Travel – Parenting


By Fritz Blackburn


Travel Parenting

Shakespir Edition


Copyright © 2015 Fritz Blackburn

Cover design: Karl Hammond

Photo: Fritz Blackburn

Book design: Fritz Blackburn

Editor: Ivan Music

All rights reserved.

Shakespir Edition, License Notes


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ISBN: 978-1-927479-87-2

Online copy provided in Canada

Published by Fritz Blackburn

mailto: [email protected]




p<>{color:#000;}. Reaching Your Child’s Potential

p<>{color:#000;}. How to Ride Elephants Safely

p<>{color:#000;}. How School Fails Our Children

p<>{color:#000;}. Consumer Children and Travelling Kids

p<>{color:#000;}. Own Your Child or Set Her Free

p<>{color:#000;}. Meeting Animals and Plants

p<>{color:#000;}. Strong Babies and the Medicine Bag

p<>{color:#000;}. Travel Schooling

p<>{color:#000;}. Learning to Surf Cultures

p<>{color:#000;}. Non-programming and De-programming

p<>{color:#000;}. The Philippines and Children

p<>{color:#000;}. Sex and Tribal Teenagers

p<>{color:#000;}. Escaping the Cell Phone

p<>{color:#000;}. Geography of the Mind

p<>{color:#000;}. Finding a Son


1. Reaching Your Child’s Potential

“Look dad, I can sail the boat all by myself now! It’s easy!” My four-year old, Mana, ships me around the island of Boracay with fast-growing confidence, while I relax and trust her senses.

“It’s the sharks, captain,” I tell her. “Within a day, they taught me, too, how to keep the boat upright.”

“Yes Dad, but I learned it in only an hour. Maybe I’ve got a better bwain than you?”

“No doubt there, Captain, but then I never travelled at your age and never even saw a boat when I was still young and smart.”

Why aren’t all people geniuses, we might wonder? Well, in principle they are! When a baby is born, it has such an incredible potential that none of us can possibly fathom the extent of it! Despite any possible handicaps, from autism and Williams Syndrome to Asperser Syndrome, or simply a low IQ, the potential of the average baby at birth still far exceeds that of Einstein – fully manifested.

We don’t recognize the truth of this because we measure everything, even the as yet unknown, by our incredibly arbitrary scales and definitions of a supposed normality, without being even peripherally aware of actual, all-inclusive reality. We see a one-armed man as ‘handicapped’, even though the use of a second arm adds only a very small amount to what the man can still do with his mind and body. We may perceive that autistic people focus less on the outside world than most of us, but we are blind to the fact that our so-called ‘normal’ society has overwhelming outward focus, and has lost touch with the internal world to a much greater extent than autistics have from the external world. How can such a self-deluded society teach children about values, normalities or sensible priorities?

Collectively, we still perceive Siamese twins as deformities that we must quickly separate to give them a ‘normal’ life and an average life span. We are quite blind to the gifts of nature as they are, and to her message of versatility and variety as it presents itself. We normalize the extraordinary! We are uncomfortable with any deviations from our cultural normality, and therefore prosecute our children whenever they want to explore what we don’t define as normal or as good. Thus, we interrupt our kids’ natural impulses to touch or taste things when they are babies, restrain natural explorations of sexuality and food, and always insist on imposing our own narrow values and cultural expectations, which we think of as ‘discipline’ and ‘education’. These constant restrictions of a natural development are a big part of the reason why not all babies grow into geniuses!

Our idea of child rearing is a rather weird cultural game of unnecessary and counterproductive measures that cause nothing but limitations to the potential development of all existing faculties. Nearly everything we instil and teach our kids limits their perceptions and thus their intelligence! When we tell them the fairy-tale that the stork brings babies, they do not get the crucial and correct information that would explain so much else in their world. When their mother cries out at night, disinformation will make them think of their father as violent. Wherever you look, everything at all is in some way sexual – even agricultural pollination rates and the price of honey. A mind without accurate information from the start will not be able to interrelate most things, and will fail to perceive the common denominators. A mind divorced from understanding a major functional part of the whole picture cannot understand the world in principle, and therefore cannot develop much of its innate intelligence for sheer lack of information and faith. The fake news we give our kids is not just on sexual things, of course – we bullshit them about every important part of life!

