What Would You Have Done Differently?

Chat transcript from October 2009

NOTE: Chats aren't spelled and punctuated as carefully as other writing, so try to roll with the informality.

SandraDodd:   I would not have tried to help Kirby learn to read if I had it to do again. I'd have to look to see if he was six or seven, but he just wasn't ready. It did harm and no good.

JessicaSexton:   Did he ask for help?

SandraDodd:   Two sessions, for which I paid him with Ninja Turtle figures. One session I started and then just quit and gave him a Ninja Turtle. No, I was concerned about nosy questions from Keith's mom.

JillP:   I agree. Although I was asking Addi about her reading process today, and she only remembers the fun things.

SandraDodd:   But I was over it at that point, and Keith's parents ended up praising us for our kids. It just took a while. 🙂

JillP:   fun things as in not any forced lessons, just answering questions. How long was 'a while'?

ShannonBurton:   hello, all...

SandraDodd:   seven or eight years.

conj123:   hello everyone my kids are 14 and 12 years old

SandraDodd:   Maybe not that long. 🙂 Hi, conj. How long have you been unschooling?

ShannonBurton:   Sandra...7 or 8 years for....?

SandraDodd:   for Keith's parents to brag us up for the way we raised the kids.

ShannonBurton:   Ahhh....not holding my breath for kudos from family.

conj123:   since birth! but my kids did go to an alternative school (Caraway) for a few years - it is child led and very unschooly they are homeschooling again this year!

JulieDaniel:   hi

JillP:   Hi Julie.

conj123:   Hi Julie

ShannonBurton:   hi, julie

JulieDaniel:   I wasn't sure if I was early or late. Our clocks went back for winter time at the weekend

ShannonBurton:   I have a "something i would have done differently"...actually, quite a few of them.

JillP:   I wish that I would've respected kids and their youngness before I had kids, and thought deeply about what it is to have kids and how they might see the world.

SandraDodd:   How old is your oldest, Shan? that needs to be part of the official record today.

ShannonBurton:   Oldest is 8, youngest 5.

SandraDodd:   What would you have done differently? Jill, do you mean to say you wish you had paid attention to other young children before you had your own?

ShannonBurton:   I wish we hadn't circumcised him in infancy....and I wish I had never ever shamed either of them. Those things were such a part of our family lore, I never really considered not doing them when the kids were little.

SandraDodd:   I'll save this chat and edit it into something readable as a resource for the future.

JillP:   That, and wish that I would've been a better thinking person, rather than just doing things because that's the next thing one did.

SandraDodd:   Do you think some of that comes with age, Jill?

ShannonBurton:   And I see the effects of it so much in Jeremiah...I was not the mom i wanted to be in his toddlerhood...knowing how to handle unexpected tragedy and it's impact without lashing out would have helped immensely.

JillP:   Yes, but I see some really young people thinking about these things on the lists once in a while. Hmmm, after seeing Shannon's comment. I realize I did think about some things.... Like I knew nature had taken care of feeding infants and that we didn't need to cut any parts off them.

ShannonBurton:   Maybe more with experience, then, or being exposed to other ways of being with children?

SandraDodd:   For me, La Leche League helped. If we're going back to birth of children, I wish I had gone to La Leche League before Kirby was born, instead of when he was four months old. The nursing would've gone way better, and I would've kept him with me more, instead of in the crib.

ShannonBurton:   I remember my brother being circumcised at 7...i was 4. so to me, it was a very big, taken for granted, needed to happen for boys thing.

JillP:   I was actually discouraged from going to LLL by my midwife.

SandraDodd:   He's the only one who was in a crib in another room at all. It's different in different places, just as with any volunteer organization, but it was really good here in those days.

piscesmomx3:   Sandra, it was the same way with my oldest. By the time I had my youngest she was in the bed with us

JillP:   Years later I found out why...the LLL in our town was pretty odd.

SandraDodd:   And even if the local people are odd, they have literature. Which now is available online, but used to be you had to physically go where the meetings were.

ShannonBurton:   I would change that, too...Jim has sleep apnea, so we didn't cosleep...I had them in a Moses basket by the bed, where i could touch them easily and nurse...thought i needed to stop that earlier than i would have, today.

JillP:   Yeah, that would've been good. I didn't know about co sleeping, and such. I had no problem nursing whenever my baby needed it.

SandraDodd:   I wish I hadn't counted 3, 2, 1 to get Marty to do things. 🙂 Really. Lame.

JillP:   I wanted to homeschool so I could play school with my kids. I wish I hadn't made up "consequences" for Addi.

piscesmomx3:   I wish I had never punished mine. My 12 yro still remembers her toys being taken away for not cleaning her room right.

SandraDodd:   But it's easy for me now to look back and imagine I could've been calmer and way more patient. I was younger and I was tired and had two or three kids at a time, after poor Kirby's happy only-childness ended.

JulieDaniel:   For me being an older mother helps. I couldn't have done it the way I am doing it now when I was younger!

ShannonBurton:   Nursing i did well enough (first one to do that, so i wasn't just blindly following, but I remember putting off a fussy Miah more than I wanted to (and I would not have lived at my parents' house between the time he was 6 weeks- 4 months....

