What problems can come?

This discussion was about food, the original poster thought, but there are important points made about control, logic, reason, child development, and the long-range effects of being harshly negative in the presence of trusting children.


Saved in case it disappears, from early February 2013 on Radical Unschooling Info
The note above was written here in 2013 and forgotten. In 2020, someone found and clicked "like" on something I had written in the discussion seven years ago. I came here to find a place to save what she had liked:
If someone has access to the eggs of free range chickens and can afford them, that's wonderful! But if someone will tell a child that less expensive eggs are so inferior as to be worthless, what if their kids grow up and can only afford inexpensive eggs? What stress will come? How might they judge friends who offer them eggs, but they can see that it's a styrofoam carton from Costco? Will they think less of those friends? Will they turn down the homemade cookes with those eggs in them? All of that worry and judgment is worse for health than the eggs of an anonymous chicken. And it's worse for relationships between parents and children. And because of that, it is worse for unschooling.

Same argument applies to telling a child that some music is great and some is crap. Same with saying some art is glorious and some is not art at all. Same with saying one version of history is right, and that anything else is a waste of time. Let the children choose and think and learn. Don't pre-judge and tell them what's right and wrong.

It is from the discussion below, which you might still be able to read here (February 3, 2013), and if so you can still like, or even comment if you can join the group.

Many of the comments are good. I hope it's still at the link above, for those interested. I'll try to minimize the names of those who were critical and might have changed their names, but for the unschooling discussion regulars, their names are worth keeping, because I want them to have credit for their willingness to explain, again, things they learned by unschooling.

I have cleaned up some formatting to make it easier to read here and have added links and updates in a few places.


In 2013, at the time of this discussion, we didn't have the term "orthorexia, or it might have come up.
More on that, from a 2016 discussion, is at SandraDodd.com/eating/orthorexia

Alice R:
Ok, a response in the tooth brushing question has led me to want to ask about something else. I am a very nutrition conscious person and my SIL is a holistic nutritionist. I do know the importance of eating vegetables and what sugar, especially refined white sugar and flour does to your body. And it really isn't good...sugar is empty calories and if a child or anyone, eats a bunch of cookies right before dinner, their blood sugar spikes and then crashes and they aren't likely to eat the other food because they will not be hungry, yet they have not ingested any actual nutrition. It also severely handicaps the immune response. This I know on a biological and physiological level to be true.

This being said, I would like to describe what I have always done and am open to discussion! I did baby led weaning and am still breastfeeding at almost three years old. I make them monkey platters regularly and that is generally how they eat, there is no one being forced to sit down or eat at arbitrary times or anything like that. But

  • I don't buy refined food, pretty much not at all (like pre made frozen fish sticks and things like that).
  • We eat mostly whole foods.
  • We make alot of our own whole wheat sourdough bread and buy sprouted grain bread.
  • I make them treats all the time; sometimes with sugar, often sweetened with dates and sometimes Agave (I think I will look into Xylitol as well, now).
  • We generally don't buy things like chips, but if we do, I don't limit what they have of anything in the house or where go.
  • If we are at a party or someone's house they help themselves/pick what they want.
They have never been deprived of yummy things and I don't shame them or tell them, "only one!" ever. But you will never see me buying moon pies it twinkles or feeding them McDonalds because I know what goes into that "food," and knowing what I do about the food industry, how animals are treated and what they are fed, the effect of chemicals on our bodies and the "mystery," that is GMO's I simply can't feed them that stuff with a clear conscious. I feel like its a moral thing, just like if we were vegetarian and never had meat or if they were allergic to something, I would obviously have to keep it away from them. So while I don't control how much they have of anything, I do control what they have access to (I don't eat the stuff either, it's not like I am eating and hiding it.) Soooo...what of it? I feel like until they are able to understand the implications of something and how it was made, part of protecting them means deciding that it's not worth trying. Once they are old enough to understand, if they know and choose to eat it anyway, that it completely different.
Gwen Montoya:
If your kids are only three, then that works for you. When they get older, you may need to come up with other solutions.
Alex Polikowsky:
My house has all kind of food to drink and eat. A huge can full of candy and chocolate, fruits, veggies (and in the Spring I plant a huge huge garden), meats, cereal, whole grain food and refined process food, water, juices, raw milk from our cows, pop and even cool aid.

My kids can eat what they want , how much they want and when they want.

They are super healthy (haven't even gotten the rampant flue this year ) their weight is normal for them and stable. They are even muscular for such young kids.

Usually right before bed Gigi , my seven year old, asks for a snack and it is usually apples and cheese. She could pick any of the candy, kids sugary cereal, brownies, cookies that we have in the home but that is what she feels like eating at home.

I just made lunch and Gigi wanted bacon and my son wanted chicken ( simple grilled)
That is because since they were babies they nursed when they needed and always ate what felt good to their bodies It is amazing the relationship they have with food.

Read some more here: SandraDodd.com/food

Aiden Kathleen Wagner:
What will you do when they want to go get a happy meal and McDonalds or buy a box of twinkies because their friend says their really yummy frozen?
Alice R:
As I said at the end of my, admittedly, very long post, when they are older and understand what they are eating a bit better, then it is their choice. Like I said, if we are somewhere and are offered something or whatever, I don't make a big deal about it; they try it. They eat it. But at this age when it is all just yummy and there is no ability to understand, why should I buy anything and everything? Why would I give my three year old something that I choose not to eat because it isn't really food? A perfect example is homemade chocolate vs. an Aero bar. Now, if someone had an Aero bar, and they wanted it, I would not control that, but I don't need to bring it into the house if I can make them delicious chocolate from raw cocao nibs. And homemade cake with real ingredients vs. store bought full of things I can't pronounce. Or commercially raised chicken and eggs vs. local Pasteur raised, not fed GMO corn? Or hamburgers made from organic beef and oven fries instead of McDonalds? They don't know the difference but I do, and one day they will too. It doesn't mean I don't think they will ever have that stuff, but as long as I can protect them from something they don't understand...our modern food industry is full of slow-acting poisons, just because it isn't quick doesn't make it less toxic.
Heather Booth:
You've said "When they're old enough" more than once. I'm curious, how old is old enough in your mind for them to make choices about what food they would like to have in the house to eat on a regular basis?
Gwen Montoya:
I have a friend who is fifty years old and diabetic. Last week he ate 5 brownies and spiked his blood sugar from 108 to 180. So, he understands what eating 5 brownies does to his system, but does it anyway.
Alice R:
I don't think there is an arbitrary age at all. .I am not talking about controlling these things the way you seem to think I am. But you would not feed your children windshield wiper fluid because its a pretty blue hue and they want it, would you? Are you aware that it is one of the main ingredients in artificial flavors? Knowing this and the true nature of other parts of our modern "food" industry, it seems just as irresponsible to buy my children the products that contain these poisons. If I buy all of it and then they grow up learning about it, as they will because it is part of our family culture, wouldn't they feel betrayed? I don't know exactly how to deal with this; that is why I am reaching out to this community. If I had the answers, I would not have asked..maybe I just hope that their understanding of where food comes from develops earlier.
Regan Avery:
Do they go shopping with you? At some point, they are going to recognize the photo on a package of something they tasted at a party, and they will request that you buy some.
Alice R:
Yeah....so what is the answer then? And I am talking more about things more insidious then sugar anyway.
Alice R:
Yes....all of these statements are very obvious. I know they will see it and want it. Even money is an issue. If I can buy a chicken that will feed us all for a meal and then make soup with it OR the junk food they want because it has a pretty package, are you telling me you all buy the junk instead?
Regan Avery:
If something really makes my child sick, I don't buy it. Mine has a sesame allergy, so I just say, "Sorry, that has sesame. Let's find something you like that doesn't."
Alice R:
Ok, that's what I meant. Thank you.
Gwen Montoya:
But don't make up an allergy to make you feel better about not allowing your kids to eat something. They will eventually find out you are lying to them.

If you are concerned with how food is processed, grow as much of your own food as you can.

Regan Avery:
My child also requests extra Tylenol because he likes the grape flavor. I say 'no' for that also, because excess Tylenol is not safe.
Colleen Prieto:
****are you telling me you all buy the junk instead?****

We buy lots of local and often organic meat/eggs/veggies/fruit. We also buy bbq chips and Twizzlers and other things our son requests, when he requests them. We sometimes bake cake from scratch using organic eggs and flour, and also sometimes buy Drake’s snack cakes. It doesn’t need to be “instead” – you can fill your house with the sort of food you like to eat, and still make room in your budget and in your pantry for things your children want to eat.

Denying kids foods they want to try, or making them feel guilty for liking things that you call “junk” damages your relationship with them much more than it helps their health. After all, odds are they will be adults living on their own and eating on their own for much longer than they’ll be kids whose food intake and selection you can control. And letting them make choices when they’re small about what they eat will do much more to help them have a healthy future relationship with food than controlling them ever will

Gwen Montoya:
Well...yeah. Don't feed a kid cold medicine because they like the taste. But there is a whole world of grape flavored things out there to explore. Offer those.
Cat Forest:
Alice, when my girls were little like yours, I did the same thing you did and had the same beliefs (still do, but I try to relax about them since I really want my children to feel in charge of their food choices and not project my values/judgement on them). Once, when we were at a party (they were maybe 3 or 4 - I have twins), they ate an entire bowl of Party mix (JF wanted to stop them and I suggest we let them decide when they had enough). They got sick... And I realized that maybe by keeping them so "clean" and healthy, I was not doing them such a favor... Then, I started noticing their grabbing/food harping habits when we were out and there was different food from what we had at home, so I started buying some of those (it started with nachos, Kettle chips, pretzels, etc.).
Meredith Meredith:
Your kids are still little - there's a developmental shift around age 4ish which is really big in terms of decision-making. Before that shift, kids are mostly interested in making choices about things right in front of them. AFter, they become interest…See More
Cat Forest:
Now, my girls can eat whatever they eat, whenever they eat, but it took them a long them to overcome their "fear of food" (I gave them some information, thinking like you, that I had to provide them with some knowledge that the food they requested contained artificial flavors and bad chemicals, but it only created more harm...). What I can say from my experience is just provide good meals, monkey platters with lots of diversified food (food you feel good serving them and maybe some more commercial health food store food they may come accross outside of home). Don't fill their heads with information, just allow them to experiment with food, feel what it does in their body (without telling them: I told you so, see how you feel now?) and trust that in the end, it will balance out. Not easy, I know. I watched my 8 yo daughter eat her first red-dyed cotton candy at the zoo last week and feel like crap for a couple of days afterward... but I knew it was OK and I didn't wonder if I should have said no.
Heather Booth:
I am a vegetarian. When I made that choice I made it for the whole family, without consultation. I told them that they could eat all the meat they wanted, but that they'd have to get it on the outside because I wasn't going to cook it anymore. I had already instated a no junk food policy in the house, so it was just one more way I controlled what they ate in an effort to keep them healthy. Being the one who read about health and nutrition I was the one who knew. And I thought I knew better than they did what was best for them.

Once we started unschooling I started to look at that decision and how I was controlling and projecting my fears and morals onto them. It was not happy family making. At all. It was resentment making. As soon as my son was in a situation where he could have candy or chips or soda he gorged on it, literally shoving candy corn into his mouth with both hands at one point, and hoarded it in his pockets if he could. That's a sad sight to see. Especially when you know that you are the one that caused that kind of desperation in your kid.

So, what did I do to move from fear based decision making? How did I started cooking meat for my family again? And buying chips and Twix and Pepsi? I chose my family's happiness over fear. I chose respect of my husband and son's wishes as individuals to choose to drink Pepsi. It's NOT going to kill them.

Meredith Meredith:
-=-But you will never see me buying moon pies it twinkles or feeding them McDonalds-=-

It helps A LOT to get away from thinking in extremes. It can bog you down and freeze up your thinking, prevent you from being creative and thoughtful, prevent you from seeing your kids as people.

The occasional trip for fast food isn't the same as a whole diet of it - not by a long shot. A bag of cheap cookies isn't a horror or a crisis, it's just one bag of cookies. Even if you eat it all in one sitting, it's Still just one bag of cookies. In a shockingly short amount of time you won't be "feeding them" anything. To an extent, you're not "feeding them" now - you're providing things for them to eat. That becomes a lot more obvious as kids get older ;) One of the things that makes extending the principles of unschooling to very young children difficult is that you still have an illusion that you're in control.

Alice R:
That is the part of this conversation that I really wanted to get at; I don't say no or ever make them feel guilty...i don't want to. I don't plan to...I just don't know how to handle it knowing what I know.
Colleen Prieto:
****just don't know how to handle it knowing what I know.****

Enjoy them enjoying food - just like you would enjoy them enjoying music or fingerpainting or snuggling with a kitten or whatever they do that inspires you to look over at them and smile and know how happy they are.

Alice R:
these answers and insights have been very helpful. Thank you.
Meredith Meredith:
Alice, do you know the zen parable of the teacup? (I'm hoping someone else remembers where the teacup story is on Sandra's site, because I don't!) Maybe what you know is in the way of learning something new. Can you let go of what you know about nutrition long enough to look at your kids without assuming you know what's going on inside them? Watching kids make choices about food is amazing! It's a very different process than what you might think - especially if you're holding tight to what you've already learned.

Meredith's question went by in the flood of words in 2013, but for those reading in 2020 or later:

The teacup story is in a piece called Deschooling for Parents (Sandra Dodd; September/October 2002 issue of Home Education Magazine)

Once upon a time a confident and experienced scholar went to the best Zen teacher he knew, to apply to be his student. The master offered tea, and he held out his cup. While the student recited his knowledge and cataloged his accomplishments to date, the master poured slowly. The bragging continued, and the pouring continued, until the student was getting a lapful of tea, and said, "My cup is full!"

The master smiled and said, "Yes, it is. And until you empty yourself of what you think you know, you won't be able to learn."

I would like to think it would have helped, that day, but it might help someone now, or later.

Gwen Montoya:

But they are only three. Parenting a three year old is vastly different from parenting a six or eight or ten year old.

If you allow yourself to get locked into the idea of "my kids will never eat junk food" or "my kids will never want junk food because I will tell them how awful it is" then how will you respond when they do?

Gwen Montoya:
My oldest prefers my homemade baking to store bought treats. Anything brightly colored tastes off to her and she avoids it. But she wouldn't have that knowledge if she hasn't experimented with it.
Sandra Dodd:
-=-I am not talking about controlling these things the way you seem to think I am.-=-

No one knows anything except what you wrote It's sitting there, cut-and-pastable. It won't help you or anyone else for you to write something very strong and then pretend you didn't, or blame others for misinterpreting.

-=-But you would not feed your children windshield wiper fluid because its a pretty blue hue and they want it, would you?-=-

This has nothing to do with sugar or a chocolate bar, does it?

Read on my site and Joyce's instead of writing so much, please. You will feel different after you understand unschooling better.

Sandra Dodd:
This site might help as much as the pages about eating. https://sandradodd.com/gettingit

The Full Plate Club (http://sandradodd.com/food) has lots of things that will answer your questions. Look at the one about Adam and the sugar cubes, especially.

Sugar is not nearly as bad as fright and propaganda.

Look around http://sandradodd.com/food

Alice R:
I am not believing that they won't. That's the problem! I am scared! Omg. That's what it comes down to. I am afraid they will get sick and I will have failed them. Wow. I am afraid.
Jenny Cyphers:
I saw this yesterday... It's an exaggeration for sure, but the point is there. it's about fear and food and healthy eating. I'm in no way saying you do what the person in the article does, but what you say about knowing about nutrition leads you away from eating certain things because you fear the unhealthy outcomes.

the terrible tragedy of the healthy eater (http://nwedible.com/tragedy-healthy-eater)

Annie Kessler:
"If I buy all of it and then they grow up learning about it, as they will because it is part of our family culture, wouldn't they feel betrayed? "

What if they do? or, what if they grow up and find out they much prefer a hershey bar to the homemade raw cacao nib chocolate you made for them, will they feel betrayed then? Your kids may have different taste than you do, they may come to different conclusions about food (or many other things). Make room for them to come to those different conclusions and ideas and opinions. That doesn't mean you have to go to the store, buy one of every candy bar on the shelf, and bring it home and say, eat whatever you want!

But you might be able to ask yourself, really, what is the worst that can happen if I say yes this one time?

Start slowly, ease yourself into it. And they might get sick. If I eat fast food I definitely feel yucky afterward, but it's not like it was some huge horrible negative experience, just some yuck and it makes me think twice the next time the opportunity arises.

I remember when we first started letting go of food choices and saying yes more. It was easter and we went a little overboard with a basket full of chocolate. We gave it to them for breakfast and I was shocked when my son ate half of his chocolate bunny and gave the rest to me and asked me to wrap it up and save it for him. I would never have done that as a child, or probably as an adult! A lot of those fears I had about food were my fears and my problems and my issues, not my kids. They seem to be much better at listening to their bodies than I am.

Jenny Cyphers:
What I found, with my chocolate loving kid, is that after trying as many kinds of chocolate many times, she prefers the very plain gourmet chocolates over almost any other kind. She will settle for other kinds if she's in the mood for chocolate and nothing else is available in the moment. Even so, I have chocolate coins in my pantry that have been there for months. I should probably throw them out. She wanted them for the coin foil wrappers.
Kris-Anne Spring:
My parents did not let me eat much sugar when I was little. I had a very weight conscious mother and was kept limited in what I could eat. I remember sneaking sweets, and certainly by the time I was a teen, I was eating a lot of food when my parents weren't home. My mom couldn't figure out why I gained 30 pounds in my teen years! to this day, I have a wicked sweet tooth and am not always very good about 'will power.' I just think when you control what a kid eats too much, it can backfire. I mean, let's face it, eating is one of the great joys of life and there's a lot of awfully yummy foods out there to never have any. My queso blanco cheese dip is cooking right now...
Annie Kessler:
Jenny, that reminds me of a conversation from about a year ago. Some moms were talking about how they couldn't keep ice cream around the house because then of course, that's all their kids would want to eat! They were sure their children would never eat anything else as long as there was ice cream available. And at the time I remember thinking about the half full box of ice cream sandwiches in the freezer that had been there so long I should probably toss them.

Right now we have two partially eaten boxes of ice cream in the freezer and my kids have been eating strawberries and grilled cheese and my daughter was also snacking on celery and carrots and apples.

Looking at the whole subject of food all at once can be very intimidating, especially when I think about my own issues with food (and weight) and all the negative things about the food industry in this country. But taken one snack or meal at a time, it is easier. And over time, the more I saw my kids make all kinds of food choices, the more I saw how much healthier their approach to food has been compared to my own (even when they choose something that might be labeled unhealthy, they don't make that choice for the same reasons I often have).

Sandra Dodd:
-=- That's the problem! I am scared! -=-

There are people here who are not scared, whose kids are much older than yours and quite healthy. You're not listening, though. Please read those links, and be with your kids and try some of those ideas.

Jenny Cyphers:
Here's another thing to consider, you may end up with a kid who is a foodie. I have one! It didn't come about by limiting her food, it was very much the opposite. It wasn't just food either, it was shows on and about food. There are just so many of them that are brilliant! Unwrapped was a particular favorite for a while. Not all corporate food is evil and bad. It just isn't. There are some terrible things in the food industry, I get that, and I think most people do who are in any way interested in where there food comes from. We don't live our lives by that though. We find things we like and eat them or make them.
Schuyler Waynforth:
Fear of food for your children is a normal fear. It isn't necessarily the fear of food, although I imagine that there were lots of people like Kellogg (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Keith_Kellogg), who've been micromanaging their children's diet to keep them safe from unknown and unknowable risk.

Fear is a lousy dictator. It's a lousy way to deal with the world. Food is really great to explore from a taste perspective. Linnaea really liked soda for a while. She still prefers it to water, but likes it less sweet, so we have a soda stream. But when she really liked soda we would have soda taste tests. Buy all the brands we could find and try them out. It was fun to experience the tasting notes on soda. Fear wouldn't allow you near such an experiment. Fear would stop you before even opened the soda door.

I make lots of food. I like cooking. I like baking. And Simon and Linnaea mostly prefer my food to store food. But, for a long time, Simon preferred store bought bread to home made. Linnaea has never liked home made macaroni and cheese. And, honestly, my baking was always a time commitment. I have much more time now that they are 15 and 12 than I had when they were little.

When they were little, getting food in easy forms that they enjoyed that were quick for when David wasn't around to tag me, that was important. That was more important than any fear I may have had about what they were eating. Being there for them. Having the time for them.

Meredith wrote, and I want to underscore:

"Don't make it stressful - because what we know about nutrition has changed and changed and will change again, but stress is bad. We know that. Don't make life one bit more stressful."
Jenna B:
Alice, I can feel where you are coming from. We have just started giving my daughter a lot more control of what she eats. It is scary when you know about some of the crazy things that are done in the food industry, and we want to protect our kids. What I am finding is that my daughter is starting to make some healthy choices that I would struggle to make and she has way more control over the amounts of food that she eats than I do. Just yesterday we were sharing a hot fudge sundae on a road trip and she grew tired of it while I was cleaning out the very last drops.
Sam Pearson:
I've heard over and over how if children eat cookies before meals they won't eat their dinner but I've not observed this in my three children. My kids more often than not eat their desert before their dinner and they always eat their dinner afterwards. I really don't think the order makes any difference.
Meredith Meredith:
It helped me, when my kids were younger, to read stories of other unschooling families with kids older than mine - the most "radical" unschoolers I could find, as a way of reassuring myself. After all, if allllllll the scary things are true, then families who don't regulate what kids eat should be full of sick kids, right? But they aren't. They aren't all magic poster children who eat broccoli at every meal ;) but they are lively, curious people, actively exploring their worlds.

In a family governed by rules and limits, by "it's for your own good" and "do as you ought" there's a lot of room for resentment. In a family of "whatever, whenever" and "I don't care what you do" there's also a lot of room for resentment. But unschooling isn't either of those. In a family where people explore the world and help each other - parents helping kids, supporting their interests and concerns, helping them do what's important to them - there's much less fertile ground for resentment to grow.

Cat Forest:
Yes, Meredith, I fully agree.

I was one of those mom who tried to feed my girls perfectly, from homemade sauerkraut and sourdough bread to homegrown veggies, eggs from our hens, only maple syrup and date sweetened treats, you get the picture.

My girls were super healthy and I figured I was doing such a great job (I was a very sick child who ate a normal diet, albeit quite healthy for the time). Then, one of my twin got diagnosed with epilepsia and I started controling what she ate even more fiercely. She and I were miserable... until it clicked. There was no way my controling could prevent everything. I was just making our lives and our relationship fall apart. Then, the other twin started having migraines (I have migraines and was trying all sorts of elimination diet to find the culprit for years, blaming my unhealthy behaviors).

This allowed me to understand that diet is important, yes, of course, but it is not everything. And, most importantly, we have to stop transfering our own fear surrounding food to our kids.

Tauna Grinager:
We've relaxed a lot around food - I don't say no to any requests anymore, and never have when we're at someone else's house. But like the OP, I'm mindful about what we buy and where we shop. We mostly go to the the farmers market and locally-owned healthier food store (lots of alternatives for processed foods - many labeled non-gmo - we do buy him the "junk" food he likes from there).

Our son (6yo) isn't easily influenced by anyone - even his friends. He was taken to McDonald's at least once by our good friends, and refuses to eat it again when they offer. He's also turned down Foster's Freeze, Round Table, never had a soda (his choice - he's watched me drink them a time or two when out). What he does like are chips and Oreos. I mistakenly tried to limit his access to those - just made him covet them (duh!). So I learned to let him have those Cool Ranch Doritos and Oreos if he saw them somewhere when we're out. The Doritos made his stomach hurt - he hasn't asked for them since. The Oreos he gave back to me before he finished them. He might want those things again, and he'll get them when he asks. But I can't see myself keeping a stock on them in our pantry. For one, we don't typically go to the type of store that sells them, and I'd rather spend our food money on those very expensive organic chicken tenders he loves.