All we ever do as parents – and at school – is label things, even living creatures, avoiding completely their actuality and then we get our kids to accept this reduction as ‘knowledge’!

A child standing in awe before a great tree might still be able to meet this life-form in a complete, fully connected, and spontaneous way. Then the parent says, “That’s an oak, boy, just remember that!” before walking on. This kind of teaching replaces the thing itself with an empty, meaningless label. It suggests to the child that the label is all there is to know about the tree or, at least, that the label is what matters most about it! The limitations of the observer horizon here are immense! The child copies her parents’ list of priorities and tunes into their narrow and impoverished conceptual framework, where the tree has essentially disappeared and where there are no further questions. The kid walks away from the wonder of it, from the completeness, the connectedness, from the tree as a living being – with nothing but a label that it mistakes for knowledge!

This is typically how the horizon, and thus the intelligence, of our children is reduced by our kind of teaching, by our limited perceptions, and by insufficient appreciation of what is beyond our small definitions!

Once a child has fully forgotten her never confirmed or unexpressed perceptions, and is reduced to fit into our pre-prepared cultural and personal boxes, she will likely never stand in awe of a mighty tree ever again! She will instead say, “that’s an oak.” She’ll no longer feel, smell or sense in her bones the cooling sap, the swaying branches, the blue sky above the leaves, the full spirit of tree…. The tree will never speak to her again and she will not remember a thing, as uncorroborated memories vanish fast. We all have lost the immediacy of reality in this way, but have long come to think of this loss of all real color as ‘growing up’.

Later, the child will accept many more labels in exchange for actual life experiences and by then identify with her appearance, weight, gender and other mental concepts. She will eventually shave her legs to fit those advertised images, and pluck her eyebrows into a line just like everybody else. She will be proud of her coincidental nationality and feel ready to fight for her nonexistent ‘freedom’ by pre-emptively striking down foreign views and cities! She will learn the standard slogans of a freedom imposed by weapons, accept a respect imposed by authority, and a happiness induced by soda and ice cream. She’ll learn the meaning of freedom not through any personal experience, but from the cramped and empty examples shown to her, and from the thought patterns copied from controlling parents and an even more controlling culture.

There is little room, flexibility, or personal freedom not to shave her legs, or to live without a cell phone, without junk food, or to develop along sane and healthy motivations and pathways. It is a difficult to conceive of any intellectual freedom or personal choice for individuals within our modern culture, or for a child to develop towards her potential abilities.

Cultures usually suffocate that potential by defining and strictly policing a narrow and stifling normality from which there is no escape for a child trying to be good. The child experimenting into areas beyond the prescribed framework is considered naughty or bad, and is strictly discouraged from pursuing her own intuitive path, which spells the end to true intelligence.

For a child to even inquire about smells is outside our mainstream definitions of learning that accepts only the two senses of sight and hearing, and a baby exploring her own excrement is thus well beyond the small acceptance we have of our own bodies. Children cannot develop their natural sense of smell in our sterilized environments anyway, where any surviving waft of horse-dung is quickly defined as a stink. By forcing our kids to ignore the world of smells, we cost them those twenty percent of their senses and of the brain function that should be available to interpret those smells of their environment. Our children’s instincts are not only never cultivated or acknowledged – they are actively suppressed and rationalized away where they conflict with our own views and agendas! Body parts are arbitrarily divided into okay and not so okay, and even breastfeeding in public is now pointed at as borderline inappropriate.

Our children’s complete absence of choice begins when we give them the recommended formula, unwilling to make the effort to explore any alternatives, which would likely show our babies’ preference for goat’s milk, or mom’s milky response to fennel tea. But as long as the baby stops crying, we think we did ‘the best we could’ without further observation or inquiry, and without taking any real responsibility.

