New Interview! There are so many different aspects to relationships as we RV. This first post of my enlarged idea of relationships is about: RVing – what to do when your family doesn’t get it! How much should you be concerned about their opinions of your life choices?
While I was at the RV Entrepreneur Summit, I was able to continue shooting my Youtube series of conversations with RV couples about their relationship as they enjoy the lifestyle.
Shanae and Mark are a very thoughtful and aware young couple who gave a great deal of thought to the choice they made to RV and reflected on what, if any, input their family would have on their decision. They also contemplate how RVing has affected their intimate relationship with each other.
There is a way to hold the disapproval of others that is empathetic to their concerns but still stay confident about the right path for yourself. I think Shanae and Mark model this behavior perfectly. They didn’t give up their power to their families. Their conviction of how they wanted to live their lives ultimately seemed to have made it easier for their families to accept their choices!
Do we need the approval of our families to follow what we think is best for our lives?
This question comes up often on Facebook groups. So lets talk about these crucial conversations. I don’t think it matters if you’re the children and your parents are the ones having difficulties or, if you’re older and you hope your children “get” your call to adventure. We all have families to communicate with. It’s normal to want the support of our families and if you’re like me you not only want support but a cheering section!
Should we try and justify our life choices to our loved ones? Justifying, rationalizing and explaining are all really the same as defending and that rarely wins people over.
Our RV relationships extend beyond our rigs. It’s good to be able to listen to your family and their concerns if it’s in the spirit of an open conversation. Maybe they’re fearful for you and this is not a risk they can imagine taking. Possibly they’re afraid to give you their support and know that it gave you the courage to reach out for your dreams. If you fail, somehow they may feel they share some of the responsibility because of their encouragement. All this to say there are many reasons for any persons reaction to our plans.
At some point in life you must learn how to soften the focus on what others think of your choices. If you reduce the importance of this you’ll learn just how important your dream is to you alone. How ready are you to face the adversity your family is imagining? Learning these lessons mean you’re taking responsibility for how your life turns out – good or bad.
But, there’s hope for staying in connection with members of your family even when there’s deep disagreement. The first and most important ingredient is to make it safe for everyone to share their thoughts. If we can set a stage for honest and caring exchange of information, views and feelings – we all win. This is a tall order if we’re not practiced in having difficult conversations. Everyone needs to come out feeling heard.
Here’s some pointers I learned from “Crucial Conversations” by Kerry Patterson.
Start with heart – your own heart. Know going in what you want the result to be.
The only person you can directly control is yourself. Ask yourself “How would I behave if I want this result?”
If the dialog begins to be heated, you know that someone’s not feeling safe in the conversation: go back to looking at your own heart. Remember to ask yourself again, “What is my behavior telling me about what my motives really are in this conversation.”
Young people starting out their lives together have to face expectations about when it’s “time” to have a family. Or, when they “should” save to buy a house and settle down. You may want to ask your parents for advice whether to take a risk or not. They may have some wisdom to share from having learned some life lessons the hard way but remember – they might have their own agendas and biases. They may think they know best. But what they offer is from their past and you need to take care of your present. Nobody knows the future.
Also, parents love to brag about the achievements of their children and your choice to full-time RV might not give them that. You are choosing a path that is unconventional and their reactions will probably reflect that fact.
As a parent myself, I can only say that after half a lifetime of being responsible for my children’s behavior it’s a hard habit to break. Sometimes they need to give you a good firm reminder that they’re living their own lives now.
People around my age face that their families want them to stay close and be available to the grandchildren. This is a very hard and personal choice and should be approached with an open heart.
Something I’ve noticed is if we think we NEED the approval of our families maybe we’re not confident enough about our own choices. It’s hard to even slightly disappoint the people we love. But it’s WORSE to disappoint ourselves!
There are two kinds of advice – solicited and unsolicited. As RVers, we are all grown-ups now and sometimes it’s on us to teach our families how to respect our life choices – even if they’re not understood.