Aiden Kathleen Wagner:
My son is one year old. I haven't had many limits on his food at all, beyond safety issues like not giving him whole grapes. He's already quite able to decide what he likes and doesn't like, and when he's had enough. The other day he decided he was done with a chocolate chip cookie and tried to force me to eat it! Conversely a few days ago he left a graham cracker on my knee, reached over and took a big chunk of my home-made hamburger from me. Obviously some of that is being curious about sharing and what Mommy's eating, but a lot of it is also that he's learning already to listen to how his body feels. He very rarely wants to share his bananas with me. Those are his favorite food and he's too busy enjoying them. I trust that if we continue like this he will be happy and most likely healthy.

Healthy eating is something we talk about in our home, and he will probably grow up hearing about things like why Loren and I choose to only buy fair-trade chocolate for ourselves, because we talk about it to each other. But I'm not going to bring it up with my son unless he's interested, because it's sad. And if he wants a hershey's bar, I'll buy it for him gladly.

The world has so many issues, food industry and otherwise, that trying to choose my son's crusades for him is unfair. He might not be that concerned about chocolate slavery and feed lots, but choose to be worried about something else, like pollution. Or he may not be that concerned about changing the world, and would rather focus his energies on creating something good like music.

He might decide that eating healthy isn't a big priority to him. And that's okay. That's his choice. I can't control that and I don't want to. What I can do and want to do is be his friend, give him the opportunity to see all the beautiful and wonderful and amazing things in the world, and give him a home where he can see how happy relationships work by the way his father and I treat each other and him. Controlling food choices, and trying to instil my own fears and worries into my son or my husband is not happy relationship material.

Cat Forest:
And you know what? (Careful, this might be considered a bit extreme to some of you... I hesitated to post it). When my daughter who suffers from epileptic absences eats stuff containing food dye, she gets more absences (like 30 to 40 per day instead of 5 to 10, they are not dangerous, she simply stops what she is doing and does not hear us for 10 sec aproximately). Not sleeping enough does the same to her.

Many parents have told me I should not "let her" eat anything with food dye and "force her" to go to bed early. She knows what food dye does to her (she doesn't mind the absences, does not even notice them, and since she doesn't go to school, nobody makes fun of her...) and she still decides to have some, same for sleep and we are totally fine with that. She did not want to take the medication either, which we respected too. It's her disease and her body. Yes, she is only 8, but it would not occur to me to force anything on her. Of course, if she wanted to take some riding or ski lessons, that would be another story.

For now, we only have to bike beside her to prevent her from falling if she has an absence. I could totally "justify" controlling what she eats (if she has more proteins and and her blood sugar is more balanced, she has less absences), but it wouldn't serve our relationship at all.

Sandra Dodd:
-= a lot more control of what she eats. It is scary -=-

"Control" IS scary, no matter who's being controlling. Please, for the sake of moving toward unschooling, don't use the word "control" when you really mean choices. SandraDodd.com/choices

Here are some problems with control SandraDodd.com/control

People don't need to control themselves. They need to see that they have options and learn to make good choices. It's at the heart of natural learning.

Sandra Dodd:
Samantha, I agree with this:
-=-I've heard over and over how if children eat cookies before meals they won't eat their dinner but I've not observed this in my three children.-=-
My kids sometimes ate something sweet at restaurants while they were waiting for the protein portion of the meal, and still ate. And they didn't eat more than they actually wanted (neither of "dessert" nor of food). At family meals, we never "did dessert." The use of sweets as a reward causes problem. They have been making their own choices since they were born. It's a marvel to see how kids who haven't been threatened, frightened and limited can tell what food they need, if any.
Sandra Dodd :
-=-Controlling food choices, and trying to instil my own fears and worries into my son or my husband is not happy relationship material.-=-

It's not good for you, either. Maybe after your son is grown, that could be your hobby. But the more joy you have now, the more you will have to provide for your family.

Sandra Dodd:
-=-the more I learn, the more I realize that eating a plant-based, whole foods diet is the healthiest for human bodies.-=-

If this is your priority, and your indignation and irritation are your primary focus, you will have a hard time unschooling, or at least understanding the potential you're cutting yourself off from.

Tauna Grinager:
I also wanted to mention that I think there is a balance to find, as there is to all things. We have friends from one spectrum to another - one family that mostly eats processed and fast foods. And another so extreme they must bring a huge ice chest filled with their own food (including salad makings pre-washed with their special filtered water), just to have dinner at grandparent's house. The husband is so filled with fear that he doesn't want their 5yo going to birthday parties and won't allow him to trick-or-treat. I think that the stress, fear and controlling behavior is far more damaging than a daily habit of Little Debbie cakes. Not just to their relationships with everyone, but his own health.
Meredith Novak:
-=-I'm not going to buy something at the grocery store that has a cute, fun character on it, just because the marketers for the company are targeting my kids. They don't want the food--they want the flashy packaging.-=-

One of the hardest things for me to overcome when Mo was little was the idea that commercial packaging was this great evil, that the purple and pink, smooth and flashy and plastic things she oooohed and sighed over were inherently bad. Because they weren't bad to Morgan, they were lovely and exciting and inspiring. They made her smile - plastic ponies and cereal with marshmallow shapes make her smile. And I could take that smile away in a moment, with a single word.

It helped me to think about the nature of beauty and the nature of health. If something brings joy, how can I say it's not beautiful? If my child is curious and energetic and sparkles with life, how can I say she's not healthy? Thinking about that helped me step back from my own definitions and see the world through my daughter's eyes - helped me say Yes when her eyes lit up with delight.

It's not that there are no differences between this food and that food - but children are significantly more than input-output boxes, especially when they're growing up in a home where thoughtful decision making is the norm. They do think about things like food and nutrition - they're curious about the world and their bodies! They want to know "what's inside" and "where does it come from?" It's possible to answer those questions honestly without making food into an epic of Good Versus Evil, to explore the world With kids, rather than with a determination to lead them along the narrow path at all costs. Because there are costs.

Just for a moment, imagine your parents had explored the world happily with you, answered your questions without shutting you down, experimented and celebrated with you over strawberries and doughnuts, aparagus and cake. That's a different life than most people who are parents now got to experience. You can give your kids that life, but not so well if there are hard edges between you and some of the things your kids find appealing.

One of the scariest secrets of unschooling is that it's okay to be soft and sweet and indulgent. It doesn't ruin kids. It doesn't leave them unhealthy.

Sandra Dodd:
-=-We practice wellness and treat food as a way to fuel our bodies...what goes in, is what comes out.-=-

Poo comes out, no matter what people eat. For this discussion, and Always Learning, I want to discuss practicing unschooling, and if your religion/politics is food, it presents the same problem in these discussions.

I hope you will look up orthorexia nervosa and consider that it's possible to harm a child's ability to see foods objectively, and that creating a situation in which a mother's love is earned by the foods children choose can cause more problems than a coca-cola habit.

If some choices are Very Bad ones, and the mother has demonized some aspect of the everyday world, the child will probably, at some point, become sneaky and the relationship will not be as solid as it could have been. There are many people whose relationships with their teens have been irrevocably harmed. Trust can be lost. If the children think the parents over-reacted and dramatized in one area, they might start to ignore the parents about other subjects as well. Once a teen doesn't trust the parents, if a burger and a root beer every day could restore it, the most health-food conscious mom would probably chow down in tears and desperation. If she could start earlier to care more about her child directly than about ideals and fears, several lives would be better.

Jenny Cyphers:
I wish I could double like what Aiden Kathleen Wagner wrote because it so very much reflects my reality! This refers to one nine posts up, beginning "My son is one year old. I haven't had many limits on his food at all..."
Sandra Dodd:
-=-If I can buy a chicken that will feed us all for a meal and then make soup with it OR the junk food they want because it has a pretty package, are you telling me you all buy the junk instead?-=-

I do hope you will read the links to the things people have written about food over the years. You would not be asking these kinds of antagonistic questions if you had.

Read a little, try a little, wait a while and watch.

Jenny Cyphers:
"They don't want the food--they want the flashy packaging."

In my experience, that's an even greater reason to buy it. Flashy packaging is interesting. People have jobs and careers made of these things. Sometimes you even find something with flashy packaging that has really good food. You won't know unless you try and your kids won't know unless they try. Knowledge is power. Power to make good choices and better choices. Without that there are no choices.

Samantha Pearson:
My mother is unhappy that my kids sometimes have icecream for breakfast - well, only my youngest chooses to do this these days as the older kids aren't that into ice cream or dairy products in general anymore — then later on through the day she'll eat all kinds of other foods. I see that if the order of food she eats over the course of a day was reversed nobody would think twice about it. My mother also doesn't like it that I like to have a very small glass of wine with my lunch occasionally because it's in the daytime yet is totally accepting of people drinking to excess so long as it's in the evening. These schedules times to consume certain things make sense to some people but our sleeping/eating/working schedule isn't so traditional. Still, at the end of the day we still eat, sleep and work pretty much the same amount as other people.

I have heard although I'm not certain if it's true that in French cooking they think it's most appropriate to serve a very sweet entree before any savory dishes as it gets your stomach and mouth primed for savory food and it aids digestion - or is that a myth that neatly fits with how we eat.

Jo Isaac:
I don't believe I could possibly know what is 'healthy' or 'unhealthy' for someone else's body, because I'm not living in their body. My son and I like lentils and quinoa...probably considered 'healthy'. But my husband can't eat either without getting a very upset tummy. My husband is allergic to peanuts - Kai and I love Snickers. Kai is severely allergic to prawns. I'm intolerant to prawns if I eat them two days in a row. Brett loves prawns. Kai is 6 - he's growing rapidly, his body needs completely different foods to my 42 year old body - different combinations of carbs, protein, sugar, fat, etc... All that variation in dietary requirments just in our little family of 3...the person who best knows what Kai's body needs to grow and remain healthy is Kai.
Alice R:
"Knowledge is power," exactly. I have knowledge and I can't ignore it. Like the fact that propylene glycol is what we put in our cars to keep the engine from freezing and is also a main ingredient of artificial flavors. Which was my question earlier; if you wouldn't let your kids drink that because it's poison, why buy them something full of the same ingredient and say "help yourself." If you wouldn't let your kids eat Tylenol because it is really bad for them, even though it tastes good, why is it different to let them eat poison disguised as food? It has nothing to do with being afraid; I am not afraid of food, but if I know a food contains a known poisonous ingredient, why would I give it to them? And I think there are a whole bunch of products out there being called food that really are not food at all. There is nothing wrong with making sure my kids know the difference. I am not saying they have never had it and I am not saying they will never have it again, but I'm not going to have it in my house for them to help themselves (which they are free to do with what is in my house) any more than I would let them eat a bottle of Tylenol. There is no difference. There is freedom and then there is something else. Just because you don't know something or choose not to know, does not mean it is any less harmful to our bodies.
Alice R:
Those are all real foods you are talking about. I am talking about things that are not actually food at all.
Catherine Forest :
Well, then, it seems pretty clear to you. So you want us to convince you to give the "poisonous food" to your child in the name of unschooling? What else do you want us to tell you at this point?
Jo Isaac:
==There is freedom and then there is something else.==

It's about choice, not freedom. There is a whole other recent thread about this I suggest you read. You could say peanuts are 'poisonous' to Brett, but they are a 'real food'. Similarly prawns are 'poisonous' to Kai. They have had the opportunity to try them, understand how they make them feel, and choose not to eat them anymore. You are taking choices away from your children based on your fear of certain food ingredients. That will damage your relationship with them, and rob them of the opportunity to learn for themselves how different foods affect their body.

KrisAnne Spring Landry:
I googled propylene glycol, out of curiosity and didn't come up with any solid evidence that it causes harm. It is not a "poison" and comparing it to overdosing on Tylenol is really not a convincing argument. I think people can get really paranoid about food issues and set up power struggles with kids; don't drive yourself crazy.
The root word of "Produce" is "produce" (the verb). Production is another form of the word. When grocery stores buy fresh fruits and vegetables, those are called "produce (the noun; emphasis on the first syllable). Farms produce (verb) food.
—Sandra, January 2020
Alice R:
Peanuts are poisonous for some people. Yes. But prawns and peanuts are REAL FOOD that grow and live until it is fished. There is a huge difference between that and a "product," that is refined and processed and contains actual poison that is poisonous to everyone.

I don't want anyone to convince me of anything. I am truly interested in how you all explain this. Ok, never mind. I am not damaging my kids or my relationship with them by making sure they have tons of healthy food options that taste good at home and let them eat whatever they want when we go other places too. I could name you many more known carcinogens and poisons that are in products marketed to children. I can't keep talking about this. I was interested in what you had to say on the subject, but I'm going to leave it at that because we are going in circles.

SPOILER: She didn't leave.


Jo Isaac:
==I was interested in what you had to say on the subject==

It doesn't seem that way. It seems like you want to convince us that many foods are poison and we are all negligent parents, and you know best. You don't seem to want to listen to the advice and experiences of unschoolers now with grown, healthy children. And you have ignored advice to post less and read more.

Schuyler Waynforth:
No, you aren't. You are talking about things you've decided are dangerous based, probably, on readings you've done or conversations you've had that point out how one thing is being used for something else and how can that be safe?

Wikipedia has this on the safety of propylene glycol: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propylene_glycol#Humans and on how it is considered a safe alternative to ethylene glycol: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antifreeze#Ethylene_glycol

I clean my sink with sodium bicarbonate. I also make cakes with sodium bicarbonate. There is beef fat used in lubricating engine parts.

I use vinegar to clean windows as well as a seasoning on hot chips. Because something has multiple purposes doesn't make it inedible. You can make a clock run on a potato battery.

Catherine Forest:
Alice, please don't treat us like we don't know anything about chemicals in food. I know ALL about it and had the same questions you had 5 years ago when I came to unschooling.

You have a choice here: as long as you do not put your relationship with the child first (and as long as we put so much energy into fighting food additives, you are NOT), you are not unschooling. I learned it the hard way.

You have received tons of great advice and personal stories here. Take away what you want, but please don't leave thinking that [because] we have chosen to provide our children with choices in the food department, we don't know all you know about food additives. I was an orthorexic for years and it only caused anxiety and struggles and frustration in our life. Keep preparing the great food you are preparing for your kids, but do not limit their life at home to it only. I have been in your shoes and all I can tell you is that it took years to fix what I broke in my children by keeping the "bad non-food" at bay.

Gwen Montoya:
Alice - I think you have a picture in your head that shows families who don't restrict food living off of McDonald's, Doritos, Coke, and Snickers bars. It really isn't like that.

Absolutely - focus on making choices that work for your body and while your kids are little that won't be a problem. No one is saying "fill your house with junk food, its fun and healthy!!".

If you can only afford to buy a chicken OR a bag of chips - then you should probably buy the chicken because it will go farther (some grocery weeks are like that in my house). But why not both? Why can't it be chicken and rice soup for dinner and then have something else too?

Jenny Cyphers:
"But prawns and peanuts are REAL FOOD that grow and live until it is fished. There is a huge difference between that and a "product," that is refined and processed and contains actual poison that is poisonous to everyone."

Cheese is refined and processed from moldy dairy. [TIME OUT. Jenny's wrong. Info on cheese and mold is here.] How anyone ever thought that was a good idea is beyond me, but there it is, freely available to purchase in just about any grocery store. Most people would never question the use of cheese. I'm pretty sure it didn't grow and live, unless of course you are talking about mold. Jenny, don't talk about mold anymore.

Karen James:
There's a humourous (to me) thing that happens between my son and I when we eat out in a mall food court near our house. I go for the "junk" food, while he always goes for the more healthy options of sushi, veggie stir fries, or indian food. When I go to a place like that to eat, I want the foods that I don't normally have. When Ethan eats out, he seems to want what he knows he likes and will satisfy him. I never remark aloud about our very different choices. He has never commented either. Different choices, perhaps, stemming from different upbringings? I'm not sure, but it's interesting.
Alice R:
And I think some people on here have a picture of me being restrictive and controlling and paranoid and that is not the case either. I am not responding to everyone, i am responding to some on here making some really heavy assumptions about me and suggesting I forget what I know about the food industry. That is what I am finding frustrating.
Jenny Cyphers:
hmmm, I don't think anyone said to forget everything you know about the food industry. I think people are saying that while that voice is louder than your children's voice, that it could become a problem once your children have a voice in food choices.

Other people have experienced it first hand. Other people have read about it happening. While kids are little, it's easy to control everything they do. They start off as a bit of an extension of yourself, growing inside of you and they could hardly survive without you, but they are designed to grow apart from you and that really does happen with things like food.

I imagine if you lived in such a way that you didn't have a grocery store and you had to consume only what you could grow and kill, your kids would accept this as a fact of life. That isn't the life we live though. We live in a world of choices and that's a good thing. By having choices and not extending those choices to your kids, as PEOPLE, you can and will harm the relationship.

Whether you want to see it or not, you are being restrictive and controlling of the food in your home. You have your reasons for doing so. I think everyone understands that part.

At some point your reason will be your child, not what you think or believe is best for your child, but your actual child and what that child believes is best for them.

Alice R:
It's also upsetting to me that we are all about not controlling and yet the control imposed upon people by the government and big corp through our food chain is huge. Empowering ourselves to not buy into what they are selling should, I feel, be part of that.
Sandra Dodd:
-=- I don't believe I could possibly know what is 'healthy' or 'unhealthy' for someone else's body-=-

One problem is the idea that everyone is the same, so I liked what Jo wrote. When I was a kid, people were forced to eat food at home, forced to eat food at school, all the same food for everyone, regardless. Lots of kids didn't like or want the milk. I loved it. But at the time people believed milk was important, healthy, necessary. Women who were going to nurse babies (what few there were in the 40's and '50's had been told they needed to drink milk to produce milk. It seems crazy now.

Fifteen years ago, give or take, there were reports of milk being bad for everyone who was weaned, that it was like snot, that it was like poison. That's just as false, and just as extreme. There are some populations for whom milk is not healthy. There are others genetic groups who've been using milk and cheese for a long time. A lot of intermarriage does confuse the whole thing, which is all the more reason to allow each child to try what smells and looks good and see how it seems to him. If it doesn't taste good or feel good, he'll probably increasingly avoid it, or maybe decide against it the first time, but if the parents are telling him whether it's good or bad in advance, it ruins his ability to think and smell and feel it for himself.

Milk is not great for all people. Milk is bad for some people. Milk is fine for some people. These days, there's not a good way to know, but by letting a child try it and other foods, we give them a chance to learn in ways we were prevented from learning if we were coerced and instructed about what must be and what could not be, what would kill us and what would save us.

These things can still be done today. It will mar radical unschooling as surely as if a parent enforces arbitrary bedtimes and wake-up time, or teaches reading or math because they don't think those things can be learned in fun, natural, real-world ways.

Jenny Cyphers:
"Empowering ourselves to not buy into what they are selling should, I feel, be part of that."

To YOU. That's the whole point I think people are trying to make here. That is YOUR value system. It may or may not be your kids' value system. What helps unschooling, in my opinion is to value your kids' values. That's become my value system more so than other things.

Schuyler Waynforth:
Oh, to add to the propylene glycol fear discussion, it can be derived from canola and soybeans. "The Truth About Propylene Glycol, According to a Chemist" is an interesting article about not being afraid of propylene glycol.

The Truth and Fiction about Propylene Glycol
www.naturallycurly.com
Curly chemist Tonya McKay seeks to dispel widespread misconceptions about the health risks of propylene glycol.

Sandra Dodd:
-=- I can't keep talking about this. I was interested in what you had to say on the subject, but I'm going to leave it at that because we are going in circles.-=-

I'm glad you will stop talking about it. I hope you will read all the pages at the link I sent, and read on Joyce's page. If you're not interested in that, it's probably best for you to drop the topic. People come here for information on unschooling. I gave you links I don't believe you've looked at. You can read what a very large number of people know for certain there—longterm unschoolers.

What you're writing isn't your personal experience, with your two-year-old children who aren't school age yet. It's stuff you've collected to be angry about. If people want to read about limiting and shaming kids, they can go two clicks from this page and find a world of it.

I think you'll feel differently about it in a few years, or that you will have moved away from the idea of unschooling.

Schuyler Waynforth:
Chemicals are everywhere. You are made up of chemicals. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Composition_of_the_human_body is pretty cool. Some of what you are made up of is poisonous. Arsenic isn't something that you would keep on your kitchen shelf, but there it is at .000026 percent of your body mass.

Reading labels of food can often seem overwhelming and far too much of a series of unpronounceables. They are probably there for more reasons than the evil ones that one might ascribe. Sometimes they are there because the source of those chemicals varies based on the availability of the food. So if you are getting sugar from corn in one season and beets in another it is easier to give its chemical make up than to have different packaging that discusses the provenance of that chemistry. It also is a more precise way of mixing things. If you break something into its composite parts and then mix those parts together you can maintain the flavour more readily than if you put in the whole thing. The flavour of chile, for example, varies massively dependent on the heat and dryness of the season. If you need to keep the flavour constant due to the market requirement of your food, being able to derive what you need from food sources is important in maintaining consistency.

Often what is true of homemade food isn't true of store bought food. I don't need my bread to stay on the shelf for terribly long. It doesn't need to have preservatives in it. It has salt, but that's for flavouring and not for preservation. I don't use any preservatives in the food that I make at home, but the shelf life of my food is really quite limited.

Composition of the human body - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
en.wikipedia.org
The composition of the human body can be looked at from the point of view of either mass composition, or atomic composition. To illustrate both views, the human body is ~70% water, and water is ~11% hydrogen by mass but ~67% hydrogen by atomic percent. Thus, most of the mass of the human body is oxy...

Alice R:
Yes, but we should all be questioning that, no? Just because it is on the shelves and our government allows it to be, does not mean it is actually fit for human consumption. Does anyone understand what I am saying?
Jenny Cyphers:
I think everyone understands what you are saying.
Annie Kessler:
But in order for a child to be empowered to not buy into what they are selling (gov't, corporations, food industry, etc.) they have to have the choice to buy as much as the choice not to buy. If they don't have a choice in the matter, how are they being empowered?
Sandra Dodd:
-=-I have been in your shoes and all I can tell you is that it took years to fix what I broke-=-

There are many dozens of unschoolers who have reported feeling this way. I don't know of one single one, in over 20 years now of being in contact with as many unschoolers as I could find, who has said they gave their kids choices about food, and it totally backfired, and they wish they had limited and instructed them. None.

Katy B:
My son's friend came over recently and brought a Lunchables for her lunch. When my son saw it, he really wanted one, so I asked my husband to add it to the grocery list. I have to admit, though, that my FIRST response was to say: we can make homemade Lunchables with food we have here at the house! (and I was definitely thinking *healthier* food we have at the house!). But he said no, he wanted a Lunchables just like the one his friend had. My husband's first response (to me) was: I don't want to buy that processed junk all the time! And I said: I don't either. But he hasn't asked for it *all the time*. He's asked for it *once*. It's interesting to him, and important to him. Let's buy it once, without getting too worked up about it, and then let's just see what happens next.

We bought one for each of our kids, and they ate them. What happened next is that my son asked me to make homemade ones, and then we did a project that lasted half the day where we tried to re-enact the Lunchables experience as closely to the original as we possibly could with things we had. It was so much fun! We dug through the kitchen looking for small circles we could use to cut lunchmeat into little circles (ended up using the lid of a small frosting container from a recent birthday!). He wanted circle crackers, not squares, and all we had was Triscuits. He ended up finding those circular teething biscuits for babies in the back of a cupboard and ate those! We cut cheddar cheese into perfect little squares and rectangles. We made a homemade Capri Sun with organic juice in a sandwich bag with a paint-tape label and a hole-punch and a straw (I ended up having to make these for all this friends who were over that day after everyone saw them and wanted one!). He found a long, flat tupperware container and then we cut cardboard to split it into sections. At the end, he slid the tupperware into his empty Lunchables box from the previous day, and taped it shut! Then he sat down, opened it back up, and ate it. He hasn't mentioned Lunchables again since then.