Society gives children all sorts of ludicrous, incorrect, and dramatically distorting views of reality. We tell children that nudity is inappropriate and that clothes make people! We tell them that humans are more rational and more intelligent than all those animals that live in perfect harmony with their environments! We teach them to recognize food by its packaging, and its value in dollar amounts. We don’t show the human body, or actual war scenes, on television – but shooting zombies and chopping off people’s heads is perfectly fine for our children to watch. Are any cultural definitions – this ‘normality’ our babies are born into – are our arbitrary teachings ever sensible or reasonable, or oriented towards exploring a child’s potential? Think of how much of this reduction and of this constant programming our babies are made to endure before they start sitting still and quiet at a desk, hunting down their body-hair and replacing actual communications with the texting of silly messages?

How can we raise our kids so selfishly and narcissistically in our own image, filling them with our foolish concepts, instead of allowing them some range and a little choice to explore and develop what may not necessarily be culturally defined as ‘normal’ or as important to us?

Could it be that we need to change our attitudes from arrogant, god-like creators, owners and controllers of our little mini-mes – toward allowing a child to discover her own truth, her own path, and her own magic? Should we not try to allow our child to keep alive the smells and those other senses of a reality we ourselves have long ago discarded?

Why can’t we let a kid decide for herself what is important? Why do we need to train a boy to obedience and expect a girl to look like Barbie doll? Why do we impose our strange normalities on gays, black people, other nations, our children, each other and ourselves – and never realize just how much variety of experience, how much freedom and how much intelligence are lost as a direct result of such divisive reduction?

All of what modern society considers as not good, or not normal – and is therefore not appreciated – will rob children of the chance to learn what Nature and life have given the human mind to work with and to develop its potential from.

Our normality defines only a few selected plants and animals and concepts as useful, but eradicates most other species of creature and thought. Plants we don’t like or understand are made extinct with chemicals that stay in the soil forever, just like the chemicals we use on our kids stay in their bodies while their natural bacteria die from antibiotics and worthless foods. Our ‘normality’ considers the flesh of cows, sheep, pigs and chickens edible, while grasshoppers, grubs or bats are not! Utterly arbitrary and nonsensical of course, and yet we teach this heavily reduced scope of food and understanding to our children every day. By age five they show the same disgust at a meal of snake or frog as we do, and have lost their appreciation for all other meats except beef, pork and chicken. Of grains, they eat and recognize only wheat; but millet, quinoa, wild rice, or any of the many other forgotten grains are lost to them and soon may no longer be digestible. Consequently, children today become increasingly allergic from eating too much wheat! What does this dietary reduction mean in evolutionary terms? Well, children will soon not even recognize food any more; they won’t know how to grow and digest it, and some items will disappear entirely before humans can recover from their arrogant ignorance. Who will warn our children about this, and who will make them change direction away from the ever more narrowing path of their parents? How can they escape the disappearance of nutritious, overlooked grains? How can they avoid our many silly limitations?

Even in a food-rich natural environment our children cannot recognize or find food any more, while we as parents still dream about evolution and ‘progress’. How can our children learn even the very basics about food? How can they escape their parents’ ignorance enough to perceive the real world?

We dress girls in pink and buy them Barbie dolls, which they of course use

to shape their identities from. We may prepare them for a career, but certainly not at all for life itself. They never learn how to be a mother or a woman, just like boys never get taught how to be a man. We are much more interested in our son becoming a lawyer, than we are concerned about him becoming a liar!

Thus, our children are uninformed, uniformed, misinformed, manipulated and incompetent, and there is nowhere for them to run! How can any responsible and semi-conscious parent tolerate this? And how could children possibly develop their full potential under such poor and stifling conditions?

Why do white kids in the Philippines always need brown kids to climb the tree when they want a coconut, one should wonder? They can do not much better than point and look witless. They can’t fish, hunt, grow vegetables, wash clothes without a machine, or responsibly look after babies! Why are our kids that incompetent and mentally inept? Well, because we don’t give them a chance to learn what they need most to grow up. We feed them a lot of synthetic nonsense at the expense of the most essential – that is why!

