Parenting tips from a teen who grew up going to festivals

December 27 | Guest post by Jade Jones-Hawk
The 17-year-old author on the left, her mother on the right
Among my peers it is rare to find child-parent relationships with total-honesty policies, where the child is given much more self-responsibility than in the majority of child-parent relationships and the parents aren't afraid to speak openly of how life is equal parts pain and pleasure.

It's not often you'll find a mother who, when their child reaches the volatile and nutty teenage years, will sit a child down and say, "Look, I know you're going to be experimenting with drugs soon. That's fine — I only ask that you try whatever drug you want to try with me first, so we can make sure you have a good experience and are in a safe place and I can take care of you."

Some would say (and it's these people who also argue that sex education would lead to higher rates of teen pregnancy) that giving a child such carte blanche access or permission is inappropriate or even abusive. I disagree. As a now seventeen year old, on the cusp of adult life, liberty, and the freedom to pay taxes or be tried as an adult, I will say that having an alternative upbringing is equal parts a blessing and a curse … but definitely very educational.

Modern industrialized society has demanded for generations that when a woman becomes a mother, she stop whatever independent life she had been creating and settle down to the task of rearing littles. This belief dates back to the concepts of the genders' separate spheres and republican motherhood, however these beliefs have definitely been challenged and nowadays it's generally acceptable for a woman to have a career as well as be a mother.

But to be a burner and a mother? Or a psychofunkodiscodelic occasionally cross-dressing, spiritually expanding, experimental, wanderer at heart and still be a mother? Or even just wanting to feel like a normal human being and be a mother? That's when it becomes difficult to balance a child's need for a mother and a mother's need as a human being to let off a little steam and maintain a social life, the societal microscope notwithstanding.

Here then follows a handy list for those parents who want to drag the little ones along on life's path — stopping for nothing and no one and doing it their own way:

  • It's always better to bring the kidlet with you. Otherwise, and I speak from experience, they feel a little abandoned and a little panicked. Often, having an off-beat childhood experience is really formative for the kid. My friend Jason and his family lived on a boat for his younger years, traveling the globe. Don't sacrifice traveling and doing what you've always dreamed: compromise!
  • Go to kid-friendly events. Involve them: Help them make their own costumes, let them help decorate your space. Or, do as some offbeat mamas and papas have done and create a kid-zone yourself. Make your individual space into the community kid-space, which leads to tip number three:
  • Find parents like you, so kids can run in packs and look out for one another. At music festivals like the Oracle Gatherings and Phoenix Fest, I saw my mother occasionally to eat and talk and chill and at certain times to check in, but mostly I ran wild as a camp child with the other children. The younglings would be cared for by the older kids and often all the children of the encampment would run together as a single herd, whether they numbered three or twenty.
  • Be like a boy scout and be prepared: provide food, shelter and minor entertainment for a child to fall back on and it will be alright. Never underestimate the power of bringing a laptop with movies on it. Instill a joy of reading in your child. Set up the kid-zone yourself, somewhere children can frolic in comfort. Make kids and chill, kid-friendly environs the newest, coolest party accessory.
  • No matter what — tuck them in. Just outside the thin walls of the tent, the bass is still going and the lights are casting neon shadows and perhaps you have a lover waiting for you — but all the kid is waiting for and listening for is your voice and your kiss goodnight. If you have night-time rituals like story time or songs, keep them; maintain some sort of basic structure.
  • Instill a sense of morals and street-smarts. Explain stranger danger. My father was always very adamant about stranger danger, yet, and this ties back to tips 2 and 3, I never experienced any sense of danger or felt threatened at any event. Generally speaking, loving communities tend to sense and keep less-soulful people out and away. It really does take a village. But make your child's safety and self-reliance assured — if you educate your children and make sure they have good instincts, they'll most likely be fine. Still, tip number 3 is tried and true: let them run in a pack and you can go off and have your fun too. Just make sure your child has a good sense of street-smarts before releasing them into the greater playas of the world.
  • If you're going to do drugs, don't do them in sight of your kidlet until the child has had drug education independent from you; definitely don't partake in the illicits during playtime if you have a partner or ex-partner who isn't okay with you smoking jane around Jane. As far as beating the education system to the punch and educating your kid young about alcohol and marijuana — you're welcome to give it a try as long as your babydaddy/babymama is on board, just keep in mind that kids have no concept of censorship: what you tell little Benji about booze, he will tell his friends when he's with them next. Kids like to show off knowledge. Wait until they're ten or older to have that chat with them if you don't want the soccer moms out for your hide.
  • Put kids first: if they need you, take care of it. When it comes down to it, there are going to be times when the movies, the wolf pack of kids, and the environment aren't what the kid wants. They just want to rest for a moment, and where they feel the safest is at your side. Let them snuggle up to you for a few quiet moments, even if the people around you are giving you the "get that child out of here" look.
  • Be patient. Children are crazy, egotistical creatures. As someone who's just come from this developmental phase, children don't understand (or really don't care) that they're interrupting your conversation because they're exhausted and cold, and they expect or need you to do something about it. When it comes down to it, you are both a mother and an individual, but the difference is that while you may be fighting in your eyes to preserve yourself as a person, your child has yet to even develop a self: they are reliant on you to explain and show them the world. So be patient with their neediness. Eventually, they'll bounce off again to play or fall asleep. Either way, you can get back to your conversation once the tyke has mellowed out and gotten their share of mama-love.

