Thinking About "Have To"

Pam Laricchia responding:

Sandra wrote: They're not two sides of the same coin. They're different sets of life energy and different biochemical realities.

Yes. The actions may look the same but the entire outlook is different. This is, of course, hypothetical, but I'm trying to give an idea of how the outlook could be different.
Julie wrote: I committed to a black belt. No matter how long it took, no matter how many knee surgeries were involved, no matter how many times I had to drag myself out to do Kata when I wanted to just go to sleep.
When your alarm went off you rolled over, moaned, and realized you had to drag yourself out to do Kata because you were committed to getting a black belt. While getting ready you were wishing you could just stay in bed. You tripped over the cat and grumbled. You swore at that idiot of a driver who cut you off on the way over— "where did he get his license!!". You got there, did your thing, and drove home. Later that day as you were laying on the couch trying to get some rest, your husband asked you to help him with something. Didn't he realize how tired you were because you had to get up so early this morning?!
Sandra wrote: They're different sets of life energy and different biochemical realities.
When your alarm went off you rolled over, looked at the clock and realized it was going off early so you could go to do Kata. You sighed and thought about how early it was and considered just staying in bed this morning. But then you remembered how committed you were to getting your black belt, so you resolved to get up. You said good morning to the cat. You hoped that the guy who cut you off on the way over didn't get into an car accident the next time he did that. When you were done you drove home, picking up some coffee & donuts for the family on the way home (okay, I admit it, I'm Canadian!). You felt good for the rest of the day because you chose to do something that brought you one step closer to your ultimate goal. When your child asked for some help getting the craft stuff down you smiled at him and said "Sure, let's see what we can make!"

Which day would you and those around you prefer?

Pam Laricchia

Questionable claims of "having to" do something:

"I had to say ... Hey let's do this science experiment to get him off the play station last night. I had to have some one take notes because the directions called for. . . "

"There are days where I might not want to fix breakfast, lunch, or supper, to do laundry, to clean up a child's vomit, the cat's poop mess after getting locked in the van, etc., but it's gotta be done and so I do it."

Pam Sorooshian, in response to:
I don't understand why this is such an issue.
I think it is because the change in attitude or approach from schooling to unschooling largely has to do with a shift from seeing certain things in a less flexible to a more flexible way—a shift from "have to's" to "choices."

Kids don't "have to" learn to read by nine, but can choose to learn to read when they're ready.
Kids don't "have to" learn certain subjects in a certain order and certain way, but can choose what and how and when to learn anything they want to learn.

And so on....

Unschooling is a way of viewing life as filled with choices, not "have to's."

So the topic is important.

It doesn't mean you don't "have to" feed your goats tomorrow. It puts the emphasis on your choice to have them and care for them. You really do NOT have to do it.

Lots of people go through their whole lives never feeling like they had choices in many many areas of their lives in which they really did. Just like it is useful for unschoolers to drop school language (not use the terms teaching or lessons or curriculum to refer to the natural learning that happens in their families) it is useful to drop the use of "have to's" and replace it with an awareness of choices and options.

How we think—the language we use to think—about what we're doing, matters.

Pam Sorooshian

Have to

Every time "have to" comes up in writing, speech or thought, back up two words and see it as a choice, and not a have to.

You don't "have to" do that, but your ability to make choices and to live a life of abundant gratitude will be hampered if you don't

Pam Laricchia responding to someone whose name I didn't save:

But for many of us the idea of choosing not to meet OUR goals, not those imposed by others, is as foreign to us as the use of "have to" is to apparently others on this list.

But you have chosen the goals, and continue to choose to follow through with the actions to achieve those goals. For me it is a mindset. When I thought in terms of "have to" (I "have to" do such and such to achieve my goal) I found myself starting to resent the activity, having to push myself to follow through, and acting like a martyr—expecting others to express appreciation to me—for achieving what was my goal in the first place!
... who fought 17 matches in one day to earn her 2nd degree black belt, who took 21 hours one semester to finish her degree before she married------who personally chose each of these goals for herself and "had to" do certain things to obtain them with all pressure being internally applied
I'm not saying this is the case with you, only that in situations like you've described above, a person who feels they "have to" do these things to meet their goals could quite easily find themselves complaining about it along the way—"I can't believe I have to fight another match (grumble, grumble)" or "I'm taking so many hours this semester that I'm always tired!" and expecting people to congratulate me for getting through the semester. It can lead to feeling that you have had to sacrifice to meet your goals.