No one asks what the actual human potential might be beyond what is commonly seen, addressed and activated. Few parents have any idea what the potential of their own child may be or how to reach for it. Many seek some perfect parenting system in the intellectual world and in conceptual terms, but cannot see at all how simple and easy it could be to let a child explore all of her innate abilities in simple, effective and magical ways.

Kids cannot learn well without a sense of real adventure, which includes a sense of reality and self-responsibility! To reach their full potential, children need to go beyond their own culture, beyond their parents, beyond their time and beyond the safety of a prescribed routine! To develop intelligence and intuitive competence, they need to be challenged by actual problems in the real world. They need to be under their own steam, so they can feel responsible, motivated and curious enough to climb out of the confining safety of their artificial and over-protected little worlds.

But what is that potential I am talking about? What is it that a child could be if all genetic abilities and talents were recognized and actualized?

Is it really all just about being a good citizen, about being financially successful and happily married? Or is it also about cultivating the abilities of a ropewalker between skyscrapers, about reaching for the universe like an Albert Einstein, Jimmy Hendrix or Pablo Picasso, who have so thoroughly climbed out of their cultural boxes that original thought and incredible creativity could emerge from their innermost essences?

It is a mistake to think of geniuses as freaks with abnormal genes or weird inborn abilities. Their brains are no different from those of others, only they have activated and cultivated abilities that others ignore and have no curiosity about. Even the brain of a psychopath or an idiot is still infinitely more capable than any computer – potentially! Every human brain is potentially capable of God-like abilities, of writing symphonies, of designing spaceships, of levitation, hand-healing, fighting like Bruce Lee, singing like a bird, dancing like an ice queen – if that is what we love and practise as little children!

This is not only true for a few talented ones. Even a stone-age child or an ape could learn outrageously difficult concepts surprisingly quickly, just like a modern child!

And why is it that children learn so much faster and better from animals and from other kids than from human adults? Maybe because there is more treasure in simplicity than there is in artificial complexity?

We like to think that levels of intelligence, social ability and general human culture in the 21st century far exceed the development of stone-age people or of Neanderthals. Evolution, we believe, has simply increased our inherent abilities, grown our brains, and enabled us to do and think, as we were never able in the past. We fathom ourselves much closer to reaching our potential now, the end of evolution nearly visible! According to this belief, a stone-age child could never possibly have learned to use a computer, right? Far from right! Without a doubt, a Neanderthal child could have learned to use a PC just as quickly as a modern child! We know today that chimpanzees, who probably never practised on computers throughout evolution, can be taught to do intelligence games on computers better than a six-year old human child! Dogs, when taught, can remember without fail over a thousand memory cards or memory words! And when we look at parrots, magpies, pukekos, certain fish, dolphins (and most of the rest of the animal kingdom), we soon recognize that the learning potential of most creatures far exceeds their supposed place in evolution as well as our assumptions as to their intelligence!

People who work with animals in a trusting relationship not only find the surprising ability of animals to equal the standards of human children when tested along human parameters, but also that they manifest a host of superhuman powers that dramatically exceed human ability. Dogs will happily allow humans to train and harness their super-powers, and are now for example, used as a reliable method to sniff out early cancer. They now drive cars without human assistance! Apes will readily learn to use a PC or train to be a pilot. Why do dogs, apes or dolphins not need to go through a million years of evolution before they can do these things??

This question stands unheeded at the root of our quest to discover: Who am I? Who is my child? Who are we as humans? Where do we really come from? How are we related to our environment, to plants and animals?

If it is not true that to develop consciousness and reasoning, and interspecies communications, takes millions of years of evolution, then this ability is present from the beginning. In animals and in children!