Kids really aren't all that bad, though some will always argue against their presence at festivals. However — it is entirely possible and encouraged for parents to play up their child's cuteness for their own benefit, which leads to tip number ten:

  • Jade at Burning Man, age 11
    Position your offspring to the highest advantage: in 2004, my mother and I attended Burning Man together. I, being an industrious and adventurous little squirt got a job in the food-service part of our camp. This kept me occupied and involved and relatively out of harm's way. I always made sure to run three bowls of food and drinks to my mother and her friends. They never had to wait in line, I was very rarely encroaching upon my mother, and I felt involved and important and was relied on in the kitchen. Everybody won.

And finally, in case this wasn't clear:

  • Have fun. Dance on the stage with your tots, wear matching make up, dye your hair together and sing about Chihuahuas and the Simpsons and speak about politics and religion with them; when your kids are older, consider teaching them how to make their own drinks and give them personal anecdotes when the time seems right. Philosophize with them; treat them as a developing person. Love them, provide for them, but let your hair down while you do it.

Just remember this; if you're an offbeat mama or papa, you will have an offbeat kid. Half of who a person is depends on their environment in their early life — expect your child to be a little individual: don't expect them to have much comfort or understanding of "normal" society or respect a higher authority. Expect them to be exactly what you made them: artistic, independent, expressive and outside the box.

Your offbeat kids will want independence and recognition far before they're ready for it. Having adventured with adults, they will be verbose and free-thinking. Just remember that when they reach their teenage years (and whine on and on about how nothing the education system is relevant and how you worry because they're going to raves and smoking weed on the weekends), relax. Take a breath, and offer sane, logical, non-judgmental advice. Set ground rules, but not limitations. It's all about compromise. Give them freedom when they're wee, and they'll expect it all their life.

So, as an offbeat kid from an offbeat mama, do I recommend my childhood lifestyle? Sure. Yes. I don't think there's any one way to correctly parent. I also don't think children and parents really recognize the other as individuals for a while, which leads to tension and conflict, and makes the lovely metamorphosis process a real bitch.

Remember: you love each other. Kids turn into "sane adults" once the hormones die down. And kids, your parents will never be normal. There's no such thing; we're all young and wild at heart and we all have our own things to dance off and out of. Stay offbeat!

