on Dealing with Relatives, for Unschoolers

transcript of a chat from June 1, 2009
with lots of chit chat and "bye" edited out, but not all of it
and with some links added

Zamozo: Hi, I like the links on the side Sandra

SandraDodd: Thanks, Chris.

adreanaline: ok

SandraDodd: I got a mean e-mail from a grandmother once accusing me of trying to encourage people to keep their grandchildren away from their grandmothers.

SandraDodd: I didn't even track down to try to see who it was. Kinda irritating, though.

RVB/ROBIN: Where did she get that idea from?

Zamozo: My kids don't spend near as much time w/their grandparents, in town, as the rest of their cousins

SandraDodd: I think it was because of a comment that wasn't even mine, but it was on the list or on my site, that parents had their chance and they don't get to dictate what grandkids do, too. My kids spent WAY more time with their grandparents than other grandkids did.

Zamozo: Back when Zach was 4 - my MIL accosted my hubby and Zach in the library parking lot and told him she didn't think we should homeschool him for Kindergarten

PamSoroosh: I'm getting close enough to being a grandparent that I'm identifying with grandparents sometimes, these days. In my mind - I'm THERE. Now - just need my kids to catch up with me.

Zamozo: We also had a few sleepover attempts that when terribly bad

SandraDodd: I know it will be hard if I end up seeing grandchildren neglected or spanked or bottlefed. So I have those feelings, for sure, and I bet they're the same as grandparents who want kids to go to school.

AussieTammy: My parents have started talking with Caitlyn about a sleepover one day. She's 3.5 and still ends up in bed with us most nights. I can't imagine how a sleepover would go.

Zamozo: Explicitly told them that if the child became sad and wanted to come home, no matter the time of night, that it was good and okay to call us to pick them up

PamSoroosh: my mom was instrumental in all her grandkids being really close with each other - she had them at her house in all combinations and alone. It is having spent time together at their grandma's house that makes them feel so close to each other now even though she's gone.

Zamozo: but they didn't -- and Zach snuck down to the basement to call us to come get him

PamSoroosh: They are in their 20's - they hang out together a lot.

Zamozo: that's neat Pam

Julie (Guest78): My MIL is very supportive of unschooling but my mother isn't at all and it makes it harder to be around her, then she gets sad that we see more of my MIL

PamSoroosh: just saying....it is possible for grandparents to be HUGE wonderful assets in kids' lives.

SandraDodd: Pam, do you think she charted it to make sure each one had been there with various others? Or just randomly matched different times?

kelly (Guest108): I'm here hoping to figure out what to say to caring family members. I find myself getting defensive when family members show concern or worse yet quiz my 11yo. I want to come across collected and calm.

Jude (Guest52): Hi folks, Jude here.

PamSoroosh: I think she kept good track of who had or hadn't had alone time with her - and the rest was her sense of who would enjoy being around each other right then. Like she might think Joe seemed a little left out at the last family get-together, so she'd invite him with Rosie so they'd connect more.

SandraDodd: Maybe you could coach the kids to ask a few quizzing questions back, and if the adult doesn't know they could say "I thought you went to school." (If they can do it in a friendly, funny way.) That's very cool, Pam!

adreanaline: very ingenious, Pam

SandraDodd: Holly or Marty (Holly I think) used to have a question she would ask back, if they asked her what's 5x7 or whatever, and it was some big number answer she had memorized.

PamSoroosh: my mom went to a conference once (early childhood education - NAEYC conference) and she went to a workshop about aging gracefully and they talked about grandparents. She heard about not complaining or whining - and took that very much to heart.

AussieTammy: We haven't told either set of parents that we're planning to homeschool. I'm not looking forward to that conversation, but it will have to be soon. They keep talking to C about when she goes to school. She's 3.5.

kelly (Guest108): is it rude to give grandparents books to read, like my Rue Kream's?

adreanaline: It seems like John's parents forget what we explain to them no matter how many times we tell them. Then if my kids do something they consider odd, like behaving like normal children, they blame unschooling. I don't have a solution for that yet

PamSoroosh: Grandkids do not have any interest in hearing grandparents complain - about their health or anything else.

SandraDodd: I don't think it's rude, Kelly, if they're questioning your judgment.

AussieTammy: They're very anti-homeschooling... I don't even want to think about them trying to grasp the concept of unschooling.

adreanaline: Pam true

PamSoroosh: kelly - i think it is really nice if you do it nicely. Like - "I know you're really interested in this whole unschooling thing, so I thought you might like to read this."

Jude (Guest52): My mum's reasonably supportive. Very supportive of home school; a bit bemused by lack of timetable. She looks after Jess sometimes when I'm at work so this can be tricky.

SandraDodd: I gave my mother in law three or four books with the circumcision pages bookmarked, when she said "You have to get him circumcised" when Kirby was a baby. I said "Here's what we read before we decided." She first said "Well I'll read them, but it won't change my mind." She read them and it did change her mind. And even if it hadn't, she would have known we had considered both sides.

adreanaline: Sandra, I liked what you said about asking mom to write down all her "told-you-sos" and sealing it for a few years. WE didn't get to do that because my sister came on the visit and she took most of the heat. (same sister who just divorced)

Jude (Guest52): It's great that she did change her mind!

adreanaline: kind of hard to convince someone who thinks going through 12 years of schooling isn't enough experience to count as "considering the other side"

kelly (Guest108): I know unschooling is the right way, but I don't feel confident when I try to explain it to someone. We are in our 7th mo of deschooling

Zamozo: Grandma & Grandpa and aunts and uncles don't seem to know how to talk to kids about things other than school related topics but Zach has figured out how to steer his conversations w/Grandpa towards his interests - geneology, history etc.

SandraDodd: Right. IF you can do it nicely. But if someone insists on telling me I'm wrong and don't know what I'm doing, I am WAY willing to say "If you want to read this, I'm willing to discuss it further." If they don't, don't discuss it further. No matter what they say, you could say "Have you read that book? Because I have."

Zamozo: I second Sandra's approach

adreanaline: I told my famly from the start. Looking back I think I probably would have just said we

Jude (Guest52): Kelly, I know exactly what you mean. I fall back on individual events , to which people can say, "What about the rest of the time?"

Julie (Guest78): My Mum reads the books I give her but she doesn't change her mind! She says it's "interesting" but she still thinks it's wrong! We've agreed to disagree on the grounds that she had her turn to do what she thought was right, now it's my turn!

adreanaline: re homeschooling until I was more confident and well versed in unschooling maybe a year from now. ..:-)

Zamozo: in-laws aren't really interested in understanding -- they mostly don't bring it up -- it's an elephant in the room sometimes though

SandraDodd: I don't think you/anyone should say "This is it, it doesn't matter what you say, our kids will never go to school." Because you don't know that for sure. Your kids might want to go to school, or something might happen to you and you won't be able to be with them.

Julie (Guest78): I agree Sandra. Don't think anyone should say never because you don't know what will happen.

SandraDodd: But if you say "We're going to try this for now," it's helpful on both sides.

Julie (Guest78): Yep

KatLugo (Guest5): hi everyone! i'm kat. what is a good basic book to offer for family to read? our families are way conservative, and really are not open to anything.

There's a book in the sidebar that might be good for such a purpose, but we didn't know about it at the time of the chat.

SandraDodd: You're only committing to a small experiment, and they can have hope that you'll fail. You could say "I know you hope this won't work out, but I hope you'll understand if we hope it will!"

Julie (Guest78): I like that line

adreanaline: if we feel like we've been set up for failure since childhood that can be very difficult to say

Jude (Guest52): That's a good one. Mind you, I have a friend (thankfully not a relative) who has decided that even a few months' experimenting in this way would do irreparable damage. We're not talking much at present.

Zamozo: >> KatLugo (Guest5): basic book on homeschooling or unschooling? Maybe better not to try to explain unschooling early on

Julie (Guest78): Kat - Re books - Sandra's Moving a Puddle is really accessible for people because it's lots of short pieces. Easy to dip into

kelly (Guest108): We are a military family and will be moving soon, so every one want to know if we are just doing this for now and will put him in school when we move. I answer that I love having him home and will be happy to have him home as long as he wants to be here.