This would suggest that children and animals have far greater intelligence than our scientists realize today. The awareness of animals does then not arise from any species-specific evolution, but from their incredible connectedness with all of reality! They see more, smell more, taste more, sense better, hear better than we do; they have all the super-powers suggested by popular television – they can fly, shape-shift, stretch beyond recognition, turn invisible, have super-strength and telepathic ability. They run faster, swim faster, and are better chemists, better healers and better parents, friendlier, are more socially mature and less cruel than we are. Yes, some animals can learn to pilot a plane or find buried people, but that does not really indicate any higher abilities compared to what these animals already naturally do on a daily basis! It may be an expression of a much higher than human intelligence to peacefully swim and enjoy the oceans, eating and mating happily all day – when compared to racing through a work day, emotionally stressed and mentally bored, just to survive, just to bring home a pay-check until cancer or diabetes strike us down! Is intelligence not foremost the ability to survive well? We rather appear to be a species on the brink of running out of habitat and resources and fertility, an arrogant race incapable of real change and adaptation. Who are we to test and judge other animals by our own arbitrary, non-working and unfeeling standards? Why don’t we instead test ourselves and learn from animals how to reconnect? Learn how to use our instincts, our intuition and our oneness with Nature? Why don’t we learn from dogs how to read people correctly, how to pay attention to smells, how to be loyal and in touch with others? Why are we so arrogant and deluded? After all, we only invented the plane after somebody watched flying birds with an attitude of awesome respect! All our solutions are already out there, found by animals long ago. And this is the deeper reason why children with their potential still intact love to watch animals!

Nature offers ultra-fast learning for children in many different ways. There is incredible awareness to be found even in a leaf. Awareness of how to make optimal use of the sun, awareness of how to successfully conduct chemical processes, and of how to take in the minerals needed, when and in what amounts! Awareness even of companion plants, of bees, of the wind. The leaf knows how to serve the plant as a whole, even to the point of detached self-sacrifice. It feeds the larger community. It interacts with the rain and it paints itself and the forest with bright and unique colours. And the longer a child stares at the leaf, the more she will learn about her self and about trees and about life.

Why can we not see that animals, plants, and all of Nature are teaching our kids so much better than we ever could? And that a child’s potential can only be unlocked by connecting deeply with the natural world?

Do we really believe we have better things or ways to teach than Nature? Could a child not develop without being told of Easter rabbits and baby Jesuses, without hearing the mullah’s ravings, and without having his penis cut by Jewish fanatics? Would it not be better to replace all religious teaching by looking with your child at a star-lit sky, discovering together the unfathomable wonders of our planet, to make palpable the experience of love and family and to nurture natural curiosity?

Why can a kid not learn to read when curiosity demands it, and write when she has something to communicate, and both after she has acquired some basic life-skills first?

If under their own steam and motivated by their own curiosity, children of all ages can learn so very much faster! They learn in short bursts, in quantum jumps over a few minutes, and to lock them in a room for hours of continuous and un-asked-for lessons only destroys their natural love for learning, their self-responsibility and their instincts.

I have seen three-year-olds of unbelievable competence on my travels around the less ‘developed’ parts of the planet, where a quiet parent or older sibling may set an example without any attempt at deliberate teaching! There was a three-year old native Mexican girl at Oaxaca market, who wove ponchos for children alongside her mother, with perfect technique, and plenty of finished products she herself sold. The mother was a quiet woman who would answer a question but never hover over the girl, never correcting or instructing. The girl sat upright, spoke clearly, and was a content, professional little person. Like sisters they sat there, each respecting herself and the other.

The same thing I kept seeing regularly in mountainous tribal communities all over the world, where survival and necessity allow children to explore and develop natural skills through work, hardships and problem solving. There were five-year-olds running businesses, speaking English as a second language, consoling adults who needed it, fishing successfully and feeding their families, looking after babies responsibly, and beating adults at chess!

A master player myself, I have been beaten quite a few times by sixteen-year-olds from the mountain, who learned to play chess within a few weeks and made a living from it thereafter.

In the West, we see child labour as child abuse, and we keep responsible work well away from the glass-house plants that are our children, without ever realizing just how difficult we make it for them to live in the real world. “Don’t touch” is our first mantra for toddlers, and all this does is suppress their potential learning where it is connected to touch! Another twenty percent loss!

