in unschooling discussions

Hard odd topics with pointers toward and away.

Some of the topics addressed in brief below, all of which come around periodically:

  • boycotts and other political stances
  • yeah but allergy/disability
  • parents needing more emotional stability
  • "no one can tell you if you are doing the right thing, only you know that"
    From discussions on Radical Unschooling Info, regarding priorities:

    Sarah Dickinson wrote a brief but brilliant response to this:

    Any pointers on artificial additives please? How do you deal with processed foods containing all sorts of unnatural ingredients you know are not good for a growing body (or even a grown body, for that matter).

    Might also be worth me mentioning some boycotted brands. How do you deal with these please (I'm not fond of the Nestle brand, for example, and am not comfortable buying their products, but of course my child has no issue, and if he sees their sweets he may well want to eat them!). Thanking in advance.

    Buy them if they ask. If they like them and want more then you can experiment with alternatives you feel more comfortable with.

    But ultimately if M&Ms are your child's favourite then prioritise that.

    You stamping your foot is like a butterfly to Nestle but like an elephant to your children, so don't squish them.

    End of Sarah Dickinson's poetic post of 6 May 2013 *here*

    "Take small steps toward positive change."

    Sylvia Woodman wrote:

    When I first started going to LLL meetings there was one mom (not a leader) in the group who was very gung-ho about boycotting Nestle and other companies who were connected with evil formula companies.

    And I remember so vividly the leader very gently saying something to the effect that she could never keep track of all the companies she was not supposed to support and she found it much simpler to just spend time every day supporting moms who wanted to breastfeed and that eventually that would have a greater and more positive effect on the world she lived in.

    It was an aha! moment—don't focus on the negative or how awful the situation is—take small steps toward positive change. Denying my kids Nestle chocolate isn't going to bring the formula industry to its knees. But helping my neighbor who just had a new baby, bringing her a meal or unloading her dishwasher are small things that I can do that will make a huge difference for my neighbor.

    end of Sylvia Woodman quote from August 2014

    Joyce Fetteroll wrote, of details on a corn allergy:

    On Sep 15, 2006, at 1:49 PM, someone wrote:

    There are indeed things in this world that happen to kids that create a state where a child simply cannot control their behavior.
    And people *have* suggested allergies, including corn, when posters have described behavior that seems beyond the ordinary.

    But right off the bat, when there doesn't seem to be any clue that the behavior is out of the ordinary, I don't think it's helpful for people to start suggesting that there's some physical reason for behavior that sounds like ordinary reactions to conventional parenting.

    Every child, every family is unique. While occasionally some out-of-the-ordinary behavior might ring a bell with someone on the list and they will share what they went through, I think the list is a more dependable resource to help people eliminate the conventional roadblocks they may be erecting and help people remove the glasses-of-conventional-parenting they may be looking at their children through. Once parents can see who their children really are rather than seeing children who are reacting to conventional parenting, then they can start asking questions—of themselves, of people on lists—that might help them see and explore causes of truly extraordinary behavior (if it still exists).

    No one should be looking to the list for reassurance that they can ignore a problem with a child. But they can get help eliminating the effects of conventional parenting.


    Note from Sandra: There was a period of time when it seemed that each problem a mom reported was met with an assurance (from a stranger) that he was obviously allergic to gluten or milk or something—change the food and the behavior would go away. It became increasingly tiresome and eventually people moved on to demonizing screen time (which will also fade, as did the once-go-to claim of ADHD for everything).

    Here is interesting evidence of the nonsense some kids hear and can caricature when pretending to be adults. The last line is the best: "Once I drank some root beer and it didn't do anything." These kids had heard claims of foodstuffs creating behaviors, and causing children to have no control over their thoughts or actions.

    Links to better and less weighty episodes of that series: Salesman and a Karate Kid scene

    Calm and too calm?

    On the Live and Learn Conference list, after the 2006 conference, a mom reported a calm serenity she hadn't experienced before, and there was some discussion (responses in black are Sandra Dodd):
    -=-my passivity was really an in-the-moment thing that came from my desire to take the situation to a new level. Because lately nothing had been working. My help had been rejected, sometimes violently, which is why I didn't step in with it right away. -=-
    I could feel the calm in all of your writing, I was just afraid you might've been TOO calm. :-)

    The week before the conference, I dropped an egg on the floor. Just fumbled it, splat, and I looked at it. I remembered the first time I ever spilled anything and remained really calm. It was baby bathwater, when Kirby was just six months old or so. We were due to a meeting (LLL? Probably, or some appointment) soon, and I had given him a bath and had him all dressed to go, and wanted to pour the tub out. In moving it from the kitchen table over to the sink (a short distance at our old house--nobody who's recently been to our new house should bother to envision) it bent and like two or three gallons of soapy water went all over the floor.