I still think Lunchables is probably mostly chemically laden crap food. But so are a lot of things I've eaten over the course of my life, even though I'm a mostly-pretty-healthy person. And if I hadn't provided the Lunchables when he asked, I'd have missed out on such a cool experience, where I got to watch and help him seek out an experience, and then recreate and re-enact that experience with the resources we had on hand. I just can't even explain how cool that was to do/see!

Sarah Heiner:
"We make alot of our own whole wheat sourdough bread and buy sprouted grain bread."

Adding to what Sandra said about milk being good for some bodies and not for others is the fact that what you think of as a perfectly healthy diet - whole wheat sourdough and sprouted grain bread, for example - others think of as poison.

I *love* learning about all the different diets that are out there - macrobiotic, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, nourishing traditions, raw ... too many to name. Many of these would tell you that *their* way of eating is the healthiest and *your* way is poison. And you know what? If you end up with a kid with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, your wonderful, healthy, know-what's-best-for-them diet will not be healthy for them.

It's kinder to let them find out for themselves what makes them feel best - not healthiest, necessarily, but best.

Alice R:
I do give my kids choices about food. Constantly. Every day. Every time they eat...but if I know for a fact (not just because there are big words in the ingredient list that are hard to pronounce) that it is something that literally should not exist as a choice, why would I choose to provide it as an option?
Schuyler Waynforth:
-=-Yes, but we should all be questioning that, no?-=-

No, we all don't need to be questioning that. If it isn't an issue, it isn't an issue. For lots of people the amount of food that is available is pretty limited. I have a cupboard full of foods. Some have labels on them that may include things like propylene glycol. Some I made yesterday and have 4 ingredients as the sum total of their ingredients list. I don't need to question whether or not I'm safe from the food I buy at the grocery store. To me, honestly, it isn't the most interesting thing going on. I'd rather spend my time playing video games and baking and hanging out with my kids snacking on food that tastes good and was what we each wanted in that moment.

Sarah Heiner:
"that it is something that literally should not exist as a choice"

What is an example of this?

Jenny Cyphers:
Alice, if your kids aren't requesting things other than what you are providing, then why is it an issue at all? They are really little. When mine were little I had a LOT of say in what they ate. They had very little say in what was available, not because I didn't care about what they liked or not but because it is what I thought was best and I bought it with my money and brought it home in my car to my house. At some point it became our food and our car and our house. It's hard to say when that transition happens, but it does happen and if the WE part is still YOU, it's a problem that is really about YOU.
Melissa Knauf:
Fascinating thread- and real confirmation for me. Thank you all for sharing. I too come from a place of having done so much 'research' on foods- I was almost scared to eat anything. I have seen the negative effects of this in myself and my daughter, and we are now transitioning to eating freely- based on our genuine choices. I too had many many fears, but this thread has made so much sense to me. Thanks again- I'm very grateful for all the wisdom here and for all the time you've each taken to share:)
Sarah Heiner:
I'm generally a very healthy person and the source of most of the 'healthy' foods in our house. And I eat Oreos about once every 5 or 6 months. I love them with a big glass of milk. I don't do well with either cow's milk or Oreos. I enjoy the hell out of those Oreos and that milk and then ... I feel blah for hours, sometimes a whole day. My kids laugh about that, that I choose to eat something that makes me feel yucky. But they also don't have hangups about 'bad' food or 'good' food, just how does it make you feel? How does it affect you? Do you like it? Is it worth it? We don't talk about all of those questions - except for when I grab a bag of Oreos at the store - but those are questions my kids get to ask and answer themselves and they see us doing it as well and accepting the consequences.
Sandra Dodd:
-=- I go for the "junk" food-=-

I wish people wouldn't use that term here. Probably you're talking about "fast food" anyway, which is unfairly called "junk food." If it's food, it's not "junk."

Part of all this big superior-food fad would be seen as gigantically sinful and wasteful by anyone who is in a famine area, or refugee camp, or who lived through rationing during a war, or was in a concentration camp, or prison or prisoner of war camp, or lived through The Great Depression. And people DID live. They lived on terribly sad foods, and many of them died of old age. Many are still alive.

The idea that one can sacrifice something and insure health, or intelligence, or creativity, or a long life, is rampant among parents who love to think they can easily obtain those things for their children by sacrificing certain foods, or television, or t-shirts and bedsheets with characters from Disney movies, or toys made of plastic, or video games.

It's legal for people to limit and forbid those things, and for my own life and my family, I don't care if they do. My kids are grown and happy. If one of those people comes to a discussion clearly described as being about radical unschooling, I'm going to point out the problem those "sacrifices" will pose to their desire to succeed with radical unschooling.

Schuyler Waynforth:
From what Alice has written in this discussion I think it is simply curiosity about what the unschooling perspective might be on greater food choice than she is comfortable offering.

It may be that when her children are interested in trying the foods that scare Alice, she will have moved away, a bit, from those fears. It may be that when her children are interested in trying those foods Alice may have found something else that worries her more. It's one of the problems with anticipating trouble. It may not actually be a bother when you get there.

Jenny Cyphers:
Some people think potatoes are terrible. I think I must be destined by my Irish ancestry to love potatoes. Sometimes I will eat an entire bag of potato chips for a meal. My kids would never do that, have never done that. Sometimes it is the ONLY thing I want. Sometimes potatoes are more important to me than any other food ever. If someone were to take away my potatoes because they felt it was bad for me, I would be more than mad. I would probably cry. Seriously!

Parents can and do that to kids by imposing their own food values onto them.

Sandra Dodd :
-=-Yes, but we should all be questioning that, no? Just because it is on the shelves and our government allows it to be, does not mean it is actually fit for human consumption. Does anyone understand what I am saying?-=-

Everyone understands that you have focussed your energy at a governmental boogey-man instead of at your children, and that you're writing, writing, writing, writing, instead of reading a little, trying a little, waiting a while and watching

If you want to learn about unschooling, stop writing about things that have nothing to do with unschooling.

Sandra Dodd:
-=- I still think Lunchables is probably mostly chemically laden crap food. -=-

I think a a Lunchable every day would be better than a negativity-laden mom.

Negativity
sandradodd.com
How to see and avoid negativity in your life.

Sandra Dodd:
-=- if I hadn't provided the Lunchables when he asked, I'd have missed out on such a cool experience, where I got to watch and help him seek out an experience, and then recreate and re-enact that experience with the resources we had on hand. I just can't even explain how cool that was to do/see!-=-

The whole story was good, but the phrase "chemically laden crap food" was a turd in the lemonade.

Jenny Cyphers:
Margaux loves Lunchables. She loves the way they are packaged. She loves the way it tastes. She loves the various combinations of items. She loves finding similar items packaged in similar but different ways. She LOVES it! I'm very serious when I say this! LOVE! I find them on sale almost all the time but I've paid upwards to $5 for one of those things simply because she wanted it and needed to eat and that was her choice over all the other things available.

Since my own value is to value what my kid values, then how could I not get the thing she LOVES?

Alice R:
Right. I have stepped out of the realm of what is allowed here; I simply do not understand that, but ok then. I thought I was having a discussion with people. I am not laden with negativity, I am simply interested in how this works. This is about my kids and being focused on them.

"If you want to learn about unschooling, stop writing about things that have nothing to do with unschooling." Proverbial slap in the face. I am not paranoid. I am not controlling, and I am the first person to say that raging against the government is a waste of energy that can be better spent doing your best at home and just be happy. I was looking for opinions here, I got them.

Jenny Cyphers:
The part about "nothing to do with unschooling" was about fear and control. Those things have nothing to do with unschooling. That was my understanding.
Jenny Cyphers:
A crusade against the evils of Monsanto isn't about unschooling, even if I personally would join one.
Karen James :
-=- I go for the "junk" food-=-

I wish people wouldn't use that term here. __________
My sincere apologies. You are absolutely right. I was being facetious, and that is not at all helpful.

Jenny Cyphers:
Usually, whenever I heard the phrase "junk food", I always pictured french fries and potato chips and marshmallows. It was very easy to dismiss anything potato related as junk. Marshmallows took a while, but they have a very fascinating history and history isn't junk anymore than marshmallows are, especially when they've provided many discussions of combustibles.

It might be interesting to see what people think "junk food" is. I bet every single person has their own image in their head of what is known as junk. That very fact alone should be enough to eliminate it from their vocabulary in regards to food. Thankfully, my own kids don't have any images of junk in regards to food. That phrase refers to other things.

Alice R:
No, it's not, but for me it is a huge issue when I comes to allowing any and all food into my home. I cannot avoid Monsanto products, but I can try as much as possible. If our food chain were to become completely tainted with things we should not be consuming as humans, this whole undchooling thing could have horrific results and would have to change. I don't understand why that is out of the realm of this discussion. For me it IS the discussion. I cannot in good conscious buy that food any more then I could let my children play on a busy street. I doubt any of you would do that either and for me it is the same thing.
Sandra Dodd:
When I hear "junk food" I think of cheetohs and Slim Jims, but I bet they would be healthier than some of the foods prisoners and impoverished people are getting, and they're made of food, it's just put back together oddly. And I would NOT ever have told my kids, if they wanted those things, "NO, that is JUNK. That's not even food." I think there have been Slim Jims as car-trip snacks a time or two (bought by guys) and sometimes a bag of Cheetohs got brought to a park day. They were neither godly nor satanic.
Alice R:
We have eaten and do eat what many would call junk food. I don't use that word either. I call things what they are; chips, chocolate, fries.
"I don't use that word either."

The first two uses of the term "junk" in this topic were by Alice R., in her fourth post, the eleventh post in the flood:

Yes....all of these statements are very obvious. I know they will see it and want it. Even money is an issue. If I can buy a chicken that will feed us all for a meal and then make soup with it OR the junk food they want because it has a pretty package, are you telling me you all buy the junk instead?
It's particularly frustrating when someone is either unaware of her own words, or is being dishonest.
—Sandra Dodd, early 2020

Ah... six posts below, Sarah Heiner did politely point out that Alice R had used it.


Schuyler Waynforth:

Junk food. Oh jeez. I think of some sculpture made of car parts and looks like food.

There are people who've eaten things like bikes and cessnas. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Lotito. That seems a junk food diet of sorts.

Pica is an eating disorder where you eat indigestible things. Like dirt. When I was pregnant David, while buying the Dinty Moore Beef Stew I was craving, was talking to a woman who said that during her pregnancy she made her husband drive to the Jemez [a mountain range in New Mexico] to get red soil. And someone else mentioned craving laundry detergent. Minerals. They were after specific minerals in large quantities.

Jo Isaac:
Before unschooling, I used to think of Macca's when I heard "Junk Food". I'm not sure I can really conjure up any image now though - I might keep Schuylers image in my mind for future reference!
Jenny Cyphers Jo, I had to look up Macca's and now I know you live in Australia!

Sandra Note: McDonald's

Tara V:
I tell my kids all the time, "That's not healthy food for growing a healthy body." Sometimes we eat them, but they know that we put importance on feeding our bodies good, healthy foods.

What do you do if you have a child who has allergic reactions to certain "junk food"? My daughter (just 6yrs) has serious behavioral reactions to artificial colors. How would you handle that?

Jenny Cyphers:
Kids don't like feeling yucky. It really is that simple. They won't eat what makes them feel yucky, or they will choose to eat things and deal with it.
Annie Kessler:
Is eating a Hershey bar really comparable to letting a small child play in a busy street?

And when it comes to busy streets we use and cross them all the time. We used to live on a busy street and I thought it was important to let my children play in the front yard, and cross the street, and ride their bikes down the street until we got to a safer quiet street. No, I didn't just send my three year old out the front door and say the road is busy, watch out! But if she never got close enough to see how busy the road was, if she didn't wait with me until it was safe to cross, if she didn't ride down the side of the road with me there to guide her, then she wouldn't have experiences that show her why that road was not a safe place to play. She could see for herself when a big truck or motorcycle drove by that it wasn't a good place to sit and draw with her sidewalk chalk. But it wouldn't be true to tell her that she should never ever set foot in the busy street. We did it pretty regularly since here was a playground and pond a half mile down the road across the street.

Alice R:
I did not say anything about Hershey bars.
Sarah Heiner:
You have, actually, called it junk in this thread. "are you telling me you all buy the junk instead"

But, Alice, putting the word food in quotation marks when you're talking about food you don't want your kids to eat - which you have done many times in this thread - is pretty much calling it "junk" food. You have used phrases, over and over, like "disguised as food", "not really food at all", "poisons" (in relation to things that are really not poisons). You have emotion attached to that food that others attach to what they call junk food.

Annie Kessler:
Earlier on in this thread you referred to aero bars which I believe are made by Hershey. But either way, what foods would you say are equated with playing in a busy street?

(Oh, actually my mistake. Aero bars are made by nestle but in the states Hershey makes "air delight" which is the same idea.

Schuyler Waynforth:
It may help for you to look and see if the behaviour is really about the food or about the instances where and when the food is eaten. Sometimes food that is not usually in a child's diet is eaten at parties, at friends' houses, out at a restaurant or a mall or somewhere not necessarily a part of daily activities. You could keep a personal log of when those foods are eaten and see if the timing of their food intake is playing a role in the respondent behaviour. Maybe, also, keep a record of their dietary intake on other days and their subsequent behaviour. It could be that you are more tired on the days when your daughter is eating things with food dyes in them and you are more sensitive to her behaviour.

Before you jump on food, look for other causes. Food is largely beneficial. It's just been tarred and feathered.

Sarah Heiner:
I miss the chocolate I ate in Ireland. I used to think of that as 'junk' food. Didn't stop me from eating it.
Sandra Dodd:
In the initial post: " I would like to describe what I have always done and am open to discussion! "

"Always" is too grand a word, in an unschooling discussion, for someone whose oldest child is two years old (and two two-year-olds can't be turned to a four-year-old, but even that's too young for school, and so too young to qualify as being unschooled).

-=-I don't understand why that is out of the realm of this discussion. -=-

Can you trust that if I say something is off topic, that I would have a reason for saying that? Can you try to understand that there are people here who know more about radical unschooling than you do?

People are trying to help you. It would be better for everyone, and for your daughters, especially, if you could stop flailing and arguing, and go and read the links.

Tara V:
We've done food diaries and such. It's definitely the food dyes.
Sandra Dodd:
-=-I tell my kids all the time, "That's not healthy food for growing a healthy body." Sometimes we eat them, but they know that we put importance on feeding our bodies good, healthy foods.-=-

Don't say "we" when you mean yourself. They know that you like to shame them for some of their choices. If they discover, later, that your division of what was healthy and what was not was arbitrary or flawed, you will lose some of the faith and trust you could be building if you let them make choices without those judgments having been applied to things.

It's valuable, and you won't be able to get these days back.

Jenny Cyphers:
There were 2 teens here at our house today that had pretty big food issues. One insisted that various things caused her to be sick, one was red food dye, the other was wheat. She ate bread at our home. She was selectively choosing what to eat. The other girl will eat whatever is healthy and throw it up.

What those girls have in common is that their food was highly controlled. They grew up in homes were food wasn't nourishing to their bodies, physically and mentally. Sure, neither was unschooled. I've yet to meet an unschooled teen girl with serious food issues. I've met lots and lots outside of unschooling.

Tara V:
Shaming them?
Schuyler Waynforth:
And you examined the situation in which those foods were eaten? You looked at whether or not your daughter was more tired than at other times? More excited? More played out? Or did you just look at the food that went in and the behaviour and ascribed the behaviour as an outcome of the food?

d connection between the food they are eating and the end result they can make the choice to ride out that choice if they want the food that much. Just as Sarah chooses oreos and milk on occasion.

Tara V:
It does matter. If she feels out of control. If her attention is decreased. If she acts aggressively toward her siblings. She knows exactly how dyes make her feel. She has expressed it to me herself in her own words. Yet she still at times asks for the foods that cause her to feel badly. If I don't buy those foods and keep them in our house, aren't I helping her?
Tara V:
My kids know there's a difference between farm fresh eggs and the eggs that come from the grocery store. They've seen it. They've tasted it. I talk to them about where their foods come from and the differences. I don't see that as shaming.
Schuyler Waynforth:
If you don't buy those foods when she asks for them you aren't helping her to explore her own relationship with food. Food is a very basic, very fundamental part of life. Food dyes are in lots of foods. If food dyes are a lasting issue for her it will be easier if she learns how she wants to navigate that in her childhood. In a safe a supportive home.

Would you rather that she can anticipate the outcome of eating something so that she can prepare to satisfy that craving in a safe way, or because she was helped to avoid the issue not know how best to handle the outcome? Would you rather that she have a loving mother there to hold her hand, to brush her hair, to cuddle her, to help her get the space she needs in those moments of reaction to a food dye, a relatively common thing, than that she, when she's old enough, sneak the food outside of your awareness and then deny it when questioned?

Pam Sorooshian said "As we get older and our kids grow up, we eventually come to realize that all the big things in our lives are really the direct result of how we've handled all the little things." See this food dye response as a relatively small thing compared to all the much bigger issues that may, possibly be coming down your daughter's path. Or, maybe, touch wood, it is the biggest thing you will have to deal with and you can be brave and supportive and help her to eat the food she wants and ride out the outcome with love and generosity and kindness.

Jenny Cyphers:
That's not what Sandra was referring to. All food can grow a healthy body. You were making a division of which foods can and cannot grow healthy bodies.
Tara V:
That's definitely a distinction I'm going to stick to. There is food that grows healthy bodies and food that doesn't.

So if we go to a party and she eats the colored cookies and I do all those wonderful things with her to help her through her reaction to the dyes AND when we have her birthday, I offer to make her birthday cake myself so that she can have a pink birthday cake (colored with beets) and not feel like crap for the rest of her birthday, where have I gone wrong?

Schuyler Waynforth:
"That's not healthy food for growing a healthy body."

Imagine someone said that to you. Imagine that you were at the store and there was something you wanted and your husband saw you reach for it and said "That's not healthy food for growing a healthy body." How would you feel? I'd feel shamed and in my shame I'd feel angry. I'd have a rush of blood and energy to my fingers and my toes and my face. I would be embarrassed that he was judging my food choices that way. I would be embarrassed that he was looking at me that way. And that he would talk to me that way. I would totally be shamed to be spoken to that way.

Schuyler Waynforth:
-=-where have I gone wrong?-=-

In denying her those foods when she asks for them. If she knows the consequences than she's prepared to experience them. You are putting yourself between her and food. If she is happy with the beet dye alternative than it isn't an issue. But if she wants the red food colouring food, if she wants the bag of cookies at the grocery store, than you are blocking her from her own choices.

Jenny Cyphers:
Tara, the things you are using to justify aren't the things people are having an issue with.
Sandra Dodd:
If someone has access to the eggs of free range chickens and can afford them, that's wonderful! But if someone will tell a child that less expensive eggs are so inferior as to be worthless, what if their kids grow up and can only afford inexpensive eggs? What stress will come? How might they judge friends who offer them eggs, but they can see that it's a styrofoam carton from Costco? Will they think less of those friends? Will they turn down the homemade cookes with those eggs in them? All of that worry and judgment is worse for health than the eggs of an anonymous chicken. And it's worse for relationships between parents and children. And because of that, it is worse for unschooling.

Same argument applies to telling a child that some music is great and some is crap. Same with saying some art is glorious and some is not art at all. Same with saying one version of history is right, and that anything else is a waste of time. Let the children choose and think and learn. Don't pre-judge and tell them what's right and wrong.

Tara V:
I suppose I simplified it too much. That statement is almost always followed by a discussion of ingredients and why certain things are healthy and why they are not. I guess I'm failing to see how educating them about the foods they are eating is a bad thing. If we talk about it openly, and not in a shaming way. I frequently have them read ingredients with me while we are in the store. Sometimes we decide to buy the food anyway. Sometimes we decide to find an alternative. It's not as simple as saying, "That's not healthy food." and moving on. It's a learning process.
Jenny Cyphers:
It's good to offer alternatives. Talking about food isn't a bad thing as long as there isn't some hidden agenda.
Sandra Dodd:
-=-I guess I'm failing to see how educating them ... is a bad thing.-=-

Because we're here to talk about radical unschooling and how they can and will learn naturally WHEN AND IF they are given a range of choices and options, and parents who will explore the world with them in ways that put the child first and other considerations second.

-=-It's a learning process.-=-

It sounds like a teaching process. There's a world of difference. Teaching vs. Learning

Jenny Cyphers:
When Margaux was little, she didn't handle dairy well. She loved fudgecicles though. We bought the non dairy kind. She never knew there was a difference, until she was about 5. Once she knew she wanted to try other things than the things we had always bought. It was touch and go for a while but she seems to have outgrown that issue with dairy.
Schuyler Waynforth:
Thank you for saying that with greater clarity than I was managing, Sandra.
Sandra Dodd:
-=- I guess I'm failing to see how educating them about the foods they are eating is a bad thing.-=-

It's not illegal. It's not immoral. It's not "a bad thing" to most people in the world.

In the context of what will help you move toward long-term, successful unschooling, it's not a good thing.

Jenny Cyphers:
Even in the context of good parenting, I've seen it do damage.
Gwen Montoya:
Sometimes, with parents or adults, "educating" a child about something looks a lot like a lecture.

There are big grown up things that some grown ups care about: pollution, the environment, what is in food, global warming, how people in other countries are treated, clutter/living simply, excess packaging, etc. But that stuff isn't interesting to a little kid who just wants to eat, play, and explore.

Sandra Dodd:
-=- There are big grown up things that some grown ups care about: pollution, the environment, what is in food, global warming, how people in other countries are treated, clutter/living simply, excess packaging, etc. But that stuff isn't interesting to a little kid who just wants to eat, play, and explore. -=-

It's not interesting to me, when I just want to help people live peacefully and attentively with their unschooled children. Whatever detracts from that discussion is off topic in this discussion. Luckily, there are a million other discussions out there!

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** I am afraid they will get sick and I will have failed them. ***

Do you think we're letting our kids get sick because the unschooling philosophy is more important than their health?

*** I guess I'm failing to see how educating them about the foods they are eating is a bad thing. ***

The answers here are about what radical unschooling looks like.

You'd be telling them what to believe rather than allowing them to discover what is right for them. It's what schools do.

And you'd be fine with your kids exploring if you weren't so terrified they wouldn't come to believe what you do.

It's really easy to see how oppressive of thinking it is to give kids the "right" answers *in a society that holds many beliefs* when you see, for example, a strict fundamentalist Christian mom -- out of love -- making sure her kids know the truth about Jesus and salvation and who protects them from false beliefs.

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** If I buy all of it and then they grow up learning about it, as they will because it is part of our family culture, wouldn't they feel betrayed? ***

Don't buy it for you. Buy it because they want to try it.

It sounds like you think either you live fully your own beliefs making everyone else follow your "truth", or you hide your beliefs and let it be a free for all.

Kids -- and the non-cooking spouse -- don't care about the bulk of the food decisions. They just want food they like to eat.

Make the majority of your decisions about what to cook based on 1) what you believe and 2) what people enjoy eating. *ADD* to that anything the kids would like to explore. They won't feel betrayed if you buy food they're asking to try. They'll feel listened to. They'll feel their thoughts and feelings matter to you. That their feelings matter more to you than your ideals.

If you're practicing your beliefs, sharing why you make the choices you do when they ask, the kids can't help but absorb that. They may decide it's not a belief for them, but they won't grow up ignorant of it.

When I was deciding between two items in the grocery store I'd share with my daughter what I was weighing to make a decisions. I was sharing my decisions making process, *not* imposing my beliefs on her. I showed her the ingredient list on the packages. I'd mention that one of the factors I used was which had the fewest "unpronounceables" in them. If they were similar, price and price per pound would be another factor. Size would be another factor (if there might be too much left over.) And so on. I might even buy both to taste the difference. I wasn't telling her the right one to choose. I was showing her *how* to make decisions. But if she was curious about some food, that trumped everything else. I might find a better way for her to try -- like a smaller package -- but the purpose was exploration to decide what *she* beleived not her adhering to my beliefs.