While I agree that a child should be fed well without condition, the choice of contribution through work must rest with the curious child. If and where she wants to contribute because she feels strong and helpful – why deny that? We will never discover the true potential of our child if we don’t let that kid walk her own path with all the honours and failures that go with that!

The competence of a normal six-year-old child could be achieved at age three, if a baby can join the daily work routine of the parents, tied around the father’s shoulder in a cloth, or carried by the working mother. I saw such examples in places like Laos and the Philippines, and then applied what I had learned when my babies were little.

I found that a traveled two-year old can learn to play a musical instrument quite well, and can even successfully join a karate club. When my oldest daughter Mana was four, after checking out all other activities available, she wanted to join karate. However, karate clubs require a child to be a minimum age of five years old, and she first needed to impress the sensei in order to coax him into making such an exception. After a few weeks of working with Mana, the sensei allowed her little eighteen months old sister Morgana to join as well, after I told him that she always does what Mana does, and often just as well. She did her own thing at times but without being disruptive, and learned as fast as her older sister. At age eleven, and after some Muay Thai training on Koh Chang, she became a national champion in NZ and had the shelves stuffed with trophies like her sister. This all happened without any expectations from me, simply because it was fun and real, and because the challenge fit the hidden potential.


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The way we parent our children is based on yesterday’s cultural perceptions, on the ownership-model of ‘having’ children, on our own agendas, and on what we and our culture arbitrarily think is best. We do not respect our children or their own personal path, and at school we suppress their intuition and their instincts as worthless, while programming their minds with yesterday’s beliefs that cannot possibly bring out their full potential. School also introduces kids to a distorted and disjointed version of reality, where there is no adventure, no self-determination, no insight, no motivation and no freedom, while kids are trained to sit still and obey and copy. Travel offers an effective alternative to such boredom and allows kids to learn under their own steam, in their own way, so they are always motivated to reach for their true potential, while living a real-life adventure! ‘Travel-parenting’ offers globetrotter tips and psychological insights based on a life-time of shoestring-travel and on raising two daughters in culturally diverse situations and within tribal societies. It gives insights into the effects of the consumer-world and its soulless technology on children; it questions our modern concepts for parenting and points at a severe lack of mind-development in our kids by comparing the growing incompetence of Western kids with ideal conditions and with tribal children who determine their own learning. Apart from giving medical and practical advice, this book takes a look at the shortcomings of Western societies and suggests an entirely novel approach to raising children, based on values and attitudes that need to be cultivated and that are today systematically ignored. Teenage-problems are explained as not purely hormonal or unpredictable, but as mostly cultural, and widely caused by parents and society and the way we rule our children! As far as parenting books go, this is not about attachment or non-attachment, laissez-faire or helicopter or any of those artificial perspectives. It is rather about parental humility and the letting go of arrogance. Travel or not, we need an entirely new structure to parenting, based on values and attitudes, and a respect for children that is sorely lacking in all conventional and in all recent approaches. For a child to learn not only accepted facts, but to think for herself and to be emotionally and spiritually competent, more is needed than conceptual programming! A child needs to feel freedom to know it, feel respect to give it, and feel personally responsible to walk her own path! Children could be much more than mere receivers of our redundant, non-working ideas, and more than obese, desk-warming copy-cats! They need to learn from real life, in real ways, not just repeat what they are told by their own society! When fully under their own steam as travelers, children can become heroes! They can invent their own action movie and their own fairy-tale, and experience themselves as valuable and competent members of various groups rather than as purely obedient! Parent and child become a team where everybody learns, not just the child! ‘Travel-parenting’ takes a hard look at modern society and the parenting of our time, while pointing at age-old working solutions. It challenges parents to look into the mirror, to grow up, and to take responsibility. While it draws mostly from a solo-dad’s experience in raising two daughters, it ends with the story of finding a long-lost son and guiding him on a path of initiation into manhood, where the key is again respect, and the door to be opened - freedom.

  • Author: Fritz Blackburn
  • Published: 2017-05-10 03:35:10
  • Words: 61508
Travel-parenting Travel-parenting