JillP:   Me too, Julie

PatchworkGirl:   Julie, how old are your kids? I had my youngest when i was 44

SandraDodd:   Me, too. I was in my 30's for all my kids' births, and there were several advantages to that. Keith and I had already had bumptious fun for many years, so we weren't resenting the lack of "freedom" and we had cars that ran, and food in the house.

JulieDaniel:   Just one son who is four, he'll be 5 in February, Step son (21) and step daughter (17) I was 40 when I had my son

JillP:   I wish I would not have gotten all ga-ga over the Well Trained Mind when it made it's way through our homeschool group .

ShannonBurton:   Julie, me either...Iwas not patient, in my 20s,and had no idea of how badly I'd been wounded,

PatchworkGirl:   Jill, you're over that now tho, aren'tcha?

JillP:   oh, yeah....That was a long time ago. Patch.

ShannonBurton:   I was 32 for jeremiah, not quite 34 for ELijah (deceased), and not quite 35 for Annalise...

SandraDodd:   After Keith and I had Kirby, though, we liked being parents SO MUCH we wished we had started earlier so we could've had more.

PatchworkGirl:   in my 20s I was still pretty "young" i lost my mom when i was 30.. she was sick from cancer & I didn't do much, if anything caretaking like... NOW I would

JillP:   I'm guessing I might've been the same parent if I had kids young, I've always had fun as a priority in my life.

JulieDaniel:   Yes I'd have loved a huge family but if I *had* started younger I would have been less patient! I had four 12/13 week miscarriages before Adam anyway so lucky to have any at all I guess

ShannonBurton:   my brother had kids when i was in my 20s. I was so sure they were ruining the kids, that they needed to be strict and keep them in line. The kids are in their late teens, now, and decent people.

JillP:   My kids were born when I was 31, and 35.

SandraDodd:   That's rough, Julie; I'm sorry those who are good parents can't have all the children they want, and those who don't want to be parents were magically "birth controlled"

ShannonBurton:   Julie...I am sorry.

SandraDodd:   But life's all lumpy.

PatchworkGirl:   one advantage, you can focus more on the ones you do have

JulieDaniel:   I'm grateful for the wonderful son I have

SandraDodd:   My fingernails grow fast and strong, and I keep cutting them off. Lots of people have abilities or realities they don't appreciate or aren't fully using. 🙂

ShannonBurton:   I was a fun mom, but a strict one. It was like the parenting police would just come by, penalizing me if the kids didn't jump when I said to.

SandraDodd:   Some people do kinda have parenting police in their lives. Especially if they're divorced or live with relatives.

JulieDaniel:   My mother tries but we don't see her often enough for it to matter

PatchworkGirl:   i have trouble when two kids need something at the same time

ShannonBurton:   Julie...I know the feeling. Elijah never cried. When annalise did, a year later, it was so very different from when Jeremiah had as a newborn. Suddenly, I was overjoyed to have a baby who COULD cry, not upset by the noise.

JillP:   I learned about unschooling when Addi was 7, and went back and did my best to start some of the things people talked about...being understanding of youngness, helping them, letting them sleep with you if they wanted.

SandraDodd:   Did it seem healing for them, Jill, to let them do things even though it was kind of "late"? Did you talk about it and say you wished you had done it sooner?

ShannonBurton:   A big reason i would change living with my parents, who insisted I let him "cry it out". Wish I'd never done that...it broke me open inside to hear.....

JillP:   Yes, Sandra. I was talking to Addi today about some of it, and it seems that she's happy with her life, and has good things to say about her past.

PatchworkGirl:   gary told me before the kids were born that i'd have to let them cry sometimes... after the twins were born, he wouldn't ALLOW it... ..🙂

SandraDodd:   Instincts work! If it was tearing you up to hear, the pain was coming from holding back and trying to intellectualize, and not from his crying directly, maybe.

JulieDaniel:   Shan... that's sad. I never let Adam cry it out but I have lots of friends who did and it used to break my heart, even when it wasn't my kid.

PatchworkGirl:   I asked him why, he said it didn't feel right! his instincts were working nicely

ShannonBurton:   Jill...Jeremiah was 7 when I really started to apply unschooling to our lives. Annalise was 4. It

PatchworkGirl:   usually i'd have to go to the bathroom & i'd be talking to them the whole time while there (if they were crying, i mean)

JulieDaniel:   I went to the bathroom so many times with Adam in a sling. Not very hygenic maybe but he was happy!

ShannonBurton:   yes, sandra...i was caught between being someone's child and someone's mother....when i finally broke away from that, my mother stopped interacting with me. i find that interesting.

JillP:   Luke got the advantage of all, and I can see a difference in their personality, but that may not be because of unschooling, It might just be because that's their personalities.

PatchworkGirl:   (i never did master the art of carrying a baby, even in a sling, in the bathroom...always put them down on blanket or coat if out & about)

piscesmomx3:   I used a baby carrier for the bathroom, so they could sit up and look at me

JillP:   Interesting and cool about your husband, Patch.

ShannonBurton:   jill...there is an easiness of being in Annalise that Jeremiah doesn't have to that degree...he still isn't sure he can trust.....

JillP:   really, Shan? Maybe there's more to the kindness and unschooling than I'm thinking then?

PatchworkGirl:   jill yeah, it was cool seeing that

ShannonBurton:   I have a quick story....people have been sick here...last week was hard. I've had not much sleep for many days....