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
Here's something I wrote a bit ago on Unschooling Basics that might help.
Every time this topic comes up the natural foodists assume the discussion is about how their beliefs are wrong. But it isn't. It's about how Mom can hold strong beliefs AND open the world to her kids so they feel free and supported in deciding what's right for them -- even if it's counter to what mom believes.

You've painted a picture of a mom with extreme convictions. Someone who believes that an aspect of mainstream society is toxic.

*What* that belief is doesn't matter. The belief could be war is evil. The belief could be school is bad.

Let's say you believe school is toxic. Many people here would agree with you.

How can an unschooling mom hold the belief that school is toxic AND create an environment for her children to freely explore the world, including what the mom has rejected?

Would it be clear that no one here would suggest the mom *not* share why she's chosen to unschool if the kids asked?

Would it also be clear that people would discourage the mom from calling school toxic? From thinking of school as toxic? And to turn towards the positives of what she'd chosen and away from the negatives of what she'd rejected?

Would it be clear that the mom would be discouraged from giving her kids "articles/websites/books" that backed up her beliefs — unless the kids were asking out of their own interest?

Would it be clear that if the kids wanted to try school that the mom would be encouraged to support the child's interest? And if the child decided school was fun, that the mom would be discouraged from diminishing her child's enthusiasm? Encouraged to allow the child to discover what they liked and didn't like for themselves? Supported in answering her child's questions about why she didn't like school but discouraged from sharing in a way that made her child feel bad or wrong for having different feelings?

Vegan unschooling moms can help their kids explore eating meat without hiding who they are AND without making their kids feel uncomfortable exploring different beliefs. Peacenik unschooling moms can help their kids explore war and the possibility of joining the army AND without kids feeling mom thinks less of them for liking something mom dislikes.

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** But you would not feed your children windshield wiper fluid because it's a pretty blue hue and they want it, would you? ***

Are other kids happily drinking windshield washer fluid?

*That's* the difference. Your kids will see others around them freely, happily exploring foods that contain blue dye. And people around them aren't panicking and rushing them to the hospital.

Can you see how confusing the word "poison" would be if you call poison poison AND some food that people all around them are eating also poison? Can you see how a child might think you're a bit clueless and overreactive? Or maybe that pretty blue fluid can be drunk just like the other "poisons"?

The people around them are free to decide if they want to eat that food this time. The are free to decide based on *their own* criteria if that food is what they want to eat. When they're young their criteria will be different *because they're different people*. When they're older, their criteria will change.

You're trying to stack the deck so that your beliefs drown out anything else they might want to explore.

Heather Durden Stich:
Sandra Dodd & Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll, I came to unschooling to provide a better way to learn for my kids. Then I came to RU because I discovered it was about more than school. Now I'm discovering my hang-ups about food/nutrition/healthy food obsessions/weekend "junk" binges and controlling the groceries in our home and now radically unschooling (and your wisdom!) is helping me to unravel these problems and live wholly in the area of food too! RU has SO MUCH been about me discovering issues I didn't even know I had, and life at home is blooming. I can't thank you enough for sharing your knowledge!
Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** Those are all real foods you are talking about. I am talking about things that are not actually food at all. ***

And that's where you're stuck. You're asking us how we can calmly allow our kids to drink Drano. We're not doing that. We're allowing them to eat things that many people do eat. We are allowing them the time and ability to decide what is important to them. You're saying in effect that there's no level of acceptable risk because they're like Drano.

Until you let go of how *imminently* dangerous these chemicals are, and see that if the chemicals do cause problems over time, that your kids have *years* to decide for themselves if it's something that *they* feel is worth altering how they eat for.

If the chemicals were as dangerous as Drano, no child who eats them would ever get out of childhood alive.

The problem with getting kids to believe as you do is that they're surrounded by others who have the freedom to make their own decisions about what to believe. And it's very common for people to reject good ideas just for the sake of being finally able to make their own decisions about what to believe. The more pressure you put on keeping them from having thoughts you don't agree with, the more they'll focus on those thoughts.

Tara V:
Ok I'm not trying to be stubborn or argumentative here. I really want to understand.

==When I was deciding between two items in the grocery store I'd share with my daughter what I was weighing to make a decisions. I was sharing my decisions making process, *not* imposing my beliefs on her. I showed her the ingredient list on the packages. I'd mention that one of the factors I used was which had the fewest "unpronounceables" in them. If they were similar, price and price per pound would be another factor. Size would be another factor (if there might be too much left over.) And so on. I might even buy both to taste the difference. I wasn't telling her the right one to choose. I was showing her *how* to make decisions.== This is what typically happens with us in the grocery store. I don't stand in front of the eggs and say, "Those are worthless, you should be afraid of eating them."

I honestly don't see the scientific information about food and our bodies as a fair comparison to an invisible deity in the sky. Saying that this information about food is an opinion is like saying that gravity is just your personal opinion and I might not break my legs if I jump off my roof.

So here is a finer point I want to understand. If we go down the cereal isle my kids might ask for lucky charms. I have two issues with lucky charms one is obviously the ingredients. The other is cost. Buying three boxes of lucky charms at $5 a box (I have three kids who will want their own box or some other cereal for themselves) will keep me from being able to buy $15 of fresh fruits and vegetables. They've had lucky charms, they know what they taste like. How am I breaking my relationship with them and blocking them from exploring their world by saying, "That's not very healthy food. And I'd really like to buy some strawberries and apples for a fruit salad with that money (a food I know they like very much)." How do you live an RU lifestyle on a budget?

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** Saying that this information about food is an opinion is like saying that gravity is just your personal opinion ***

Are you surrounded by people who hold a variety of beliefs about gravity? Do other people have different experiences? Are some people dropping things and having them fall up?

Do you let your kids explore various theories about gravity? Do you allow them to draw their own conclusions?

No sane person can hold different beliefs about gravity for very long!

The same is not true about your ideas about food. You might be right and most of the world wrong! But until the whole world is as sure about chemicals in food as they are about gravity, you *are* telling them what you believe to be true.

The less pressure they feel to believe as you do, the more thoughtful consideration they'll give to your ideas.

Colleen Prieto:
****Buying three boxes of lucky charms at $5 a box (I have three kids who will want their own box or some other cereal for themselves) will keep me from being able to buy $15 of fresh fruits and vegetables.****

If you have a grocery budget, do you also have other budget line-items for toys or fun or however you might categorize Things Your Kids Want To Do Or Have? Do you let your kids help decide how that money is spent? Could they choose Lucky Charms, if that's what they wanted, as something to spend that money on sometimes?

There are lots of ways to help kids get what they want/need - and focusing time and energy on how to say yes can be lots more fun, and is definitely lots more supportive, than focusing on how to say no. No can be easy to find, if No is what you're looking for. But Yes is often findable too

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** How do you live an RU lifestyle on a budget? ***

You're mixing two issues together that aren't the same:

1) How to get the kids to understand that you know the best use of money.

2) How do you create choice on a budget?

The first is about controlling choice. The second is about maximizing choice that's doable for a particular family.

If you use your "greater knowledge" as justification to draw your own boundaries, unschooling won't flourish for you.

Caren Knox:
"I honestly don't see the scientific information about food and our bodies as a fair comparison to an invisible deity in the sky. Saying that this information about food is an opinion is like saying that gravity is just your personal opinion and I might not break my legs if I jump off my roof."

There's scientific information that kids need to be taught to learn to read. There's scientific information that video games cause kids to become aggressive. There's scientific information that kids who have ADHD need medicine to function. There's scientific information that corporal punishment leads to better immediate behavior.

Rather than looking at scientific information, look at your kids! And think about your life-long relationship to them. Help them explore what they want to explore. Normally, giving information is advocated, but to be honest, until you know you can give information without trying to control or influence the choice, I would suggest NOT doing that for a period of time.

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** Buying three boxes of lucky charms at $5 a box (I have three kids who will want their own box ***

*One* "out of the box" thought is save the old boxes and buy a huge box at Walmart or Costco to refill them from.

The more you can share your decision making with them, drawing them into the process, taking their ideas seriously, the less *you* cling to your "right" answer, the less they'll feel they'll need to cling to their first solution. The more they're involved in the process of meeting their needs, the more flexible they'll be. It *will* take time if they're used to you imposing. For quite a while they'll hear your options as a new way of getting them to see it your way.

Sacha Davis Alice:
I think you have a sweet, compliant three year old. My son was full in the grips of pickiness by three so it became about finding stuff he would eat, which means a lot falls by the wayside. It is amazing that we have the privilege and space in our society to obsess about food almost down to the molecular level. Since we don't deal with food scarcity and we can defeat most infectious diseases, since most of us will live long lives in comparison to people on the past, whether or not we ingest processed foods, since old age, failure of the immune system and lifestyle diseases are our biggest threats, there is a lot of emotional space to see small things as huge threats. In 30 years differences between my thee year old daughter and yours will be indiscernible regardless of their diets and despite me taking mine to McDonald's for french fries. You are right that the whole world would be better off with less food dye and processed foods, and most likely your kids will agree with that when they are older, but that is their journey and it's not your job to indoctrinate them but to be their companion on it.

Two things I know for sure. All this micromanaging of food is really about anxiety, your own and our collective anxiety as a society. Food is food, nothing more and nothing less. And nutrition will change. What we know now is not the be all and end all.

Alice R:
That's how I feel too, Tara V. I am not talking here about saying "because I said so," or "we don't eat that, end of story."

To me it is no different then showing them to look for cars before they cross the road. I do that by doing it myself and telling them what I'm doing, and at this young age, I often look around and ask them if they see any cars. I involve them in the decision about whether or not it is safe. I give them information.

Now at 2 or 3 or even 4 I'm not going to give tell them the gory details of what could happen if they were to walk in front of a car that didn't see them. But I can say they would get hurt, I can perform tasks that require critical thinking to be safe and explain what I'm doing and why, I can lead by example, but I'm going to be holding their hand on a busy city street or at least ready to pick them up if they get distracted by something and start to step out before its safe.

By the logic here, that would be controlling and deciding for them. To me the possibility of getting hit by a car on a busy street is the equivalent of them ending up with one of the myriad of food related issues that are so prevalent and getting worse in North America.

Again, I do not fill them with fear. At Christmas, someone gave them a big candy cane on a present; they hadn't had lunch but I didn't give that a second thought when they wanted to eat it. One ate the whole thing, the other ate most of hers and saved it for later. When we have chocolate, I give it to them and say, here you go, there is more if you want it (unless there isn't and then I show them the package so they see for themselves). There is no guilt or shame, they shared their candy cane (this is not the only candy they have had, this is just one example to illustrate what I am saying) with me (I didn't ask, they offered and I had a bite). Joyce what is controlling or shaming about this?

I have two not quite three year olds who will nibble at a piece of chocolate calmly and ask for more. But there is a fundamental difference between some chocolate sometimes and having a stockpile in the cupboard or a box of candy canes. I am seeing the results of this in the way they act around sweets; they don't go crazy or hoard it or anything like that.

But the issues with GMO's, and the many other contents of food products is inherently unhealthy, and denying that is the equivalent, as Tara said, of telling gravity might not hurt them if they jump off the roof, because maybe they won't break a bone. Just because a car or a dangerous height is tangible to us does not make it any more or less dangerous or a game of roulette then some things people eat. To say its ok because a lot of other people eat it defies logic because we live in a society where food related health issues are epidemic.

Alice R:
Nope, not remotely compliant. I have twins and they are far from compliant. Also, the world DOES know that GMO's are horrible; they have been banned almost everywhere except here.
Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** they have been banned almost everywhere except here. ***

But you're living here not every where else. Your kids will know kids and other people who eat these foods. They'll see them on TV. They won't care about GMOs and other things. They'll want to know how they taste and why other people like them!

Imagine you convincing them these foods aren't to be eaten. And they see their friends eating them. They'll be afraid for their friends. They'll want to stop them but be powerless to do anything about it. It will make them anxious that all the people around them are eating poison.

Anxiety is a big health risk.

Alice R:
I don't do that!! I don't intend to hide them from the world and not let then try things. I am protecting them from these things now when that doesn't happen and when they see something and want to try it, they can try it! I'm talking about making healthy choices now, when I am the one providing it and not introducing them to that stuff just for the sake of it. Did you read my non-anxiety filled story? I don't say to them, "that food is bad," to me that is the equivalent of saying, "because I said so," no thank you. I know they will be exposed to it I know they will try it but I can do my best now to give them yummy things that aren't full of that stuff and I see nothing wrong with that.
Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** To me it is no different then showing them to look for cars before they cross the road. ****

Your children won't see people regularly get hit by cars and walk away. They'll *get* that cars can hurt them. They *will* see people eating foods that you fear without being sick.

Alice, please slow down. Reread what's be written. You're waiting for someone to say something brilliant that turns on understanding for you. (Or gets us to understand.)

It's not likely to happen and it's disrespectful of the time people *are* taking for you to blow through the explanations and ask for more. It can take me an hour sometimes to craft a reply and you're blowing through them in 10 seconds. All this has been explained very clearly. You just need to take the time to read. *Temporarily* drop your fear. You can pick it up again when you're done if you want to! Read slowly. Give each new thought consideration.

Alice R:
I never not once said I would not or do not let them try things they want to try.
Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** but I can do my best now to give them yummy things that aren't full of that stuff and I see nothing wrong with that. ***

WHERE has anyone said don't do that??

I specifically stated ADD their requests to what you provide.

Please slow down. It's irritating to spend all this time answering and the answers seem to be skimmed over.

Sacha Davis:
There are more ways than words to convey anxiety and danger. Yes it is good you are avoiding saying things but that doesn't mean you are accomplishing neutrality. You may let them try things, but could you actually watch them put what you see as the same as window cleaner into their bodies and not convey you disapproval in any way? Todo that you need to see value on the "poison" and you clearly don't.
Sacha Davis:
Adding that you are having a hard time with a group of strangers on the Internet not agreeing with your view that food is poison, and we're not your KIDS.
Alice R:
I suppose I feel as though there is an idea of me being paranoid and telling them all this stuff is bad and to never eat it. I am reading. I re read the entire thread last night, and I reread the section of Sandra's site.

Sorry, what I am saying is that I definitely do not want to be filling them with fear and they be "that kid" who goes to someone's house and says "I don't eat that." I am not creating that, I really am not. I do get what everyone is saying. I do not intend to be like that. I guess what I am trying to say now is to please understand that I am NOT that way. I know all that I know and still go to parties and eat what is there and enjoy it. I'm talking about when I have a choice, I choose the healthier options usually. When my kids have the choice, I know they won't always choose the healthier options and I am not afraid of that. I really really started this thread because I wanted to understand things from your perspective and I know how you feel about being irritated because I feel the same way.

Alice R:
Omg Sacha Davis I am having a hard time with the fact that I am being portrayed as a paranoid food freak who is terrified of the world.

When we go to Costco, we usually get a hot dog and soda, they drink it, they eat it, as do I. No fear no big deal.

Alice R:
And sorry Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll I am not meaning to seem like I am not taking it in. Further up in the thread it was suggested that my kids might prefer the Hershey bar to my homemade and how will they know and what am I going to do then? It has been suggested many times that I am filled with fear and putting that on my kids. They have had Hershey. They have had a lot of stuff. In my original question I said you won't find me buying twinkies, etc. I meant right now when they don't know what that is. I am responding to people who just have this stuff in their house all the time and seem to want their kids to try every weird food and have pop every day. If my kids grow up with juice and water and soda when someone has it or its around, what is the big deal?
Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
Don't worry about what we're thinking of you. We're responding to the *ideas*, the *pictures* you're painting with your words, NOT judging you. (Until you start writing at huge length to clear up our supposed misconceptions of you!) We're waiting for clear IDEAS! Write clearly. Ask a question. Ask it clearly. We're analyzing the ideas you're posting, not analyzing or judging you.
Sacha Davis:
You kind of sound like one and this is the giant impersonal internets. Just drop the poison talk and enjoy your hot dog. We eat the pizza. I get being a big picture person. I am too. On the big picture, seeing food as poison could be just as dangerous as the food itself for a kid. It sounds like you're on the right track and should simply not worry about MY food cupboard.
Colleen Prieto:
****I am responding to people who just have this stuff in their house all the time and seem to want their kids to try every weird food and have pop every day****

I haven't seen anyone say they "want their kids to try every weird food and have pop every day." I've seen lots of people say that if there are foods their kids want to try, or sodas they want to drink, they support their kids in exploring that desire — rather than saying No because those foods aren't Pure or Organic or Perfect or Good For You. Big difference, I think, between trying to get a child to want a Twinkie, and saying yes when a child asks to eat a Twinkie. Big difference.

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** Further up in the thread it was suggested that my kids ..."

We're writing to all the people reading. The people reading are creating pictures in their heads from your words that they are curious to hear the answers to. They don't know your kids. We don't know your kids. We're responding to the *idea* that you painted of a mom who compares food to windshield washer fluid.

*Some* kids *will* prefer Hershey's to homemade. What your kids do doesn't negate that.

If you're not fearful, then you're giving a good imitation of it by how you're writing. You can't undo that impression by writing defensively. *Please* don't throw more words at the impression. Ask a question. Write clearly the first time. Reread what you write. Read it as a stranger would.

Annie Kessler:
Maybe part of the confusion here is this idea you have that we have houses full of twinkles and want our kids to try every weird food and drink pop every day? I don't think anyone is saying that. We rarely buy soda. Recently we bought some for a birthday party and during his own party my son asked for water instead of soda. The adults drank more soda than any of the kids. The rest of that soda is in the basement awaiting the next gathering. Occasionally we bring a few up when anyone asks for one, but the cases were taking up too much room on our counter when no one (but me and my husband) was drinking it, and we prefer not to drink it. Both of our kids seem to have no problem bypassing the soda right on the counter but if it is there we tend to drink it.

We do often have chocolate or ice cream in the house, usually at the request of someone in the house whether it is one of the adults or one of the children. Sometimes at the store I will buy something on a whim because I know my kids like it, whether that is strawberries in winter or a bag of chips. So yes, we usually have a variety of foods that people in our house like stockpiled around, but that doesn't mean I have a cupboard full of twinkles and pop that i try to convince my kids to try every day.

Alexandra Souza Lima Polikowsky:
I think that when some people hear unschoolers saying that they do not call some foods junk and that they gladly have them at home if their kids like them they imagine homes where kids live on Twinkies, cool aid, candy and that is all the kids are fed or choose to have.

In my home I grow a huge garden with lots of yummy veggies, I go to local fruit farms, we drink raw milk from our cows, and yes we have lots of cookies, candy, chocolate and any other food that we may want or that my kids love.

Just yesterday my daughter spend all day crazed bout the strawberries my husband bought! She could have dug up the huge container of candy and chocolate.

I also do not make my kids feel guilty they want some store bought cookie by calling it junk or poison.

When my son was about 3 I used to explain to him that store bought cookies were not as good as homemade because of the ingredients.

One day he told me he wanted store bought cookies and that he was OK with it not being so good for him. He looked incredibly guilty. I felt horrible. Here is my little boy wanting that cookie and feeling guilty because of all my talk of "this is good' this is bad" about ingredients.

Schuyler Waynforth once said:

"Candy fed with love beats the heck out of broccoli eaten out of fear."
So no my kids do not live on cookies, twinkies and cool aid. They do eat some. They love veggies and fruits!!!!!
Tara V:
I have no anxiety around food. I am informed.
Annie Kessler:
It's like ordering a pizza. We ask everyone in the house what they want on their pizza. A young child who has never had pizza might have no idea, so maybe I'd order a pizza with half cheese half pepperoni so they could try both. Maybe I know one kid only wants to eat cheese pizza and the other kid doesn't like pizza lately, so I put together something different for her (like a monkey platter of veggies and fruit, maybe a peanut butter sandwich). And sometimes we make our own pizza and put out a variety of toppings and everyone can choose what they want, or choose not to eat pizza at all. Maybe we make our own pizza dough and our own sauce, maybe I put out a bunch of veggies for pizza toppings and one child eats the toppings with no pizza at all. If we are at someone's house and there is no cheese pizza, I will probably help my son pick off peppers is since he doesn't like them (he used to!).

We have done all of those things, and we don't eat pizza every day, or even every week. But the point is there are lots of choices with each meal or snack. It doesn't have to be stockpiling twinkles in order to give my kids a choice.

PS my kids don't know what a Twinkie is either and now that they aren't being made anymore maybe they never will? They have had other hostess/little-Debbie-like products though, along with really good but expensive cupcakes from a local shop, cake from a box mix, and cake made from scratch. Like I said, lots of options out there. That doesn't mean my goal is to have my kids try every food product possible. There is way too much out there, we would be eating constantly. I don't think my kids would like that!

Alexandra Souza Lima Polikowsky:
I love trying different foods but there is no way I will ever try all food there are in the world. Nor is anyone saying that you need to buy Twinkies for your children. buy what they like and want or want to try. Do it without calling it junk or saying that it has all this poison inside that will make them sick.

Try different food and offer to kids. I buy new fruits, veggies and ethnic foods for my kids and I to try. But if they want to try twinkies I buy twinkies for them.

No one is saying to go buy twinkies for your 3 year old. But when you child is 7 and wants to try it just simply get him some. My husband always buys candy and chocolate for my children. I have a big container with all that. It stays full all the time and the only time it actually goes down is when we have kids visiting that are limited in how much they can eat or that the parents call it junk and not healthy. They cannot help but eaat non stop from our container. They also sneak them because they feel guilty even if they know they can eat them in my house. Eating and feeling guilty is not healthy!

Alexandra Souza Lima Polikowsky:
And after I wrote all that there is still people saying things about stockpiling twinkies!!! NO there is no need to unless your child wants it.
Annie Kessler:
Are you referring to my post? I didn't read your post until after I had posted, but I wasn't saying it was necessary to stockpile twinkles. I think I was saying pretty much the same thing you were saying.
Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** I have no anxiety around food. ***

Then you'll just as happily say yes to a McDonald's hamburger as you would strawberries?

Note, Sandra, 2020

In 2013 we didn't know this image yet but if you click the "organic strawberry" link I've added, it will go to a poster created by James Kennedy, a science teacher in Australia. (Click it again and it will enlarge.) He has made an entire series of these, and they're linked from a page on my site, about fear of chemicals.

You won't feel the need to tell the kids what's in the hamburger any more than in the organic strawberries?

*** I am informed. ***

And there are ways to pass on what we understand of the world that will cause others to tune out or to turn thoughts thoughts over in their minds.

I really believe I'm absolutely positively right that unschooling (*if* it can be done well) is right for every kid. But I do know if I tell people all the reasons why I'm right when they haven't asked, they'll put up a defensive wall and cling to what they believe is right.

Kids are human. They want to figure things out for themselves, not be fed the right answers. Even if those answers are the right ones! They want to weigh all sorts of factors to decide what's important to them.

The problem is, though, that when they're young -- depending on personality -- they'll often suck in whatever we tell them. Not because they're unquestioning but because they're fascinated by how the world works. That period makes it seem easy to tell kids the right stuff about the world.

But then they'll hit puberty and they'll start entertaining their own thoughts about the world. And the habit of telling them "the truth" and just having them believe will break down.

*If* you want help on how to support your kids discovering their own meaning in the world, radical unschooling can help. If you want your kids to understand as you do about the world, unschooling won't work so well.

Alexandra Souza Lima Polikowsky:
Got [it] Annie. It just was not clear at first. My kids know what Twinkies are. At least my oldest does. I have had them in the house. My husband likes them once in a while. They really do not really care about them and never asked to buy them. "

So yeah . I think some people read that imagine a house with only twinkies and candy and that we are not informed about food. I have found the contrary. That people are very informed and that they are not fearful and they support their kids explorations and what they like.