But when I keep the fact that it is my choice to continue with the actions to meet my goals front and center in my mind, I also continually reaffirm that this is my goal to achieve. That though I may not find certain actions "enjoyable", I choose to participate in them to achieve my goals. Then I'm not as likely to be complaining to those around me about how I "have to" do this and that just because I want the end result. That I have not made any sacrifices, I have made choices. And with that attitude, I'm a lot nicer to be around. 🙂

Pam Laricchia

If you want to never say "have to," the only thing you "have to" do is die. Not much of a life in my book.

I see it exactly the opposite. If my life is nothing but a bunch of "have to's," then that's not much of a life. I choose to do the things I do, no matter what they are.

A robot goes through its actions because it 'has to'; it has no other options. I choose where my actions will take me.

Lyle Perry

Concerning How People Learn about Unschooling

This concerns the idea of what people "have to" do, and also how a person gets from one point to another in the understanding of what unschooling isn't and is. —Sandra

Sheila/Sheran wrote, on the UnschoolingDiscussion list:
I think though, that some people start out being argumentative but then end up being convinced in the end. I know I came here several years ago and was argumentative several times. For me, the big thing to get over was the idea that I *had to* do certain things to make sure they grew into good Christian kids. I thought I *had to* at least make them go to church and Sunday School, do devotions with them daily, memorize some memory verses, make them do Bible studies.

When I got here and people said 'No, you don't "have to",' I reacted in an argumentative way. Not because I wanted to argue, not because I didn't want to unschool. I was just shocked and my arguing was a result of that shock. It was my brain's reaction to trying to take in the extreme opposite of all the things I've ever been told about how to parent. The arguing was the outward sign that my belief system was being shaken to the core and that it was uncomfortable (but necessary) for me.

I don't know if I could've gotten to the point I'm at if I hadn't argued with some people on this list. I gave them my best argument, and they gave me their best argument in return, and it caused me to think about things REALLY hard. Much harder than if I'd just read the stuff in a FAQ or in archives.

Sheila (kayb85)
February 7, 2004 on the Unschooling Discussion group

Doing without a "have to"

The story quoted below involves a sixteen-year-old Marty Dodd.
Marty is twenty-five now and is getting married in a couple of days.

Marty has an orthodonist appointment at 10:30 this morning, and works at noon. He has gone to ortho alone, and has taken Holly before. I asked yesterday if he wanted to go alone or me take him. He wanted me to go. He asked me to wake him up an hour before. He likes at least an hour before, and usually an hour and a half.

I forgot to wake him up, but I heard his alarm go off at 9:31 (and remembered I had forgotten).

He was tired and I offered to put a fifteen or twenty minute timer on and come and get him, but he said no, he wanted to get up.

There is a snapshot moment in the "don't have to" life of a sixteen year old boy.

I'm not saying that every child given leeway will be Marty.
I'm saying that every person who claims that leeway will inevitably cause sloth is proven wrong by Marty.

photo by Sandra Dodd, of Marty, another morning in those days

Deepak Chopra says:

"When it appears that there is no choice, some form of illusion is operating."

Ludwig Borne had said, long before that:

"Losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding a truth."

Another direction, at Not your Mom, is a reminder that no one "has to" help other unschoolers.

No one owes any other unschoolers support or assistance. Luckily, there are many people willing to offer help, information, assistance and ideas. But neither online nor in park meet-ups nor at their own kitchen tables is it ever *required* that someone help you.
. . . .
Take and appreciate good help when you can get it!!

Moving past "have to"
and changing beliefs

Logic in decisionmaking for unschooling parents, by Joyce Fetteroll

"Where is the edge of unschooling?"

The Value of Choices


Obvious illogic and amusing fallacies. A collection of parental predictions and assertions about what children will always and never do if the parents let them, or don't make them stop, collected by Sandra Dodd.

Is this necessary for Unschooling? Can't unschooling just end with academics? Where DOES it end?

Rules vs. Principles

We make choices ALL the time. Learning to make better ones in small little ways, immediate ways, makes life bigger and better. Choosing to be gentle with a child, and patient with ourselves, and generous in ways we think might not even show makes our children more gentle, patient and generous. —Sandra Dodd