JillP:   But I wonder about birth order too. Addi being the first was kind of my first pancake...made my mistakes there.

PatchworkGirl:   i started with twins by the time i had my 2 singletons, it was like vacation babies

JulieDaniel:   Twins to start with must be a challenge

JillP:   I wanted twins to start , so I only had to be pregnant once.

piscesmomx3:   Same with my oldest and I was so young, but she has taught me so much about being a good parent

JulieDaniel:   Shan, do you still have sick people?

ShannonBurton:   Last night, I was woken several times (Jim does not hear children at night....). I was awoken again, early, by screaming...

PatchworkGirl:   by the time we got to 2 or 3 mos, we got the hang of nursing

JillP:   I still sleep with one ear open. Wonder when that goes away?

PatchworkGirl:   i'm deaf so don't hear the kids but have been amazed at the few times when i woke up "just in the nick of time" for something

ShannonBurton:   better now...for the most part. When i dragged myself up, the house was trashed...and Jim left, on his day off, without having our normal coffee in bed ritual....

PatchworkGirl:   one time, my youngest was about to roll off the bed (Gary was awake).. i woke up JUST in time to grab him

ShannonBurton:   patch...maternal instinct!

PatchworkGirl:   yeah

JillP:   Wow, that is awesome, Patch...something else must be at work there. Very cool.

PatchworkGirl:   i mean i was dead asleep

ShannonBurton:   So I'm looking around at the mess, the absent husband, the kids still wanting things...and i got growly.

JulieDaniel:   growly - that's a funny word! I like it.

ShannonBurton:   Annalise didn't like that and let me know. She's not at all afraid to call her parents on bad behavior!

PatchworkGirl:   ..🙂

JulieDaniel:   I think that's good!

ShannonBurton:   Jeremiah, though, started to back away. I asked why, and he said he gets a little scared when I sound like I'm going to yell....

SandraDodd:   It's a tribute to your profound change that she's not afraid to say something, Shan.

JillP:   Kids like that are so helpful with getting mindful parenting and unschooling.

ShannonBurton:   If I could change one thing, it would be that my beautiful, amazing, loving boy would feel the need to back away from me.
Yes, sandra. thank you. I'm teary.

JillP:   And when my girl does that, I'm thankful for her strength. It will serve her well.

ShannonBurton:   He truly is a remarkable person. he always has been. i wish I'd really understood it.

JulieDaniel:   And you *are* changing it Shan.

JillP:   Do you see changes in Miah, Shannon? is he healing and trusting?

piscesmomx3:   Does anyone have a son who does that? Because my daughter always speaks out, but my son does not and is more quiet about things

JulieDaniel:   Yes my son calls me for anything he's not happy about

PatchworkGirl:   mine too

JulieDaniel:   I have never yelled at him so it's not that it's just if he thinks something I'm doing isn't fair

PatchworkGirl:   maybe he's not unhappy?

ShannonBurton:   Yes, he is healing, and trusting...but that i did it and can't undo it is a sorrow for me.

JillP:   My son speaks out...very diplomatically. He's been great for my husband to understand kids more, and not be so controlling.

ShannonBurton:   We are in the process of bidding on a Nintendo DS...we can't manage the cost, but he really wanted it, so we all agreed he can use his savings account, which I used to think was "for the future." He's wanted it desperately for months...I implied it could be a Christmas gift, but he couldn't wait that long.... There was a time when i would have guarded that money...especially against a video game system (too frivolous). But he is a born gamer, and he's done independent research and is sure he wants it and what he's willing to spend on it.

PatchworkGirl:   what makes someone a born gamer? (I suspect I have at least one of those here!) (he's now reading over my shoulder & grinning)

ShannonBurton:   And I have changed enough not to think that what i think is valuable should dictate what he does with his resources.... Patch...with him, there's a logical way of seeing the world...he really enjoys interactive drama games, and anything having to do with physics (angles, firing range....)

JillP:   That's how Luke is, and it is amazing to watch his skills playing WoW. He knows all the abilities of characters he doesn't even have. He advises kids and adults on armor, weapons, spell sequence. It's truly fascinating to watch.

ShannonBurton:   Hi, patch's gaming son! Jeremiah was teaching me about silkworms and the Silk Road, from Carmen Sandiego.

PatchworkGirl:   oops he just took the controller from his younger brother & guess who is mad ..😕
tis ok now

ShannonBurton:   I think, by denying him games, i was denying something necessary to his maleness....

PatchworkGirl:   or what he loves

JillP:   why maleness?

SandraDodd:   Jill, I quit waking up to check on kids about a year ago. When Holly was 16. And I typed this quite a while back, but got a phone call.

ShannonBurton:   Something else i would do differently...he'd've had games a lot sooner!

PatchworkGirl:   loosening up can be hard sometimes?

ShannonBurton:   Jill...he has a different approach to games. It's like they are allowing him to be deeply himself.

SandraDodd:   I think born gamer is spatial and logical intelligence. Seems here, by Keith and Kirby and Marty, all serious game guys.

JillP:   It's fun to watch Shannon, but I think you know that.