Annie Kessler:
I'm not sure that I've ever even had a Twinkie. I was always more likely to choose something chocolate. So we've just never had them around. If my kids wanted them and you could still get them in stores I would have no problem buying them.

I think what you said is a big part of it, misperception. I've seen people say things like this all throughout this discussion--it is possible to keep candy/pop/sweets/chips/etc around and kids will still choose to eat other things (in addition to or in lieu of). I always think of my son's Halloween candy. It was gone in about three days but only because the second day he gave it to me and said I could have the rest. He ate a lot if it for sure! But once he had enough he had no attachment to it. He didn't need to save it because he knew if he wanted Reese's cups in a week we would get some.

Alice R:
Ok, see that is exactly what I was *trying* to ask. I was curious about what freedom with food looked like in your houses and was trying to explain what it looks like in mine. I have never stated that my kids never have these things, i even said that when we go places they are free to choose what they want from what is available, just as they are at home.

But I also really wanted to get an understanding of when you know something is unhealthy, how you relax internally about that. I think people assumed from the question that it meant I didn't. But my impression is that it seems you just put it out of your head so you don't get stressed and shame or guilt your children. I do the same.

I ended up feeling very attacked and it seemed that people thought since I was expressing those feeling here, that I must be expressing it in my every day life. I think that while I ended up on the defensive, some others did as well because everyone was not as clear and kind as Joyce, for instance. Not everyone was responding to what I actually said, there seemed to be some projecting. There is no point telling me I should not feel that way, I felt that in some responses, and responded and that's it, so can we please all just take a step back?

Some of you describe exactly what my house looks like. I know I am in the right track with my kids, and I see signs of it in some of the scenarios I described. It's great, really, if my kids ask for chocolate, we don't necessarily have it, but it only takes minutes to make in the blender and they help and then it's ready in ten minutes. It's great.

Sigh. Is that clear enough?

Annie Kessler:
In case that was confusing, the misperception out there is that we have cupboards full of "junk" and that's all our kids eat every day. Because what kid wouldn't choose sweets (or whatever the "bad" food in mind is) over everything else if they had the option?

But the reality I've seen in our own family and other unschooling families is much different. You can keep all kinds of foods around and kids will choose to eat all kinds of foods, not just one type or thing (over time anyway, sometimes a kid will be on a banana kick and only eat bananas that day). You can wind up with ice cream that's been around so long that its freezer burned and no good anymore. Having it in the house doesn't mean that's the only thing the kids will eat.

Bettina Hepp:
I haven't read past the first 50 messages, but I wanted to suggest that the Threadstarter tries to become a better Unschooling parent in other areas before going back to that food issue. There is so much to learn, I'm learning all the time. It would be bad for you and your family if you left this list out of frustration.
Sandra Dodd:
-=-Saying that this information about food is an opinion is like saying that gravity is just your personal opinion and I might not break my legs if I jump off my roof.-=-

When I was a kid we jumped off the barn MANY times. It was twice as high as our house (a flat-roof little adobe farm house, and the barn had a pitched tin roof, probably sixteen feet.

It wasn't safe, but we would soften up the sand where we were landing, and coach each other on landing with bent knees.

Had my mother said "you might not break your legs if you jump off the roof," she would have been telling the truth. Had she seen us, she probably would have spanked us, and certainly yelled and insulted us. So what was more true than broken legs (which none of us ever got in any of the things we did as kids) was spankings and threats and punishments.

Had my mother said, "If you jump off the roof, you will break your legs" (as I think the quote above approves saying), she would not have been saying something true. She said "You will put your eye out" MANY times about this or that. Had she said "There is a danger of being poked, and if it goes in your eye, you can't grow a new one," that would've been true. What she chose to say was NOT true, and we proved that by playing with pointy sticks, and scissors, and climbing trees, and still having two eyes.

-=- They've had lucky charms, they know what they taste like.-=-

And yet they want some more?

What if your husband wanted beer, but it's expensive, and you didn't want to buy it? Would he be placated with "You've had beer. You know what it tastes like."

I know what beer tastes like, and I never drink it, ever. I think it's foul.

Last summer I saw something in a fish'n'chips shop and I didn't know what it was, so I bought one. The local mom who was with me looked skeptical, or was masking alarm . The guy at the counter looked at me oddly. But I bought it anyway, because it was less than a dollar I had never seen or heard ot it. I tasted it. It wasn't very good. I tasted it again, and put the rest in a bin on the sidewalk. That is how I learned that I did not ever again want to get whatever it was again. (Brits, feel free to identify this thing. It was brownish red, a foot and a half long, round as someone's finger, made of greasy... beef? pork?. But what I was told is that it's something schoolkids can afford and it's quick. I think it was a sort-of-fresh Slim Jim.) But if my son Marty was there and wanted one, I wouldn't tell him he shouldn't or wouldn't like it. If Holly asked, I would tell her I didn't think she would like it. I suppose if some of the moms here were there they would go into a tirade about salt and perservatives and the treatment of farm animals and be a mile away in their minds and thoughts while their child stood there pretty much alone.

If one's religion casts Lucky Charms as Satan, then salvation depends on NOT bringing those home. But if one's religion (as it were) puts value on respecting a child's curiosity and desires, and on a mother putting her own jagged prejudices aside to be a soft, supportive mom, the decision looks very different.

Alice R:
See, I know that is a common misconception as well. I absolutely never said that though! I said, is it ok that I have some less then wholesome food but not others? At the age my children are now, do YOU (as individuals) believe that I am doing them a disservice by not having soda and a bunch of stuff that no one here otherwise eats, just so they can try it if they want?
Alexandra Souza Lima Polikowsky:
Here is our candy jar on top of the kitchen counter:
Sarah Heiner:
Alice, you're responding in less than a minute to many of these posts. I'm reading this and I can't keep up at the rate you're replying. Slow. Down. Stop reacting. Slooow. Down.
Sandra Dodd:
-=-The less pressure they feel to believe as you do, the more thoughtful consideration they'll give to your ideas.-=-

Yes, and the more whole they will be, if they are discovering their own preferences and beliefs from an early age, rather than being controlled until the parents trust them to be able to make their own decisions. That sort of "trust" is a flimsy mask for "...until you show us that you are cowed, and obedient, and your 'decisions' will look like what we would have made you do, anyway."

My kids made decisions about all kinds of things without great risk, and by the time they were leaving the house alone, using power tools and matches and driving cars, they had years of calm decisionmaking practice.

Sandra Dodd:
-=-But there is a fundamental difference between some chocolate sometimes and having a stockpile in the cupboard or a box of candy canes. I am seeing the results of this in the way they act around sweets; they don't go crazy or hoard it or anything like that. -=-

Do you believe you are seeing the results of "this" meaning NOT having a stockpile of chocolate or a box of candy canes? The writing seems strong, but the logic was lost.

Having had a stockpile of chocolate and candy canes that never, ever were eaten (bought for Christmas decorations, but left to sit until they were dusty and thrown out a month or two later), I think my kids probably ate less candy, overall, than some who got candy occasionally, but who then finished it all and asked for more.

Scarcity is something to consider, in the same thoughts as consideration of abundance. SandraDodd.com/abundance/

Tara V:
I'm not saying that I tell them they've had lucky charms, they know what they taste like and they're too expensive anyway. I'm saying, I'm not keeping them from trying something new. I'm saying that I tell them that we have a food budget, that if we buy three boxes of lucky charms then we can't afford to buy all the healthy fruits and veggies that they want in the house as well. I have a 9 year old who would insist on buying ALL lucky charms and that's all he would eat. And he would be an emotional disaster as a result of all that sugar and THAT would hurt our relationship.
Alexandra Souza Lima Polikowsky:
Exactly Sandra!!!! and that is why I posted the picture to our candy Jar. and there is more candy in the cupboard and another jar in my son's room. It sits there....
Sandra Dodd:
-=-Just because a car or a dangerous height is tangible to us does not make it any more or less dangerous or a game of roulette then some things people eat. To say its ok because a lot of other people eat it defies logic because we live in a society where food related health issues are epidemic.-=-

"Tangible" isn't the word you meant to use, I don't think.
That paragraph wasn't read aloud to your husband first, was it?

Please write carefully. In doing that, you will think carefully. And either you will rephrase so others understand it, or you might see the answer yourself, as you think more slowly about what your'e trying to say.

-=-...does not make it any more or less dangerous or a game of roulette then some things people eat. -=-

"Than" some things people eat? Some things that people eat are a game of roulette? Casino roulette, or Russian Roulette? It makes a difference, though both are bad analogies.

Alice R:
Yes. Earlier we went outside because they wanted to go. It's very cold here, don't know in F but there is snow and its windy. Neither kid was wearing pants; or underwear now that I think about it because they believed they didn't need to. Obviously they wanted to come in quick and that was their choice too.

I have done the same thing you describe, Sandra, many times and since I am always with the girls, they try stuff too. They have tried foods many adults I know have not had because their dad is Italian and we have taken them to weddings where there was all kinda if seafood and crazy cakes and desserts. They tried it all, as did I. Happily.

I was not suggesting that I would actually saying "you'll break your legs or you won't break your legs." I don't need to tell then that gravity exists, they have discovered that. Some things are not as visible as cars and gravity. That was my point.

Tara V:
Are you trying to help people see the beauty of RU? Because your sarcasm and condescension are off-putting.
Tauna Grinager:
This thread has been very helpful to me, so thank you to everyone taking the time to reply. My son and I had a marathon night last night watching Phineas & Ferb; along with much rewinding for him to dance to songs he liked. Without this discussion I might have been inclined to push us towards bed. I remember not all that long ago I didn't get what he saw in that show (or many others). Food, TV, video games (all the things much maligned out there in the mainstream world)...if they appeal to your child, they're worth exploring, and it's fun for us, too. I think I'm starting to get it, and it's very freeing.
Alexandra Souza Lima Polikowsky:
-=-I have a 9 year old who would insist on buying ALL lucky charms and that's all he would eat. And he would be an emotional disaster as a result of all that sugar and THAT would hurt our relationship.-=- That is because he feels limited.!!!

Buy him a bunch of boxes and let him eat. You will be surprised. SandraDodd.com/t/economics
This is about TV but works for food!

Economics of Restricting TV Watching of Children
Conclusion: Restricting tv-watching time increases the marginal utility of tv watching...

Tara V:
lol, you don't know this kid.

His electronics time is unlimited. There is no control or coercsion placed on his electronics time at all. Guess what he does all day?

Gwen Montoya:
If a food budget is that tight, why not buy one box and evenly divide it at home into three bags? Or buy in bulk at Costco? Or buy the knock-off Lucky Charms brand that is cheaper? Or see if it is available at a Grocery Outlet or Dollar Store? Or wait for it to go on sale and buy several boxes.
Catherine Forest:
Because he loves it and gets something out of it. Would you react the same if he would be reading all day long? And it is probably much worst because you are not at peace with him using electronics all day long. Kids feel everything.
Alice R:
Tangible? Mmmmm the definition being definite and capable of being touched? That us what I meant, and I am so VERY sorry that I sullied your discussion by saying than instead of then or then instead of than. In case you are wondering, that was sarcasm. Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll asked me to be more clear and I attempted to be. It seems you would rather make me into the "them" in your view of the world. I'm fine with that because I don't think I relate to people who would rather pick apart someone's language who clearly is trying hard to communicate.
Tara V:
I never said I wasn't at peace with him being on electronics all day!!! I was using that as an example of his personality type. He would drink soda all day long every day if it was in the house.
Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** I have a 9 year old who would insist on buying ALL lucky charms ***

If your purpose of telling us this is to hear ideas that gives your kids greater choice, people can come up with ideas. People will have working within a budget ideas too.

If your purpose is to get us to agree that you need to make the decisions and tell your kids why it needs done your way instead of theirs, this isn't the place. This is typical advice people can find on Mothering.com. They come here to read something different.

If you keep posting traditional "I need to make these decisions because you can't" ideas, they'll keep getting pulled apart. Until Sandra says stop

Sandra Dodd:
-=- I re read the entire thread last night, and I reread the section of Sandra's site.-=-

How many pages did you read, Alice R? This is a serious question, and in exchange for the HOURS of writing people have contributed to answering your question I would like a straight, honest answer.

-=- Ok, see that is exactly what I was *trying* to ask. I was curious about what freedom with food looked like in your houses and was trying to explain what it looks like in mine.-=-

So rather than read what was already on my site and Joyce's about what food choices looked like in the homes of experienced unschoolers, you stirred up all this? WHY did you want to explain what it looks like in your house? For people's approval? Your daughters are still nursing. This page wasn't created to look inside the details of the lives of people who've just lately heard of unschooling, but to provide resources and information for people who want to move from whatever they've been doing toward bigger, better unschooling.

Annie Kessler:
Earlier you said this: "I am responding to people who just have this stuff in their house all the time and seem to want their kids to try every weird food and have pop every day."

A few people have replied that no one here is saying that, so there is that misperception.

No one is saying I keep this stuff around because I want my kids to drink pop everyday. But I know I said we do happen to have some around right now and no one was drinking but the adults so we chose to put it in the basement for now.

I think sometimes there is this fear that if I regularly kept xyz food in the house, something bad would happen (that's all they would want might be one example). Maybe you don't have that fear, I can't know that. I don't think you are doing a disservice to your 2 year old children by not having soda around. I'm not sure that it would be a disservice at 10 either. It all depends. Some kids might try soda and not like the bubbles in their mouth and not want it again. You don't have to keep buying it and try to encourage them to like it. But it might be worth it to figure out a way to relax about food choices now while they are young so that when or if they start asking for things that make you uncomfortable, you can say yes without feeling negatively about it or giving your kids the impression that they are making a bad choice by trying something. It might be worth thinking about something your kids might like to try that you don't generally keep around the house. It doesn't have to be candy either. I'm sure you already do that, a new fruit or vegetable. Or hey, let's try dipping our strawberries in our homemade chocolate. Focus on the fun you can have with food. Down the road you might find yourself saying my kids might like to try this thing, and normally I would never buy it for myself....but I think they will really like it!

My mom never made Brussels sprouts because she hated them. I grew up thinking they must be awful! Turns out I love them! I don't think it's terrible that she never made them for me, but it is too bad that her dislike of them kept me from trying them for so many years even after I was out if her house.

Catherine Forest:
Tara, you don't sound at peace with "his personality". Kids can't get enough of something because it has been limited or because they are afraid of losing it or because they are really getting something out of it right now and loving it. And it is all fine. When he will have had enough Lucky Charms and know they will always be available in the house, he won't feel the need to eat them all day.
Alice R:
Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll if you scroll back to before Sandra returned to the discussion, you will see a long post that is me trying to explain my motives, my thoughts, and what I was thinking when I started this discussion, that has literally had me in tears more than once at how incredibly mean people can be. (More, I am sure, then they would ever be to their children or even me in person). I would live to know what you think about what I said in that post. Thank you.
Tara V:
Please tell me how I don't sound at peace with his personality? What specifically did I say that communicated that?
Sandra Dodd:
-=-There is no point telling me I should not feel that way, I felt that in some responses, and responded and that's it, so can we please all just take a step back? -=-

I don't care how you feel. I care what you write in this group.
I care how your daughters will feel, if you want to become an unschooler.

Joyce and I will not take a step back. Pam Sorooshian doesn't need to take a step back. Alex, Bettina, Annie, just looking up this page.... they can take a step forward.

Alice, you have been asked several times to post less and read more. If you cannot honor that request (which has also come from the kind and gentle Joyce Fetteroll, who is correct, you're blowing through her posts without reading), then you will no longer be welcome in this discussion.

My grown daughter, in 2020, hearing some of this, said
"She read it like a school kid. 'I read it. What do you mean think!?'"
Alice R:
Annie Kessler I was agreeing with everything you said. I was saying your house sounds just like mine.
Catherine Forest:
"Guess what he does all day?" doesn't sound like you really approve of the way he chooses to spend his time.
Sarah Heiner:
"I was using that as an example of his personality type"

*If* it's true that that is his personality type, how is how you're talking about that trait, how you're thinking about it respectful to him or helpful to either him or you?

ETA: Catherine responded before me while I was typing. That's at least two of us that read disapproval or distaste or mocking when we read your words. It's entirely possible that your son *feels* that.

Alice R:
I did not blow through her posts, Sandra Dodd. I have not felt welcome in this discussion ever.
Caren Knox:
"I am so VERY sorry that I sullied your discussion by saying than instead if then or then instead if than. In case you are wondering, that was sarcasm."

Sarcasm isn't helpful. The misspelling wasn't pointed out to make you feel less than, but to point out that you're NOT being careful with your words, you're not taking the time to reread your own posts before you hit "enter". If you're in tears, it's time to step AWAY from the discussion. It will be here after you've had time to get centered. Well, maybe - posts can disappear from this page!

Sacha Davis Alice :
- these discussions CAN be unwelcoming. They can also be informative.
Alice R:
I will not delete the thread, if that is what you are suggesting. I do reread my posts. I just have trouble with the use of then and than. I forget which to use where. Ok? I don't feel that I am being understood either, so it goes both ways.
Alice R:
Yeah Sacha Davis helpful stuff for sure.
Tara V:
I wrote "guess what he does all day?" and followed it with a smiley face to those reading here. It's a HUGE leap to say that I speak of him and his personality with disapproval, distaste, and mocking. It's frustrating to have your words and intentions twisted into something negative. Being *aware* of his personality type does not mean I am judging his personality type. He once ate beans and cheese burritos for lunch and dinner every day for a whole entire two years. There were no limits placed on him, he was not afraid that we would take away the beans and cheese burritos. It's what he asked for and so it's what he was given. I love him just the way he is. Personally, I think he comes by it honestly, I am much the same way. I brought it up because I was wondering how one would deal with a situation where you KNOW you're dealing with a kid who would drink soda all day every day indefinitely even if all the controls around deciding what to drink were completely handed over to him. He already has some issues with cavities, he's getting his adult teeth. In an effort to allow him ALL the choice I can, should I allow him to ruin his teeth for the rest of his life? If he is allowed choice in all other areas of his life... i.e. he is allowed all the time on electronics that he wishes for, is it a total deal breaker that I don't buy him the soda he wants so that he can drink it all day every day?
Alex Polikowsky:
What does he do all day. Does he do electronics? My son told me this morning that he had spent the early morning researching something about a game he likes, reading forums, learning coding so he could add coding into that game. He was in his computer but he sure was not doing electronics all day. If he was using books for his research would would consider him being on paper all day? When you really see what your child is doing you will stop seeing it as "screen time" or electronics all day!
Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
Alice, try to hear this in a gentle voice. You're letting your words and emotions spill out of your fingers and onto the list. That won't help you ask the clear questions you want answers to. If you want to ask a question, write it out in a word processor. Or even long hand. Let it sit for a while. Come back and reread it so you can better hear what your words say rather than what you intend them to say. (I reread most of my posts at least 3 times before sending. Clarity is important on this list. Words are important.)

Write briefly. *Every* idea you put into a post will potentially be pulled out to be examined. That's how this forum works. It's purpose is to analyze people's ideas so they can turn their thinking around and make better choices.

Not everyone wants that. That's why there's choices out there so people can find what works for them :-) But everyone who posts here who doesn't want that is likely to get their feelings hurt because it will feel mean.

If don't want Chinese, don't go to a Chinese restaurant. If you don't want your ideas analyzed, reading will work better.

Tara V:
Once again. I never said his electronics all day is a bad thing. I don't see it negatively at all.
Cat Forest:
Does he like the more natural sodas like Santa Cruz or Real Brew (they make nice Root beer) that will be less harmful on the teeth. Maybe more toothbrushing?
Alice R:
I did. About an hour or so I tried to start over and wrote exactly what I was trying to say, as concisely as I could (right after Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll asked me to). I just can't do it again.
Alice R:
Catherine Forest!! So are you saying providing soda that is less chemical laden is ok?? That is one of my main questions.
Jemma Jessup:
Sandra - I reckon it was a saveloy you ate http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saveloy
That was it! "saveloy"
Cat Forest:
Well, I am saying trying to find options that the children are happy with AND that will prevent tooth decay if this is a concern. Of course, if the child does not like those sodas, it's not a good option.
Alice R:
Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll I don't know how to be more clear. I wrote exactly how I have treated food and what my goals were in asking the original question.
Alex Polikowsky:
Of course it is OK unless he wants Sprite and you go on to tell him how Sprite has this or that and that is bad for him and he should chose this other soda that is best for him
Alice R:
Yes of course.
Sandra Dodd:
-=-Are you trying to help people see the beauty of RU? Because your sarcasm and condescension are off-putting.-=-

No one can see the beauty of unschooling here. This isn't unschooling. This is a place for a parent to find some ideas.

And I'm not "trying" to help people get unschooling. I have been doing it for years and years.

Read a little, try a little, wait a while, and watch. The beauty of radical unschooling can only be seen in the eyes of your children. Don't look for it here.

If you don't like this discussion, leave the page. It's a big world. Don't stay here and complain.

Tauna Grinager:
There is a huge difference between your son being *allowed* all the electronics he wants, and radical unschooling. We had many fits and starts with this in our house, and I thought our son was like how you describe your son, Tara V. Now I'm just starting to see it - it was my attitude and anxiety that was the problem, not my son's personality. I thought I wasn't showing my anxiety, but I was probably dumping it all over him while giving him "freedom" (Sandra's discussion about freedom helped me see why shooting for "freedom" wasn't what we needed at all). I was still using it as currency.

Now instead of seeing a kid whose on electronics all day, I see a kid who's enjoying the creativity of Phineas & Ferb. Having a fun time developing his defense tactics in Plants vs. Zombies. Playing Minecraft while deciding which characters are the equivalent to the characters in Plants vs. Zombies. This is *so* not the same thing as saying "geez...my son is on electronics all day long."

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** I don't feel that I am being understood either ***

This will sound mean, but the purpose of the forum isn't to understand you. It's to respond to the words people post. A year from now, if someone reads what you wrote, *all* they'll have are your words. They won't be able to ask you what you meant. So to be helpful to the people reading, helpful to future readers, we respond to the words posted. Someone might ask for clarification. But all we have to go on are the words posted.

It's harder than a face to face conversation! There's no vocal tone, no body language to convey extra meaning. There's just words.

Sandra Dodd:
-=-I have a 9 year old who would insist on buying ALL lucky charms and that's all he would eat. And he would be an emotional disaster as a result of all that sugar and THAT would hurt our relationship.-=- If you had written "If I let him, he would eat nothing but lucky charms," I would have added it to my collection:

If I let him...

Lyla Wolfenstein:
are you actually asking if it's ok to give your children a specific food? i am confused by this - you've been hearing all about how different radical unschoolers handle food choices and preferences and exploration, and arguing with it, and yet, if someone tells you that a specific soda is ok, that will somehow give you permission? or perhaps i am misunderstanding your question. i have been keeping up with this thread as best i can, and haven't commented because annie, and joyce, and many others have said what i would have said, and said it well.

i have a 14 and a 17 year old who were not unschooled their entire lives (they were 9 and 13 when we started) and so i have the perspective of contrast. any comments about "you don't know this kid" or temperament based assumptions won't hold water with me, because i have a child who i was *absolutely positive* would eat candy all day, would do nothing but play video games, etc, etc. etc. everything he showed me when we weren't unschoolers indicated that to be true. but it wasn't true. i only wish i'd discovered much earlier that everything i worried about wasn't worth worrying about and that my worries were, in fact, straining my relationship with my kids and thereby making everything much, much worse (and in ways that *were* worth worrying about!)

i gave a conference presentation at life is good unschooling conference last year and i put the slideshow and notes up on my blog, if anyone's interested. it's about the illusion of control. www.lylawolf.blogspot.com

Robyn Coburn:
I was right back up at the start of this thread, and just a couple of comments down I read, "If I had the answers, I would not have asked".