  1. Wow. I can't believe you were a burner at 11! I'll have to show this to my fiance, who insists that the life of fun and festivals is over once we have a child. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    6 agree
    • Festing with kids definately changes alot of the practices and dynamics, but it also, in my opinion, makes it that much more fun. My best advice as an offbeat mama is to start young and often. I started my parenting suppressing my own personality and was miserable and thereby an ineffective parent. I finally let loose when I got divorced and found myself again….with my kids. At first it was all, "these people look weird", and "this music is too loud", but over time with sensitive adaptation and starting small with street fairs and causal get togethers, I was able to adapt my oldest to the environment and now she gets just as excited as I do about the start of Festi season. She started festing at 6 and is now almost 8 and never wants to go back home Sunday morning. The biggest change is waiting. I used to arrive at events on Wednesday and stay till Tuesday. Now, we shoot for Friday and leave on Sunday. Kids seem to need more wind down at home for less event days. But like I said, start young, and they'll have so much more fun.

      1 agrees
  2. This is fantastic!! I'm sharing this with my partner :) It's definitely interesting and somewhat difficult to transition to festi life with a baby. What I have realized is that it's all about showing her the beautiful community, music, love, etc that can be found there. My daughter is 1 now, and went to her first festival when she was 7 months. Shine on, festi kid!

    4 agree
  3. So well written. Kudos to you, Jade Jones-Hawk.

    9 agree
  4. This makes me very happy! I hope my baby burner turns out as well as you have. If I incorporate the insider perspective shown in this article, I bet she will. If you start writing your memoirs anywhere, I want to know. Reading about your experience will make me a better mom!

    4 agree
    • Maybe if I bug Jade enough, she'll do an ongoing column for Offbeat Mama…. 😉

      65 agree
      • THAT would be SO awesome! As the mama of a teen girl, I'm often at my wits end and don't know what to do. It would be wonderful to tune into a Jade column for advice.

        2 agree
    • Though there have been a few really good articles focusing on teens, as the Mama of a 14 year old girl and 11 year old boy, I'd love to have more regular submissions on or by our wonderful offbeat teens (is there such a thing as an on-beat teen???) Great article Jade, keep writing!

      2 agree
      • We're working on it! It's a major challenge, since 80% of our readers (and 95% of our submissions) are in the conception/pregnancy/birth/babies phase, but Stephanie and I both make a super concerted effort to try to make it happen. That said, we need all the help we can get! Send us tips! Send us stories!

        2 agree
        • I'll do a post! As a 19 year old who has been both home and public-schooled, and is a kiwi (oooh, exotic!).

          6 agree
        • As a somewhat offbeat mom of a 4 year old, I really enjoy the posts about parenting older children. I feel a little been there done that about the baby and before phases. :)

          1 agrees
        • I'd be happy to write for offbeat mama. I'm 17, been homeschooled, montessori, public and magnet schooled. Live on my sailboat in the FL keys, youngest registered yoga teacher in the country, future doula/midwife/lamaze instructor and lots of other fun stuffs.

          6 agree
      • Single freethinking offbeat mama from hell here wound up w/1 freethinking offbeat hard-working 28 y/o son who barely made it thru high school but currently reads Marx/Engels & Noam Chomsky – & 1 32 y/o Petty Officer 3rd Class, USN, college grad who I doubt remains unbrainwashed, but he's happy so I'm happy too, as long as we don't talk politics.

  5. very well said! i hope that many parents follow your advice. i think if they did it would help the situation go easier for the child and the parent! the child doesn't lose out on their parent which is the most important thing to a child. your mom sounds like one very responsible hip person and she raised you well! a lot of people could follow your advice even in day to day situations.

  6. My daughter went everywhere with me. She sometimes said "why can't you be like other mothers" and I would answer that someday she would appreciate it all. Now 30 she does, is independent and judges others by the "content of their character". Now I strive to be more like her.

    3 agree
  7. There is so much that I disagree with here (and I am a recreational substance loving festival hippie). Not everywhere is appropriate for a kid. There are also other festival-goers to consider. Some of the most effed up kid stuff I have ever seen has been at Phish festivals. What kinds of drugs are you talking about doing around kids? Hard drugs? Heck to the no.

    14 agree
    • I didn't start playing with substances until I was much older than normal. I think that's bc my hippie parents totally demystified drugs for me. I remember reading a quote from Winona Ryder somewhere (her stepfather was Timothy Leary), that she never got into drugs bc her parents told her to get them from them bc the drugs would be safer that way.

