    Thanks, Wretha and Sylvia, for your responses! For unknown reasons, although I ticked the box, I wasn’t notified there were responses.

    I was very glad to read what you both wrote. I have a great circle of friends and we like to engage in good, deep topics of discussion…beyond “Did you see this week’s episode of XXXXX?” (LOL)  The one thing that I find in almost 100% of the Child Rearing Conversations, is that the friends of mine who originally lived in the City, then moved to the suburbs “for the kids”, are counting the hours and minutes until the kids LEAVE, so the parents can head back into the city! And the grown kids? They HATED growing up in the suburbs and have all moved INTO the City, defeating their parents move in the first place!

    The reasons the parents give for moving out to the Suburbs or small towns is :Grass (the kind you mow); school system and low crime. The reasons the grown kids give for moving INTO the City is: No need for a car; more jobs, where the action is. Many times, on weekends, the suburban or small town parents would pile their kids into the car and drive back into the City to see The Auto Show, a concert or their grandparents, who never left.

    A HUGE reason the parents (50+ years old) give to me for NOT going “Off Grid” or any variation on a theme is all health and security reasons. They either are on dialysis, or high blood pressure medicine, have had hips/knees replaced so they can’t do the same hard labor they did when younger, etc. Today alone, when I had lunch with a friend who owns 50 acres of farm in rural Indiana, he’s putting it up for sale, rather than retiring onto it, as he always thought he and his wife would do. I asked “Why?” and he simply said, “I’m getting too old to do the chores and the income is SO low in those areas, I can’t earn enough to pay anyone to help me.”

    So, thanks again, to both of you gals, for adding some insight for me. It helped greatly. As to the folks I know, it seems that whatever the parents did, the kids wanted differently. LOL


    i was raised off the grid, we didnt have power, running water or phone until just before i graduated from highschool
    i always made sure i had gym 1st hour so i could shower everyday but other than that i loved it and still do
    i tried to raise my kids the same but wife wouldnt have it, nor would the local school or CPS, always coming to my door making sure i wasnt abusing my children through deprivation of the garbage of society
    wish theyd have butted out
    the one thing i know is to raise kids off-grid in most places you will have to home school, otherwise you will deal with the same bull i did
    personally i think its better for the kids to not have the garbage, they learn more and better things like responsibility and respect
    my girls are all grown now and have kids of their own and every time the grid collapses following a storm or some such, they thank me for the things i did manage to teach them about living and surviving without civilizations pampering


    Hi, beast. Thanks so much for adding to this conversation.  I like to debunk stereotypes and feel that the more we know about people, the more tolerant and understanding we become. Reading about people’s backgrounds and what brought them to where they are today is always enlightening.

    Like you, I was also raised off grid but it sure wasn’t through any movement or intention of my grandparent’s, who raised me. It was simply the time and conditions: early 1950’s-early 1960’s, extreme rural Northern Minnesota/Canadian border. My grandparent’s were born in the 1890’s so obviously, there was no grid so living with kerosene, wood, coal and raising everything you ate or trading for it was their “norm”. And because all the other dairy farms around us were in the same mould, no one was viewed “odd” or “different”, no more so than a community of Amish would see their neighbor’s lifestyle as “different”.

    Reading between the lines of your post, it appears your girls were NOT raised off grid but you still were able to teach them independence, correct? I’d greatly like to hear how you did that and I’m sure other people with young children would also.

    You know, “back in the day”, meaning probably up to the ’70’s, almost every family had someone in  their family who still had a farm or a very rural home to send their kids to, for the Summer. That time is gone, so sadly. My grandparent’s had their farm until they retired when I was 16 years of age, so I imprinted on their sage advice. Now, modern kids don’t have a clue!  My husband and I raised three fine children, all grown now, but what we did was take them Primitive Camping throughout their lives where we dehydrated our own meals, took iodine tablets and back-packed every item we’d need for 2 weeks at a time. I taught them Wild Crafting, how to find and build shelters, building a fire the proper way, etc. We washed in creeks, ate BlackCaps and morels and lived by the sun, moon and stars pattern, NOT any artificial light! I feel that this is a nice compromise between both worlds, if someone is taking Baby Steps into a slower paced lifestyle.

    Your girls were lucky to have you as a pa!


    wife never liked the stuff i wanted to teach my kids so i would take them out away from her
    lots of times when i was a working farrier theyd go to work with me over the summer
    i would teach them then, plus we have always heated with wood so they spent time in the woods with me then
    cutting, splitting and hauling, id pick up a plant or leaf and give a quick rundown on its uses while they listened
    then id ask a few quick questions and we move on
    i did manage to farm most of the time, isnt much gets you closer to the simple life than farming…lol
    and after losing a job and going broke i bartered for a horse, built a buggy and that was our transportation for 4 years, also my only income, $2 a head for buggy rides, $5 if i took your picture, wasnt a great paying gig but it helped…lol


    This is the HIGHEST compliment I could ever give anyone: you remind me of my Grandfather. He taught me everything I know, not indoors related. Every bird, weed, wildflower, etc. How to wildcraft, how to track by the stars, different animal scat and tracks…the list goes on and on. We’d gather and boil White Oak acorns (never Red Oak…too bitter); then would dry them, pulverize them, and bake them into Johnny Cakes with maple syrup we’d render. He taught me survival skills, unwittingly, Gran taught me Social and Inside skills. BOTH are necessary for life. They are my personal heros and travel with me as angels, every day.


    thank you :)


    Nice post….

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