I am of the opinion that kids and cats are a lot alike in that they tend to be attracted to those people who don’t gush over them and try to coddle them. I would fit into this category, at least where kids are concerned (I actually like cats and seek them out). Although we have come across a few boat cats in our travels, we have come across dozens of boat kids.
I suspect that there are many shore-based parents who would think that live-aboard and home-schooled kids are at somewhat of a disadvantage when compared to boys and girls on land. I couldn’t disagree more. As many readers know, we ran a large martial arts school and I have taught classes of children for 25 years. Our classes were primarily filled with many well-behaved kids but there were also some that were not-so-pleasant to be around. Contrast that to the boat kids we have come across. I can honestly say that we have not met a single ill-behaved child (boat parents all around us are now putting up their hands yelling “you haven’t met ours yet”).
In addition to the above, the kids we have had the good fortune of coming across have been extremely well socialized and able to communicate both with adults and with other children. How is this possible? When kids move from anchorage to anchorage, they just don’t have a lot of time to be shy. If they want to play, they need to make friends NOW so they just do it.
Back in the “real world,” I saw parents of 9 year olds routinely tying their kid’s shoes for them while out here, 9 year olds are running around the anchorage in the family car (dinghy) or helping to steer the big boat. We hear kids on the radio using better VHF procedure than many of the adults. We heard another boat parent comment that their kids are just used to cleaning up after themselves (putting their toys away) because on a boat, things just can’t be left lying around as there’s no room.
No, we don’t have any little ones on board our boat (kids or cats) so I can only offer these observations but if you’re a parent and you have any doubt that a life on the water could be great for your kids, start doing some reading at our friend Cindy’s blog Zack Aboard. Not only is that an excellent resource on the subject (with great photography too), she also lists a bunch of other links to blogs with live-aboard kids.