You didn't ask anything except "So...what of it?"

If you ask a provoking question, you will get provoking answers. Don't be surprised and irritated now, over 200 comments later.

Alice R:
Way way way earlier in the thread I asked what was wrong with providing lots of delicious but healthier alternatives to things that all kids like (chocolate, etc.) and I mean, REALLY yummy alternatives, at home now, when they are too young to know the other things exist.

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll, I understand that. I understand that as I felt attacked, I became less clear. But when you asked me to be clear and say exactly what I meant, I did. Was that not clear enough to illicit a response? Because I don't think anyone has addressed what I said. Maybe I'm wrong.

Gwen Montoya:
== So are you saying providing soda that is less chemical laden is ok?? That is one of my main questions. ==

Wait - are you under some impression that unschoolers look for the most outrageously colored/processed food possible to feed their kids??

There are many natural (or less processed, I guess?) alternatives to popular foods. Trader Joe's sells a Cheeto-like food. Zoe (6) likes Cheetos sometimes, but doesn't like the Trader Joe's kind. If she asks for Cheetos, then I buy them. If she liked the Trader Joe's brand, then I would buy those instead.

I buy ice cream that has the fewest possible ingredients or I make my own. But if my kids asked for a specific kind then I would buy that.

I actually like buying snack foods at Trader Joe's because I know there is less stuff in them. Safeway has a "Naturals" line that I like too. And other grocery stores are beginning to carry less processed versions of foods because people will buy them.

I'm interested in trying weird new foods - one of my favorite things about road trips is finding strange candy or potato chips in gas stations. I've seen dill pickle chips around lately and plan on buying a bag to try at some point.

Tara V:
But you see, Tauna. I didn't say, "geeze". My son is doing all the things during his time on the computer that your son is doing. And I love it. I don't have anxiety around that.

I do see how drinking soda all day will rot his teeth. Causing him long term harm and costing the family money. I'm asking if food and drink have some "rules" but nothing else does, is that harmful?

Sandra Dodd:
-=-Some things that people eat are a game of roulette? Casino roulette, or Russian Roulette? -=-

Please name a food that is like a game of roulette.
And 1 in 36 (roulette wheel) or 1 in 6 (Russian roulette, with a revolver? And is it loss of a round, or certain death, the result of this thing that people eat?

No one ever answered that.
Sandra Dodd:
Alex wrote something and left a link. Less than one minute later, someone wrote "LOL" and blew her off. This discussion is not going well, but it's because of the people who are new and asking rude questions, not because of the experienced unschoolers who are trying to help them see something that can be wonderful.

Alex wrote and left a link to Pam's article on economics

other mom: lol, you don't know this kid.

Sandra Dodd:
-=-Tangible? Mmmmm the definition being definite and capable of being touched? That us what I meant,-=- A speeding car, the height of the house and gravity are all intangible then, but thanks for clarifying that it was the word you really did intend to use.
Sandra Dodd:
-=-I don't think I relate to people who would rather pick apart someone's language who clearly is trying hard to communicate.-=- (Quoting Alice R from a few hours before, when I was asleep.)

SandraDodd.com/semantics

I don't want you to keep trying hard to communicate. I want you to answer some direct and specific questions, and to post less. I want you to read and try things and learn about unschooling gradually and gently with your children at home.

I don't want you to "relate" to me. I want you to relate better to your children.

Semantics and Unschooling
sandradodd.com
Unschooling takes clear thinking.

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** So are you saying providing soda that is less chemical laden is ok?? ***

Give them options. Give them choice. If they want a Coke get them a Coke. Or get them several different kinds of colas to do a taste test. The question isn't "Is natural soda okay?" The question is how to support *their* curiosity and desire to explore the world.

Whether it's better for learning to give them a Coke or several options will depend on your child's personality and, yes, your agenda.

If your child asks for a Coke and you feel a burning desire that she needs to compare it to the natural options -- even if you don't say so -- your child will feel your agenda isn't to get her what she wants but to make sure she knows about the options you like best.

If on the other hand, comparing Coke, Pepsi and the store brand sounds fun, then it's about exploring and not about them making your choices.

If your agenda is to get them to choose more natural drinks, your child is likely to feel you aren't listening to her.

Sarah Heiner:
"I'm asking if food and drink have some "rules" but nothing else does, is that harmful?"

The question of harm aside (and, yes, I do think it's harmful to your relationship), it's not Radical Unschooling which is what *this* page is about.

Robyn Coburn:
The statement "drinking soda all day will rot his teeth" is an absolute assertion.

Or it won't rot his teeth, and then in the fullness of time he could feel betrayed, or dismissive of other serious concerns you share, or amused by how silly his "drama queen" mother gets, or some other reaction.

What if there are cavities in the absence of soda?

I think there are a lot of statements masquerading as questions in this thread.

Alice R:
No I was saying those things are tangible (except maybe gravity? Gravity is tangible in how it effects objects, but you can't actually see it) whereas something that will hurt your body but is combined with a lot of other things and tastes really good is not tangible. Like, for example, if you put rat poison in a cake. The cake you can see and taste but you would not know the poison is there, yet it is no less poisonous. I thought that was the proper use of the word, but it isn't? What word would you use instead?
Tara V:
This group really needs a "rules for posting" file. I didn't know it was rude to respond and then to come back to read a link. I commented in this thread hesitantly because of the sometimes rude and condescending tone I have seen taken by the "experts" here. It's hard to be receptive to input when you feel you're being talked down to.
Alice R:
Sorry, that was directed at Sandra Dodd
Sandra Dodd:
-=- if you scroll back to before Sandra returned to the discussion...-=-

I was asleep, then feeding the birds, making breakfast, talking to my daughter.

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** Because I don't think anyone has addressed what I said. ***

If people aren't addressing it, there's a clarity reason for it. Did you post it all by itself? Or was it buried in the middle of one of your long posts?

If a question isn't being answered, please don't ask people to go dig for it!

Sandra Dodd:
-=-I would live to know what you think about what I said in that post.-=-

(That was addressed to Joyce. Joyce is not being paid enough to read someone's long post and analyze it, one on one, for that person who is NOT reading links and is ignoring the valuable things Joyce HAS been sweet enough to contribute.)

-=--=-I would live to know what you think about what I said in that post.-=--=-

Live for your children, and proofread your posts.

-=-Tara V: Please tell me how I don't sound at peace with his personality? What specifically did I say that communicated that?-=-

Tara, several people can see that your descriptions of your son do not sound "at peace." They have said so. Do your own self-reflection. Maybe cut and paste what you read, print it out, let it sit a few weeks or months, while you read, try, wait and watch.

Alice R:
And Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll yes, I completely agree. I WOULD let them have a coke if they wanted it, or have a taste test or whatever else, because its fun.

I am referring to a post from way earlier though, I would copy it, but can't get to a computer right now. I explained why I asked the question to begin with and clarified my motivations...I AM an unschooler. My children are very free. I was curious about this stuff and it was assumed I must be projecting that fear onto my children and preventing them from choosing things. I know I said things that could have been taken the wrong way, but there has been quite a bit of that, not just from me. I was really hoping you would see that post. Would it help it I got on a computer so I can repost it? I know there is a lot and it may be hard to find.

Alice R:
Sandra Dodd I would not have bothered if she had not asked. Maybe I misunderstood her question, but I thought that Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll wanted to know what I was trying to say and asked me to be really clear so I was. If she doesn't want to answer anymore, I'm fine with that.
Tara V:
Yes Sandra, several people have misconstrued the things I have said and misused them to mean something completely different than what I was getting at despite my efforts to clarify. I wish I could say that this conversation has helped me see my way further into radical unschooling from unschooling. It has not. I have yet to hear anyone address my issue of the rude and condescending tone taken here from time to time. I have made an effort to see past that and glean some benefit from the input. If radical unschooling is so great, why not present it in a more positive light.
Karen James:
-=-I do see how drinking soda all day will rot his teeth. Causing him long term harm and costing the family money.-=-

My husband (now 40) was given Coke on his soother when he was a baby so that he would take it. He grew up drinking more soda than water. When he and I first got together he would always have at least two 2L bottles of pop (one orange and one cola) in the fridge. He has never had one single cavity. I, on the other hand, have a mouthful of fillings and I am not a pop drinker.

Colleen Prieto:
***I was wondering how one would deal with a situation where you KNOW you're dealing with a kid who would drink soda all day every day***

My husband’s parents used to talk about how for many years when he was growing up, he wanted to drink nothing but soda – Pepsi, specifically. They didn’t have tons of extra money for toys or trips to amusement parks or such – but they bought him all the soda they could because it made him happy. And they talked about how sometimes he’d have multiple cans open at once – one in this room, one in that room, and that they’d end up dumping some of it at the end of the day because he’d not end up drinking all the cans he opened. He did get cavities in just about all of his molars (not everyone who drinks soda will – but he’s a person who did). So his parents paid to have the cavities filled. And they didn’t make him stop drinking soda even though cavities are expensive and painful.

As an adult, he doesn’t drink much soda any more. But he does talk about his parents buying it for him – and when he talks about it, he smiles. He talks about going to the dentist to have his cavities filled – but he has no resentment about the trips to the dentist – only happy memories of his parents doing something kind and nice for him by letting him have all he wanted of something he loved.

That’s what I think of when my son asks for Twizzlers – or for snack-cakes – or for other sweets or processed foods. I think of saying yes as being about relationship-building, not about potential cavities or stomach-aches. Cavities and stomach-aches can be fixed oh so very much more easily than relationships.

Sandra Dodd:
-=-I have not felt welcome in this discussion ever.-=-

It's about ideas. Good ideas are welcome, no matter who brings them. Reactionary, strident, misspelled rudeness will always be less welcome, everywhere in the whole world. Don't blame me for other people not cooing and praising bad ideas, beat to death.

It's fine if you continue not to answer my questions. It leaves the assumption as it was before I asked, that you did NOT read the entire section at The Full Plate Club. You were always welcome to read that; it's been there (with occasional additions) for many years.

Elissa Jill Cleaveland:
Alice, you don't need to defend yourself. What I strongly suggest that you do is to back out of your fb app and be with your girls. They are little and need you there, fully present right now. You don't need anyone's permission for anything you choose to do while your girls are growing up. Does me saying that to you help? We have no say in what you do on a daily basis. So do what you want. If you want to have the best relationship with your kids as you can then listen to (or read the words of) all the smart, successful parents that have spent days now sharing the things that work to create successful happy families.

You've been posting long responses on the list at an average of 10 minute intervals all day. Please go be with your kids, watch them, say yes more, breathe.... And try to see the ideas of choice and learning and truth that posters here are talking about, rather than the bushels of twinkles and red kool-aid that you think are being discussed. It's the why, not the what, that's important.

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** I do see how drinking soda all day will rot his teeth. ***

Probably not. Saliva is good at washing sugar laced water away. Raisins on the other hand stick to the teeth and aren't washed away as easily. They'll cause pits on the teeth.

*** Causing him long term harm and costing the family money. ***

If you wanted a radical unschooling answer you'd be willing to be less certain, be willing to try things to see what happens.

But it doesn't help other moms, it doesn't help future moms for us to say "Oh, okay, if you believe that he will drink soda all day then it's true and of course you have to limit it."

We can give you ideas on how to open the world to him. You can try them out. Or not. But it doesn't help us provide good general answers to people if you try to back us into a corner with your certainties to get us to agree that you need to limit him.

*** I'm asking if food and drink have some "rules" but nothing else does, is that harmful? ***

Harmful to what?

And whether it's harmful or not depends.

It depends on your child's personality. Some kids are more accepting of rules. (I was that way. It makes the world orderly to know there are rules to follow. :-)) Some kids don't have strong feelings so a no won't be felt as strongly.

It depends on whether *your child* feels the rules as barriers between him and what he wants to explore.

If you were confined to a wheelchair and thus dependent on others to bring you what you wanted, at what point would, "No, I don't want you to have that," feel reasonable and when would it feel frustrating? At what point would it feel like you wanted to say, "I'm not trying to be difficult, but I can't get things for myself the way you can for yourself."? It would depend. It would depend on your personality. It would depend on lots of things.

The question isn't *to us* "Is that harmful?' The question for you to ponder is, how is it affecting your son's view of exploring the world? What does your son feel? If your primary goal is maintaining your certainty that x will cause harm, then what you see will be different than if your primary goal is opening the world to him.

If you're certain you're doing right, why ask us? Because you keep setting up the problem as though there is no other solution. People come here to see their problems in new ways, try different things, and find new solutions. If that isn't what you want, what's the purpose of asking the questions?

Gwen Montoya:
A thought on the soda drinking and expense - there is a thing called a Soda Stream (and probably a few other brands too) that allow you to make soda at home. They come with flavor packs (so it tastes like Coke or orange or whatever), but I bet there are also ways to make tasty soda using natural ingredients...I'm thinking juice, carbonated water, and maybe a sweetener of some kind?

I don't have one, but the device is supposed to be much cheaper than purchasing soda.

Sandra Dodd:
-=-I have made an effort to see past that and glean some benefit from the input. If radical unschooling is so great, why not present it in a more positive light.-=-

Leave the discussion if it's not helping you.

I recommend these very-positive-light resources:

http://sandradodd.com
http://joyfullyrejoycing.com
http://livingjoyfully.ca
Aiden Kathleen Wagner:
Tara V, the people who are answering your questions ARE experts. They have many years of experience, have seen what works and doesn't work, and have successfully raised their own children. Snidely putting the word in quotation marks sends a clear message that you are not interested in hearing what they have to say and are only here to say what you want and not listen. That is not the purpose of this page, I believe. I think the purpose of this page is to come and hear from experts.
Sandra Dodd:
-=-This group really needs a "rules for posting" file. -=-

This is what's at the link above:

Open Group
Links and directions to information for new and experienced Unschoolers who extend that learning beyond academics.

Any idea brought here will be examined in light of the principles of radical unschooling.

The page was created by Sandra Dodd, and was originally intended to announce changes to the http://unschooling.info/ page. That site, though, hasn't really been kept up lately, because the discussions at Always Learning and here have seemed sufficient. 2020 note: The site was discontinued; don't go there.

The sites most linked to are SandraDodd.com and joyfullyrejoycing.com/, both sites related to the yahoogroup Always Learning and a few other yahoogroups and forums over many years.

The traditions in place here are that unschooling is to be discussed for the benefit of the many readers, many of whom will only read but not post.

-=-Arguing and insulting "the experts" seems to be against the rules, then. -=-

We were examining the ideas, and if that felt like we were "talking down" to an individual, then that individual should probably hang back until their ideas are beneficial to many readers who want to learn more about radical unschooling.

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:

*** several people have misconstrued the things I have said ***

See that as feedback that that your words are painting a different picture than you intend. If your clarifications are still causing an impression you don't intend, the words still aren't clear.

No one's trying to be mean. The goal is clarity of radical unschooling ideas.

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** I am referring to a post from way earlier though, I would copy it, but can't get to a computer right now. I explained why I asked the question to begin with and clarified my motivations ***

Don't copy. Just state the question simply. We don't need a rehash of clarified motivations. After all this discussion, if you can't state it in a few words, sit on it for a few days until it gets clearer for you.

Alice R:
Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll My question has three points:
1-what unschooling food looked like in people's homes.

2-at not quite three years old, are my children losing out on not being voluntarily (by me) introduced to things like Twinkies, or Lucky Charms before they discovered them?

Note: they have discovered and tried many other things.

3-if I choose, now, at this time, to make most things like chocolate (easy, in a blender and the fridge, they help) and cookies to avoid the stuff with preservatives, and buy organic or pasture fed meat, etc. and cook with that, when I can, without saying, "this is good for you/ better than those "other" things," is that not fully unschooling?

Robyn Coburn:
Finally clear questions. And they are interesting.

= 1.what unschooling food looked like in people's homes.=

This has been amply covered in this discussion, with so many lovely stories, and in the links Sandra has provided, and other discussions. However what I have gleaned from other comments is that some posters are dubious about the idea of having stockpiles of some foods, particularly candies, which is a common feature of many unschooling food stories.

Here is the point (mentioned a few times but apparently unheard) - the stockpiles often end up existing because the kids have had sufficient for now and DON'T eat up the candy/chips/jerky/donuts/whatever rather than because they continually do eat it.

What happens in our house is that Jayn, now 13 always unschooled, will go on jags wanting a lot of one food, or food type. It might be new and special, it might be familiar and comfortable, she might eat all we have in one sitting. I try to buy plenty and have what looks like a stockpile. Usually there is a fairly quick taper off from the food, until I end up with one or two unopened packages, or half finished packages, or I offer to add it to the shopping list and she says no.

What are the unschooling principles behind creatiing a stockpile of some food? Abundance, Acceptance, Choice

Alice R:
Yes!! I realize that 1- has been covered. I am not a complete idiot.
Robyn Coburn:
= 2.at not quite three years old, are my children losing out on not being voluntarily (by me) introduced to things like Twinkies, or Lucky Charms before they discovered them? =
If it were a beloved book, favorite movie, adored experience like a special place to visit, this would not be a question. You would feel strongly that they are losing out by not going to the place you love and feel safe in.

OTOH, if the idea were a scary movie, a place where you had a horrible experience, you would certainly think twice about introducing these to your kids. I remember thinking with sadness how one day my precious, innocent girl would learn about Auschwitz, and all the horrors humans are capable of inflicting on one another.

Part of the issue in this discussion comes back to the idea that these foods are being lumped into the horrible, scary, harmful basket.

What unschoolers are suggesting is rethinking putting those things in the harmful basket so virulently. Maybe your child would not find a spider scary, but fascinating. Maybe you know her enough to know that even a jokey movie can be scary.

Alice R:
Thank you Robyn Coburn.
Robyn Coburn:
I hit send too quick, but for easier reading I'll continue here rather than edit. (the irony is that I hit enter again so this is now going to show as edited, darn it!)

Since our children do live in the real world, things like sweet cereals will be part of their experience, so actively strewing them may not be necessary.

Are you harming them by not introducing these things yourself before the real world can take care of it? I doubt it. If anyone needs an unschooler's permission to simply not mention to their toddlers that Twinkies exist, OK, here you go. (I feel so powerful now.) But be ready for when in five years when they see them, that they might ask why you didn't tell them about this awesome thing.

I think the potential for harmful anxiety is if these foods are set up as being as scary or dangerous as actual rat poison, even though they are there in the food aisles, especially while children are young and may see things in very black and white terms, rather than on a gradation of danger.

I think the potential for harm to the relationship exists in refusing to buy at least one package ("We can try these for fun") and "theorizing in the absence of data" - the kids might not like them as much as other foods. [*Alice - I read several times that you don't generally refuse to buy things in this scenario - but there are other people possibly reading who do.]

What are the unschooling principles behind rethinking the contents of the harmful basket? Connection, Calm, Balance, again Abundance, most of Trust.

There are calm and easy ways to express our concerns, that stay factual. I like to talk about my own experiences, such as "when I eat thus and such I can feel queasy" but always with a "your mileage may vary" mindset. I like to talk about research, but I also like to double check my sources.

Tauna Grinager:
Alice R - You're digging in your heels and fighting, rather than following Sandra's advice to read a little, watch a little, etc. Most of your posts have a tone of looking for an argument. I understand where you're coming from - I was where you are now. What I didn't do was try to argue with experienced unschoolers. Fortunately I did just as Sandra suggested - read a little, thought *a lot*, talked it out with my husband, my mom and trusted friends. Most of all, I watched my son and worked towards being more mindful of what would lead to more connection and saying yes more. Radical unschooling won't work when you're being defensive of your ideas.
Marge Bartlett:
Wow. Alice R said something like "I am afraid they will get sick and I will have failed them." In 2005, my daughter was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Was that somehow MY fault? Do you think it was because of what she was allowed to eat? Are you saying that I failed her? I know that you are probably not. (Although you could be.)

She was terribly sick. Fatally sick. Not because I bought her that Lunchables (which she was very disappointed in) and not in spite of it either. After her diagnosis, I was just happy if she could eat anything! There were so many days where she wouldn't eat or couldn't eat.

Sometimes bad things happen to our kids. Terrible, awful things that are not our fault. We just don't have that kind of control. Don't delude yourself thinking that you do. But don't let your fear control you or ruin your relationship with your children.

Sandra Dodd :
-=-Yes!! I realize that 1- has been covered. I am not a complete idiot.-=-

Why did you ask, then, Alice?
How many pages did you read in the food section on my site?

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** 1-what unschooling food looked like in people's homes. ***
I'm not being flippant! Getting the ideas clear can help thinking about the ideas.

Unschooling is creating a rich, supportive environment for children to explore what interests them from and where they can explore new interests.

Feed them what they love to eat. Provide new things for them to try. That doesn't mean give them everything in the world.

*** are my children losing out on not being voluntarily (by me) introduced to things like Twinkies, or Lucky Charms before they discovered them? ***
If there were 5 foods in the world and you are only sharing 2, that's a problem. At 3 there are loads for them to try without Twinkies. The goal is giving them choices. Do they have choices? Do they have new things to try? Are you responsive to them asking to try something?

(You don't need to answer those. Those are the kinds of questions you should be asking yourself in order to help them explore what interests them and find new interests.)

*** 3-if I choose, now, at this time, to make most things like chocolate (easy, in a blender and the fridge, they help) and cookies to avoid the stuff with preservatives, and buy organic or pasture fed meat, etc. and cook with that, when I can, without saying, "this is good for you/ better than those "other" things," is that not fully unschooling? ***

If an unschooler is giving her kids Chips Ahoy instead of homemade chocolate chip cookies, is she a better unschooler? Worse unschooler?

You could never even give your kids commercial food when they're young. But at some point they will get intrigued. How you respond to "Can we have Oreos?" is a better indicator of how well you're unschooling than whether you've ever spontaneously brought Oreos into the house or not.

Chelsea Thurman Artisan:
Alice, 1 has been answered at length by many people. 2 and 3, those can be fine as long as you are getting them things they ask for, BUT thinking of the foods you choose not to buy as "poison" and "not really food" is harmful in and of itself, even if you aren't saying that aloud. This has also been said by a lot of different people in this thread in a lot of different ways!

You also seem to want to know how we deal with our food fears. What I did was change my beliefs about food and stop being afraid. One thing that really helped me let go of my food fears was reading stuff by researchers with different opinions like Ray Peat and Matt Stone.

You might also look into intuitive eating. I still buy raw milk, I still buy sprouted grain bread, I still buy pastured eggs and meat and organic vegetables and natural stuff. I just think of those things more like yay good bonus nutrient-packed awesomeness that I enjoy eating and less as what I (and everyone else) must consume exclusively (or very nearly exclusively) in order to not get diabetes or Alzheimer's or whatever.

Robyn Coburn:
3-if I choose, now, at this time, to make most things like chocolate (easy, in a blender and the fridge, they help) and cookies to avoid the stuff with preservatives, and buy organic or pasture fed meat, etc. and cook with that, when I can, without saying, "this is good for you/ better than those "other" things," is that not fully unschooling?==
As a question this unclear because it is open to several different interpretations.

It could mean "If I don't give them the reasons/background info for what I am doing, am I not fully unschooling?"

It could mean "If I stick with what I believe (for reasons of my own) am I not fully unschooling?"

Perhaps there are other interpretation of the question also.

Alan Marshall:
RE: soda
My father is in his 70s and has never been even an ounce overweight. When he is full he stops eating. As a child he was allowed to eat whatever he wanted whenever he wanted, except for soda. My grandmother would not allow soda. I'm told he had his first as a young adult, 16 or 18 or something like that.

I almost never see my father without a pepsi. He drinks it instead of coffee in the morning and it never leaves his hand most of the day.

One of the things we should consider about diet and children is the real potential for unintended consequences. We could be the cause of the very thing we hope to prevent.

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** Yes!! I realize that 1- has been covered. I am not a complete idiot. ***
Alice, please see responses as feedback on how clear you're being. Why would you ask us to spend *more* time answering a question you felt had been answered? If you post a question it looks like you want an answer to it.