PatchworkGirl:   originally i was gonna push no-tv... but Gary enjoyed watching stuff, so did i (but i thought "all that stuff's bad for ya")... now i realize, it's stuff we love

photo by Sobia Itwaru

SandraDodd:   Holly's good at games too, but she satisfies her logic and analysis needs with interpersonal relations.

PatchworkGirl:   why deny it

JillP:   Ah, that makes sense Sandra.

SandraDodd:   Perhaps that's a female vs. male thing, with my kids.

ShannonBurton:   Sandra....yes! When he was three, he strung tape meticulously around the dining room...no tangles, only straight point to point lines...he did that for 45 minutes.

JillP:   Addi goes about WoW in a very different fashion than Luke, but she is also a very good player and she doesn't play that much.

SandraDodd:   They're all able to advise friends and play games, but Holly tends toward caring about interpersonal relationships, even within games. She loves Harvest Moon, which involves learning from friends and getting married and having a child.

PatchworkGirl:   originally was gonna let vid games be limited to "at friends houses" except i like when my kids are home

JillP:   She has a fearlessness, and just tries things out.

piscesmomx3:   My daughter enjoys designing characters more than playing the actual game most of the time

ShannonBurton:   Sandra...Analise is into relationships, balance and movement. That is far more important than gaming, to her.

PatchworkGirl:   is harvest moon a game?

SandraDodd:   Yes.

PatchworkGirl:   online or what?

SandraDodd:   There are several games, for different systems. Oh... Super Nintendo is the first one I knew of. And every Nintendo system since.

ShannonBurton:   Fearlessness....yes, Lise has that, too.

DebCunefare:   Oh for gosh sakes. I put dinner in the crockpot earlier so I wouldn't have to fiddle with it so I could come here, then I forgot to come.

SandraDodd:   It's a Japanese version of an American farm, kind of. Sort of.

ShannonBurton:   i was a very fearful child.

SandraDodd:   I have crockpot and rice cooker today too.

JillP:   Interestingly enough, Addi also cares about the real players. But Luke is the one that will role-play, and me having a priest character...I've married a few of his characters!

DebCunefare:   Harvest moon is on Playstation too, and the newest ones on DS are very fun

SandraDodd:   Ah, thanks, Deb.

PatchworkGirl:   i think we'll have spagetti tonite.. Harrison requested that for one of our meals this week!

ShannonBurton:   Do they make it for the GBA? Lise just won one....she'll have two games, and loves Sonic, which Miah has....but nothing girly, and she's a girly girl.

photo by Shonna Morgan

SandraDodd:   So Deb. You have older kids. Could you review for us ages and which were unschooled when/how long, and what you might've done differently?

You don't need to do it all in one dump. When I edit, I'll pull your stuff into one lump to make it easier to read. So you have an hour. 🙂

(If you have things to share... no pressure.)

ShannonBurton:   Going to get a cup of coffee...brb....

PatchworkGirl:   how do you define older kids? my guys are 8, 12, 14, 14 (twins)

PatchworkGirl:   lately I've been wracking my brain for ideas for teen get-togethers for my older kids.. when gary gets back on 2nd shift, we'll go down with him on Wednesdays for the unschooling group one of the twins prefers WoW over that tho

DebCunefare:   My kids are Ted who is now 31 and who was in school till he was 11. Melissa is going to be 25 soon, she was unschooled till she decided to go to college. Patrick and Sarah are 17 and have always lived in an unschooling home

DebCunefare:   The BIG HUGE thing I would like to have done differently is to have pulled Ted out of school much sooner than I did.

piscesmomx3:   Patch, a few of us moms in my local homeschool group got together and we are going to have a special group for the older children and let them plan out activities they want to do

PatchworkGirl:   i pulled my kids out in 2005 after 4th grade for twins, 1st for Harrison. Harrison would come home, have a couple of sandwiches & go to sleep until time to get up for school in the morning ..😕
I hated not being able to see him during the week except as a sleeping body... when we pulled him out, he was able to sleep when he needed to & still got to see his family

JillP:   I'm thinking Deb is typing. but Why Deb, what was happening with Ted that you wished you would've pulled him out sooner?

piscesmomx3:   My children are 12 3/4 and 9 3/4 (dec bdays). I pulled my oldest out of kindergarten so that is about 7 yrs. My youngest has always been unschooled.

PatchworkGirl:   wish i pulled him out a few mos earlier when i realized what was happening

DebCunefare:   And I wish I had worked harder at finding other families with kids not in school to hang with, for my older kids. It's been nice for Pat and Sarah to know a wide variety of people who they can hang with during the day sometimes.

SandraDodd:   I wish I hadn't criticized the kids' friends to them as much as I did, in a couple of cases.

piscesmomx3:   I was onboard from the beginning with the no curriculum part, but I wish we would have adapted the unschooling lifestyle sooner. We did not start fully unschooling until they were 6 and 9. I regret punishing them.

SandraDodd:   Marty had a bad-influence friend and I said too much.

DebCunefare:   Jill, the short version is I sent my sweet smart 5 year old to school and by the time I figured out that we couldn't possibly do any worse than school, he was convinced he was stupid and bad.

PatchworkGirl:   there are a few homeschoolers in the area... but I think they're all fanatical religious types 😕

ShannonBurton:   I would have spent time really honoring their passions when they were very small...those passions have stayed with them.