PamSoroosh: Jude- the thing is - do you want to be friends with someone that stupid?

RVB/ROBIN: My mil (the only grandparent left) compares my nieces (who have always been looked after by her, go to school, slept over at very young ages) to Michelle. It's not the unschooling - it's that Michelle is and always has been completely different.

adreanaline: seem like a good answer (to Kelly)

KatLugo (Guest5): probably homeschooling at this point. my mil thought we got our curriculum from the school district!

RVB/ROBIN: Homeschooling is just another part of the mystery of our lives for her.

Jude (Guest52): Pam - I know what you mean. I was stunned and a bit disillusioned

SandraDodd: I had a friend from the time I was pregnant with Kirby. She taught deaf preschool and special ed for deaf kids.

PamSoroosh: relatives - i can see trying to assuage them and deal with them and make it better - but if friends are telling you that you're doing irreparable damage to your children? That's so NOT a person I would stay friends with.

Zamozo: >> RVB/ROBIN: same with my kids -- parented totally differently than their cousins from day 1

SandraDodd: She kinda used me, but I didn't mind because she amused me and we had fun. She was too cheap to use the air conditioning in her condo so she would come to my house each day in the summer to sit under the swamp cooler and not to be alone.

PamSoroosh: Or - if there are other reasons to stay friends, I'd make it conditional on them absolutely never ever one single time critiquing my parenting.

Jude (Guest52): Yep, that's pretty much how I'm playing it at present. She's very careful what she says right now - but just like with in-laws it can be an elephant in the room

PamSoroosh: Or - if they did, I'd say, "You are being rude."

SandraDodd: But when Kirby had been home a year and it started to look like we wouldn't send him to first grade either, she got very strident.
She said I was doing it for my sake and not for Kirby's.
She was and is still childless and so I wasn't in the mood for her to advise me about parenting. She was so unhappy with her own childhood and her own parents she never wanted to have children (which is good!)

Jude (Guest52): Oh, that's familiar. I was told I'd pulled Jess from private school because I have a hangup about the class system. I do - just not the class system she was talking about.

adreanaline: I wonder what motivated her to teach the deaf...

Julie (Guest78): Yes I've heard from people that it's all about me and not about my son.

SandraDodd: So we still speak, and socialize for other people's sake, but I don't care what she thinks about my parenting at all.

Jude (Guest52): That's it - it's easier with friends, isn't it? It must be a bit more oppressive when it's a close relative who you have to visit over the holidays.

SandraDodd: Back up to that "have to."
Is there any relative you "have to" visit?

PamSoroosh: julie - it IS about me. Too. I love having my kids be close. Isn't that evolutionarily to be expected? It makes no sense to separate parents from children - for parents or children's sakes.

Jude (Guest52): Ha! Yeah. Good point

Julie (Guest78): Pam - Yes! It feels good and right to me. But I wouldn't do it unless I thought it was good and right for him too!

kelly (Guest108): babies are wanting dinner. must run

SandraDodd: Bye, Kelly

KatLugo (Guest5): jude, i feel like a teeny child when challenged by family, in-laws that is. but feel more empowered to answer knowledgably and confidently with friends.

SandraDodd: Maybe if someone says you're doing it for yourself instead of the child, a good answer might be "I'm doing it for my family."

RVB/ROBIN: I made the mistake of leaving Michelle with my in-laws when she was 3 (for about an hour). Michelle became so upset that I was away, (and maybe that they were there) that she had a meltdown. She was on the stairs when I came home. My mil blocked my way to get to her and told me she was defiant. She wouldn't let me anywhere near her.

adreanaline: yikes

Jude (Guest52): That's appalling!

PamSoroosh: I look at homemakers - moms who stayed home - as in didn't have full-time jobs outside the home. They often seem unhappy to me - like spending their time on things that don't seem very fulfilling.

SandraDodd: And in the case of it being other family members, they might take the hint that you have a family they're not fully part of.

AlexPolyKow: no one blocks my way to my child

RVB/ROBIN: I finally got around her and went to comfort Michelle.

AlexPolyKow: I would have pushed out of my way to get to my child if needed

SandraDodd: Robin, did you ever leave her there again?

adreanaline: hi Alex

RVB/ROBIN: Only once when she was a lot older.

AlexPolyKow: hi hi all

PamSoroosh: I think that whole "homemaking" thing is supposed to include children being with mom - for most of us, anyway.

Zamozo: >> RVB/ROBIN: That's how we found Zach when we arrived in the middle of the night to bring him home from his aborted sleepover -- crying with Grandma standing in front of him, scowling and hands on hips

RVB/ROBIN: Ugh. I still tear up when I think of it.

SandraDodd: Poor kids.

Zamozo: ..;-(

AlexPolyKow: sorry about that

RVB/ROBIN: So, now that Michelle's 14, she doesn't really seem too interested alot of the time to be around her grandmother.

SandraDodd: Pam, are you meaning homemakers who send their kids to school and all that?

PamSoroosh: I don't buy it when mothers say they are actually happier leaving their kids in daycare while they go have a satisfying career and come home more fulfilled etc.

Zamozo: Zoe never attempted a sleepover at Gmas & Gpas

KatLugo (Guest5): we would never leave our kids with my in-laws. i am so sorry she had to, and you had to go through that.

AlexPolyKow: I hear that all the time Pam

SandraDodd: I think they're saying what they've heard other people say.

PamSoroosh: yes those two different things. Stay home, but send kids away. Don't stay home and send kids away.

SandraDodd: Or they're justifying with words what doesn't feel good.

Julie (Guest78): I think they are trying to convince themselves

RVB/ROBIN: And a week ago, my mil calls me and asks if Michelle hates her. She's getting old, she's on her own, and having her chickens come home to roost. And then she compared her to my nieces again, how loving they are, etc.

SandraDodd: Or maybe the bond with the child was broken early on and they really don't know what to do when they're alone together.

adreanaline: yea "I couldn't stay home with my kids all day!" "You need a break from the kids."

PamSoroosh: I know they are trying to convince themselves.

adreanaline: things like that

SandraDodd: Robin, did you remind her of that time she physically blocked your path to your distraught child?

PamSoroosh: I used to teach evening classes in an MBA program. LOT of late 20's early 30's young moms - with 2 or 3 year olds.

RVB/ROBIN: I should have, but I chickened out.

PamSoroosh: Kids went to daycare while mom worked and stayed with grandparents in evenings while mom went to school.

Jude (Guest52): Oh yeah, at the end of every school holiday, you hear people saying yeah, they're going back!

AlexPolyKow: A friend of mine got laid off from work and was all excited about being home with her two young girls.
It lasted a month and she put them in day care

RVB/ROBIN: I think I should write her a letter, but I've always tried to keep the peace.

SandraDodd: Maybe you could write her a letter.


SandraDodd: I kept the peace with Keith's mom for thirty years. And finally we can relax.

PamSoroosh: When I'd talk about my life - home with my kids all day - not even sending them to school.....the young moms would come to me after class and cry. Literally - come up to talk to mee and start crying. Repeatedly.

RVB/ROBIN: She wrote me a note, though, recently, saying I was a wonderful daughter in law and person and she's so glad I'm in her life. Argh.

Jude (Guest52): We're all sold this lie that having a career is good for our kids - role modelling etc. It's a hard mould to break.

Zamozo: One of my great aunts died this weekend -- and her own daughter wrote, "It's over!" in a grateful way. She also wrote that she didn't expect any distant relatives to attend her memorial "because she was mean." Ugh, I'd can't imagine!

PamSoroosh: so - i'm getting to why what I'm saying is related to "relatives" - most of them did leave their own children. And it doesn't feel good. They've had to push down some pretty basic deep feelings.

SandraDodd: Pam, that's sad. Do you know if it caused any changes?

AlexPolyKow: Robin I can see my MIL being a bit like that. She may disagree with me in many ways (mostly keeps it to herself) but she really likes me and thinks I am great for Brian and his relationship wiht her and her husband

PamSoroosh: I know for sure yes - there were some who decided to at least wait until their kids were older. I mean - they all had college degrees already - they were getting masters degrees - they were all working full time.