And do note, this isn't a peer to peer conversation. Picture stopping a busy person on the street to ask for directions. If they love being helpful, they might take the time to give the lost person directions. But they don't owe that person *anything*. They don't owe the lost person more time to ask for clarification. The lost person owes *them* the courtesy of being as clear as possible the first time so they aren't wasting the answerer's time.

Tara V:
It's also nice if the person being helpful by giving directions doesn't talk down to or belittle the other person for being lost.
Sandra Dodd:
Alice responded, to Robyn Coburn, who had just written "Finally clear questions. And they are interesting."

Alice wrote to Robyn, who was helping her nicely:

"Yes!! I realize that 1- has been covered. I am not a complete idiot."

Alice, no one posted that for you, right? Did your worst enemy rush into the room, grab your keyboard, write that and hit 'send' while you were saying, "No, Please! They'll think I'm completely horrible and ungrateful"?

If you posted it yourself, that's an example of your being rude.

Stop being rude. The next rude comment gets you set gently outside the door. You'll still be able to read, but not to post. My site and Joyce's sites are still there for you to read. It will be another couple of years before your girls are school aged. You should spend more time with them anyway.

Be nice, or you'll be outside.

Chelsea Thurman Artisan:
She might have been responding to me. I had accidentally hit enter when all I had in my comment was "1 has already been covered extensively," or something like that. I deleted it immediately, but she might have seen it and written that before she saw that it had been deleted, and Robyn's post showed up in the meantime.
Sandra Dodd:
-=- If they love being helpful, they might take the time to give the lost person directions-=-

And if you said "I know, I'm not a complete idiot," you wouldn't be setting a very good example for your children.

Sandra Dodd:
Okay, Chelsea. You're kind to defend her. You and Robyn weren't the only ones who pointed out that the question had been answered. If she had actually read the links from SandraDodd.com/food, she probably wouldn't have asked the question.
Sandra Dodd:
-=- It's also nice if the person being helpful by giving directions doesn't talk down to or belittle the other person for being lost.-=-

Tara, if you're unhappy here, leave the group. If you are lost, please read here: http://livingjoyfully.ca
Great map.

If you're not lost, stop complaining.

2020 note: I had linked to Pam Laricchia's site and written "Great map." Here's what it looked like in 2013: Great map. It's still wonderful, but the map is gone.

If anyone is lost in 2020 or after, go to the current site, here:

http://livingjoyfully.ca

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:

Tara, there are 289 comments in this thread. That's a *Lot* of time given to Alice. No one got irritated with her first post. Not even with her 6th post. That's a *lot* of patience helping someone. When she was asked to slow down her posting because she wasn't being clear, didn't seem to be taking in what was being said, she sped up asking for more time, getting upset that *we* weren't taking enough time to dig beneath her barrage of unclear words to get at what she really wanted to ask.

Asking a direction giver to keep giving and giving and never lose patience is, to put it mildly, discourteous and lacking consideration for what that person's being asked to do.

Lucy Banwell:
Before I started to read about radical unschooling I used to cook organic wholefoods, use only pastured meat, raw milk, etc. This worked O.K when my girls were very little. When we went out to places where there were sweets, crisps etc my girls ate *a lot* of them. When they came shopping with me and started asking for certain things some things I would buy, some things I would negotiate a compromise by buying an organic version, some things I would talk them out of (eg sweets).

Since I started to see the error of my ways I have been saying "yes" more. One of my daughters asked for sweets. I said "yes" through gritted teeth, and then discussed various options about things like choosing the one with "natural colouring". This continued for a couple of weeks until my daughter said she wanted to buy sweets and was happy for me to accompany her as long as I didn't "do *That Voice* when I'm trying to decide what to buy." Light bulb moment for me. I stood with her in the sweet aisle and bit my tongue. She could have had several packets but she decided to choose two: one just for her and one to share.

Fast forward a few months and I buy the sweets that my daughter likes whenever we are running low, and it's definitely not every week. She now trusts that there is an ample supply and doesn't eat them every day. My other daughter likes to know they are there but rarely eats them because she prefers her favourite brand of (organic) chocolate. Their Xmas chocolate is gathering dust in the cupboard.

The girls have a handful of (organic) crisps put on their plates most evenings, because they like to see them there, but they don't ever eat them all. I still cook with pastured meat, raw milk, and organic ingredients. I make sure there are nourishing snacks they like in the fridge. This makes up the bulk of what my daughters choose to eat day to day. I also buy them whatever they ask for from the shop, whatever the ingredients. I do what someone here suggested with sharing my thought processes about the different choices. I have to work extra hard at that because of using That Voice in the past. I bake cakes - on my own and with help from the girls - but I also buy interesting looking cakes, biscuits, sweets whatever the ingredients. They are sampled with gusto but the girls don't usually bother to ask me to buy them again - they seem to prefer the homemade ones. I buy lots of fruit and fresh veg. I try to make sure that the kind of veg that my girls prefer is within easy reach, ready prepped for hungry fingers, along with new things to try when I see them. Sliced pastured chorizo or salami is as likely to be eaten for snacks as sweets and biscuits are, *more* likely, actually.

We have one of those soda streams that someone mentioned, and we use organic cordials to make all sorts of flavours of soda. My girls have tried coke etc but don't like it as much as what we can make with the cordials. They don't drink much soda at a time, and probably choose to have one glass every few days in the summer, very rarely at all in the winter.

I've found multi-vitamin pills that the girls enjoy the taste of so are happy to eat. I make smoothies using kefir for the pro-bacteria thingies - the girls find these delicious and are happy to drink them. I put added nourishment (in my opinion that's good fats - other people's mileage no doubt varies on that!) into things where I can. I do those things without fuss and without making a big deal of it. Knowing that they have that extra nourishment feels like a safety net for me.

We still have ongoing food issues. I'm aware that my youngest is still affected - negatively - by picking up on my past judgement of what is and isn't good food. She still eats some things because I have inadvertently made them more desirable by limiting them. That is getting less and less but it takes time. She is extremely alert to any potential judgment from me on food things, and I understand that and take full blame.

I really do wish that I had "got it" when my daughters were as young as nearly 3 years old. But I didn't. So much unnecessary stress has been caused by those food-related wrangles. I still don't know if I'm 'doing unschooling properly' but every day my family is getting more and more harmonious, and every day I see my daughters making real, proper choices without being impaired by my judgements. I am confident that I am helping them be world-proof rather than trying to control their world.

Robyn Coburn:
Should you tell your children what you believe?

I tell my daughter what I believe to be true and right, but not in expressions that are absolute. I share my experiences, I talk about information that I have read, I say things like "Many people believe...", "I don't like this as much as that.." I have tried our whole life not to say things that I suspected she could later discover to be debatable or untrue - that is to say I don't lie to her (or anyone). She is a debater too. She will find any inconsistency in a discussion.

Food and health is one area where there is and has been a lot conflicting research, where the USA has some different standards and laws than other countries, where people have widely varying personal experiences. It is a mistake to be absolutist about it. Jayn's experience is already different from mine.

About this "fully unschooling" notion:

Everyone who is unschooling is on a daily journey of making choices based on unschooling principles that move them either towards or away from unschooling, towards or away from better, kinder, stronger relationships with their children. Life impacts us, emotionally and practically. Some days I think I was more fully connected to my daughter than others. But she is happy and fulfilled, and not hungry in any negative connotation of that word.

However someone whose children are as young as three may be attachment parenting or mindfully parenting, practices that have much in common with unschooling, but aren't the same. That person but can't BE unschooling, until they have made the active choice not to send their children to school, or to choose NOT to create a teaching plan for their kids' education.

The kids will be unschooling when at school age, they are still at home following their interests, enjoying their activities, and learning how to make mindful choices through making mindful choices.

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
If you ask your husband his opinion on something, you don't want him to tell you want to believe. You want his ideas, maybe why he believes as he does. You don't want him then being upset that you make a choice different than what he would have.

Be that courteous to your kids. Feed information into their decision making machine as they ask for it but let them try the choices they make.* They'll learn the good parts and bad parts of what they choose. That's the important part! It's not the "right" answer that's important. It's exploring to discover which factors are meaningful to them and which aren't.

* If they're about to unwittingly break something you know they don't want to break, if there's a short cut to get the same choice they want, help them. It's courteous. But focus on what *they* want to explore, not on the answer you think is best for them.
Alice R:
Thank you both so much, Lucy and Robyn.

Joyce. There are many amazing responses that occurred throughout this thread. And many, many others that were either directed at me, at some vision of me that some of you have formed, and some entirely not at me or about me at all. If I were to save the insightful, compassionate ones that are helpful to me and many others, and delete the entire thread and all of the condescending, accusatory comments contained herein, I would likely provoke a comment about the loss of everyone's time and valuable insight that could help someone else. I will not do that. But the suggestion that it was all about me, or that I was the only one who said some things based on ego rather than heart is, I feel, beyond ridiculous.

This use of "ridiculous" might have gotten by without the link to my asking people never to use it in my discussions. Here it is now, though.
sandradodd.com/issues/ridiculous

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:

Trust that people here are sincerely trying to be helpful. If they're getting testy trust that they're seeing something real that you are missing. If you don't understand and they're asking you to wait before posting, trust their judgement. Stop. Slow down. Be with your kids. Let the ideas percolate as you be with them. The confusion you're going through is common. It's *never* helped by posting more. It makes it worse. Taking a break and letting the ideas swirl about *does* help.
Jenny Cyphers:
"At Christmas, someone gave them a big candy cane on a present; they hadn't had lunch but I didn't give that a second thought when they wanted to eat it. One ate the whole thing, the other ate most of hers and saved it for later."

When you come to a point where your kid has several candy canes and you don't think ANYthing about it, that's the place you want to be. One of my kids, 18, had 3 candy canes and ate none of them. The other kid, 11, had about 5 candy canes and tasted each one and ate 2 of them. The one she liked the best was one of those all natural kinds made with sugar and real peppermint oil and natural dye. The other one that she ate was another flavor entirely. She had requested buying a box of jolly rancher ones, or something similar but I kept forgetting it at the store and then we forgot about it entirely.

Jenny Cyphers:
Locally, food issues are probably the number one dissenting issue in unschooling. I'm not sure why it is such a BIG issue, but people get very very upset over food.

My personal take, is that anything that upsets you, is something worth examining. Food should be calm and pleasant and nourishing. Food is also very personal, and by that I mean kids included. A kid's love of some specific food should be honored no matter what the food is. If that kid has a parent that is vilifying some foods, even in thoughts, it WILL do harm.

I tried to find an article that I read about a year ago about a man who lived on mostly snickers bars for much of his life. He ate a few other things, but his primary diet was that one candy bar. He was older, 40's maybe and was trim and healthy.

So what if your kid drinks soda every day? Does it matter? Are they happy? Most kids will eat just as much as they want to eat and not a bit more, if given abundance. For some kids that will be some soda, or some candy. For some kids that will be lots of it.

The problem with seeing some foods as not as good as others, is when your child really likes a food that you decide isn't as good as. One of my kids LOVES food. She really likes Kraft dinner, something that can only be gotten from Canada. She likes the kind we can buy in the US too, but it's not the same. Annie's pasta, with all of it's healthy goodness, simply will not do for her. Sometimes she lives on pizza rolls. Not just any kind will do. The sauce inside makes a difference.

If I were not listening to these subtle details from her, I would be buying the organic, all natural kinds and calling it good enough. It wouldn't be honoring her choices and her likes and dislikes. She is a kid that WANTS to and NEEDS to try it ALL, as much as humanly possible. I would be hindering her as a person to only offer what I view as good and right and healthy. Even if her request was mac and cheese, something I could and have made from scratch.

Chelsea Thurman Artisan:
Kraft dinner is different from Kraft mac & cheese?!? Anyone in Canada interested in doing an exchange with me? I'm intrigued.
Jo Isaac:
==I tried to find an article that I read about a year ago about a man who lived on mostly snickers bars for much of his life.== Not quite as extreme, but I ate a Mars Bar every morning for breakfast from the time I was around 7 or 8, until I was about 18 or 19. I'm still here. I've got all my own teeth. I'm healthy and happy. I still eat the odd Mars Bar :)
Sandra Dodd:
I thought it was the same too, but maybe theirs was in a bigger box (a family size). How would someone in Canada know? We need someone who knows both places.

Here, I found someone:
KD aka Kraft Dinner - Canadian vs American, on the blog Canadian Perspective.

photo of Kraft dinner box next to Mac and Cheese box from the Canadian Perspective blog post
Jenny Cyphers:
Kraft Dinner is different than Mac and Cheese! It has different ingredients and we have done a side by side comparison!

2020 editorial commentary:
There followed much commentary on mac'n'cheese by Kraft, on Mexican coke and the advantages of cane sugar over corn syrup in Coke including it being more Kosher at Passover, but I've left it at the forum here.

Also, because the angry people went away, things calmed down. Another mom came to ask questions, and because she's probably much less confused now, I've removed her surname, below.

A few posts had posts to things no longer available, so I left them out.

—Sandra Dodd, February 2020

Robin 'Ehulani Bentley:
I wrote this a few hours ago, just after the Snickers bar diet was posted:

My nephew, either because of sensitivities, intolerances *or* just how things tasted, ate almost nothing but grilled cheese sandwiches, cereal with milk and the occasional hamburger, literally for years. He has expanded his choices, now that he's in his 20's. He is one of the fittest people I know, and an amateur MMA fighter.

My daughter likes to eat all sorts of things, now at 17. But her palate used to be quite limited. She didn't eat very much quantity-wise, either. From the time she was born, she was in the 5th percentile in height and weight and has pretty much stayed there. She's about 5'3" and 105 pounds.

She has the choice of veggies, fruit, breads, dairy, meat, sweets, soda, water, juice and many things I'm not even thinking of. She's eaten any and all of those things, at one time or another, but her go-to foods have always been animal proteins (so funny, since I was vegan during my entire pregnancy). Of all the beverages she has tried over the years, she has preferred Mountain Dew, but lately, she's been drinking a lot of water, orange juice and milk.

The point is that both of these kids had/have plenty of choices. My nephew wasn't unschooled, but his parents were pretty relaxed about his food preferences. If kids are allowed to choose what makes them feel good (and to refuse things that don't), they are much more in tune with their bodies' needs.

It makes a huge difference, as almost every experienced unschooler has already said, in the relationship between parent and child if you take their interests seriously. That includes kids’ interest in food.

I think of a friend whose young child died of cancer not long after diagnosis. She was glad that she found unschooling and made her child’s life as happy and connected as it could be for those short years. If she had been thinking and talking of all the dire future consequences of food or games or TV instead of supporting her child, she would likely be regretting those years of wasted breath and energy.

Karen James:
My nephew (now 30 and 6 foot 7inches) lived on hotdogs. Not grass-fed, organic hotdogs. Regular hotdogs. People in my family commented on how incredibly limited his diet seemed. I didn't care. I was too young to care :-) Now he is a healthy, active, handsome, smart young man. Apparently hot dogs are good for you!
Robin 'Ehulani Bentley:
I ate hot dogs and popsicles for years! I was healthy and happy and slim and curvy. It was only when I started messing around with diets (not just losing weight but "health" diets) that my health began to suffer. Go figure.
Bryanna R:
I have read as much of the comments as I could and if this was discussed and I missed it please let me know. My kids are 5, 3 year old twins, and a 9 month old. We r trying really hard to let go of the food control. But what about the fear of the kids …See More
Robin 'Ehulani Bentley:
See my post above ^^ about my nephew and daughter. Lots of people wouldn't call what they ate/eat "healthy" (while others would, I know).

Why do people need to be skinny? And wouldn't it be your kids' choice? A childhood of skinniness isn't necessari…See More

Bryanna R:
Skinny isn't the right word. I just mean healthy. I don't think it is ok for kids to be over weight and there is no reason they should be. How could being overweight for a kid be ok? It puts so many limitations on kids activity levels and can set them up for diabetes and other health issues - right? How do u get to a place where you don't worry about that?
Karen James:
My son developed asthma between the ages of one and two. By the age of six he was using two different inhalers regularly and the pediatrician wanted to start him on a twice a day dose of antihistamine. I was hoping we could try to find the root of the problem, instead of manage the symptoms with medication. So, we agreed to test for allergies, and found elevated antibody levels to corn, wheat, dairy and peanuts. That was pretty much our whole diet!

I did restrict those foods as much as possible for about six months to see what the outcome might be. While Ethan was asthmatic, his day to day life was becoming increasingly limited. He loved slapstick comedy, but laughing so hard brought on an asthma attack. He was born to run, but running also triggered his asthma. At night he was awakened several times with coughing or snoring. We had made three hospital visits for severe shortness of breath. It was scary for me. It was traumatic for Ethan. It was heartbreaking too because he's such a vibrant, positive child. I wanted to see if we could improve the quality of his life by avoiding these foods.

After some time on a greatly restricted diet, he no longer needed his inhalers. He could laugh and run to his heart and lung's content. It was wonderful. But, now there was another challenge. Because he felt better, he wanted to try his favourite foods again. At first I said no. I can still see the disappointment in Ethan's eyes. So, I thought about it. I knew he trusted me. I trusted him. So, we began to reintroduce some of the foods that we had been told to limit. Almost right away it became clear that milk caused some nasal congestion, but because chocolate milk had always been one of Ethan's favourite foods, he decided it was worth having a stuffy nose to enjoy it. I decided that because it wasn't affecting his quality of life, I would not interfere.

I kept the fridge stocked with a 2L carton of chocolate milk. What I began to notice, was that, in time, the milk began to spoil before it was finished. My husband and I might have it in our coffees in the morning, but we didn't drink it like Ethan did. So, I started buying smaller cartons. That went unfinished as well. Finally, I stopped buying it altogether unless it was/is specifically requested. When we are out, Ethan usually gets a lemonade. But sometimes he orders chocolate milk. He doesn't prefer soy or almond or hemp milk. We have tried all of the varieties we could find.

With wheat and corn we found little difference when we reintroduced them to our diet. Peanuts do seem to cause some tightness in the chest for him. Peanut butter and jam sandwiches were a regular food in our house in those early years. It was one of my husband's favourite childhood foods. Even still, despite the tightness, when we are out, Ethan might ask for a peanut butter cookie. Because it is not life-threatening, my husband and I feel that it is his choice. He wanted a jar of peanut butter for home one day when we were at the grocery store. I put it in the cart without comment. It's still in our cupboard, mostly full.

Of course, it goes without saying that I wouldn't even consider giving Ethan a food that might be life-threatening for him. That said, I think it would not have been a much of a stretch in conventional parenting for me to look at corn, wheat, dairy or peanuts as toxic, considering our experience. But what seemed *more toxic* to me was interfering with Ethan's understanding of how these foods really made *him* feel, and what choices *he* wanted to make in relation to that experience. That's where unschooling guided my choices.

I think that is why it is humourous to me that when we go to a food court Ethan chooses sushi or stir fries or indian food when I choose burgers and fries or sundays or donuts. It's quietly comical to me when we meet at the table with our different choices. He is choosing food that satisfies him. I am too...but for different reasons. I'm a bit reactionary, I have to admit. I haven't quite outgrown my conditioning to be drawn to the forbidden fruit. Once in a while Ethan does choose a sunday or donut too. But it's not for the same reason I do. For him, it's because he feels like something sweet. For me, it's still because I can.

Robin 'Ehulani Bentley:
Here's a really good page to read about food and limits and worries and all that: http://sandradodd.com/eating/longterm
Bryanna R:
I will check it out! I was rereading through all of the food ones for the 4th time :). But haven't read through the eating ones yet. Thanks for the suggestion!! I REALLY want to get to the place of just letting go but my kids LOVE candy and sweets (they literally ate like 20 suckers each today . . . The 9 month old even had one). I tried to ignore it but by the time they got to the 15th one it was really getting to me!! I know it is on me - but I also worry about if they r eating to almost compete with each other versus really wanting to eat it. . . I will check out the link. Thank you!! We will get there, we will get there, we will get there!!!!
Alan Marshall:
Most people who are obese or struggle with food issues were subject to food restrictions as children. It is how most people were raised. If it worked, there would be no obesity epidemic. If you are concerned about your child's weight present or future for genetic reasons, food restricrtion is not the solution, it's the problem.
Bryanna R:
Alan - I agree with that I really do I am just having a hard time accepting that it is going to work for us because it hasn't yet and they eat so much candy and sweets right now.

I just need to let go . . .

Michelle Thedaker:
==Skinny isn't the right word. I just mean healthy.==

I am quite a full-figured gal, the words 'chubby' and 'fat' could both be applied to me. I am also very healthy! I had a full physical a while back and the doctor told me that the numbers from my tests couldn't be better. I exercise, participate fully in life, am happy, loved and so forth.

There is a big myth that being less-than-slim is unhealthy in all cases. Not true. As a child, my mother (who is 5 feet tall and about 110 pounds) was always deeply concerned about my weight. I was put on diets and comments were made about how pretty I would be if I dropped some weight. It absolutely marred my self-image to the point of depression for a long, long time. I was not, by the way, at all fat back then. I am very curvy with generous hips and chest and so to my mom, that was 'too big'.

Equating 'not thin' with 'unhealthy, poor life possibilities, unhappiness, disease' and so forth is not a good way to see a child who is on the more generous end of body shapes. Not good for you, them, or your relationship with one another.

Lyla Wolfenstein:
[no longer available for streaming, 2020; synopsis]

≈ watch that online and/or read the transcript. it's titled "obesity begins at home" but it's more about the effects of food controls on food choices and food issues, than it is about obesity. also, if you "don't think it is ok for kids to be over weight and there is no reason they should be. How could being overweight for a kid be ok?" PLEASE read up on the Health at Every Size movement and really consider the impact of your belief on the very real children (and later adults) who have various body types. what exactly does "overweight" mean? according to whose charts? health is in no way directly correlated to size, in fact longevity seems to be increased for those who are "overweight" rather than those who are "normal weight", contrary to popular medical opinion. on the other end of the spectrum from "overweight" kids whose existence in their current bodies is "not ok" are the many kids who struggle with eating disorders or other food issues related to their parents' and our society's beliefs that being "overweight" is unacceptable. as the previous poster said - food issues, including but not limited to struggles with weight on both ends, are the result of controls, rather than being preventable by them.

Bryanna R:
I totally respect that and know my kids will never be skinny - and I am ok with that. I could never be skinny - I just have a hard time accepting being bigger then you have to be. Isn't there something to be said to being in shape and taking care of your body? I am 5 foot 3 inches and weigh in the 150's. I played college soccer on a scholarship and spend time in the gym working out and running. I was never and will never be skinny but I strive to be in shape. And even though I don't fit the skinny model of our society I am happy with my body - when I am in shape. I am just kInd of lost on how to feel about this and how to make it work. Sorry :/. I probably just need to read more and keep workIng through it to get myself to the right place. It is crazy how hard and how much thought and rethought goes into figuring all of this out! But I totally think not will be worth it in the long run!!
Lyla Wolfenstein:
what is "bigger than you have to be?" who decides? and one can be super healthy and very fit and still "bigger than you have to be" - i am 5'3" and weigh substantially more than you do. i have a second degree black belt and i am one of the healthiest people i know. in terms of "how to feel about this" in relation to one's children -i suggest trying very hard not to FEEL anything about their body type or size - feel love and acceptance of THEM and what makes them feel good and encourage and support them in those things. steer clear of scrutinizing their body or the impact of their choices on their body (or your perceptions of those impacts.) really, it's so. much. healthier. all around if you can move toward knowing that their bodies are *theirs* and you do not have sovereignty nor do you have any control over their physical beings.
Michelle Thedaker:
=I just have a hard time accepting being bigger then you have to be.=

How big is 'bigger than you have to be'? You don't need to answer that 'out loud' here, but think about it. Bigger than some height/weight chart tells you? Bigger than Western society agrees on? Bigger than your family agrees on? In all three of those categories, I am 'too big'. But I love me, I think I'm freakin' adorable (and so does my husband!!), and I live a wonderful life. So by my personal standards, I'm *not* 'bigger than I have to be'.