JillP:   I've had the worst time of finding older unschoolers, let alone unschooler in our area. I keep my eyes open for it, but it's not happening.

PatchworkGirl:   sandra, what happened with that? what would you have done differently?

JillP:   Wow, how is it for Ted now?

piscesmomx3:   We have a lot of those where I live too.

SandraDodd:   It made Marty defensive and made me seem cruel, to him, because he liked that boy a lot.

ShannonBurton:   Funny... I hated my mother's derision about Star trek, but did the same thing about SpongeBob, Barney, and Pokemon....

SandraDodd:   I would have said one thing at a time, maybe and not gone on.

DebCunefare:   Some people are very resilient. Ted is very not. He's honestly not ever gotten over those bad experiences.

PatchworkGirl:   not all those kids agree with their parents, tho... don't think the kid that Evan rides with to drama class agrees with his parents' beliefs

JillP:   eek, that is very sad.

SandraDodd:   Ooooh, Shan. That's bad. My cousin Nada who lived with us and is eight months older went through with me the "that's not music" and "turn that noise down" about 60's rock'n'roll.

SandraDodd:   And I was with her one day when she said "I don't know what my kids are listening to; that's not even music." They were there. I was kinda shocked.

photo by Jihong Tang

ShannonBurton:   I forced Jeremiah to read while he was learning...I could see he was "getting it" and thought pushing him would "give him confidence"....he was 4. There'd be tears and yelling.

piscesmomx3:   My bad experiences with my parents as a teenager has made me a much better parent, because before I even had children, I knew I would not treat them in the manner of disrespect I was treated.

ShannonBurton:   I don't do it anymore. It would be better now if I never had.

JillP:   Agreed, Piscesmom. And I think my memories about kids and a bit about teens have made it easier for me to get unschooling.

SandraDodd:   piscesmom, were things not bad before you were a teen? Did something change?

piscesmomx3:   Exactly 🙂

SandraDodd:   I know it helped me be a better parent, that I had lots of detailed memories of sorrow and frustration.

piscesmomx3:   It got worse as I grew older and my teenage years were when the problems really started because I became very rebellious

ShannonBurton:   I think it becomes a default position. just "how it's done". I'm happy to have found a place where I started to question these things....

SandraDodd:   Pam Sorooshian and I have talked about this, because Pam wasn't spanked or controlled or shamed.

PatchworkGirl:   i was frustrated w/my parents being so hung up about rules & such & I did what I wanted anyway, found ways around the rules— waited at the door until exactly curfew time to come inside

ShannonBurton:   wow....to live like Pam did...now that i am consciously "outing" the abuse of my past, I keep having all these memory flashes.

piscesmomx3:   It got to the point where I would openly break the rules right in front of my parents

SandraDodd:   But that made you a rulebreaker, not someone who was being creative, right?

PatchworkGirl:   yup

ShannonBurton:   i escaped into books and writing. Socially, i was vastly inept.

PatchworkGirl:   or just figuring ways around the rules

SandraDodd:   Oh, yeah... I would've felt like I "lost" if I had ever come home before I absolutely "had to."

PatchworkGirl:   i had a friend without a phone (that really was true!!) except i didn't sleep at her house

SandraDodd:   And my kids have countless times come home when they had a party to be at, or opted out of going to a movie with friends because they'd just rather be home.

PatchworkGirl:   slept at bf's house (he didn't have a phone either)

piscesmomx3:   My daughter is turning 13 in Dec and I'm sick of hearing how horrible things are going to be. Our joke is I'm going to take a picture of her on her birthday because she is turning into a monster LOL. She thinks it is hilarious.

ShannonBurton:   Speaking one's mind was not allowed unless the opinion pleased my parents....and I've always had dangerous ideas in my head....

PatchworkGirl:   the problem with teenagers is when you attack them with too many rules or ANY rules for that matter

SandraDodd:   I used to think difficult teen years were inevitable, even with unschooling but I was happy to slowly discover it wasn't true at all.

ShannonBurton:   I'm just sick of hearing people say horrible things about their kids, period.

piscesmomx3:   Me too, Shannon

ShannonBurton:   i am finding that Jeremiah, at 8, is very thoughtful. Yesterday, he came and gave me a back rub. Today, he cleaned when I started to growl.....

SandraDodd:   I'm glad unschoolers with younger kids get to meet kids like mine and Pam's and see that there can still be really close relationships and joyful, happy attitudes. There's so much negativity expected and accepted. And even some unschooling families are more negative than they should be.

JillP:   Sadly, teens of three acquaintances have depression and on medication for it, when it seems the depression is caused by school and controlling parents.

kazza (Guest12):   What Sandra said way back about memories - the same thing has helped me - i also remember often promising myself faithfully that i would never never forget how it felt to be a child/teen and to be treated like i was so that i would not repeat it to other kids/teens when i was 'grown up' including my kids obviously

PatchworkGirl:   we do have probs w/one of the boys... he's having trouble agreeing w/how we're spending $... doesn't want to move to the new place

PatchworkGirl:   and we did ask for suggestions & such

SandraDodd:   But it's not about being teens, it's about being powerless and shamed and blamed and suspected and belittled.

PatchworkGirl:   that's it, sandra

JillP:   Shannon, I'm not thinking that's a very good idea to be cleaning because you are growling.