Julie (Guest78): I used to work in an investment bank and so many of the women there hardly ever see their kids and they do feel bad about it but they justify it in terms of earning enough money to be able to give their kids "opportunities"

SandraDodd: Pam Sorooshian's mom aside, most of us are likely to be dealing with some wounded relatives who don't want to think about their own hurts.

PamSoroosh: they were driven. Like Sherry on Gilmore Girls. No exaggeration at all.

RVB/ROBIN: Alex, she often tells me the same thing, that Ross wouldn't be as successful or happy without me.

SandraDodd: My mother in law should've told me that.

RVB/ROBIN: Ross has always been an enigma to her, so her granddaughter might be no surprise.
Yes, Sandra. Your mil should have.

SandraDodd: Oh well...

PamSoroosh: Also - my mom was terribly wounded in very different ways - but badly enough she had to get over it.
Orphaned - sent away from siblings to boarding school.

AlexPolyKow: I am sure she just could not Sandra. Some cannot say things like that.

Zamozo: Sandra -- you can be the MIL you wish you'd had... someday

SandraDodd: I hope I keep that in mind! I told Marty's previous girlfriend that he had been much happier since he had been going out with her. She tried to use it to keep him from breaking up with her.

AlexPolyKow: My mom is a great MIL for the sons-in-law but had a hard time in the begining with the DILs

AussieTammy: I wonder if they (relatives) feel sad/hurt because they see how they could have done things differently and better

SandraDodd: Alex, I know that feeling up close and for real. Holly's boyfriend is GREAT and Marty's girlfriend is a dangerous horror.

AlexPolyKow: Should I LOL?

SandraDodd: Neither is true. But viscerally I'm happy for someone to be with Holly, and very bristly about girls looking at Marty.

AlexPolyKow: Yeah that is my mom

PamSoroosh: Alex - I really think that daughter-in-laws are harder. I only have daughters - so only dealing with boyfriends. They're easy for me. I like them a lot. But VERY difficult for my husband. He claims I'd have a hard time with girlfriends, if we had them.

Jude (Guest52): How funny - the thing is you're wise enough to be aware of it ..:-)

AlexPolyKow: She calls me on Skype and asks 10 times about Brian. She just loves him.

SandraDodd: Holly's in the process of breaking up with Brett and she seems offended that I keep asking if he's okay.

AlexPolyKow: But she had many difficult spots with her DIL's and now she understands them more BeaMantovani: My MIL has two boys only, I think it must be hard for her!

AlexPolyKow: Holly sounds like me.

PamSoroosh: my sister has two sons - one married. I know that she'd have liked the dil's to be the daughter she dreamed of, but they have mothers already and love them.

AussieTammy: My MIL only has 2 boys as well. She often tells us how hard it is!

AlexPolyKow: I had a nice boyfriend for a long time and when I broke up with him ( took months) even my dad felt bad for him and was on his side!

SandraDodd: I think empathy for our relatives is important. Our kids ARE related to them. They might feel they would be the ones to pick up and raise our kids if we died.

AussieTammy: She often says something like "A daughter's a daughter all her life, a son's only a son till he takes a wife"

SandraDodd: And they might really think we're incompetently botching the job.

Zamozo: I wonder if it's some narcissistic tendency to want partners for our boys to be more like us

BeaMantovani: my in laws are German, and I keep on thinking of Alice Miller, and how they must have been raised the way she describes in her books... [note & link on that]

RVB/ROBIN: I can think of a dozen people I'd rather have raise Michelle.

SandraDodd: I think it's probably absolutely natural, Chris

AlexPolyKow: My MIL was very happy when Brian and I first got together. She was worried he would never get married ( all other kids were) and had tried fixing with lots of girls

Zamozo: me too, Sandra

AlexPolyKow: I agree Chirs

SandraDodd: They say culture is passed through the females. We don't want our investment in them (social/biological) to be destroyed.

PamSoroosh: With my girls - when they move out and live with boyfriends/spouses - they still have ME involved in their everyday life - cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc. Roya calls me all the time -recent call was "What IS wheat germ?"

adreanaline: true but they also say that boys tend to marry people like their mothers

SandraDodd: So it's probably instinctive on both sides.

AlexPolyKow: I sure would like for my son to find a wife that would breastfeed, unschool, be kinda like me!

Zamozo: >> AlexPolyKow: Yes!!

SandraDodd: Well sure, and our husbands' mothers wanted us to send our kids to school like they did.

adreanaline: then again John married me and i am NOT like his mother

PamSoroosh: and the girls seem to sort of control a great deal about how the couple/new family will live. They set the tone of a household, lots of times. And it is like ours.

adreanaline: awesome

RVB/ROBIN: I couldn't even guarantee that Michelle will do all the things I did. She bottle-fed her dolls even tho I nursed her past 4 years!

SandraDodd: So I'll try not to whine and complain to my grandkids, but I might end up whining and complaining to some of you when Marty and Kirby are co-opted into Evil Others.

AlexPolyKow: In some ways I am like my MIL and others totally different

PamSoroosh: when I go to Roya's house - i'm very very comfy. It runs like mine - enough to make me feel "at home."

RVB/ROBIN: Evil Others LOL.

AlexPolyKow: Same for Brian and my father father

SandraDodd: Do you know yet whether Roya will get to be your neighbor, Pam?

Zamozo: I'm here for you Sandra, whine away

PamSoroosh: when my sister goes to her son's house - it is Abi's house - has a very different feel to it. aoh YES --- Roya and Adam are moving around the corner. Next week. YES!!!

adreanaline: yay .:-D


SandraDodd: How cool.
Is Adam as happy about it as Roya?
Is Cyrus as happy about it as you are?

AlexPolyKow: Don't worry Pam I like to have my mom close by too.

PamSoroosh: she says he is totally happy with it. I asked, "Doesn't he worry your family will invade his privacy?" She said, "No - he likes you guys."

AlexPolyKow: If I could choose she would live with me My brother is like that with her too.

BeaMantovani: me too, I'd love to have my mom close by!

PamSoroosh: Cyrus is happy. Very. He'd like to gather them all and live together, too.
Very right for his culture. (of course, being married would be better....)

SandraDodd: That's pretty wonderful, Alex.

AlexPolyKow: Brian loves to have my mom here

RVB/ROBIN: I wish my mum had lived long enough to live with me.

SandraDodd: But hey, Alex... aren't you some kind of foreigner? Where's your mom from?

PamSoroosh: Back to relatives. I think I simply intimidated my disagreeing relatives.

AlexPolyKow: She is the caring and sweet mother he wanted to have= not the MIL was bad but very mainstream

SandraDodd: (This chat has more than average number of foreigners--foreign to me anyway)

Jude (Guest52): Likewise - it's great to be near my mum, and I live in hope Jess might feel that way in future.. Long way off of course

SandraDodd: Alan... a dad? Have any teenaged girls?

PamSoroosh: yes - so let me say - one way cyrus and i have gotten along so well is because of different cultures, not in spite of them.

AlexPolyKow: My mom is from Brazil, she was French/German but even for brazilians she is a unique mom, very diferent than the moms her age

PamSoroosh: because we KNEW in advance we'd have cultural differences and made the commtment to accept those and work with them, etc.

SandraDodd: But she lives near you now? Or a little near?

AussieTammy: My disagreeing relatives intimidate me... I don't feel confident around them, so I just try to avoid the hot topics... unfortunately that's most of our lifestyle!

SandraDodd: Where's your brother live?

BeaMantovani: That's my problem: I'm easily intimidated... I think my in-laws might be intimidated by me, but I'm also intimidated by them (the language barrier doesn't help)

PamSoroosh: Well - so every disagreement was looked at that way.

SandraDodd: I think your religion helps too, Pam.

RVB/ROBIN: When I complained to Ross about being hassled, he said "leave it to me." He shut down pretty much anything said negatively. He was the intimidator. But he always has been .

adreanaline: people smell fear -- if you don't show it they won't bite

AlexPolyKow: Pam Brian tells me I am americanized

SandraDodd: I've always been really confident.

AlexPolyKow: Its because I understand and have knowledge of the American Culture

Zamozo: I'm confident but not good at defending my lifestyle choices without challenging others

PamSoroosh: confidence partly at least comes from being articulate - if you have the gift of gab you kind of know you can talk at people until they at least shut up.

