The shocking story of Tara Westover which she tells in her recently published memoir ‘Educated’ casts an undeserved shadow on off-grid-families and their ways of life. Off-grid abuse is not the norm.
It seems like Tara came a long way from growing up on a mountain in Idaho with her radical Mormon family of survivalists to studying at Cambridge University and writing a book that is surely going to make waves. Just the story of her being sent to work in a rubbish dump make scary reading. But there were compensations as well.
“There’s a sense of sovereignty that comes from life on a mountain. It calms with its very magnitude, which renders the merely human of no consequence.”, Westover says as she describes her old home in the book.
Young Tara suffered from severe emotional and physical abuse by family members and had no access to medical care or higher education for most of her life. ‘All abuse is foremost an assault on the mind.’, Westover states.
While this story is heartbreaking it is a shame that it may give the alternative lifestyle of being off-the-grid a negative reputation. Living in a remote, self-sustained community can be a wonderful experience, even for families.
I personally think that children should be given equal opportunities when it comes to education or going to college and be given the choice whether they want to spend their lives living off-grid or not. The issue in Tara’s case, so it seems, is that her parents were very anxious and paranoid about the ‘outside world’ (Westover had no birth certificate for 9 years, she was told to sleep with a knife and her and her siblings weren’t given medical care when injured).
There is no excuse for parents to abuse their children in any way, and although I don’t believe living off-the-grid has led to that kind of behavior, it certainly makes it easier to conceal.
I think it is crucial to always be open when raising children and to show and teach them as much as possible, to allow them to find out what is right and good for them, and give them the option to set goals and follow their desired path in life, even if it something the parents disagree with.
Tara’s parents allegedly did not give here those options and tried to keep her away from society as much as possible while limiting her physically and mentally for many years growing up.
The author has taken impressive steps to get to where she is today and I am very excited to read ‘Educated’ and find out more about her view on off-grid-living and also perhaps some of the positive aspects of it.
Tara Westover now is on her way to becoming a confident successful author and despite her strict Mormon upbringing she seems to have recovered from her childhood of off-grid abuse and enjoying her new lifestyle to the fullest.
When asked about her family and whether she misses home or not she replied “You can cut someone out of your life and miss them every day but still be glad you don’t have to see them again.”
Book review coming soon!
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