I know you aren't attacking me personally, I'm definitely not taking it that way. I'm saying all this to maybe help you glimpse another angle/viewpoint. smiley face

Bryanna R:
Michelle Thedaker - I am glad you don't feel like I am attacking you!! That was never my intent. I have a lot of family and friends who are "bigger" and I love them and respect them! I think for me the acceptance piece may be the key for opening up our Radical Unschooling journey and getting our mindset right. I want my kids to be who they want to be and who they are - but I think I also have an issue with being to controlling (without even meaning to be!). I also think with being a parent that I feel a responsibility to guide them in the right direction and help them make the right decisions - but I see where my right decisions may not be their right decisions. Again - I just need to let go and accept it and be happy in it. Sorry for hijacking a portion of this post!! But thank you for your responses it really has helped open my eyes and I need to just keep pushing and questioning and researching and reading and trying and relaxing, etc.!
Michelle Thedaker:
=but I see where my right decisions may not be their right decisions=

I think this is key, at least for myself. My family is newly returned to the radical unschooling path (after horribly botching it a few years ago), and so I'm right there with you, I just have different 'hangups' than food. :) I keep reminding myself that what is true and workable for ME, is only what is true and workable for ME! My kids, husband, family and friends have their own definitions, paths and truths. It seems obvious more often than it used to, but it still pops up when I'm not paying attention sometimes.

Robin 'Ehulani Bentley:
~ but I think I also have an issue with being too controlling ~

Sandraʻs page about control: http://sandradodd.com/eating/control

Hallie McGrath:
My parents' "guidance," and "right decisions" included many, many values and choices that were *not* right for me (focus on diet and exercise, religious beliefs, political orientation, and more). They were both image- and weight-obsessed and jumped from fad diet to exercise program to nutrition supplement and back again. over over and over.

They were overtly judgmental of "fat people" (their words) and passed that attitude on to me. The way they talked about weight and health and pressured me to "make healthy choices," only served to instill a fear of weight gain *and* an obsession with "junk food."

No amount of reduced-fat cheese-it's, mandatory vegetable servings, or "you should go run around outside"'s helped me to be as thin as my mom thought I "should" be. It was hurtful. It made me think i wasn't good enough. It damaged my relationship with her, with food, with exercise, and with my own self-image.

The only thing that has undone some of that damage and dysfunction has been right the stories and attitudes of other unschoolers. Let these stories and words soak in. Sleep on them. They're not just stories of families who got lucky. It's a causal relationship!

Control -> unhealthy dysfunction.
Choices -> healthy balance.

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** I totally respect that and know my kids will never be skinny - and I am ok with that. ***

1) There are people who are large because of genetics.

2) There are people who are large because of a poor relationship with food.

3)There are people who are large because they are stressed and eat food for comfort.

4) There might be people who are large because they are eating food that's wrong for their bodies.

Don't lump them all together.

1) There's nothing you can do about.

2) Don't obsess over what they eat. Allow food be the happy nourishing-of-the-body-and-spirit thing that it is. There's a reason celebrations involve food! smiley face 3) Don't add stress to your kids lives. Eliminate what stress you have the power over. Do healthy releases with them if they are stressed by life -- like those darn video game puzzles that can be so frustrating! 😉 -- Go for a walk. Shoot baskets. Take a break. Breathe.

4) Provide healthy food. Provide food they like. Buy whatever food they like and want to try. Make healthy snacks as easy or easier to grab than commercial snack foods. Make monkey platters. Provide lots of choice and they will discover the foods that are right for them. They will learn to listen to their bodies and eat different foods as their bodies change.

*** Isn't there something to be said to being in shape and taking care of your body? ***

Don't read into what people wrote as "Do nothing." Read into it "Don't control."

Live a healthy life style yourself. Create an environment around them that's healthy. Do fun things the kids enjoy that happen to be active. Make food the kids love that's healthy.

Alan Marshall:
Imagine that you meet someone who is clearly not taking care of herself. She doesn't eat right and you can tell that she is likely to have health problems. Would you say anything to pressure her to change? Would you go to her house and tell her what to eat and how much?

Now imagine that you take the time to be close to this person. You become close enough that she asks for your help, but only because you've taken the time and effort to develop a trusting relationship. If you had started lecturing her when you first met this could never happen. Now that she is open to help, how would you handle it? Would you say something every time you saw her eat a gram of fat? Would you restock her fridge without telling her? Would you lecture her daily on health and fitness? Would that work? Would you stay friends?

One of the good reasons not to pressure children about food or to restrict food, among many others, is that is doesn't work. It does not lead to adults living a life of fashion model skinny perfect health. The more one thinks "but eating healthy is so important" the less one should want to control food. It's like saying "but driving fast is dangerous" and then putting a brick on the accelerator.

I learned something wonderful from Julie Daniel (who heard it from a rhetoric teacher of hers).

"Yes, but..." means no.

Ever since she told me that, I have listened and read with that in mind. It's true! " I understand that. But..." means "No, I think you're wrong."

Bryanna R:
I understand that. But what about the approach of trying to help them before they get to the point where they need help? If I see a loved one making decisions that I perceive as dangerous or unhealthy I would definitely talk to them about it and make suggestions versus sitting back and just letting them make the mistake. Is that wrong?
Dawn Todd:
Help them before they need help? I'd consider that interfering if someone did it to me.
Alan Marshall:
Children exploring different kinds of food are not making a mistake. It's natural and it's healthy. Your daily influence and potential stressing of a child cannot compare to one conversation with an adult relative. (which itself could backfire) It's likely to do more harm than good.
Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** If I see a loved one making decisions that I perceive as dangerous or unhealthy I would definitely talk to them about it ... Is that wrong? ***

It depends. It's a tricky situation. People want to be helped toward their own goals. People don't want to be redirected towards someone else's goal for them. But you can't always tell the goal by the actions.

If it's imminently dangerous or destructive like a child unknowingly about to topple a block tower or step off a path with a steep drop, yes, of course.

But it can seem like some decisions are made out of ignorance when they aren't. An alcoholic taking a drink. A large person eating a slice of cheesecake. A smoker lighting up. If you say something, they're going to think you're rude. Their choices are made not out of ignorance but for different motives than you might assume or because there's something more going on that's more driving than avoiding potential ill health.

If a child wants to stay up all night and you say, "You'll be sleepy the next day," it wouldn't be surprising if they child said, "Duh, Mom!"

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
"People want to be helped toward their own goals."

*IF* they want help. Part of the challenge of doing things is figuring things out for yourself.

If it's dangerous or destructive, err on the side of helping!

If you're sure your in sync with what the person's trying to do and you know they'd want your suggestion, yes. (If you're getting a lot of rebuffs then rethink how well you're seeing through the other person's needs!)

Otherwise you could ask. "Can I show you something?" "Is there anything I can do for you?" If you're not sure, keep your mouth shut. No one likes being someone else's fixer up project.

Robin 'Ehulani Bentley:
~ If it's dangerous or destructive, err on the side of helping! ~

And "dangerous or destructive" in terms of eating would mean Drano and the like.

Too many people are afraid of food. It won't help unschooling to make choices based on fear.

Joyce wrote something really good about this awhile ago: http://sandradodd.com/fears

Alex Polikowsky:
******But what about the approach of trying to help them before they get to the point where they need help? If I see a loved one making decisions that I perceive as dangerous or unhealthy I would definitely talk to them about it and make suggestions versus sitting back and just letting them make the mistake. Is that wrong?*********

Let say you love knitting and people who use they hands in a repetitive way can lead to carpalt tunnel syndrome.

So you hyusband decide lovely to tell you how much you should knit a day because he wants to help you. You have no symptons but he is sure it can lead to it and that will be painfull and most likely lead to needing surgery. So he decides that 30 minutes a day is a healthy dose of knitting and that is all you should do a day and no more.

How would you feel about that?

Alan Marshall:
Or what if your husband told you that you should eat healthier to lose a few pounds. You know, out of love and concern. :)
Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
"Do you know there are 700 calories in that piece of cheesecake? That's over a 1/3 of a body's daily calorie intake. Just thought want to know."

No, I didn't.

And, BTW, the way the body handles one big massive day of extra calories is by tossing them away. The occasional piece of cheesecake won't hurt. Unless someone slaps a big dollop of guilt on top of it.

Kris-Anne Spring:
Just had to say "thanks" for this thread, because I learned a great deal and have given so much thought to how I view food and how I want my kids to not have the food issues that I have. Love the idea of "monkey plates"....my 11 year old daughter, who is sick with a cold, is very happily eating her monkey plate right now (she's my food loving girl!).

Monkey Platters
"Plate" doesn't convey the same abundance and feast/party message. Also, they have a name. smiley face

Bryanna R:

If my husband was concerned about me or if he had an issue with something I would hope we could talk about it. And since our relationship is so open I would be fine with his comments as long as it was a discussion and not just a statement. That is what I am trying to figure out. Is it ok to say to the kids you have had 16 pieces of candy - just remember that could give you a tummy ache so you might want to slow down or safe the rest for later?? Again not accusingly but in an open and honest way?? Or do say it is good to eat a variety of foods to help your body be healthy.
Gwen Montoya:
Food is something everyone needs, every day. If you, as a parent, makes your child's relationship with food stressful, unhappy, or scary...that can stick with them FOR LIFE. It can affect every aspect of how they eat, how they interact with people, and how they take care of their bodies in the future.

Please, please back away from the idea of the "approach of trying to help them before they get to the point where they need help?". As Alan said, if that worked there wouldn't be an obesity issue. A person can't possibly figure out what their own body needs (nutrition, sleep, activity, etc) if someone else is being loud all the time.

Alex Polikowsky:
Bryanna did you see the picture of my candy jar above? My kids never had limits and do not get a tummy ache because they stop when they are satisfied.

If they ever did then they would know how much is enough and how much gives them a tummy ache. They would find out.

I know adults who will eat until they are sick and choose to do so . Why? because now they can. Because they have been limited before. Because they never really learned how their bodies react because they were controlled. Or because being able to eat as much as they want and what they want is more valuable to them and they choose that since NOW they can do it and are no longer controlled.

If my husband come to me to tell me he was concerned I read too much ( I read a lot) I would tell him I read because I love and will continue to do so. Thank you very much. If I did something like that to him he would not like it one bit. I know that for a fact because I used to do that to him. I used to nag him about what he ate, what he did , what he drank. He hated it. It really damaged our relationship. I am so glad I found unschooling and changed. Now I extent the same principles to my relationship with him and our marriage.

He is happy . You can ask him. Our relationship is stronger and sweeter. He does not feel like I am treating him like I am his mother (his words) and trying to control him.

I still bite my tongue here and there. But we are so much happier and our marriage is stronger and there is more trust, love and sweet moments.

It is amazing how it has changed us.

Karen James:
-=-Is it ok to say to the kids you have had 16 pieces of candy - just remember that could give you a tummy ache so you might want to slow down or safe the rest for later??-=-

But, if he decides to go against your advice, and it doesn't give him a tummy ache, then what? The next time you caution him against something, will he trust you to know what you are talking about?

Sandra Dodd:
-=-Is it ok to say to the kids you have had 16 pieces of candy -=- Why were you counting?
Bryanna R:
It all makes sense . . . it is just a different mind set and I think with the kids being so young it makes it harder for me to let go. I have an easier time letting go of a lot of other things - but for some reason food and bedtime are the 2 I am stuck on right now. I will keep reading, trying, rereading, trying, and then see where we are at. I might post some more on here to get more insight too! THANK YOU for all of the help and suggestions!! I REALLY appreciate it!!
Sandra Dodd:
I've lost two attempts to respond to this, and I haven't read all of it but at one point Joyce used examples like alcohol and eating, as things it would be rude to point out.

There are times, though, when it is NOT rude, and that's when someone has gone to an AA meeting, or to Weight Watchers, or... to a Radical Unschooling Information group.

People at an AA meeting will not be nice if someone is there justifying drinking. At Weight Watchers, they won't be patient and friendly if someone says yeah, fine, but they want to gain some more weight before they even think about starting to lose some.

And so in a discussion of radical unschooling, if we say "That's a bad idea," it's not the same as going to someone's house and saying "What did you just say to your child!?" or to go to friends or relatives who haven't asked anything about unschooling and tell them they'd be happier if they brought their kids home and bought them an xBox and a some skateboards.

It depends where and why and what the goal is.

A parent is building (or destroying) a relationship with a child. We want to help them build one they never even imagined could exist!

We're not simultaneously trying to build that kind of relationship with each person who comes by here.

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
They might not get a tummy ache with 20. They might with 10. They might not at all. I think you're trying to pass off worry that their behavior is saying they have no clue what they're doing as "help".

*Create* a variety. Have lots of different food

s for them to choose from. Don't *tell* them to eat a variety. Let them try things out and discover what feels right for their own bodies.

As far as someone bringing up an issue, it will help if you imagine something you love that you know isn't a problem, but your husband for some reason is bothered by it. But his reasons don't make sense to you. And he keeps bringing it up. While you, as an adult, might be really insightful and ask him what's bothering him, kids often don't have that confidence. They know adults know more about the world. And they'll question their own sense of judgement. They'll feel they need to rely on others who know more about these things.

Support their explorations and their growing confidence they can figure out what they like and don't like. Let them discover what's right for them.

Sandra Dodd:
Trying a little and waiting and watching will give you a chance to see the effects of these ideas. Don't just read until you're sold. Let your child's improved mood and joy be where you see progress.
Alan Marshall:
While reading this thread I offered my four year old daugher part of a large cookie. She said no and ate a banana. Which is only to say that you can trust that not controlling food is likely to lead to healthy, moderate eating habits. It may take some time, but it is well worth doing.
Sandra Dodd:
sandradodd.com/eating/sweets has other accounts of kids being choosing all kinds of foods when sweets were offered, or sitting right there. Since early in the discussion I've been sending that link. :-) Thanks for our story, too, Alan.
True Tales of Kids Turning Down Sweets
Gwen Montoya:
My youngest (6) likes getting a root beer when we go to Costco. Sometimes it gives her a tummy ache and sometimes it doesn't. I'll say something like "last time this gave you a tummy ache, do you still want it?" I'm not making judgements or anticipating horrible things or extrapolating that in 20 years she'll be a root beer soda junkie.

Sometimes she'll opt for something else and sometimes she'll opt for the root beer.

Yesterday, my oldest ate a hot dog at Costco and complained of a stomach ache (and it lasted for a couple of hours). When we are there again, I'll probably mention the stomach ache and ask if she wants a hot dog or a slice of pizza.

Bryanna R:
Maybe it is just the fact that right now they are consuming soon much candy and we haven't hit the point where they r choosing the good stuff yet. What about the idea that they might be competing with each other and eating so much because they think their siblings will eat all of it if they don't get it now?? It is just in a big bowl for anyone to have at this point.
Lyla Wolfenstein:
"Which is only to say that you can trust that not controlling food is likely to lead to healthy, moderate eating habits. It may take some time, but it is well worth doing." while this is true, it's easy to slip into looking for habits that WE think are healthy and moderate - for US. that's not necessarily what any particular child's version of healthy and moderate will look like at any given age. so, if kids are making choices that are not rooted in pressure, guilt, and fear, their choices for their own bodies will be healthy and moderate, even if they don't look like it from a standard/external perspective.
Sandra Dodd -=-. What about the idea that they might be competing with each other and eating so much because they think their siblings will eat all of it if they don't get it now?? -=-

That would be evidence that what you've been doing has created paucity.

My kids had abundance and never competed with each other to eat. Not ever. You need abundance rather than paucity, and peace rather than fear. http://sandradodd.com/parentingpeacefully Bryanna R:

Paucity - Just learned a new word :). I will have to stay aware of that. I don't think we do but maybe unknowingly.
Jenny Cyphers:
Lollipops are fun! If you put a bowl out and keep refilling it, like a bottomless bowl, they WILL get tired of them. Not every lolli tastes good. Each kid may prefer a certain color or flavor. Until they feel they don't have to compete, that there will be so many they can't even begin to stuff their pockets, they won't feel like they have enough.
Nallely Ea:
I wish people would try to not use the word fat around kids, at least not as a bad thing, some people are genetically bigger than others... in my family they use that word all the time, and i remember growing up thinking that everything bad that happened to me could disappear if i were skinnier.... i grew up, got very slim.. and it just didnt really make a difference.
Gwen Montoya:
"we haven't hit the point where they r choosing the good stuff yet." If you are waiting for them to make choices you approve of and counting while they eat it is going to get in the way of them making free choices.

And some kids may prefer a cookie over fruit sometimes. But spread out over weeks or months, a kids food choices (when they aren't restricted/shamed/etc) do tend to even out.

Lyla Wolfenstein:
i am a big fan of using the word fat as a descriptive - not as a bad thing. i think reclaiming that word without all the "loading" is important. but i think it starts with self descriptions, not describing others who might not have consented.
Jenny Cyphers:
My oldest got all round when she was 11-13. She isn't anymore. People were mean about it. She stopped swimming because another kid called her fat. She still holds that inside of her. Before that, she never saw herself as fat. She still doesn't swim and she's 18.
Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
*** right now they are consuming soon much candy and we haven't hit the point where they r choosing the good stuff yet. ***.

One part is they don't trust it won't be limited again. They need to fully trust that when they want some, it will be there and they can have as much as they want..

Two, they have a void that the limitations created. They need to fill that up..

Three, kids bodies are different from adult bodies. Kids have high energy needs and small stomachs. They will be drawn to quick energy foods. It's why kids like Cap'n Crunch and most adults find it horribly sweet. It's not because they're unsophisticated or not smart enough not to eat it. It's that their bodies say it's what they need. If they manage to reach adulthood still listening to their bodies, it's likely they'll move onto cereals that aren't as sweet. (Though some adults have a sweet tooth and will eat more sweets than other adults.)

Robin 'Ehulani Bentley:
~ they literally ate like 20 suckers each today ~.

It's possible that kids can be so used to having their intake controlled that they're stuffing as many in as possible, thinking that mom's going to put the kibosh on the whole thing (when she starts panicking).

Lyla Wolfenstein:
i have seen this in my son even between the ages of 10 and 14 - at 10 he was still very much drawn to sweets at almost any time/for almost any occasion - now, at 14, not so much. he still loves his dessert/sweet foods, but only when he's really in the mood, which is much less often than it used to be. now, more often, he craves steak, or string cheese or something more dense nutrient wise. some of this was about deschooling, but much of it is puberty and needing a different kind of fuel.
Robin 'Ehulani Bentley:
I remember thinking when Senna was little that "she's going to do this/be this way/eat only this food FOREVER." It wasn't true and it took me a while to learn to relax. Kids change and grow and learn and if we support them where they are, right now, things will go easier.
Alex Polikowsky:
Some of my favorite foods now were things I did not like at all as a child !
Regan Avery:
On counting food... when I go out drinking, I count my drinks so that I don't go just by the sensation of how much I've had. I was doing the same with my young son when he eats straight butter with a spoon, thinking it'd be good to keep track. That way, we'd know how much butter feels fine and how much it takes to upset his stomach. Does keeping track like this have hidden pitfalls that I haven't thought of? I was thinking it'd be a useful strategy to share with him.
Alex Polikowsky:
I can easily have two glasses of wine with dinner and feel ok but only one if I am on an empty stomach. Counting is not a great way..

You son may have 20 candies and feel OK and the other day have 5 and feel it is too much, Better to go by how one feels than a number. It is not an exact science.

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
"Was doing?" As in you've done it several times?.

Did he have a problem you were offering that as a solution to? Or were you imagining a problem and providing a solution to the made up problem?.

If he has a problem of complaining that he feels even fuller later after he stopped, you can offer it as a suggestion to try. But it's way better if he learns how to listen to the signals his body is giving him. 5 pats of butter might be too much now. Next month 4 might be too much. If he's counting he's not listening to his body.

Regan Avery:
I guess I felt like being careful with butter was akin to warning about a steep step -- kinder to protect from the bellyache, kinder to give the information that bellyache is possible. Whereas I'd not count bread or candy, since I don't think there'd be diarrhea from eating them till the sensation of fullness.
Lyla Wolfenstein :
why butter in particular though? some people have a much higher likelihood of a tummy ache from bread/gluten, and find butter healing, as it supports some digestive/nutritional pathways. some might be fine with both but struggle with dairy - or nothing at all.
Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
The step is something physical you can use to judge by. You were only guessing though about the butter.

If he'd had 5 pats and had diarrhea it *might* be helpful to remind him. But don't make a big deal out of it. He's changing every day. He'll always be testing to see what his new limits are. If it was his first time eating butter and he was eating a lot, it would be some useful information to suggest he pace himself. You could let him know butter doesn't move out of his stomach as quickly as some foods. But it's information for him to use to make decisions with, not a rule to press on him.

Don't worry so much about him making the right decisions. He'll learn something from every decision he makes. Each decision he makes he'll get better at thinking about things.

TIME OUT FOR A CLARIFICATION:

Sandra Dodd:

Joyce, I think you mean to say "if" in here somewhere: "But don't make a big deal out of it. He's changing every day. He'll always be testing to see what his new limits are."

He won't always be testing to see where his new limits are if there stop being limits, will he?

Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll:
I meant the limits of his body. His body keeps changing. So what was "too much" today may not be "too much" next week.
Sandra Dodd:
-=-You could let him know butter doesn't move out of his stomach as quickly as some foods.-=-

If it's giving him diarrhea, it's moving through plenty fast.

Sacha Davis:
I recently found out that our taste buds change every seven years. This explains my love of mushrooms and gruyere and highlights that when it comes to food very little is actually forever.
Schuyler Waynforth:
Adults have fewer tastebuds than children do. Presumably it is more evolutionarily significant to be sensitive to bitter tasting things when you are small and poison is going to rip through your system if you eat the wrong thing than when you are bigger and you can probably ride through minor poisoning.
Schuyler Waynforth:
Finding that out explained lots of things about how I now like spinach, but as a child, well, I only liked it if it had been cooked in chicken stock. Something I didn't discover until a boyfriend's grandmother fixed it that way.

Knowing that also helped me to recognise that food is a different experience for people. I was not wrong, I was not bad, I was not morally deficient for not liking the food that was often put in front of me. Refusing to eat the food was not evidence of my failings. And they are not evidence of my children's failings or your children's failings. Butter is lovely. And smooth and it melts in this delightful way. Sugar, the way it liquifies in your mouth, pooling into this fabulous sweet, salivia-y pool, from that crunchy dry pool. Oh, I still love the end of a glass of iced tea with all the sugar leftover and I hold the glass so that I get all of the high sugar to tea ratio goodness.

Food is personal. And it's biological. What you enjoy is not necessarily what someone else enjoys. What you think is healthy is not universally so. Knowing that tastebuds are not uniform, are not the same across the board, that there are super tasters like in the They Might Be Giants' song, helped me to see that as so.

Liz Holaday:
My daughter and I brought strips of paper treated with three chemicals whose taste is differently perceived based on genetics to a large family gathering once. We passed them around as appetizers :) It was fascinating. My brother and I, for example, have lots of nature and nurture in common, but there was one chemical in particular (it's called PTC) that he could not taste at all and I perceived as wretchedly, horribly, vile-ly bitter. I was gagging and sputtering while he sucked on his paper strip saying "what? all I taste is paper!". My brother loves bitter foods and drinks. I don't enjoy them at all; I never have, and while I've come to tolerate a few bitter things more than I once did, I don't think I'll ever really like them. I don't even like chocolate! No matter how much sugar is in it, I still taste the bitterness.

I didn't need that experiment to know that people taste things differently, but it sure did illustrate it in an interesting way, separated from any of the emotional and "but it's so good for you" baggage of food.

"The Full Plate Club"