SandraDodd: I just don't do things I don't really want to do, meaning if I decide to do something out of the ordinary, it's because I've really studied and thought about it and asked around.

RVB/ROBIN: Likewise, Chris. And I don't want to challenge people.

Zamozo: *others'

AlexPolyKow: My mom lives in Brazil and comes and goes a lot. My brother lives in CA and my sister 45 min away

adreanaline: brb I need a monkey platter

Zamozo: >> RVB/ROBIN: and I'd just as soon they didn't challenge me as well


SandraDodd: I think sometimes a little question is seen as a big challenge when it wasn't intended to be.

BeaMantovani: I'm like that too Sandra, but I'm afraid of people yelling at me. I realized that when my inlaws were here. So now I confront my fear: do things anyway and deal with the fear when it comes, but don't let it stop me.

AlexPolyKow: I am confident too Sandra but not very articulate

SandraDodd: Sometimes it seems a relative is jumping all over someone, but it's more like the relative saying a normal scripted line (like "how will they get into college") and the spooked unschooling parent reading tons more into it.

RVB/ROBIN: >> SandraDodd: Or sometimes it is intended to be, but masked as a little question. Depends on who's asking.

KatLugo (Guest5): same with me AlexPolyKow.... i should practice some answers.

SandraDodd: Well then it could be treated as a little question either way, though.

AussieTammy: I hate confrontation, so I avoid it whenever I can. I need to get over that though. The grandparents keep talking to Caitlyn about school, and I just try to quickly change the subject, because I don't want to get into it with them in front of her.

AlexPolyKow: I think because I am very confident and sure of myself my In Laws know not to butt in!

RVB/ROBIN: Yes. Depends on who's getting questioned .

SandraDodd: No sense confession to some elaborate crime just because someone asks where you were last Saturday.

AussieTammy: But they will know one day. Perhaps I should just write a letter.

SandraDodd: bad analogy, sorry.

PamSoroosh: its a difficult line - when to ignore/overlook and when to come out strong.

Zamozo: I can handle those kinds of questions easily -- how will they get into college -- but when MIL said, w/out asking for our reasons, that she thought what we were doing was wrong -- that feels like a challenge

PamSoroosh: sometimes it pays off to be strong right off the bat - nip things in the bud.

Jude (Guest52): Sounds like a pretty big challenge.!

SandraDodd: Tammy, maybe you could put it in writing, and ask if they have concerns or objections if they could put those in writing. Tell they you want to do it for a year and see how it goes, maybe (IN WRITING).

AlexPolyKow: To be honest I don't explain AT ALL what I do at home or what kind of unschooling I do.

SandraDodd: When people are afraid of confrontations, writing can be wonderfully good, because you can't be stared down or interrupted.

KatLugo (Guest5): last year at LIG jeff sabo said he gives different answers...a 1 minute answer, if they're still interested a 5 minute , etc. (I may be wrong about the times) but it makes sense

Zamozo: and anytime I've opened up a little bit, shared the fun stuff the kids are doing, achievements etc. it is met with a tight-lipped smile and seemingly disapproving silence -- so I quit sharing

RVB/ROBIN: Never been the "strong right off the bat" type, more the people pleaser type. But I'm getting better.

Jude (Guest52): They probably think learning couldn't possibly be fun. If it's fun, it's not good for you. I have an uncle like that.

AlexPolyKow: I mention all the filed trips they do and all they are learning so MIL is happy but I brush off some things or change the subject to some cool story about what they are learning and doing.

AussieTammy: yes, I think I'll write it all down, and see what happens. I just want to get it out there, so I'm not living in fear of their reaction anymore.

Jude (Guest52): Or I thought I did - he's actually been unbelievably quick to come round to the idea of at least home schooling!

AussieTammy: I'm a people pleaser too

AlexPolyKow: I would quit too Chris

PamSoroosh: Tammy - I say things like, "What we do doesn't look much like classroom schooling."

BeaMantovani: I wrote a long email to my dad when I was pregnant with my first daughter. I told him I was planning on having the birth at home, and breatsfeeding long term (I said at least a year, but maybe more than 3, so be prepared) and now he doesn't say anything

KatLugo (Guest5): hi renee... i see you lurking!

RVB/ROBIN: I think writing all that stuff down to my mil will be a good exercise for me. And it will clear up some things for her and for me. I want to be kind, but honest.

AlexPolyKow: Tammy I WAS a people pleaser but I changed. I am 43 and I know when to keep the peace and when to just walk away

Jude (Guest52): Bea - a manifesto, what a great idea. You obviously had a very strong idea of how you were going to approach things.

SandraDodd: There are some things in the links to right that might be worth considering, when writing to parents or in-laws.

AussieTammy: I've read most of the links, but not all of them, yet

KatLugo (Guest5): thank you for doing that sandra, it's great information!

SandraDodd: Alex, keeping the peace and walking away can be the same thing!

AlexPolyKow: Was it Jeff the wrote some interesting bit about it too?

Guest66: Hi, It's Heather Greek. I am going to lurk if i can. I have Lukas friend here and it's busy ..:-)

SandraDodd: That's how I kept the peace with Keith's mom for thirty long years. Hi, Heather.

AlexPolyKow: Absolutely Sandra.

SandraDodd: There are links there to the right.

Zamozo: I guess that is what I'm doing - keeping the peace by avoidance mostly

SandraDodd: The only new thing is what's been on Always Learning today and yesterday, so people on that list have already seen some or most of one of those pages.

Heather (Guest66): Sandra, you will have this chat printed somewhere for reading later?

AlexPolyKow: Sometimes its worth to offer things to keep the peace some times you just walk away ans keep the peace

SandraDodd: Yes.

SandraDodd: Topic chats get transcripts, theoretically and ideally.

AlexPolyKow: offer things+ explanations, stories about learning, a little of what the kids did, you ideas...

SandraDodd: I know some never got finished. I lost steam, or lost the file, or lost my attention span.

SandraDodd: It never hurts to say "If this stops working, we'll do something else." or "He seems happy and busy, and so we're going to keep doing this for now."

KatLugo (Guest5): Mary/zenmomma recommended to me to keep a notebook of what they're doing, for lots of reasons.

AussieTammy: I like that line Sandra, but I don't know if it would work with my family

SandraDodd: Blogs are WONDERFUL.
you can print out favorite blog posts and mail to relatives without internet, or send links to relatives with internet.

BeaMantovani: by the way, my in laws left on saturday at it was my MIL's birthday: I went out and bought her nice presents and a chocolate cake, and got a card -she loved it - I did that because Sandra mentioned she bought cards for her MIL and got her dh to sign them

adreanaline: When is it best to not say anything at all?

SandraDodd: Well, Tammy, when I would say "This is what we're doing for now," I was sometimes making the better choice (the worse choice being "Kiss my ass.").

AlexPolyKow: A lot of Grandparents want things to brag about. Sometimes that is all they want .

KatLugo (Guest5): also on sandra's site are lots of essays on how much learning the kids get out of certain things...like pokemon for instance. that's helpful for talking to family.

AlexPolyKow: I know my MIL likes to brag to friends

SandraDodd: Nice, Bea!

AussieTammy: yes, that would work better I think.

RVB/ROBIN: My mil seems to want to complain about her grandkids, except for her daughter's children. Everything they do is golden.

AlexPolyKow: My Mil sends little crafts and I do it with my kids ( they like it) and I send back pictures to her. little achiviments

SandraDodd: Because my kids were never getting report cards, I would send them a letter, maybe with a photo. Karate belt tests, Holly in a play, Marty finished a skating badge, or if someone said something nice about one of the kids I would write it to the grandpa rents

Zamozo: >>adreanaline: when what you have to say would upset them?

KatLugo (Guest5): RVB we have a favorite grandchild in our family (not one of our kids) and it is hard for us. easier now that we moved 3000 miles though!

AlexPolyKow: Exactly Sandra. I send Cub Scout graduation pictures things like that

BeaMantovani: I try to send pictures of Linnea doing cool things to all the grandparents every week or two.

SandraDodd: "Pass the dip" is recommended in such situations that you need to say SOMETHING and all options are bad. (It helps if there IS dip...)

