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Being Bullied For Wanting an Alternative Lifestyle

alternative lifestylesI have recently been following the story of one rural family and the challenges they’ve been facing while trying to live off the grid. The Nauglers are raising their ten children in rural Kentucky (without welfare or entitlements) in a makeshift tent with no running water or electricity. On their blog, they claim to want a more simple life and practice “unschooling,” prefering to let the children learn from hands on experiences rather than going the traditional school route.

Obviously the state of Kentucky does not agree with the Nauglers because their minor children were taken into protective custody earlier this month due to unsafe living conditions. Is the family truly neglectful or are they being bullied for wanting an alternative lifestyle?

Always More to the Story

I don’t support or criticize the Nauglers. Is sounds like there are some legitimate concerns about the children’s safety, but they weren’t taken into custody because of neglect or abuse. The parents refused to cooperate, and the kids were removed until the anonymous complaint can be investigated. If nothing is amiss, the kids will be returned. The family can go on with their throwback lifestyle and all of this will become a bad memory.

In my opinion, the bigger problem is that the government and society can very easily turn someone’s own utopia into a nightmare. Twenty years ago, this issue would have been resolved with local media coverage and maybe an opinion piece or two in the town newspaper. With the internet and social media, this family’s story has gone viral. Now the Today show is knocking on their door (well, it looks like they have only a tarp, but still!)

I guess the good or bad news is that the family has raised $40,000 from Go Fund Me, so at least they should be able to make improvements to their property that satisfy the authorities.

Why is it so Strange to Live an Alternative Lifestyle?

I don’t mean Bruce Jenner here, but merely how the world considers you an oddity if you don’t play by the rules. I have no desire to live off the grid or leave civilization in any way, but I still get people who can’t understand why I don’t want to work in an office all the time. After all, I made good money and technically had weekends off. What more could I ask for?

It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen any time soon, but we’ve considered checking out for a year and taking our daughter on an extended trip across the US. We’d have to live in a travel trailer, and she wouldn’t be enrolled in school. Would I have to worry about someone reporting us to the authorities? Probably not, but I bet we’d get some strange looks and questions.

It’s Hard To Be Different

The bottom line is that it’s hard to be different. I think that’s why so many people start blogs. If we don’t think like typical society folks, then it’s hard to find like minded people to support our crazy dreams. If I did decide to sell my house and live on the road, you can bet I wouldn’t go discuss it with my next door neighbor or even most of my family. After the initial shock, they would try to talk me out of it instead of offering a real discussion about pros and cons. Sometimes, it’s easy to feel like you live on your own little island.

Don’t Criticize Things You Don’t Understand

I used to scoff at people who seemed to live outside the norm, thinking those who had no debt or didn’t work a traditional job probably had family money or weren’t really happy because they didn’t have the things I did. I think my hasty judgments were to compensate for not really knowing how I wanted to live my life.

I don’t know enough about the Naugler family to know if they are good parents or not. Time will tell, but I can say that at least they seem to know how they want to live. If they end up pimping their kids out for a reality show, I’ll eat my words, but if the state does find them to be fit parents, more power to them for living their dream.

Have you been bullied for wanting an alternative lifestyle? Should people be able to raise ten kids in a tent?

 

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About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.

17 comments

  1. I think it’s interesting they live off the grid but have a gofundme campaign. lol! I wonder if I should try that to have people help me with my rent. 🙂 I think we look down on what we don’t understand. Think about how far we’ve come (although we have SO much further to go) when it comes to social issues that were once so taboo, like gay marriage. One day 99% of the populations won’t think anything of it. I think if the kids really are in danger then yes, it should be investigated, but you’re right that because of the way the media is today, things get ridiculously escalated.

  2. “Don’t Criticize Things You Don’t Understand” – so important. We are in such a rush to pass judgement and thanks to social media – we can. Their lifestyle is definitely not for me, but as long as they are not hurting anyone, especially their children, than it is their right. We live in an affluent community and live a very good life, but I receive my fair share of strange looks and comments because I am one of the few working Moms and we save for things we want versus using our credit card to buy what we can’t yet afford.

    • I think kids can be especially vulnerable to that type of societal pressure. I would not want to live off the grid, but it would have certain advantages.

