Overcoming Fear

"Facing fears" sounds scary, intimidating and negative. Stepping toward learning is much more positive. Being with children is easy; they're already right there. Move toward them, instead of milling around with fears and vulnerability.

—Sandra, August 2020, about gaining confidence

A mom was afraid. I understand fear, but it can be harmful in several ways. I quoted a bit, and wrote:
-=-I have a fear that no matter what I do this will inevitably follow some sort of biological route to worse and worse. I'm scared for my child, scared for what she will go through, how she will feel, how she is already feeling. I guess reading that book will help. But I'd like to hear more stories about OCD, if possible. Has anyone's child needed medication? Are there other cases like Chris's daugther, where the child pretty much got better?-=-

I'm going to pull a list of words from the short paragraph above:

no matter what
worse and worse
IF it's going to happen no matter what, why be afraid?
IF it's going to get worse, will fear and worry help or hurt?

-=-I have a fear that no matter what I do this will inevitably follow some sort of biological route to worse and worse. I'm scared for my child, scared for what she will go through, how she will feel, how she is already feeling. I guess reading that book will help. But I'd like to hear more stories about OCD, if possible. Has anyone's child needed medication? Are there other cases like Chris's daughter, where the child pretty much got better?-=-

Would it be better if she were in school?

If no, relax.
If yes, put her in school.

If you spin and spin in fear and panic and you can't think because you're afraid, then she's all alone.

Make choices that lead toward making her life better. Not one big choice, a constant flow of choices every time you're going to say something or do something, all day, every day, starting now.



Rippy D. wrote on the side:
I remember feeling like [that mom]. Every word you wrote was helpful. I especially loved this part: "If you spin and spin in fear and panic and you can't think because you're afraid, then she's all alone."

I'm happy I'm not in that mental space anymore. I did a lot of work to get myself out of there. But I feel like Always Learning (and especially your writing/advice) was like the grease that helped me keep my wheels moving to get out of that space and stay out.


Eva Witsel wrote:
Don't bring all the scary, negative and dark stories from the internet into your home. It will make your home and your lives scary, negative and dark. The most important thing you can do for your children's health is to provide them with a happy, calm and loving home.
It's part of a longer bit on facebook in October, 2015 also preserved at SandraDodd.com/radiation.
The first quote is a mom who admitted she was not really a radical unschooler—she claimed half a dozen "labels" in defending against labels. Second writing is mine.

That mom:
-=-This is a direct quote from my daughter (who is reading the thread over my shoulder) 'you don't make the world out as a scary place but sometimes it is, because of all the chemicals that we don't know about.' I feel it is my job to let my children know everything they can about whatever they want or show them how to find that information. -=-
My daughter nor my sons would never have said sometimes the world is a scary place. For them, it never was and isn't now. But your daughter said "but sometimes it is, because of all the chemicals that we don't know about." I think that's because you have scared her, because you are afraid

Water can have TONS of stuff in it. People's drinking water comes from rivers and reservoirs and underground wells. None of it comes out of those places distilled. It comes through pipes made of iron or copper or plastic, out of taps people don't wash inside of (and if they did, there would be soap and chemicals in there). Tree roots break into those water pipes. Bugs live in there sometimes. Even rainwater passes through the air and can pick up particulates, and lands in or on something that wasn't as sanitary as an ideal operating room. Yet there are seven billion people on earth, drinking every possible kind of water. I don't see that as frightening. In its entirety, it's reassuring.

Focusing too narrowly on danger doesn't make the world a big scary place. It makes it a small, terrifying place. You don't need to do that.

Admitting that one is not even an unschooler, but an eclectic homeschooler, and is here to keep her hand in, to learn about what others are doing, is an admission that she's not giving information from a radical unschooling perspective. I think it matters.

February 2012, Radical Unschooling Info

Joyce Fetteroll, responding to:
*** Isn't it our job as parents to teach/nurture/guide our children in the world around them until they are mature enough to make that decision. ***
That's a question born of fear. Anyone who says "No, that's not our job," is obviously being neglectful. If you begin from the stance that anyone who is making choices different than yours is obviously wrong, you will hinder your understanding of what and why the people here make the choices they do.

It's hard to build a new way of seeing the world if you don't (temporarily) let go of what you believe is true.

Again, don't take that statement as a reaction to insult. It's a reaction to illogic. It's a reaction to thinking that's so withdrawn into a tight box of one-right-way-to-see-the-world, that it can't conceive of there being any other way to think.

"Isn't it our job as parents to teach/nurture/guide our children in the ways of Christ/Yaweh/Allah/The Earth Mother until they are mature enough to make that decision?"

"Isn't it our job as parents to teach/nurture/guide our children about the superiority of the Aryan race until they are mature enough to make that decision?"

Stated like that it's so obviously meant to limit kids to the parents' way of thinking until the kids are indoctrinated. It's grounded in fear that the world is inherently evil and that man will choose evil over good unless wiser people prevent him until he can control himself.

Unschoolers know from experience that that isn't so. They know if they focus on creating a environment for kids to safely make choices in, kids will try what intrigues them and grow a better and better understanding of their own preferences. They won't make The Right choices. They will discover what choices are right for them. They won't choose only candy. They won't choose only Pringles. They will, depending on the child, choose more candy than an adult (because of high energy needs and small stomachs). When all things are equal -- ease of eating, visual appeal, preferences are taken into account -- they will choose a variety of foods and not limit themselves to the evil "junk" food that adults fear they will.

Have you seen this: Monkey Platters

Joyce Fetteroll
(original, on facebook, 2014)

Photos are links to Just Add Light and Stir posts on fear (overcoming it).



Sometimes people have a sort of social hypochondria—every problem that's described, they identify with, or fear the danger will get their children. They would do much better to spend more time and attention with and on their children so that they see their wholeness, rather than imagining their vulnerabilities.
—Sandra Dodd, somewhere on facebook, March 2014

ABOUT TV: Someone long anonymous wrote:
Seems to me unlimited TV viewing could lead to just the opposite of free thinking -- brainwashing by the corporate culture.
IF there is "a culture" that wishes to brainwash a child, then the parent who SAVES that child is heroic. But the brainwashed person seems to be the mom, who has believed things that don't make sense.

That fearful quote is from a longer discussion preserved here: Television, Children and Making Decisions Rationally

Joyce, on how fear is formed and solidified (and how to avoid that):
*** That does not sound like free thinking at all! ***

My experience has been that when people claim to want "free thinking" they really mean "free opinion." They want the freedom to hold opinions without answering questions about them.

*** When pediatricians and doctors are concerned I think it's important to at least listen to what they have to say ***

I think it's more important to dig into *why* doctors said that and not just accept it as an opinion that carries a bit more weight because they're doctors.

If you think the best -- or only? -- way to make decisions is to read a bunch of opinions then decide which feels right, *that's* why this discussion makes no sense to you. That's why this forum comes across as group think and why all our opinions seem creepily aligned.

I don't know why that never occurred to me before.

There *is* a better way to make decisions. A much better way. Basing decisions on which opinion feels right is too easily swayed by the opinions of passionate people (who often don't realize their passion is born from fear) and people who seem like experts.

The biggest first step is getting fear out of the way. I understand it doesn't feel like fear. The more opinions you read that support your own, the more certain you grow. (AKA, confirmation bias.) But your certainty stops you from asking why people here believe technology isn't dangerous. That's typical of fear-based thinking.

You're assuming the ideas here are "just" opinion. Opinions that, like yours, are based on nothing more than feeling. So it's all equal with the only differences being how many opinions someone has looked at and what they ultimately feel is right.

But the ideas here aren't opinions. The ideas come from experience and *then* thoughtful personal and group analysis of what we see happen. The ideas come from asking "If this idea is true, then it would mean that would happen. Does it? If not, then why not?"

For example, if sugar is addictive, then kids who can have as much sugar as they want would show severe signs of addiction. The kids would, if given the chance, subsist on nothing but sugar and vitamin pills.

But when radically unschooling parents remove restrictions on sugar that doesn't happen. In fact -- after a *predictable* period of time getting used to no restrictions -- kids eat sweets AND other foods. Most surprising is that once kids are confident restrictions won't return they will leave Halloween and Easter candy to get stale. I've seen my daughter eat a brownie and leave *half a bite* because she's done.

If video games are addictive, then kids should retreat permanently into those worlds unless dragged out by a parent. Yet radically unschooled kids don't do that. Why not? And why does it *appear* to happen with some schooled kids? Video games can't cause the withdrawal or radically unschooled kids would withdraw too. So there *must* be some other factor. (We actually can know that factor is the lack of control those kids have over their lives. That's not just a guess. That pattern keeps repeating in highly regulated kids whose restrictions are removed.)

Observation, questioning. It's much better than guessing.

About the doctors' warning about television and young children, I wish I had save the link, but perhaps someone has it. It was recently reported that the reason the Pediatrics Association had spoken against TV (and now other devices) is *not* because there were any studies that showed TV was harmful. It was because they feared parents would park their kids in front of TVs rather than interacting with them.

That's certainly a valid fear. Some parents do. And more would without the statement. Unfortunately government agencies find that simple clear statements that must be understood by 100s of millions of people are more effective than longer accurate statements. As an example, there are no studies that found reading to a child for 30 minutes a day was some magic number. 30 minutes was just chosen because they believed parents would feel 30 minutes was doable. But if the number were higher they would do zero.

The point is, that even simple statements often aren't as straightforward as they seem. If the goal is unschooling, anything that prevents kids from exploring should be questioned.

Joyce (on Always Learning in January 2015)

June 1, 2022, facebook memories showed me a quote:
You don't know what your children need. They won't know either, if they're never allowed to live in such a way that they will learn to pay more attention to their bodies than to a book or a menu, a calendar, a clock, or to their parents' fears and prejudices.
In going to see if it had been used more than once at Just Add Light and Stir (it had been), I searched for the phrase "fears and prejudices," and came up with those and several other posts.

"fears and prejudices"

Good set! I was surprised, myself.