RVB/ROBIN: Maybe if I had kept her more in the loop about Michelle's interests and accomplishments, she wouldn't be wondering about her now. But, that blocking my way incident is always in the back of my mind.

AussieTammy: so always keep some dip in the fridge!

Heather (Guest66):I am tired of defending what we do. How about saying"My family made the choice to homeschool and we're not talking about it?"

SandraDodd: ROBIN! That's it! You could write to her and say thanks for the kind words, and that you wish things had gone better between you earlier, but you're glad they're going better now.

Guest60: Do relatives have a harder time getting it if we only tell them about the children's achievements when they're having a panic about it?

SandraDodd: and start sending her reports (naybe not painted blue with horns photos...)

Zamozo: >> RVB/ROBIN: that's kind of how I feel too -- I've not made much of any effort to keep the in-laws clued into what my kids are doing -- and they don't ask either so...

RVB/ROBIN: Kat, it's hard when we are all together. Though for the first time, Michelle was the quiet, polite one at Christmas.

SandraDodd: Maybe

RVB/ROBIN: Good idea, Sandra!

SandraDodd: Don't wait for the panic. Send them other times Keep them supplied with reassurance and happy stories.

Guest60: Because I spend a lot of time learning and thinking about what we do but I only tell my inlaws when they start asking.

AlexPolyKow: When my son was little one day my MIL wanted to convince me that it was OK for him to cry because she was holding me and he wanted mom. I set her straight by politely that it was not an option. When My dd was born and MIL was holding her and she got

Guest60: Maybe that's when they're feeling scared about it.

SandraDodd: Ah. Good point. Maybe proactively provide them with encouragement.

AlexPolyKow: she got just a tiny bit fussy she would hand her to me right away Here it goes she needs you!

SandraDodd: because she was holding him and he wanted you? (wanted confirmation for editing the transcript)

AlexPolyKow: He only wanted me to hold him as an infant' one of those babies that only wants mom and NO ONE ELSE

Zamozo: Mine were both like that

RVB/ROBIN: That would be spoiling them in some (read my mil's) eyes.

KatLugo (Guest5): RVB, i feel for you. we all used to be in the same area, one time my mil went on and on about a special trip they took the favorite on. and how she swam with dolphins.

RVB/ROBIN: Michelle was like that. "Made strange" with everyone.

AlexPolyKow: Well maybe that is where me being from a diferent culture helps ..;-) \

dinamarconi: my mil would tell my son to "shape up" when he cried and wanted me as an infant

RVB/ROBIN: Oh, ugh, Kat.

SandraDodd: Dina, that's bad!

BeaMantovani: my FIL kept on saying: it's a baby's job to cry... I smiled politely and held my arms out and he'd hand me the baby anyway

dinamarconi: yeah, i told her we didn't talk that way to him. she still goes on about how we tell her to interact with him

AlexPolyKow: My MIL was like that with her kids too.

Zamozo: my in-laws would walk to another part of the house in hopes I wouldn't hear my baby fussing

AlexPolyKow: Chris that was my MIL when my first was little until I told her NO WAY you are not doing that with my kid Mott (Guest77): my mom still says my 10yo dd doesn't like her because Haley wouldn't let my mom hold her as a baby

AlexPolyKow: she did respect after that

Zamozo: I mostly just made sure I was in earshot of wherever my baby was -- didn't get into any long conversations for sure

AlexPolyKow: I was polite but confident .

Jude (Guest52): Unbelievable that they would attempt to control in that way

dinamarconi: i also got the lecture about how the infant was "manipulating me".

Zamozo: I do think that it's possible that I interfered with their bonding to my kids though but my bond with my kids took precedence

Jude (Guest52): Oh yes, I don't know if it's a US saying too - "You're making a rod for your own back" everytime you acquiesce to what your little on wants

RVB/ROBIN: Yes, same here. My parents were much easier. I've never heard that one, Jude. I'm from Canada, though.

Zamozo: Where are you from Jude?

Jude (Guest52): Got to say, my mum's brilliant. I don't think she ever said "You're spoiling that child". Mostly came from more distant relatives

SandraDodd: Haven't heard that one, but the sentiment is certainly familiar.

Jude (Guest52): UK - North of England.

SandraDodd: I love to hear stories of parents appreciating their own parents. And we'd hear many more if all our kids were in school,

BeaMantovani: yes, I think the concept of spoiling kids is prevalent throughout the western world

Zamozo: My mom told me, when I was a teen babysitting infants -- that infants do NOT manipulate adults, their cries are to be heeded and tended to -- yay!

dinamarconi: big yay!

AussieTammy: we've had the making a rod comment here too... ugh!

AlexPolyKow: My mom is great but she was a teacher and she still tries to hang on that schools are good for all kids ( I think is that she wants to feel valued) .

RVB/ROBIN: My mum was brilliant, too. Always stocked just what Michelle like to eat, made sure she had a tv to watch if she wanted and plenty of quiet time away from everyone, if necessary, and more.

SandraDodd: When you think of telling your parents what they can't say to your kids and what they can't do to your kids, please consider the other side.

Jude (Guest52): Likewise - but of course my mum was accused of spoiling me too.

AlexPolyKow: I know that school for her was better than being at home

SandraDodd: What if your children tell you to stop being so nice, or to stop picking the baby up, or to not give them second servings?


SandraDodd: To some extent grandparents should have leeway to be different.

RVB/ROBIN: Different is good. Nasty isn't so good, though.

AlexPolyKow: Absolutely. When we are at MILs we follow here rules

Zamozo: I agree -- except - I don't think they should be given leeway to be more punitive and harsh

AlexPolyKow: we reaspect her house and what they can do that

dinamarconi: i definitely agree sandra. but they look at me with confusion when my kid doesn't respond to a million questions about what color something is, etc

AlexPolyKow: IF she wants them to wait to eat the cookie after dinner we wait

adreanaline: Sandra, you had a good term -- "Grandma-proof"

AussieTammy: that would be hard, if our children choose to parent exactly the way we're trying not to

SandraDodd: Ah. With my kids and Keith's mom. We would review that she grew up with the Depression and the war and her parents were strict and she wasn't very patient or sweet.

adreanaline: I'm still working on helping the kids know what grandparents expect of them -- "grandma-proofing" them

Julie (Guest78): I think they should be allowed to have their own relationship with the child. In the same way that I don't want them to tell me how to

BeaMantovani: Alex: how do you do that, get the kids to wait. I have a hard time with that.

SandraDodd: So my kids would endure her snipes and her "no" and "don't" and be polite until we got in the car to go home, and then we'd all exchange stories.

AlexPolyKow: We always talk about how some homes are diferent than ours.

Julie (Guest78): behave with my child I don't want to tell them how to behave either

adreanaline: When all the grandparents were here, FIL had a birthday so we came in to have some cake, etc

RVB/ROBIN: I've even told Michelle about how her dad grew up and how his parenting is different from mine. So, the same can go for grandparents.

AlexPolyKow: Bea yours are young. Make sure they are fed and rested Bring your on snacks

adreanaline: happens I was teasing him, by flipping the numbers on his cake, to make him 65 instead of 56

Zamozo: my maternal grandmother was heaven on earth -- she doted on us grandkids, sweets and treats and breakfast in front of the TV -- I adored her and that's the kind of grandma I want to be -- heck that's the kind of mom I want to be

adreanaline: Jael saw the cake and started to draw a card for him -- happy birthday 65

AlexPolyKow: When my kids hear a lot of yeses they are more willing to wait or get a no.

adreanaline: we hadn't had time to do that at home because of my parents visiting

SandraDodd: I hope your father in law took it well.

AlexPolyKow: I keep visits short and sweet or until I know they will start melting down.

Heather (Guest66):My late mil was wonderful. I miss her.

adreanaline: well, my mom pointed out that it's really 56 -- that I was teasing Grandpa. Jael got upset and sad. Put his head down on the table. MIL wanted his attention and started tapping him on the shoulder. after a couple of tries I said leave him alone,

SandraDodd: Don't take them in hungry. Good point.

adreanaline: that he feels bad (Father in law took it in stride, he laughs at stuff like that. good guy.)