      1 agrees
      • Cuba, that was totally my experience as a teen, too: "drugs are for boring old hippies like my parents." That said, I appreciate Jade's perspectives here … even the ones I don't share. As a kid of hippie parents, I was oddly conservative and needed a lot of structure and stability. For me personally, I'm not sure I would have liked going to festivals with my parents. But Jade (and many other folks I've known, both kids and now-adults) have totally thrived, going to the occasional festival.

        1 agrees
      • Lol, the decision to not do drugs myself was entirely based on my mom's offer to procure them (well, specifically pot) if I wanted. I was like, "um, that's weird mom. Thanks, but no thanks." I have never felt the desire to try it, and have wound up a bit more conservative than she is on many accounts. But I really appreciate that she offered, and I appreciate that my parents made drinking at home an acceptable and safe activity pre-age 21.

      • Me too–my hippie mama was offended when I decided to go straightedge in high school and turned down wine at dinner! Nothing like freedom to make you a self-regulating whole human! High school in Holland was SO different from here.. all of the popular kids in PA drank to get drunk; not one in Holland did, but they all did graffiti, the only illegal outlet 😉

    • I can't find anywhere in this article that recommends doing drugs around kids–could you quote the part you meant? I also read the article as recommending going to kid-friendly events and creating kid-friendly spaces at events, not suggesting that kids attend every festival ever…

      6 agree
    • My parents (definitely not hippies!) had the same position on drug use. Basically, if you are going to be drinking/doing drugs, you better be doing it around us so we can ensure safety. I mean, it was a lil' different because my parents didn't do drugs themselves and didn't approve of them, but they still didn't want me off doing them with friends. Plus, their attitude eliminated the option of it being a way to rebel.

      To this day (I am in my mid-twenties), I have never been drunk nor tried drugs, so it worked for them. I don't know if it would work for everyone but it did for them, and I will probably have a similar position with my children.

      2 agree
      • That is exactly how it was for me with my parents. Growing up, they always allowed me to try alcohol when they had it and I -hated- it! Blech. They explained what their friends experienced with drugs, as they themselves never did drugs. They also were very frank about sex at a very young age. (Which totally freaked me out and prevented me from becoming sexual until much older than normal)

        I appreciate all that they did and are still doing for me.

  8. sooo well-written! I loved this article (and would love to hear from Jade on here regularly). I agree with most of this article, and I think it's great that the issues where I have a difference of opinion are still presented intelligently and reasonably in her piece. We all take a bit and leave a bit of the parenting philosophies we come into contact with, and that's one of the reasons I read offbeatmama. :)

    5 agree
  9. i love this, this is coming @ a perfect time for me too!

    this past summer i really racked my brain to try and figure out how to raise my son in my lifestyle. i may be not a festival going mama, but i am far from traditional. when i was in middle school and high school my father and i would go to concerts in NYC a few times a week. and i'd love to raise my son like i was. if i wasn't 7+ months pregnant my son would have spent his first birthday at a concert and this post defiantly gives me some ideas on how to include my kids into my social life and still be able to enjoy myself

  10. I would say that 90% of this is how I approached raising my son… all except that drug part. I was open about my knowledge of drugs and gave him the freedom to question them, even express interest in them, but I never exposed my own history until well after he'd left for college (he's 22 now). Sort for the same way I approached openness about sex. Create a comfortable atmosphere, be open to all questions without judgment, and answer every question fully without impeding my own privacy. In other words, keep my own history out of the equation. Hypocritical? Nah. My business is none of his business; it's private. And, secondly, I didn't want my history to color his decisions.

    I found a balance of freedom and structure worked best for us. Where I was free, I was really free — letting him explore the world with a Lord of the Flies/running with the wolves childhood, taking him everywhere I went from festivals to museums to off-kilter art shows and bongo bonfires, exposing him to artists and experimental lifestyles along the way. Where I was structured, I was really structured — parochial school (for the importance of being a member of the world, rather than the center of it, and an intensive education), sports programs (for the dedication and discipline they teach), and manners were paramount in every situation (expected, demanded, appreciated).