SandraDodd:   I clean when Keith's being grumpy sometimes.

PatchworkGirl:   we asked for suggestions, put out the options we thought of

ShannonBurton:   yes....a former schoolmate said, publicly on Facebook, that his 8yo daughter "didn't do her chores, do as she's told, and thought she was the boss." He was offering to sell her.

piscesmomx3:   Respect goes a long way too. My children respect me because I respect them.

JillP:   Isn't that different than an 8 year old cleaning because a mom is getting growly?

SandraDodd:   Not because I'm afraid of what he'll do, but if I can make more flat surfaces and give him less on the horizon that's frustrating, it will be easy for him to calm himself.

PatchworkGirl:   shannon, ugh!

ShannonBurton:   i replied that my 8yo and i have a deal. I don't tell him what to do, i ask, cause I like to be asked. he has no chores, but lots of choices in his own life. And i wouldn't sell him at any price!

BeaMantovani:   Sandra, do your kids help around the house willingly all the time, or only sometimes?

SandraDodd:   I don't know, Jill. Maybe it's the same.
"All the time"? Leading question. They help sometimes. Willingly. 🙂

JillP:   I agree with that Sandra....that's a husband and a wife's helpfulness. But for an 8 year old to be taking care of a mom's emotions strikes me as not right.

PatchworkGirl:   shannon, i probably would've ignored that post

SandraDodd:   I don't ask them to help all the time. They don't think of it all the time.

ShannonBurton:   I felt bad that he cleaned when i growled. i thanked him and told him he didn't need to.

SandraDodd:   And you did say he's less relaxed and trusting, Shan.

ShannonBurton:   Mostly, really, i was frustrated with Jim, for running out early on his day off, leaving chaos when he knew I'd been up a lot.

SandraDodd:   But if he was doing something he didn't "have to," I can see how it could be a positive move. I see your concerns, Jill, too.

ShannonBurton:   i think he wanted me to feel better and stop growling, because it was scary. Because i have been a bitch, in the past, to him.

BeaMantovani:   ok, the reason I ask this is because somebody wrote something on another list
somebody with younger kids

SandraDodd:   Marty was really helpful when I came back gimpy from California.

photo by Gail Higgins

piscesmomx3:   Some more things I would have done differently... never sent my daughter to school at all and respected them and their needs a lot more than I did when they were younger.

BeaMantovani:   she wrote something along the lines of, she expects her kids to help out when they are teenagers because they will be unschoolers

DebCunefare:   My teens help when I ask, usually. They help when they notice something needs doing and they have time. Sometimes they do big stuff just because. 🙂

BeaMantovani:   and an old time unschooler wrote back that unschooled teenagers don't always help out

ShannonBurton:   Patch..i should've ignored it. There was a whole chorus of how bad everyone's kid is. I posted again, wondering if anyone saw the irony, but apparently no one did.

piscesmomx3:   Last year I was really sick and my children were wonderful. They would ask me if I needed anything and put my heating pad in the microwave when I needed it. They were also very understanding when I was too sick to do things.

SandraDodd:   Interesting, Bea. I think they're more likely to help than if she assigned things. As far as I've seen. But if she "expects it" it can't be the sweet gift it will be if she doesn't expect anything at all and is willing to do all the work.

ShannonBurton:   My younger kids help out quite a bit. But they help out the way they want, at the ability level they have...

SandraDodd:   My kids will help when I ask, and I hardly ever ask because I want to keep it that way!

ShannonBurton:   Annalise often leaves things messier than before she helped....but she helped, so I don't say so!

PatchworkGirl:   shannon, i see that sort of thing every so often, it's sad

SandraDodd:   Bea, I don't know if the comment was "always help out" as in constantly morning to night, or that not all unschooled teens turn out to be helpful.

ShannonBurton:   I think expecting the help, or expecting it to be the help you'd wish for, would be a mistake.

piscesmomx3:   My children also know it is okay if they don't want to help me with a chore, like cleaning the kitchen or taking out trash.

DebCunefare:   If the expectation is that teens will *always* help out, it's not any different from requiring help, really, except for expecting that mom won't have to be the reminder nagger person.

BeaMantovani:   I guess the old hand meant unschooled teenagers don't always help out all the time if they are not specifically asked to

SandraDodd:   I agree with Shan. And I agree with Deb.

ShannonBurton:   i often just ask them to be with me while i clean....I like their company!

SandraDodd:   Well that's true of everyone. Keith will help me if I ask him to.

JulieDaniel:   Adam is still young enough that helping me is a big game and fun

SandraDodd:   But he won't read my mind and spontaneously become the person I wish he would be. 🙂

PatchworkGirl:   i like the layout of my kitchen with the sink looking out into the living room.. when i do dishes I can still hang out with the others if they're in there!

SandraDodd:   And neither will kids!

JillP:   Same her Shannon, and I ask if they want to do the fun parts. Luke likes helping more than Addi. But I think she's got lots of teen growing tiredness going on.

ShannonBurton:   I'm learning to make a big fuss about their helping, and all their many kind gestures. especially the ones i used to demand, like Miah bringing wet bedding to the laundry....

SandraDodd:   Shan, don't make too big a fuss. If it seems condescending they might be less likely to do it the next time. Or if they're doing it so that you'll make a big fuss, you're back in reward-world.