Zamozo: I've noticed that when we keep our visits short with the grandparents -- they don't feel the need to take on a disciplinary role -- sleepovers would be a different thing -- I notice how they are more bossy with the other grandkids -- I'm glad they don't have that relationship with mine

Julie (Guest78): I think unschooled children very often have a lot of empathy and can see things from someone else's point of view and they seem to understand that other families have different rules - that's how it seems to me anyway

SandraDodd: Keith's mom used to tell US where to sleep! Before we were married, of course she didn't let us sleep together.

Julie (Guest78): Hah! Just like my mum!

adreanaline: MIL refused to leave him alone, tapped him on the shoulder. I was at loss what to do. Then MIL said Jael just wants attention. Kids want that

SandraDodd: But when we visited with Kirby the first time she said "You can sleep here, and Kirby can sleep in this other room."

Heather (Guest66):i hear that Sandra

AlexPolyKow: When Gigi was little she wanted to play with some things that my MIL did not want her to break. She cried. I distracted. MIL found more treasures for her to explore that were OK

adreanaline: I felt insulted

SandraDodd: And I said "Kirby will sleep with us."

Jude (Guest52): Oh, my ex-MIL was like that - even after we were married! (Catholic and we went to a registry office)

RVB/ROBIN: Adrean, would it be worth writing a letter to her?

SandraDodd: As the kids got older sometimes we would put the boys in the den with the TV and sleep with Holly in the bedroom.

Heather (Guest66):my mother tells my dad what and when to eat but she screams it! what to do period!

adreanaline: Later I asked Jael why and he said he felt embarrassed, so could not look up. Ugh. Next time I am going to put down my foot on that. I understand it's good for kids to know but sometimes we do need to stand up for them. They don't have a handle on their emotions like we (mostly) do

dinamarconi: all of the grandparents in our family live far from us so longer visits happen, which is kinda hard for us

SandraDodd: Once we brought our puppy and the grandma said "no dogs in the house." What!? They had always had a dog, until less than a year before that.
So Keith, Marty, Kirby and the dog slept on the covered patio in a beautiful rainstorm, while Holly and I slept in the bedroom. Keith's mom didn't like that, but she knew she would lose so she gave up.

adreanaline: but you know for some reason the older generation is more willing to say that kids want to be bad

adreanaline: they want attention, so they're acting out

Zamozo: I'm going to go - it's hubby's b-day and he's home from a 4-day canoe trip. Thanks Sandra and everyone!

RVB/ROBIN: Bye, Chris. Have a great birthday celebration

AlexPolyKow: bye Adrean TTL on FB

Julie (Guest78): As though wanting attention is bad?!

adreanaline: yeah. MIL says stuff like Kids want to manipulate their parents to get their way

BeaMantovani: My FIL says that too - the truth is: he wants all the attention for himself (my dad is kinda like that too)

adreanaline: they are sneaky

Heather (Guest66):I think my mom wanting to control everything is a cry for attention?

RVB/ROBIN: >> adreanaline: I think our parents were told that about themselves.

adreanaline: Don't let them control you!

KimZerbe (Guest7): that is hard sometimes!

adreanaline: It is interesting because we talked with a friend of ours last Saturday. She is a teacher

Jude (Guest52): Actually, I worry that, at least in Britain, there's a strange swing back to that idea - who's the big name in the controlled crying brigade? She seems to have a lot to do with it.

SandraDodd: It was not until the 1980s that psychology stopped being entirely suspect.

RVB/ROBIN: Hey, Kim!

KimZerbe (Guest7): hello, I just joined a minute ago and have been reading ShannonBurton: Hi all.....

SandraDodd: Some families still would rather die than go to a psychologist. or a counsellor

AlexPolyKow: I have always responded to: " They are spoiled" with " That is what I am here for to spoil them. It's my job"

ShannonBurton: Just back from Smithsonian movie with jeremiah....

adreanaline: She had a horrible time moving here because of the insular groups. Really started out on the wrong foot. It was so bad that she got the hairy eyeball from one of her students when walking into her classroom

Julie (Guest78): Gina Ford (to Jude)

AlexPolyKow: that shut people up

Heather (Guest66):I got to go now..bye and thanks

SandraDodd: Bea, some people waited their whole lives to "be big" to get the privileges they were denied in their childhood.

adreanaline: that student promptly turned his table up to another girl'

Jude (Guest52): Thanks. I've tried to filter that name out of my consciousness, I think

adreanaline: and chatted with her the entire time. Our friend (bye guest) tried to give them homework

KimZerbe (Guest7): alex, love your response to kids being spoiled!

adreanaline: but then refused. She realized then and there that homework equals a power struggle. So she said, Ok -- I give you that. No homework.

Julie (Guest78): Yeah, she doesn't even have children of her own and yet tells people how they should leave babies to cry

adreanaline: She told us, setting things up as versus = losing instantly

SandraDodd: When people have said "spoiled" I've asked "What do you mean?" They never know what they mean. It's just something they way without thinking.

BeaMantovani: Sandra, yes, that's what I try to remember about my FIL - that there's a little boy inside crying to be paid attention to - that helps me get less irritated with him ..;-)

adreanaline: *Alex good comment) so by taking homework out of the equation she wins

Jude (Guest52): Yes, spoiled - like left out to rot??

ShannonBurton: Tyying to play catch up.....

dinamarconi: a lot of people have called my son a "mama's boy". boy do i dislike that term!

ShannonBurton: Or trying.

adreanaline: her colleagues did not see that

SandraDodd: There will be a transcript, Shan

adreanaline: So to our parents when we give kids our love, when we give them what they need without setting up a power struggle -- it looks like we lost

ShannonBurton: Cool.....forgot this was relatives talk and took my sweet boy out! i gave myself a new job description...will use it if family asks.....

adreanaline: they had power struggles with their parents -- so of course this has to happen with children. Take it out of the equation and they're lost maybe that explains why they do what they do?

ShannonBurton: I am the Strewer of Joy! .:-$

dinamarconi: oh i like that shannon!

Julie (Guest78): How cool

Jude (Guest52): I love it!

ShannonBurton: it would explain pretty much the rest of my family....

KimZerbe (Guest7): very nice

BeaMantovani: I get a kick out of saying "I don't do anything", myself (in response to Shan's new job title) - That always leaves my interlocutor without words ..;-)

ShannonBurton: I'm reminding myself a lot....breathe...joy!....

SandraDodd: "Homeschooling mom" tends to get people to back off when they ask what you do.

Julie (Guest78): That made me laugh "I don't do anything". Must try that out.

AussieTammy: Yes! Joy! I remind myself that a lot too.

RVB/ROBIN: How about "a researcher in the field of child development" .

ShannonBurton: I liked Holly's response to that...so simple...i do what i do!

Jude (Guest52): Creative facilitator?

SandraDodd: I've told people I change the world a couple of times lately.

ShannonBurton: I used to say harried homeschool executive...blechhh!!!

AlexPolyKow: I got to say that I am pretty lucky. I have great parents and my In Laws are respectful and nice people. I have a sister I am very close to.

ShannonBurton: Sandra....wonderful (thinking sticks came today...can't wait to dig in.)

AussieTammy: Sandra, you do!

SandraDodd: To one I said "Keith supports me while I make the world a better place."


dinamarconi: i like that sandra

AussieTammy: we would have homeschooled, Charlotte Mason style, had I not stumbled across your website

SandraDodd: Incredibly lucky, Alex!

ShannonBurton: You have probably changed the world more than you will ever know....

dinamarconi: definitely

SandraDodd: Charlotte Mason's better than a sharp stick in the eye.

ShannonBurton: we were Masonish, too...

SandraDodd: ABeka is like a sharp stick in the eye.

Jude (Guest52): We were kinda directed to your site, subtly, over a drip-drip couple of years by the wonderful Schuyler.

AlexPolyKow: Yes I hear many bad stories.

ShannonBurton: The mere thought...went to a LEAH meeting once...shudders....

AussieTammy: yes... but unschooling is SO much better!

KimZerbe (Guest7): got a Q about dealing with family -- My MIL is a really great person, but sometimes she's just so "in your face" and all over my son, in his face too. How can I help him have his own space without offending her?

AussieTammy: Good one Kim. I have the same problem with my MIL

SandraDodd: How old is he, Kim?