    I had hoped by raising him via the two poles, I would create a balanced human being who felt nurtured in his creativity but was also ambitious and charged. The jury is still out… maybe I succeeded… maybe I created a schizophrenic. Eh. Who knows?

    I will say, my son's success in such a varied number of achievements (he's won academic scholarships, played Travel A hockey, and played guitar on the Warped Tour at 16) would indicate that I was on the right path. Or maybe it was just the right path for him.

    Even so, he's at a point now — at 22 — where he's trying to figure out if he's a phish or a round peg.

    It's all good when there's love and support, I suppose. We all do the best we can, beginning with noble intentions.

    7 agree
  11. I really adore this article. I was beginning to think I was the only offbeat kid of an offbeat mama. My mom never did anything "by the book," and even with the downs we had, the ups were always way better and more memorable. She gave me enough freedom and know-how that as I got older, I wasn't the hardcore partier, the go get wasted because I can 21 yr old. On my 21st, I'd already been there done that, so I went for lunch, and bought my first drink and hung with two friends later. She would always tell me, similar things, like I know your getting older and you'll want to experiment with ____. She always gave me an easy out clause, and I always knew no matter what happened, I could go to her. Several months back coming up on 23, I went to karaoke and had some beers with friends and was way more drunk than I intended, but was going to try to drive home. Instead, when I sat in the car I heard her voice "don't ever drive drunk or ride with somebody that's drunk, just call me." So at 2am, I did, and I said "Mom, you know that call you never got in high school? Well, I think this is it, can you come pick me up please?" And she did, no questions asked. I wouldn't trade my offbeat raising for anything, and when I become a mama, I intend to be every bit as offbeat as my own.

    10 agree
  12. Debate about appropriate age to experiment with drugs aside, this is an incredibly well-written article. Jade, I am amazed that you are 17 and have such a way with words! You should indeed go on to journalism in college.

    As a child that grew up 'in community' until the age of 10, I particularly resonate with this passage:

    "…expect your child to be a little individual: don't expect them to have much comfort or understanding of "normal" society".

    I don't think I'll ever be comfortable with normal or mainstream because of my "offbeat" childhood.

    2 agree
  13. I LOVED this post, thank you! I'm a parent of an almost 5-year-old daughter and am already terrified of the teen years. It's a relief to hear a story from a family who wasn't like my own (when I was that age), and that it will probably be OK to be my own odd self all the way through as a parent.

    I second/third/etc the people clamoring for a regular column from Jade.

  14. I don't agree with everything in this article, but I do feel like I am struggling with the same issue on a much more on-beat scale.

    Most people my age seem to completely drop off the social scene once they have kids, even when their kids are a bit older. Since my parents were really boring (never went out, didn't drink or have parties) I cant speak from personal experience, but my husbands family are all massive party goers.

    His parents and aunts always tell us stories about the crazy parties they would throw or camping trips they would go on with all the babies and kids in tow.

    They say the babies learnt to sleep through the loud music and laughing and carrying on. All the kids looked after each other and knew that if something happened there would be an adult nearby to get help. There wasn't a lot of drug taking but there certainly was a lot of drinking, motorbikes, boating and antics etc.

    So I guess I want to raise my kids like that, with a large degree of freedom and exposed to the "real world", rather than tucked away in their own bed each night with the parents watching tv because they feel like they can't go anywhere.

    3 agree
  15. Thank you everyone for your feedback. No offbeat family is the same- especially not in their offbeatness.

    I wanted to clarify that I am not advocating drug usage (and I do include alcohol in that definition), but neither am I arguing against it. I used to be incredibly against it- which is one of the reasons I wanted to include the tip about not doing recreational drugs around children. As a young child, from about ages six to twelve, I was extremely anti-drug because of the exposure I'd had as a child. My opinion was also clouded because I was being told that what my role-model figures did and lived like was wrong, which is why I tried to emphasize that no drugs should be done if the babymama/dada does not participate in those activities or condone them being done around a child. When it comes down to it, drug usage, like many things is a lifestyle choice. As such, I don't judge others on it.

