The first link that crossed my mind was Sandra's "Freedom" page and it helped me realize, once again, why freedom is such a tricky word for unschoolers—sometimes, people interpret it in a way that leads them too far away from what a polite, respectful and considerate family should be. One connection led to another and of course the idea that we should be partners to our children was added to the mix, in the sense that it became clear to me that if we don't give our children information about what is more polite, or more respectful or considerate (according to each circumstance), it's almost as if we aren't being good partners, we're actually sabotaging our relationship with them and compromising unschooling in our family. And then I remembered Sandra's "How To Screw Up Unschooling" page—one of the ways we can screw up unschooling listed on that page says it all:
* "Counsel" and "advice" were discussed, as a heading for this section. We don't want to say "counsel them" or "don't counsel them" either one, though, so it can't be set up as though those are opposites. "Don't advise" was tried and rejected. Other considerations: Don't collaborate.Don't share information.The problem is that some of the most rules-wielding, "just do it" parents believe they're helpfully sharing information."
(end of the quote from "How to Screw Up Unschooling")
I could've easily been one of those moms who thought that saying anything to my child would be limiting her, and who could've been afraid of her daughter's sensitivity. I can see clearly now that they don't learn how to handle these situations simply from seeing us do things one way or another (although it's important, of course), but we need to give them information and find out the best way to do it, having our own child in mind. That's not damaging them or limiting them at all, quite the contrary—I think it's helping them navigate the world and become respectful, considerate, polite adults.
Some quotes that I've collected:
From a discussion on the Radical Unschooling Info page regarding the TV show "Wife Swap", two interesting quotes:From another discussion on that page regarding table manners:"[F]or some, unschooling is all about freedom and that can translate to people and kids who are not mindful of other people. Making our kids aware of social norms, peoples feelings and being mindful of others does not take away our freedom . It just makes us better, nicer and more mindful people." ~ Alex Polikowsky
Sandra Dodd responded to:-=-Do you differentiate between home vs. restaurants/friends homes in terms of how much you coach, educate, etc... -=-Try to do all the coaching at home, and not at friends' homes. And don't ruin a restaurant meal by criticizing all the time. It bothers me when a kid holds a spoon "ham handed" and he's already nine or twelve. Some moms seem never to coach at all. Sometimes I would say that what they were doing was fine for now, but if they were ever invited to eat at the White House, they should do it this way, and show (just for a couple of seconds, no long lesson) how to do it. There are polite traditions like if they give you a bread plate, the're wanting ou to tear each bite off and then put the little piece in your mouth, not to bite off of the bread. That never came up at our house, but has come up at restaurants, so just saying, "Oh! Bread plates..." and showing them the etiquette of breaking one bite off the bread... tadaa! That's it.
From yet another discussion on that page regarding food:
Sandra Dodd, to:From another discussion on the Radical Unschooling Info page on principles and rules: :-=- I guess it is hard to have to limit without sounding like the old me. If that makes sense?-=-There are arbitrary limits [about food, bedtime, playing, "screentime" (very bad term)] that parents just make up, or copy from the neighbors. Then there are limits that have to do with laws, rules, courtesy, tact, circumstances, traditions and etiquette. For example: No matter how good a wedding cake might be, people get one piece. The rest belongs to the bride. No matter how hungry someone might be at a birthday party, NOBODY touches that cake until the ceremonial business is done. And the birthday honoree might even give you the first piece, but you shouldn't ask for it. Just stand around smiling and hope for the best. And without a rule, if there's something measured, like stuffed mushrooms or devilled eggs or cupcakes, a look around at how many people are there can help with deciding whether having a second one is even remotely courteous, at the beginning of the party. Two hours later, if they're sitting there and half the people are gone, go for it! Principles produce all kinds of answers where rules fail.
Sandra Dodd:From April 24th's chat on "Parenting Peacefully":Principles produce all kinds of answers where rules fail.Alex Polikowsky:Some people come to unschooling and in the beginning of their journey they ditch rules but try to replace them with unschooling "rules". Replace them with principles. When you do, most of your questions and doubts will no longer be there.Michele James-Parham:Another common "unschooling rule" or frame of mind due to misinterpretation: We're unschoolers and don't have rules, so we don't have to follow your rules (in-laws, restaurant, museum, etc.).
Sandra Dodd:From May 8th's chat on "Bribery and Coercion" (I took a lot of things out, trying to leave just what was important to this topic.):I think that's why I think of it as a partnership/team deal. It should neither be ALL about the kid without consideration for others, nor all about the way the mom wishes things were going, without regard to the kid. Balance. It gets easier as the children get older **unless** the mom has made a habit of letting the child believe that whatever he "needed," she would provide no matter how many other people were inconvenienced. But just kind of like that graph at Precisely How to Unschool.... It's all about the baby, but a seventeen year old ought to be helping the mom make the world around them comfortable for others, lots of the time.
Sandra Dodd:There was a movement called "non-coercive parenting. And they defined "coercive" to cover what I consider to be persuasion and negotiation. So NCP people got themselves some very, very rude children, because it was against their theory (they didn't have beliefs, because they hadn't tried it all out with real kids, or if they had, they refused to share any stories)... against their theory to ask a child to do ANYthing.AlexPolikowsky:This morning my son really wanted his sister to go play with him and see some new Tau Hao games he found. So I talked her into it a bit. Saying he really missed her and wanted to share something cool. She wanted to do it on her terms, first she checked her Skype then she went with him. I could have said to him "She does not want to go" and leave it at that but I know my son was really looking forward to showing her something and he missed her being gone so I talked to her and talked to her about it. She had fun when she went with him.Jill Parmer:An example of not coercing your kid to do anything. One family I know their kids (8 - 12 year old range) will not greet guest to their home or acknowledge their leaving. The mom didn't believe in coercing her kids, therefore, wouldn't even ask them to greet and say good bye to their friends, who were invited over.AlexPolikowsky: