Huge Gambles

(or small gambles)

Leah Rose wrote:
Unschooling, deschooling, parenting peacefully, all of it called to me, deeply, but it felt like a huge risk, a giant gamble. But I'm so glad we didn't pull back, that we continued down the path. We don't have perfect relationships, there are still dynamics we're working on and more deschooling to do, but I'm happy to update the record to say that we're already living the pay off: our kids' default modes are no longer criticism, sniping, and competition. There's tons more encouragement, laughing, and sharing. Over these years I've witnessed their relationships with each other relax into real friendship, and they are very aware that their relationship with us is quite different than what most of their friends have with their parents.

Learning to parent mindfully, keeping my focus in the present, making choices towards peace, towards help and support, is not, as it turns out, much of a gamble or a risk. It is the surest path to connection and trust.

This quote was first saved at the page on Success With Later Unschooling

Joyce Fetteroll responding to whether all unschoolers grow up to be good people:

So, I'm curious. Are there any Radically Unschooled children, who have grown up, who are not 'good' people? Who cheat, steal, treat people badly, lie, etc...?

If someone says they've radically unschooled, have they really?

While it's fairly easy to grasp what to let go of to radically unschool, one of the biggest stumbling blocks is understanding what to replace it with. Someone who says they're radically unschooling could have let go, but not done the replacing. They could be unparenting.

Another stumbling block is a parent who doesn't "get" their kid and can't figure out how to help them.

And there are other factors: bad biochemistry. Abuse. Divorce (not merely the act itself, but everything around it: parents tearing at each other, the idea that love isn't unconditional, kids feeling guilty or abandoned).

Which all sounds like words to cover unschooling's ass 😉

The actions you've listed are all strategies to get what someone wants. So the big question is why would someone adopt those strategies that hurt people when there are strategies that can help them get what they want without hurting others?

There are understandable reasons! If a child feels he can't get what he wants except on his own, cheating and stealing and so on can be good strategies. If the child feels like the people around him put their own agendas ahead of his, if they've shown they aren't to be trusted to help, if they've shown they don't respect him, why would he care to put in the effort not to hurt them?

If a child knows the parents objective is to help him get what he wants, if the parent is offering strategies that are kind and safe, then the parent is creating an environment where cheating, stealing, etc aren't advantageous.

Being what the parent thinks is trustworthy and respectful isn't enough. The parent needs to direct trustworthiness and respect to the child. The child needs to feel the parent trusts and respects who they are. The child needs to trust the parent is someone who wants to help them.

It's not a straight cut path to lying and stealing prevention 😉

Asking how to prevent kids from lying is sort of like asking how to get a steeple bell 50 feet into the air. The answer begins with building a foundation on the ground which hardly sounds like a way to get something into the air 😉


Pam Sorooshian:
Unschooling families have their problems, too, that can lead to their kids having problems. If someone is looking for a guarantee that their kids will "turn out" great, sorry, but there are no guarantees. First, life circumstances can throw any family into turmoil. Second, unschooling parents can have their own baggage that impacts their children in negative ways.

Unlike conventional parenting and conventional schooling, unschooling doesn't set kids up to lie, cheat, and steal, though. So, other things equal, I like our odds.

-pam (original)

Sandra Dodd responding to someone with younger children who doesn't want them to be mesmerized zombies in the presence of TV:

I guess my fear is that I don't want my kids to GET to this point, so I'm trying to head it off before it happens. But perhaps they really won't get to this point because I don't limit their TV. I guess I need more reassurance so it doesn't seem like such a huge gamble.

You can read the experiences of unschoolers who feel things worked out well here: SandraDodd.com/tv

It was gathered there so that when people wanted reassurance they could go there and read lots.

We can't guarantee anyone's outcome. Life is a huge gamble.

I went to college with a guy who was very serious—always studied, never goofed around, hardly laughed or joked. He wanted to become a lawyer as soon as possible. He wanted to be a lawyer because the school counsellor said it would be good for him, and because it made money.

He also never dated. He figured getting money was important, THEN a date.

He went straight to law school, and graduated.

He got a job with a nice law firm in Dallas.

He got a date.

He was hit and killed by a car, in a crosswalk, while on that date.

Would anyone have considered it a gamble, his hard work in college? It was paying off, clearly; he was in law school and back out before he was 25 years old. He DID get a job, and a good one.

I guess my fear is that I don't want my kids to GET to this point, so I'm trying to head it off before it happens.
You assume "it" will happen if you don't do something. I'm going to lunch with a friend of mine today. He's been married a year. His next-door neighbors had only been married a short time too. He's been helping them install kitchen cabinets and appliances.

Saturday the neighbor couple went on a bike ride with others, on South 14 (windy mountainous, not steep, state highway through Tijeras, for those who know the area). They were struck by a car and he was killed.

Today I'm going to help him through some of the feelings he's having about all that, and his own marriage, and thoughts about risks. Yesterday he was saying he kept thinking of all the factors—if they had left a little later, or if he had stopped to tie his shoe. MILLIONS of factors could have changed, in them, the weather, the position of other cars, the departure time and mood of the driver... And his life has changed (the driver's)—and all his family's.

I guess I need more reassurance so it doesn't seem like such a huge gamble.
Would school seem like less a gamble to you?
Would buying a curriculum seem like less a gamble?
Moving to a fancier neighborhood, or to a country not involved in any wars?

I cannot make my children's lives good. I can't ensure their success. I cannot make a tree grow. I can water it and put a barrier near so Keith doesn't hit it with a lawnmower, and ask my kids not to climb in it while it's young.

I could destroy that tree, all kinds of ways. I could do it damage. I could neglect it. But I can't predict where the next branch will grow, or whether it will double in size this year or just do 1/3 again of its height. Not all years' growth are the same.

I could mess my kids up and make them unhappy and keep them from having access to things, but I cannot make them learn. I can't make them mature. I can give them opportunities and room to grow, and food and water and a comfortable bed.

I can't guarantee anything for anyone else, nor for my own family. I know what does damage, and I know what might help.

My husband and I are still together because we've worked at it. We're still alive because we're lucky. We've been in cars that spun off the road twice, but we lived. We've been in small collisions that could have been big ones. We've been in the hospital for surgeries and survived. We've had injuries to our bodies that could have become infected and killed us.

My children have never been in the hospital. We're lucky. I didn't create that situation. I lucked out.

Every second of every day things happen or don't happen and there are consequences.

I would say if you don't want to gamble, don't unschool, but the truth is that everything else is a gamble too.


Katherand2003 wrote:
Nothing is a sure success. But connections have meaning and are a better guarantee of success in many things, enjoyment, excitement, learning, making friends, having interests, doing new things... Unschooling is about providing an environment that encourages kids to make connections about all they encounter throughout life.
Unschooling Discussion 2006

Lisa J Haugen wrote:
I remember when it really started sinking in, that there are no guarantees. Sandra had written that and I'd read it a few times without *really* thinking about it. After a sort of chaotic, misguided start, I was reading here more and really starting to get it better. Our lives were becoming more peaceful, I was really enjoying being with my kids, my marriage was improving drastically, and then we had these six wonderful months where even on really tight finances, unschooling (well sorta unschooling, my kids were 5ish and 3ish) was working wonders in all our lives. And I really glossed over phrases like "no guarantees" because of course they didn't apply to me!

Then some stuff went really bad...

(Read the rest here.)

"Nature doesn't guarantee a harvest.
What nature guarantees is no seeds, no harvest."

—Phil Gosling
quote provided by Bob Collier