    I also totally agree with some posters- be open to answering questions and stories doesn't mean you have to be completely open about your sex life or past adventures. To this day, my mother still won't answer certain sex questions. It's chill- and as everyone here seems intelligent and open, I am confident that every reader can define open-ness themselves, and discover how comfortable they are answering certain questions.

    In the end- it isn't a question or debate or even an intention of mine to discuss the appropriateness of drug usage or parenting techniques involving such. That's your job! I was simply addressing an issue that had been relevant to me. I thoroughly encourage every parent to parent in a style and manner that appeals and fits to their unique life and child.

    9 agree
    • I also saw some drug use as a very young child and became very anti-drug for a while because of it. Eventually, though, we found a balance.

      Hooray for adventure babies!

      1 agrees
    • I love this follow-up! Excellent clarification… extremely mature and well-written.

  16. While I'm not sure I agree with everything in this article – I just want to praise Jade for her amazing writing skills! I have to say – her abilities are on par with a lot of my fellow graduate students, and she's only 17. So nice work, and keep at it, Jade! Journalism definitely seems like a good choice. :)

    1 agrees
  17. Outstanding post, Jade–you've got a clear, expressive, personal way with words.

    I'm not into festivals at all, but so much of your advice resonates anyway, and applies in a much wider range of situations.

    • I agree! I was thinking of how my daughter amuses herself when I'm selling pottery at local markets. I know she's in a safe environment (no cars, fairly contained) and I know she'll be courteous to others (be careful around the tables, speak politely, not grab things), so I can relax and do what I need to do as long as we check in with each other periodically. We both have a really good time.

  18. it's hard to tell who's mom and who's daughter here – they both look so amazing! i can't wait to take my kid to a festival – tho i've become really, REALLY picky about which festivals i attend…

    i wholeheartedly agree with this method of parenting – mostly because i know it's worked for several friends of mine – who've brought up sane, conscious teenagers like Jade. I mean, obviously, something her mother has done has really, really worked – this kid's really well-adjusted and intelligent. way to go, ladies.

  19. Thanks for this post! I am the only child of an offbeat and single mama, and I am nothing but grateful for the experience. She gave me a manic love of music by putting my crib next to their stereo speakers so I could learn to sleep with loud music blaring in the house, gave me condoms and a safe sex talk when I was 16, and not only partook in herb with me when I turned 19, but taught me everything I knew about doing it safely and smartly (don't buy on the street, know your dealer, etc). I always knew that I could call for a ride home if I got stranded, no questions asked, anytime day or night and that I had a safe place to hang out with my friends. These are but a few things she taught me, but most of all she taught me the value of hard work, the importance of knowing the basics of survival (cooking, cleaning, balancing a checkbook), and to always do your best to adhere to the Golden Rule.

    2 agree
  20. My kids and I just read this together, then promptly made a pact to never get high together/ in front of each other.
    Instead, they agreed to talk to me about drugs before and after they use them, and to become educated about possible consequences of possession and use of the drugs they try.

    • That's real nice, but what's better: Having a lengthy informed discussion about LSD just to have your kid trip out, jump off a dock 20 miles away, flatten/get flattened by 6 cops & wonder where the kid is for 2 days (true story), or have your kid go temporarily nuts at home? Sorry, but I strongly disagree. Kid wants to try drugs, he's going to do it no matter what, so know what the drug is, what's the worst-case scenario, & have him & his friends all do it at your place: stuff 'em in a bedroom or the basement w/no way to escape undetected, stay home, play loud music & ignore them for 12 hrs unless you hear screams for help. Just one proviso: No meth, heroin or cocaine EVER.