ShannonBurton:   Our sleeping schedules have fallen into a pattern where i get time alone with each kid each day, mostly....we have a lot of fun during those times...whether anything gets cleaned or not....and I'm learning to be better about the not.

SandraDodd:   When I was trying to decide how to talk to my kids or whether and how much to thank them, the best trick or tool I ever had was to think of what I would say to an adult friend.

ShannonBurton:   Sandra...no, I don't think they see it that way. i think they are just getting more appreciation in general...

PatchworkGirl:   that reminds me how i would hide in my room for a while when my folks had company.. always hated how big a fuss their friends would make when saying hi

SandraDodd:   If a friend drove me around because I was tired or wounded, I would say "Thanks for driving. I appreciate it." So I'd just say that to one of my kids, too, and not go all googly-eyed about how wonderful and surprising it was that a teen would drive his mom around

ShannonBurton:   sorry...kids and jim just home, and had to see the new Pokemon....

PatchworkGirl:   "it's so good to see youuuuuuuu, you've grown!! and you're so pretty" blah blah blah, embarrassing

ShannonBurton:   I used to be the parlor trick. hated that.

SandraDodd:   But what if someone talks to their friends that way, patchwork? 🙂 When I see my friend Kathy I very often get all mushy that way and tell her how beautiful her haircut is and that I like her clothes, and whatever else. I'm not that way with everyone.

PatchworkGirl:   i could've given it right back to them LOL

SandraDodd:   But there are a few I get kind of animated with.

ShannonBurton:   Sandra..i see the point....i will be paying more attention to my reactions.

PatchworkGirl:   the how big you've grown part would've gotten me sent back to my room i bet!

SandraDodd:   But I know what you mean, about not doing the irritating aunt who hasn't seen you for five years speeches in the whole sing-song way.

JillP:   The difference might be a dog and pony show compared to sincerity.

DebCunefare:   Sincere appreciation (and maybe a hug) is better than a big deal.

PatchworkGirl:   yup exactly the singsong way

DebCunefare:   A big deal kind of makes the whole thing about pleasing mom than about being a growing up person helping if that makes sense

PatchworkGirl:   guess if we ever get to NY i'll let the boys know that my aunt will be a little excited .🙂

ShannonBurton:   I think our vibe is, "hey, did you take your wet things to the laundry already? Cool! Thanks, I was about to do that."

PatchworkGirl:   shannon, that's cool

SandraDodd:   I'm like that with Keith. I thank him a lot.
We've always done that.

ShannonBurton:   i thank Jim a lot.....too...brb...need to check on our bid....Miah will sleep, soon....

SandraDodd:   He made my side of the bed yesterday. I thanked him. I usually make the bed, but I had gotten up early and not gone back all day.

ShannonBurton:   I'm very excited. I think I'm gonna become a Pokemon fan.... The names are very cute.

DebCunefare:   Shannon, I like the Pokemon games. Maybe more than my kids do even ..🙂

SandraDodd:   Oh. I regret that when Kirby pressed me to watch an episode of Pokemon because he was sure I'd like it, I fell asleep.

DebCunefare:   ..🙂 Sandra, sometimes you can't help tired

ShannonBurton:   I'd like to be thanked a little more often....I'm working on not wanting it so much.

SandraDodd:   I had totally studied and kept up with Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers and when Pokemon came along and there were more than five of them it was daunting. And I was tired.

piscesmomx3:   Shannon, mine have thanked me more as they have grown older

ShannonBurton:   They are daunting...he has a tendency to tell me about them at 4am, as i'm falling asleep.

DebCunefare:   Shannon, be patient. Really. The kid who never seemed to notice the nice stuff I did for him now thanks me for pretty much everything

SandraDodd:   Shan, probably the fact that you're thanking them more and it's worth mentioning here is evidence that you weren't always doing it. So when they consider it normal, they'll probably me more likely to say thanks spontaneously too.

ShannonBurton:   Not so much thanks from the kids...thanks more from Jim would be sweet. I don't expect the kids to thank me for doing laundry or dishes, or feeding them...wait...maybe I do, some....

SandraDodd:   Holly's been effusive with her thanks since she left home. She'll call and say she's sorry she never really appreciated [this or that] as much as she should have, and thank me. 🙂

JulieDaniel:   That's sweet!

DebCunefare:   Ah. ..🙂 Thank him for what he does. And, um, husbands can be told in a sweet moment that you'd really like thanks...

ShannonBurton:   i was one of those "what do you say" people...it still slips out here and there.

SandraDodd:   But if you tell him you want him to say thanks, it can't be his anymore.

ShannonBurton:   WOW...like how he asks for the same thing every night, and wants me to be spontaneous......puts it in a whole new light!

SandraDodd:   There's that languages of love stuff, too, that says people are most likely to give what they'd like to get. Maybe he doesn't want thanks as much as he wants more clean flat surfaces.
(Speaking for me and Keith, I mean.)

ShannonBurton:   I think more than either of those, he wants more of what he asks for each night....lol!

SandraDodd:   Keith would like for me to turn off the lights more, and spend less money.

ShannonBurton:   The surfaces are good enough for him (not always me).

SandraDodd:   But I can't do everything. So I cook more, and do the laundry sooner than I might've, so he'll have his favorite shirts clean. We have twenty minutes.