    I didn't cuss myself out, didn't stomp or yell or ANYthing. I just looked at it and thought the floor needed to be cleaned anyway, and I threw some rags or towels down on it so it wouldn't get away, and figured I'd clean it up better later. I never felt shame or embarrassment or frustration or the feeling that life isn't fair or that I was stupid. That was new to me, and I was 33.

    A week and some ago, I dropped an egg calmly and realized it had been 20 years since I had to get angry and emotional over making a mistake like that.

    -=-I guess in watching the situation play out I was hoping to both gain some deeper insight into the dynamic and see if they could come to some resolution on their own. I can say, several days later, that there does seem to be a genuine shift with them.-=-
    Very, very cool.


    Someone asked How exactly did you get to that point?

    #1, wanting to be there and moving gradually toward it.

    "Exactly" can't work the same for everyone, except for the desire and the movement toward.

    Tools in my case, though, included prior knowledge of meditation as a tool (not always used regularly, but a state I was aware was attainable)


    Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings, and readings


    La Leche League, and readings, and being around mothers I wanted to be like, and seeing that the patterns I grew up with weren't inevitable, or normal or desireable or inescapable.

    I think all the things I found are included in one way or another in the unschooling discussions at UnschoolingDiscussion and its offshoot lists, on my site and Joyce's, and some people might (depending on their history and current stage of mothering) benefit from participation in self-help and group help organizations such as those above, or AA, or Co-dependency meetings, or books or websites about those, or books of affirmations.

    If every conscious decision is taken with the intention of getting closer to the way one wants to be, then in a "getting warm / getting cold" way, it's not nearly as distant as one might have thought. You never even have to leave your regular house, car, family. It's right where you are, only the thoughts are different.

    SandraDodd.com/help      lots


    Pam Sorooshian's response to a tiresome sort of statement:

    -=-So, I restate my point, no one can tell you if you are doing the right thing, only you know that. -=-
    I can most definitely tell someone that I think they are or are not doing the right thing. I can tell them based on my years of experience as a parent and extensive observation of other peoples' parenting, that I think punitive parenting is a bad idea and that radical-unschooling-style parenting is "doing the right thing."

    Why on earth could I NOT tell people these things? Why would I run a list at all if I didn't think people could tell each other these kinds of things? I think it is beyond hogwash, it is dangerous to tell parents that only "they" know if they're doing the right thing. Parents have justified absolutely all kinds of horrific parenting in the name of thinking only "they know the right thing to do."

    I gave a speech once, a college graduation requirement, and one of the judges said to me, "You don't need to say, 'I think,' or 'It is my opinion that,' or other qualifiers, all the time." He said that if it is coming out of my mouth (or my fingers), then it is my idea, opinion, or interpretation and people know that, I don't have to tell them. He said I only need to tell them whose idea it is IF I'm giving someone else's ideas, not my own. He said it sounded like I was hedging, not really believing what I was saying, no confident.

    Children are better off if parents do not spank them. I believe I'm right about that and it applies to ALL children and I don't care if their parents think they know what's right for them, I think what is right is for adults to refrain from hitting children.

    I used spanking as an example, above, because it is a clear and specific "thing." But I believe the same about other less-easily-defined parenting approaches.

    I see no need to hedge. I'm not chasing down people and forcing them to listen to me. If they don't agree with what I say, they can ignore me and walk away shaking their heads about how misguided I am.

    Joyce, Sandra, and I own this list and we aren't interested in supporting parents in doing whatever the hell they happen to think feels right to them. Our purpose is to get people to consider and adopt radical unschooling, it is helping people understand it, helping them implement it, helping them live it deeply and joyously. We believe that the discussions here will result in happier lives for many children.


    "When people ask about being happier and more positive, the answer can't help but be the same. BE happier. BE positive." —Sandra ( read more)


    When Parents have personal issues

    Divorce (avoidance of)

    Big Noisy Peace