      • I am quite against such drugs as meth, coke, crack, opiates and Ecstasy (because its a drug salad) but i have formed my opinion because i had my time experimenting with them as a teen. As much as it pains my to think of my future child (only 11 weeks in my tummy) I also can not say that one drug is 'better' then another. Though i would not feel the same way about my child experimenting with LSD, as i would Heroin, it is still a drug. Though LSD has very enlightening introspective qualities, and remains the only drug i would ever take again years from now when the child has grown, i also know the effects it has on your brain for the rest of your life, and i know many who never came back. I know all to well the addictive properties of Heroin and crack, and i see it take over the lives of people everyday…but i dont think that any drug is less addictive than another. If your child is doing drugs to escape their reality, or to supress some internal feeling then no matter what substance it is, the results are going to be problem forming. I never thought i had a problem with substance because i never had one addiction. Then one day i realised that even though i quit 'hard' drugs, i was drinking like a fish and burning through an once of pot a week.
        the important thing is to be aware of your childs emotions, and their needs as they develop. Some things such as addiction, or emotional 'problems' are hereditary, and if you suffer from constantly wanting to escape your current head space chances are you kids will too. you cant place a label on one substance and say good, and bad on another, you simply have to be aware of what your kid is doing. you have to openly talk to them. do not chastise them for anything they might try but keep an eye on them voice your opinions give them guidance and step in if you absolutely have to. always treat them as an equal person because if you know or feel that something is wrong chances are they already know that not only are their current actions wrong, but that something isnt going quite right in their heads.

  21. Thanks for this wonderful article, jade! I've been bringing my daughters (ages 6 and 10) to Moontribe full moon gatherings for their entire lives, and they absolutely love them. I've been a part of the community for 15 years, and I didnt want my place in the community to end when I became a mama… so it just changed. 10 years ago, it was very rare for any children to be at our gatherings, but at our anniversary gatherings each year, it has increased so much that we had about 30 kids at our 17th anniversary gathering! Many other parents have begun to bring their own kids because of me and my girls, and I love that. :) The sense of community, street smarts, and an offbeat lifestyle is such a wonderful thing for them, and for me!

  22. I loved your article, as we've taken our 19 month old daughter to her first festival when she was 6 weeks old (Rothbury II) and then to All Good this past year. It's wonderful to hear, and so eloquently, what a positive experience the festie lifestyle has been for you growing up because for us, "the scene" really is a beautiful and magical world that we want our daughter to be exposed to, if only every year or so.

    Thanks so much for sharing!!

    1 agrees
  23. My parents are super, super on-beat, and I've always questioned every little thing. I'm going to keep Jade in mind when they (inevitably) question every aspect of my child-rearing. If being offbeat can raise kids who grow up as together, well-spoken, and capable as her, I have nothing to worry about.

    1 agrees
  24. Great Post! thank you for sharing your experience =)

  25. As being raised very on-beat, I'm jealous of your experiences Jade! What a joy to be able to experience all of that with your family. Even at 21 my mother wouldn't attend Burning Man with me (even though she had 10 of them under her belt!). I am in the "baby planning" phase and my parents spend hours espousing their viewpoints on how I should raise my own children. I am a slightly off-beat type, and its good to see that I can reference you when they begin to harass me about how I plan to travel with my young children.

    If you haven't picked a college yet, look at Smith College! They'd love to have someone like you. :)

  26. Wow, Jade! This is such a great article. I'm so proud to know you!

  27. What happens when the offbeat kids wants to be in a normal family? This off beat family of 5 moved out of our off beat town, into suburbia (because we just needed a bigger home for our money with that last surprise babe) but my off beat daughter is rebelling with normalcy and just doesn't understand why we cant be like every one else. She is 7, apparently an important age to fit in. Her "beat music" or her house compilations and down tempo is being replaced by Justin Beaver. A little advice you might have for her trying to fit in with the normal kids, especially when some make fun our differences. Like her homemade clothes, momma made sweaters and long prairie skirts now get only worn on weekends. I tell her the others are jealous that their moms cant make them awesome clothes just how they ordered but to that i get the death ray look and a "mom why cant we go to the mall like every one else?" She also is behind because she is not vegging in front of the Disney teeny bop channel or tv after school. Please, I hope this is a passing phase or Im afraid I might have to squeeze us back into our small home in a town were the kids are comfortable being themselves. I just want her to have confidence in herself and to become who she is not who her friends are.

