My husband and I are in shock. We got a call from his grown and father of four son last week.  They had some news for us....  It's hard to even explain this... They have decided that they have a calling from god.  They are going to walk away from their mortgage, just stop paying it, and quit work and live in an RV and travel around the country spreading gods word.

Seriously.  This is like a bad nightmare.

They have been Calvary Chapel born-again since before they were married, but had recently been carrying on a semi-normal life, although it included home-school indoctrination of the oldest girls, age 5 and 6.

They have already talked to the bank about how long it would be before they got kicked out if they stop paying their mortgage.  It's possible they are in more debt than we knew.  Credit cards, I guess. They seem to think they can just walk away from that too.

Other than financial ruin, giving up a great, well-paying job, living in ridiculous conditions with four small children, who will now be getting no education to speak of....who knows what they will do for insurance...  They think they can stay at campgrounds free in exchange for work... They think the god will provide.  

And we sound like the curmudgeonly old grandparents.
My husband is devastated.  Those kids are the most important thing in his life.

We are meeting them in person Saturday to discuss or at least hear more.  I am trying to be rational and unemotional, and not use terms like throwing away your life, but this is so far fetched I don't know where to start.  Any thoughts?

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My guess is that they first got into a lot of debt, then wanted to walk away from it. Asking the bank how long on the mortgage before they would be evicted is a clue here. The next thing is that god is not going to let them starve, and they saw it in the Buybull that god takes care of the animals and they don't have to do anything, etc. Animals and flowers have no worries (god just brings the food right to them) so surely he can take care of them because "even the hair on their heads is numbered."

The joyous feeling will leave when they discover that god is not providing very well for a family of "Jesus hippies" who want to have no cares and live off the fat of the land. They may figure out how to get by, but it will not be pleasant and they will bot be respeted for it. The children won't like it after a while either. Unless your son is an ordained minister this will not work for them. It's a lifestyle that I would not wish on anyone.

Can you tell them anything that may chnge their minds or that will help out here? I really doubt it. They will have to learn for themselves.

 Dennis, I agree with your assessments. The young parents will learn for themselves. In the meantime, the grandparents need to create a safe, stable, secure foundation for themselves so they can feel free of guilt or anger. Finding stability between them, and joy in their lives presents an excellent model for those four young boys.


The decision maker in the the family whether it's your son or his wife is not thinking rationally but it could be both. When you meet don't be afraid to ask hard questions especially about the welfare of the children i.e. school and medical care.  Try to determine if both parents are equally supportive of this plan and if not try to air his or her doubts.  Ask if they have a time limit on how long they intend to do this and what kind of research they've done about living on the road.  Ask them what their plan is if their RV breaks down and they have no money to repair it.  Ask what they will do if they can't stay stay RV sites for free. Ask what their plan is if one of the children get sick and need a doctor or hospital.  Be prepared for them to call you if their plan fails. Good luck

I like your questions! 

I can't press "Like", however I do understand the feeling you must be having. The only things I can say are the basic principles upon which to draw. 

Before anything else, find a way to express your fears, anger, disappointment, grief in a safe place and with someone you know and trust so that you can think clearly how your will respond to your son's decision. 

1.) I believe in being as clear as possible about my own feelings and express them as honestly and concretely as possible without blaming, accusing, or criticizing.

2.) Ask question about what they need to think about but do not need to answer to you.

3.) Know that what they think or do is non-of-your-business if they are over 21 years of age. I hate this one!

4.) Stablize your own life as much as possible and prepare yourself if their thoughts and actions fail and they reach out for communication. Being a solid, stable, secure rock, unfazed by them, means you can build a solid foundation for yourself based on mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy living. 

5.) Fortify yourself against being manipulated or exploited by them. Encourage self-sufficiency, interdependence, a sense of community, and encourage critical thinking.  

And remember, I could be totally wrong. 

Why is it that the wealthiest nation on earth has a wholly inadequate social security system that will allow people in financial crisis fall into a cycle of poverty and despair ? Other countries in the western world afford adequate housing and income for families in such situations.

If we look back fifty years, is it because of the space race, continual warfare and unfair taxation systems that governments can't afford it ? Or is it part of 'gods plan' that people such as your family endure deprivation to satisfy a small greedy minority ? Or, is it a bit of both and a bit more ?

'Lunch is for wimps' says Gordon Gekko

Thank you all for the thoughtful and rational responses.  I think you have essentially confirmed what we have already thought and planned.   We are also thinking my husband needs to get his son alone, and discuss this privately - his son's wife seems to be the controlling party.    Joan, you make good points about expressing our own feelings without judging or criticizing their own decisions....that will be a challenge!

Sharon, I know what you mean, so much easier said than done. I got into a scramble this winter with a decision my granddaughter and her partner made and I followed all the principles to the T. However, I came across to them as judging and blaming. We had to have a third party help us sort out the bad feelings that resulted. Thankfully, our third party did an excellent job of finding common ground, identifying our differences, made room for each of us to state our positions and come to mutually agreed upon solutions. It turned out well, but could have been a disaster. I could foresee the cliff toward which they were headed, and they couldn't. I could not see their vision, and it was a valid one.

It takes a lot of skills to navigate the rapids of interpersonal relationships. However, those skills can be learned and mistakes happen, they can be negotiated without destroying the relationship.

I do hope that each of you has the opportunity to express your hopes, dreams, fears, anxieties in ways that lead to mutual respect.  Even if your husband and his son disagree, it is possible to find mutually agreed upon criteria to prevent the kids from being hurt. Surely, his son and daughter-in-law want to not harm the kids. The question has to be asked, "What if you are wrong?"

Just read this to my husband (his mother is the controlling party that converted her husband and 3 of the 4 kids to Born Again-ism). His immediate reply was, "They probably went into debt giving all their money to the church." UGH I certainly hope that's not the case.

Can you offer to watch the kids for the first month or so of their adventure, just to ensure that they work out the kinks first w/o traumatizing them? Can you find any other similar stories online of people who attempted this, and failed?

Can you, if nothing else, convince them to come up with their own religious-based scam that'll make them rich like so many other church scams?? Actually, that might be a roundabout way of letting them know what churches are usually REALLY like.....

A good approach might be reverse psychology, come to think of it! Pretend you're on board, give them a survival kit that teaches them how to repair an engine, how to eat out of dumpsters, good begging methods (get the kids in on the act!), how to forage salad ingredients from roadside weeds, how to take a "wh0re bath" in a McDonald's sink.......I'm terrible.

Seriously, though: Take deep breaths, ask them what the plan is, who they expect to preach to, and how long it'll be before they come back to your place. I suspect you'll have to catch them when they fall, so you might want to lay down some expectations for that. And stick to your guns- don't let them think they've got a big, cushy pillow to fall back on.

Oh, yeah.  I would not be surprised to know they'd given the church a bunch of money!  My husband and I both work full time (and more) so taking the kids is not an option for us.  And the youngest is only two months old!

I think they might already be onto the "support our mission" scam of collecting from other churches that they visit.    LOL on the survival skills, though!

Thanks again to you and the others for your thoughtful responses.  It feels so good to be "among" rational people!

Oh, wow, that is just... hoo boy...

Listen, I don't want to seem insensitive, but the adults in this situation aren't acting like it. Running away, really? You need to tell them that they can go gallivanting around the country playing hobo preacher in they want, but the kids deserve better, and should stay with you. This is just plain ridiculous, I don't care what you believe, adults should behave more responsibly. Especially with children...




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