ShannonBurton: will be ducking out in a bit, jeremiah playing cake mania at Panera...

KimZerbe (Guest7): I'm laughing about the curriculum talk and I have never seen any of those but have heard of them

Jude (Guest52): Oh, too much love. That's probably much trickier than confrontation.

KimZerbe (Guest7): he is 4, will be 5 June 24

AlexPolyKow: KIm I would just mention on day how how he does not like people in his face.

SandraDodd: Or tell him to be nice even when she's too much in his face, and stay less time than you would have otherwise?

adreanaline: Sandra, I have a rough draft of the picture of Susan Boyle I mentioned a while ago. Should I email it to you?

KimZerbe (Guest7): she loves him a ton, dotes on him, buys him lego sets if he says he wants one, but then will sit down and build the whole thing for him!

ShannonBurton: my dad teases Lise about sucking her fingers....i gave her an idea to ssay, "please stop teasing me, I don't like it." Kindly...she's almost 5 too....

SandraDodd: Oooh, sure! (about the picture) I was thinking of collecting those descriptions of "a clear voice," and that would be cool. SandraDodd.com/clarity

AlexPolyKow: Maybe it does not matter for him Kim'

SandraDodd: But I'm thinking of collecting LOTS of things and my website will never catch up with my plans and ideas.

KimZerbe (Guest7): he LOVES legos, but she grabs the pieces and builds the kit thing before he can even think

SandraDodd: Shan, maybe you could tell your dad that if it bothers him you'd rather not visit him until she stops sucking her fingers.

AlexPolyKow: Its OK to have people that are diferent than you have diferent relationships with a child IF the child is OK with it

SandraDodd: And it might give him the idea to just not be bothered.

KimZerbe (Guest7): maybe I am the one having trouble with it!

SandraDodd: I think it's worth trying to persuade kids to be OK with what they're not used to, if it's not abusive.

RVB/ROBIN: Maybe she could buy two sets of Lego then, one for him and one for her to build? So, they could do it together,

SandraDodd: Maybe just tell the child "that's how grandma is" and shrug, rather than try to tranform grandma

AlexPolyKow: My MIL can be "teacherly" (does the this word even exist). but my kids are OK so I let her just be with them or I hang around and distract a bit

SandraDodd: You could take the Lego back apart later for him to do at home as if it were new.

Jude (Guest52): Got to go - getting late over here. Bye

KimZerbe (Guest7): when I build legos with my son, we do it TOGETHER and he can follow the directions and I don't care how long it takes... when she does it, she does not show him the directions and acts like it is a race, then he is not interested and wanders off

dinamarconi: would you say the same thing about testing?

SandraDodd: Or two sets, but they're expensive!

RVB/ROBIN: Two small sets, I was thinking.

AlexPolyKow: Yes let her be herself if the child is OK. But Kim you are not her

SandraDodd: Depends how old the kid is, Dina. Or if the kid minds.

AlexPolyKow: It is OK for her do be different

KimZerbe (Guest7): thank you sandra, the ships come apart easily and I have been thinking of starting over!

AlexPolyKow: Your kid may be fine with her doing it herself because he is with grandma

dinamarconi: well my kid is really young (2.5) so hard to say if he minds just yet. the testing about, what color is that? what number is that? bothers ME more than anything. my kid just looks confused night julie

SandraDodd: I think it's another "balance" situation. To say you should keep the child from being mistreated doesn't mean that the total opposite is true, that you should call all the shots entirely.

AlexPolyKow: the question is: Does it bother him?

reneecabatic: Grandpa used to quiz my kids --"What did you learn today?"--it drove me crazy, but didn't bother the kids at all and one day Xander asked Granpa back, "What did YOU learn today?"---Everyone chuckled

SandraDodd: Halfway is better. And if the other relative can't compromise at all, visit less.

KimZerbe (Guest7): my MIL does that too! at other times, like during dinner or something, but NOT when they are building legos and he could totally show her what he knows by building something!

AlexPolyKow: I can tell if it bothers my children they either complain or walk away

BeaMantovani: My dd is very good at ignoring people when she doesn't like what they are saying. But then I'm worried they think she's rude (she's 3.5 years old). I usually answer for her.

dinamarconi: yeah, he will walk away and do something else. Then I get the questions about what does he know

reneecabatic: My point is sometimes things bother kids less than they bother us, and they often have better solutions than being bothered!

AlexPolyKow: When we get questions like that I step in and tell them neat stuff they been doing or are going to do

SandraDodd: Renee, that's a good point. The tension of the mom getting testy might be worse than whatever the other relative was doing. It's worth remembering whose house you're in, too. At your house grandparents might be expected to go with YOUR flow more than if you're at their house.

AlexPolyKow: agree Renee

dinamarconi: that's true for me!

adreanaline: How do you phrase My kid loves working on the computer and playing video games in an intelligent and nonconfrontive way? (after being asked what you do in homeschool)

RVB/ROBIN: Michelle needs food - gotta go. Bye all.

SandraDodd: So a lot of this would be helped if you mail more updates about what kids are doing that's cool. Then maybe the grandparent could say "Tell me what you saw at the zoo" instead of "what color is this" or what letter is that?

adreanaline: bye Robyn

reneecabatic: video gaming has tons of problem solving

AlexPolyKow: Well I tell about all that they do on the games or I tell about others stuff. Like ;"Oh we went to a Honey Bee farm and learned this and that and they did this and that"

dinamarconi: true sandra. i've been using facebook as a blog in that way. keeping them updated as to what we've been up to

ShannonBurton: My mother really does not come to our house...she would like to always play by her own rules....

AlexPolyKow: exactly Sandra. I change the question and they are happy.

KimZerbe (Guest7): that's great sandra, about updates for grandparents, I"m sure they want to know what's going on and would gladly ask about a recent adventure than what shape something is (or not knowing what to ask about!)

AlexPolyKow: because what the grandparents want sometimes is just to be involved and to make conversation with the kids .If your kids go to school that is easy for them.

ShannonBurton: it doesn't help that I used to be one of those obnoxious strict parents...... ..:-(

dinamarconi: last visit to my parents house with logan ended with my parents seeming to ignore logan because he wasn't interested in being around them.

SandraDodd: I still do that. I did that Saturday! If Holly or Marty was stumped with the form of the question, I would say "Well you went to Kirby's house after we did, so..." and kinda prompt one of them to continue the conversation in a way that will satisfy the uncle or grandpa or whatever.

ShannonBurton: Dina...that is my mother all over....it needs to all be on her terms, or not at all...but the kids have figured it out, and just are themselves....

SandraDodd: If the kids go to school it's "easy" because they can ask the same six lame questions that have been being asked for 150 years.
(Okay, maybe 80 years...)
what grade are you in? Do you like your teacher? What's your favorite subject?
What do you want to be when you grow up?

AlexPolyKow: Yes Yes. I sometimes just totally change the subject and go: Oh we went to this wonderful presentation...blah blah blah..

adreanaline: aww the certificate of empowerment is a great idea

ShannonBurton: Alex....that is a skill i would like to cultivate...working on my natural defensiveness with these people...

dinamarconi: good to know shannon. logan is so young he wants to be with me most of the time that i think its hard for my parents to accept that he's not yet ready to interact with them on a level that THEY want

AlexPolyKow: yes but they are not quite sure how to make converstaion with a homeschool child

adreanaline: wonder what it says about them if they ask the same old questions -- unable to think outside the box?

SandraDodd: But you don't need to BE defensive all the time. You can dodge and smile and offer joyful little tidbits. A monkeyplatter of stories.

AlexPolyKow: So help them out,. Offer information that is cool.

adreanaline: rephrasing it is good

KimZerbe (Guest7): totally inside a box!

ShannonBurton: well, when people don't want to see children as individuals and meet them where they are, the kids aren't so patient with that....at least, mine aren't!

SandraDodd: I think older people don't know what to say to younger children.

KimZerbe (Guest7): I meant by asking the same tired questions

SandraDodd: Keith's brother who's 62 had no idea what World of Warcraft was, so stories about Kirby didn't seem very cool.

ShannonBurton: sandra...monkeyplatter of stories......love it.....I will reember to dole out the tidbits!