    • no matter how 'normal' a family is, at some point every kid will feel that they wish they had a more normal family. your daughter is your unique and amazing creation, her personality will shine through in her words, the way she carries herself and the adult she grows up to be – at age 7 there is scarcely any such thing as 'fashion sense' other than a favorite color, her primary worry is other kids thinking she looks like a weirdo.

      all kids have this fear, those whose parents shop at k-mart or wal-mart or wear older sibling's hand-me-downs worry that their peers will judge them as "poor" and this is sometimes a concern with homemade items too, they don't realize yet that a sweater sewn with $5 of yarn and mom's love is way more economical and warm than a sparkly $25 barbie sweatshirt that will have holes in a month, but she has to learn that lesson herself. when she is a teenager she will start to explore fashion on her own and realize the difference between 'cool, unique' and 'trendy'. despite all logic, she believes that she will be the 'only one who doesn't have this-and-that', and it may cause less sadness just to get it as a special rare gift than to make a big deal about not getting it.

      go to the mall with her, and use it as a good opportunity to explain the difference between cheap, foreign factory items and a durable item that will last longer. let her drag you around to the stores that has clothes she thinks are cute, try stuff on you have no intention of buying, and then compromise on a few items that she can wear in different outfits along with some of her favorite homemade stuff, it's a good time of year to get summer stuff and t-shirts and shorts are always cheap.

      i guarantee it will be a fun outing for the both of you, and you will learn a lot about what the other kids wear.

  28. Great post! Thank you for such great insight! As a parent of 4 young boys, it is great to hear that there is more than one path to follow and that the kiddo appreciate that!

  29. I love this post. I too am a child of burners, starting when I was 14. I'm 24 now and expecting my first child. My friends never understood my cross dressing freak of a dad. But despite his shortcomings, he was the best dad I could have asked for. Your post resonated with me in a big way and I'm glad I'm not the only one out there who was raised this way. I think we turned out pretty good personally!! :)

    2 agree
  30. LOVE LOVE LOVE this Jade 😀

    A most excellent, ONEderFull read, informative, insightFull, educational and full of LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE ❤

    I would hafta say….whatever CHOICEs yOUR mama made must've BEen pretty AWEsome….'cuz hahney, that's exactly what YOU are!

    BLISSEdly BE
    Radiating LOVE
    Rhonda Sheryl Lipstein
    roni ❤
    http://www.BEingLOVE.TV

  31. this article is awesome, i cried.. such an affirmation..;) my daughter will be 12 at BM this year. if we go it will be her 5th (starting at 3 y.o).. her first festival being dragonfly at 2 weeks old..surrounded in a circle of OM and chants of her name in a big ol loving nouveau hippie circus artist family. We are musicians and costume designers and circus performers.. my daughter grew up in rehearsals and surrounded by people who truly love and celebrate this life. yes, there is danger at festivals and parties, as there is everywhere. I agree with all of Jades advice as we have been living and sharing in these ways and my girlie is so strong and confident and freeky and funny and outgoing and talented and such a wise and good communicator, totally looks out for all of the littles who came after her. What wondrous new paths to realization, full blossoming humanity we all carve!! So blessed to be here in NorCal, may the love and the light and the strong and wise children ripple out and love up the world in the same sane safe fully effective way that creates positive evolution, caring for one another and the planet in free expression and acceptance of all ways.. blessed be beauties!! thank you Jade for writing and keep it flowing!!

  32. Thankyou for this article I grew up just like you a festival baby with offbeat parents and its made me who I am today.:) I am now carrying on the tradition with my own children although my partner who is from a very conservative background does not seem to agree.i want my children to have the same experiences that taught me to be a non judgemental strong and relaxed personality that has made me the adult I am today.and my parents are my best friends.i tell them everything unlike my partner who seems to have a very distant relationship with his parent which I think is so sad.

Comments are closed.