November 4, 2013

Living our Lives According to Our Values: Family (The Grand Dream, part 3)

I have to admit that our homestead dream is probably somewhat idealistic. Yet, I choose to believe that while we may not be able to control the world around us, and while it isn't always easy, it is possible to make deliberate decisions to live our lives according to our values. As a result, we have used our values to shape our dreams and plans. They are largely the reason that we want to live a more simple life: to strip away as many as possible of the unnecessary demands that society has placed on our time and to focus on things that actually matter most to us.

For the next few posts I will be talking about how a few of our values have shaped our plans and dreams.


 Our most important value: family

Both Nathan and I are extremely lucky to have grown up with extraordinarily wonderful families. We love them all very much and always enjoy the time that we get to spend with them. For both of us, family is our top priority. Over time we have begun to believe more and more that it is important to spend time cultivating your relationships with the ones you love, and we want to craft a life that allows us to do that as much as possible.

A family gathering in Minnesota for grandma and grandpa's 60th wedding anniversary!

Growing up, our relationships with our families were slightly different. My parents moved away from their hometowns in Minnesota to follow jobs before I was born. I grew up only seeing my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins a few times a year at most. We missed out on many of the family gatherings and the cousin outings. Despite the physical distance, I feel that I am still surprisingly close with much of my extended family, and I try to make trips to see them when possible.

For Nathan, even though Nathan's parents moved a few times in pursuit of education and careers, his grandparents eventually decided to move to be closer to Nathan's family. So for much of his life, Nathan grew up with grandparents that were frequently part of his life. He is extremely close with his family, and I am very glad to have gained such wonderful additions to my family when I married Nathan!
A gained a wonderful addition to my family when I married Nathan!

Part of me wishes that I could have experienced growing up closer to my extended family, yet I am grateful for what I did grow up with. Since me, my parents and my sister were sometimes living half-way across the country from the rest of the family, we created our own traditions and we grew to be a very close-knit family. My parents always showed me and my sister that the family was their top priority, so we always spent quite a bit of time together (even through high school…).

After we graduated from high school, Nathan and I also left our hometown and our families for college and we have lived far-apart ever since. Recently Nathan's parents moved nearer-by to Astoria, Oregon, and it has reminded us of how wonderful it is to see them on a more regular basis.

Dreams of inter-generational living!

These experiences, have made us dream of a day when we can spend more time with the ones we love. Especially if and when we have kids, I would really like them to have grandparents that could frequently be involved in their lives. Nathan and I would like to have the opportunity to spend more time with our parents as well (because they are pretty awesome people...). This is why we are trying to convince both sets of parents that the homestead would be a great place to retire!

The concept of inter-generational living appeals to us. We picture living in separate, but near-by houses, maybe even on the same property. We picture living our separate lives most of the time, and respecting each other's privacy (and varying levels of interest in actually homesteading), but also taking advantage of being able to see each other frequently (and often daily...). We picture the advantages of being there to support each other: sharing resources, them helping to support us through the early years of parenthood, and us there to support them in the later years of their life. I am sure that this type of living situation would require significant consultation and communication about our expectations and boundaries, but I believe that the potential advantages could far outweigh the challenges!

Creating the time to make family a priority...

Similarly, we dream of a day when both Nathan and I can show our kids that family is our top priority. A time when we can spend time teaching and supporting our children, building close bonds as a family, and creating our own family traditions.

This is one of the biggest reasons that we have decided that we want to minimize our off-homestead employment. When you are employed by someone else, you are expected to align your priorities with those of your employer. Without relying too much on outside income, we will be freer to set our own priorities. We know that with self-employment, we will still have to work hard (maybe even harder than we would in a 9-5 job) to provide for our family. But we can also work to align the way we work with our values. I hope that we can find a way to work in a way that shows our family that they are ultimately our top priority, and to spend more time where it counts!

Up next: Talking about the importance of the natural world, community, and our health...

Catch up on the rest of our story:
The Grand Dream, Part 1
Our Goals and Plans (The Grand Dream, part 2)
Criteria for a Place to Call Home

1 comment:

  1. The present day nuclear family may well be a brief aberration in the history of humanity. I should talk. We put a continent and an ocean between us and the extended family. Even so, I consider myself part of a close family of origin. DH less so. If I were your parents I'd jump at the chance!


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