  3. I read that story too, Kim. Funny how we’ve become so used to modern civilization that we forget that EVERYONE lived like the Nauglers 200 years ago. 🙂 Obviously, I don’t know them personally so cannot comment for or against their lifestyle/parenting, but I have seen my fair share of stories regarding homeschoolers that are targeted, but I’ve also seen homeschoolers who aren’t providing their kids all that they need as well. It’s a fine line, I’m sure, deciding when a kid is and is not at risk, but what happened to “innocent until proven guilty”? I’m just glad I don’t have to be the decision maker in this type of case.

    • As I was reading about them, all I could think is that my Mom and her family lived very much like this. They did have a house, but it would be considered very primitive by today’s standards. I think it was a hard life, but they always had what they neeeded. My Mom and aunts and uncles all have good memories and their childhood made them hard working adults. I think you can do much worse than that.

  4. I haven’t heard this story but it sounds quite interesting. I want to look them up. I’m curious how they make life happen or even have a blog while living in these circumstances.

    • The Mom discusses lots of that on the blog. I guess they have smartphones with wifi signals. Not exactly low tech in every way, I guess. She also has a pet grooming business that she markets online as well. Maybe technology is vital, even off the grid.

  5. “I don’t mean Bruce Jenner weird here”. Unfortunately this line, and your judgement of him for being what you perceive as weird contradicts your message in the whole piece especially when you have a sub title ” Do not criticize what you don’t understand”!

    • I did not say anything about Bruce Jenner or anyone being weird. I was meaning alternative lifestyle as in off the grid, not having anything to do with GLBT, which is not something that really needs to be discussed on a financial website. When people see alternative that is usually what they think of, but I wanted to be clear that isn’t the point of this post.

  6. This is an interesting story. I think the Naugler parents need to take some tests so that we can know if they have some conditions that need attention or at least know their reasons behind all of these. But, their lifestyle is not really my type.

  7. Well there are two sides to the story. While it should be a personal choice, raising 10 kids in a makeshift tent doesn’t sound right to me. However instead of taking them into protective custody, I would have been better to counsel them and try to make them aware of the pitfalls of the same.

    • I only know what I read online, but it sounds like the couple refused to cooperate with the cops so they took the kids until the proper evaluations could be completed.

  8. My main concern is the lack of schooling. Kids need a solid educational foundation, and it doesn’t sound as though their parents are too worried about that.

    And frankly I don’t think anyone would think you were weird for taking a year off and traveling the country. They’d assume that you were homeschooling the kid(s) and that it’d broaden them somewhat. I think that’s a pretty far cry from making your kids live without some pretty basic amenities.

    • I am a huge supporter of education so that would not be my style at all, but if they are meeting state requirements, I don’t think they can be faulted. I guess time will tell if their kids do well or end up running far away from that type lifestyle.

  9. Being “off grid” is NOT what is wrong with this family. They aren’t even living off grid really, they do laundry at the laundromat, cook at the grooming shop, bathe at the grooming shop where they have running water, refrigerator, microwave, crockpot and air conditioning. The mother is obsessed with the internet wherever they are.
    Like others pointed out, These parents don’t educate their children at all, nothing beyond what the kids can learn from being turned loose on 26 acres and Google. They isolate their kids, none of them have friends or social experiences. Their parents believe that eating out in a restaurant or working in the mother’s grooming shop is “socializing”. The kids serve as free labor in the shop instead of being educated. Not that they can’t learn anything at home or at the shop but their parents limit them to these small corners of the world.
    The parents are self-described anarchists and they want their children to be the same. They alienate their neighbors and everyone they meet, the children have no social skills, no opportunity to better themselves because, except for the oldest, they have no birth certificate so they can’t get a drivers license and many employment opportunities will be out of their reach.
    They all live is a small pre-fab garden shed, a couple of their boys live in an unseated shed during the summer. They were recently cited for dumping untreated waste on their property and had to get a portapotty. They vow, of course, to sue the county , CPS , the sheriffs office and people on Facebook. They say the FBI is on their side, and soon everyone will be investigated.
    The Naugler parents are ridiculous, paranoid, selfish , entitled people and very little gets accomplished. They still live without a water supply even though people donated enough money for them to get a well. They have dogs that kill their chickens and their goats end up on the neighbors property ( resulting in more legal problems) and most of their efforts at gardening have failed. They don’t follow through with anything so they don’t progress. They blame everything on other people so they don’t learn.
    These children are in a terrible place without a way out. Forget about the grid, these kids are in real trouble.

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