AlexPolyKow: Exactly Sandra. Even I ask schooled kids the same dang questions sometimes

SandraDodd: Same tired questions like "You think it will rain? How's your momma?"

AlexPolyKow: or used too

dinamarconi: i've had a lot of older people take a toy from logan (trying to be playful with him). i really don't know how to respond/not respond in those situations!

AlexPolyKow: I am LOL

ShannonBurton: My kids have too much for those questions...weird that sometimes people ask e about them in front of them.

AlexPolyKow: I say directly IF my child is upset" Hey you just took his toy please give him back "

KimZerbe (Guest7): visiting family tires us out, we're all on edge afterwards and try to keep it to day trips if possible

Alan (Guest81): If a person doesn't have a lot of social intelligence it can make interacting with children uncomfortable because the script is different. I know this because I am one of those people

SandraDodd: So here's my summary of the moment: Set a good example for your children by showing patience and compassion if you can. Think of WHY your relatives are asking the weird questions. What's their motivation? Maybe it's just conversation. Maybe they're worried. Maybe they're trying to shame you.

ShannonBurton: I like to point out that they have minds of their own......

SandraDodd: Those aren't all the same

AlexPolyKow: We have fun most of the time. I just stay calm and midful and I prevent situations as much as I can'

ShannonBurton: we are in a place of not initiating a lot of contact..... and since my parents don't either.....

AlexPolyKow: Maybe they want to brag about grandkids

SandraDodd: It's no more reasonable for me to get my way about everything than for my mother-in-law to get HER way, and sometimes the best thing is to find a neutral place--a public park or miniature golf place.

ShannonBurton: we're kind of cocoooned....

KimZerbe (Guest7): it doesn't feel good if you think they are trying to shame you though

SandraDodd: They DO want to brag, so give them stuff to brag about! Right. If they are indeed trying to shame or control you, get in the car and go somewhere else, at least for an hour or two, to recover. Go shopping or to a movie and then go back for another short time. Or if it's awful every time, don't visit so often. The kids will get older and it will get easier

adreanaline: is it possible to unschool adults?

AlexPolyKow: I also brag about my kids to them

SandraDodd: But Alan, if the child is prepared to make chit chat too, that's okay. Maybe the children don't even care.

adreanaline: I mean, extend the same treatment to our parents and others like our kids get?

AlexPolyKow: do you know Gigi does this and that

SandraDodd: One of my grandfathers was pretty awkward, and it seemed mean to me. But I just got used to "that's the way Papaw is."

AlexPolyKow: kind of brag'

Alan (Guest81): Yes, I agree, I was thinking in terms \as \\

ShannonBurton: do i see a coo coo clock ..:-)

KimZerbe (Guest7): I've tried that, my mom will still ONLY brag about my sisters kids! (we were at her house and my 2yo went down this ricketly slide on their dock and landed in the lake and all she could do was brag about how my sisters older kids did the same thing)

SandraDodd: I don't think so, adreanaline. I think we can be compassionate though and not expect them to be what they aren't.

Alan (Guest81): sorry dd posted early

ShannonBurton: That was jeremiah...he likes to chat, too!

Alan (Guest81): I was thinking of being understanding of the adult's discomfort

SandraDodd: I thought it was you saying "time's up" Shan!

AlexPolyKow: well gigi woke up so I will lurk more since I am NAK

SandraDodd: Oh. Yes. If the person really can't think of ways to interact I think it's sweet to suggest something or find something.

ShannonBurton: Kim...you may need to make peace with that...it's not about you or your kids....it's an internal issue....maybe.

SandraDodd: We looked for the tortoises in the back yard, at grandpa's house. There's not much controversy likely there.

AlexPolyKow: hard to type fast one handed

Alan (Guest81): cool idea to coach kids to do the same'

SandraDodd: Or playing a game, or something neutralish can help when one person is socially awkward.

KimZerbe (Guest7): well, I just don't visit or talk to my mom

ShannonBurton: It is that way with my sister's kids....and my brother's get really the short end of things.

AlexPolyKow: bye

KimZerbe (Guest7): I can't deal with her negativity in my life, but I do miss my dad... (and he is not doing well)

ShannonBurton: or with a huggy boy on your body...

SandraDodd: I really think when the person's motives are kind (they're worried) or just friendly (they're just curious) that deserves hanging around more than if someone's being mean for real.

dinamarconi: we looked at airplanes at a museum when we visited my mom last time. was great until logan wanted a toy. i felt so stressed out because i thought my mom would think i'm spoiling him

SandraDodd: Kim can you talk to him on the phone, your dad, maybe?

ShannonBurton: Kim....it is her negativity...sounds like yours is a lot like mine...we should maybe talk more...I have ideas for coping.....may help.

AlexPolyKow: so what if she thinks that? I am really good at ignoring stuff

dinamarconi: yeah, that's the thing huh alex? i wondered that myself. i thought, i would buy him the toy if he and i were at the museum so why not buy it now?

ShannonBurton: My mother told me when miah was a baby that she knew i would always take care of my kids. I'd do it in a messy house, but they would be loved!

KimZerbe (Guest7): it's hard, he has Parkinson's (which has really deteriorated lately, he's had it 25yrs) and it's iffy that he can talk more than a whisper... if he can't talk, I get stuck talking to my mom which I usually cut short (or just don't call)

AlexPolyKow: yes just be confident and do it

dinamarconi: but then i think i rushed his decision and half way home he was really upset about picking the red one. he still talks about it

ShannonBurton: she said it like it was some minor crime....i saw it that way too and was hurt for years.

KimZerbe (Guest7): I'm still reading above, but thanks Shannon! maybe we could talk sometime!

ShannonBurton: I only last week realized that i do love them in a messy house....and they are brimming over with it! .(d)

AlexPolyKow: if you are calm and confident that makes things much better

ShannonBurton: Absolutely, Kim....i live up the road from mine....i live in the trenches of her "issues".

dinamarconi: another person with a messy house here shannon! : )

AlexPolyKow: messy house is my middle name'

ShannonBurton: Going now......jeremiah's turn...bye, all...see whoever on Friday! .8-)

KimZerbe (Guest7): I feel like I need to visit my parents this summer because my dad is not doing well, and I"m trying to build up myself, my confidence, my nerve, whatever, so I can deal with my mom

dinamarconi: glad to know i'm not the only one with a messy house!!

ShannonBurton: All our houses are messy with living, maybe, and with living well....bye!

KimZerbe (Guest7): I'm in a messy house too! joining the crowd!

dinamarconi: kim, will you stay at your parent's house? may be easier to deal with your mom if you don't. just a thought

KimZerbe (Guest7): I always have stayed with them, but only recently was given the thought of getting a hotel nearby

dinamarconi: i'm actually embarrassed of our mess. my friend's apartments are immaculate (in my eyes) so we don't really invite people over

KimZerbe (Guest7): it is a long trip (from OR to TN) and the last time I went was 3 yrs ago and stayed 4 days, which was just long enough to get what I wanted and get out before I went crazy

SandraDodd: I'm tired. I'm going to go. I'll put up a transcript in a few days.

AlexPolyKow: I am going too. bye Sandra

AussieTammy: Me too.... bye all!

SandraDodd: You guys can stay and chat, and if anything really good comes up that should go into the transcript, please send it to me!
Thanks for being here!

After leaving the Monday chat on relatives to feed the babies, my son Spencer was talking to my MIL. From across the room I hear "homework? I don't have homework, I'm living life". He was so serious and certain. Totally an ahha moment for me.

—Kelly (kmkjoy)
Two additions in 2012:

Directory page of things to say to relatives and critics (most of the links below, and some new things)

and there's a new book, as of May 2012, that is excellent for relatives. Short, clear, inspiring:

Free to Learn: Five Ideas for a Joyful Unschooling Life
by Pam Laricchia

Responding to family members

Unschoolers and their Relatives

Relatives: Seeing and Dealing with Differences

What Can I Say to Doubters and Critics?

Dealing with Resistant Spouses and others

If anyone comes by here and is unfamiliar with some of the ways unschoolers are using blogs to keep notes on what their families do, there are many blogs linked in the lefthand column HERE, and most link to others!

After the chat, I received a book I had ordered, and reviewed it here:


Monkeyplatters (as they were mentioned in the chat a few times)