JillP:   OMG clean flat surfaces....that is what Steve loves. I don't get it.

ShannonBurton:   He'd like me to do those things, too, Sandra...with kids up and down all night, there have been a lot more lights on.
He loves to come home to no stress. That used never to happen.

SandraDodd:   I think I would have gone more places--borrowed teens or young adults to go with us for another driver or another kid-attendant. I did it some. I wish I'd done it much more.

piscesmomx3:   I would never have let my oldest "cry it out." I would never have spanked or used any kind of physical punishment.

ShannonBurton:   I would listen to my instincts and not my mother.
And what pisces said. All of it.

BeaMantovani:   other places like what? zoos and such, or abroad?

ShannonBurton:   I'd think more before i said no. it used to be a knee-jerk response.

SandraDodd:   day trips, Bea, or overnighters.I wouldn't have bought so many books. I wouldn't have bought so many thrift store toys the kids didn't even ask for.

JillP:   I wish I would've looked deeply (like Pam S. says) at the kids sooner, to really see Them, and what they got out of what they were doing. Learn about Them.

ShannonBurton:   Sandra...yes...things i thought they should have, not what they wanted. SandraDodd:   I was buying them more books and toys to heal my inner child who never had enough books or toys. So it wasn't horrible, except sometimes their rooms were more crowded than they would've been. Harder to clean up.

ShannonBurton:   Yup...i was buying things for three children to heal that I only had two.

BeaMantovani:   you wish you had bought less toys and used the money to do more outings?

ShannonBurton:   I would change seeing an empty space in our family, too....it took too long to accept life as it is.

piscesmomx3:   I wish I would have helped them clean their rooms like I do now, instead of demanded it be done and punished if it was not.

BeaMantovani:   or just because it made the rooms hard to clean?

ShannonBurton:   that might not seem unschooly, but really it is.

SandraDodd:   Maybe, Bea. Or maybe let them have more spending power themselves.

ShannonBurton:   I would have given them some spending power a lot sooner, too....

SandraDodd:   Bea, maybe it's related to unschooling by giving them all the attention you can give them.

ShannonBurton:   At 3, Jeremiah loved to buy little things. I often nixed his choices.

SandraDodd:   it's bad enough to have to share mom with living siblings.

JillP:   Oh that is sad Shannon. Luke loved buying things. He had so much fun at the dollar stores.

SandraDodd:   Diana's Hayden has suffered some frustrations, being "Hannah's brother" even more than when she was there.

ShannonBurton:   yes....as long as there was an Elijah-shaped hole in our lives, I kept feeding things into it, trying to fix it. When I needed to accept his death, and revel in the living children. And a marriage that survived. So many don't when a baby dies.

SandraDodd:   I wish I hadn't told Keith my problems so much when the kids were little.

ShannonBurton:   Me too!

SandraDodd:   I think I wish that. I mean I don't know if I could have changed it at the time. But if I could know then what I know now (which I suppose is the point of the exercise 🙂 )

ShannonBurton:   i think that trapped Jim into worrying if we were all right when he left.

SandraDodd:   I would've given him more time to transition to being home.

ShannonBurton:   I would not have worked as long as I did (in daycare; little left for my own after...)
sandra...we should have a discussion, too, about what we've gotten right.

JillP:   I wish I would've had more confidence in myself sooner, but I have no idea what I would've done to make that happen.

ShannonBurton:   To balance all this, "if I had only".... Jill...in future, people can read here!

SandraDodd:   Sometimes, it seems, seeing other people's confidence and ease can make a newbie feel less confident.

JulieDaniel:   I feel extremely lucky to have found Sandra's site and all the amazing people whose words are quoted on there when my son was so young. I found their confidence very inspiring

JillP:   interesting Sandra. How does one counteract that?

ShannonBurton:   That's true, too....I know I sometimes felt it would never be natural, for us.

piscesmomx3:   Same here Julie. I have told my children if they ever meet a woman named Sandra Dodd, they need to give her a big hug and tell her thank you

SandraDodd:   Ah, thanks. 🙂

ShannonBurton:   Maybe it's in the person themselves.....

SandraDodd:   I think courage to try it might come from seeing others do it

ShannonBurton:   My kids think you are a hero, sandra...Holly, too.

SandraDodd:   But the confidence comes from seeing changes in your children and yourself. Thanks, Shan!

JulieDaniel:  yes, exactly that

piscesmomx3:   Yes, Sandra, I agree. The older my children grow, the more I see things and the more confidence I have

photo by Nicole Novakovics

ShannonBurton:   You get the thanks...for willingly handing us a road map to the life we want!

BeaMantovani:   when you've parented like that from the start, you don't see a change, but comparing my kid to other kids I can see how much better our life is

ShannonBurton:   We've done the driving, but you had the route.

SandraDodd:   When I broke my leg years ago, Dan and Jocelyn Vilter sent me a box of goodies. Jocelyn and her son Matthew, who had met me a few times, but didn't know what the deal was (why we knew each other). He asked why they were sending me stuff. It was a box of things from Trader Joe's--fun snack food, lotion,--and his mom said that it was because if it weren't for me they wouldn't have been unschooling.

He said "You should buy her a car!"

JillP:  That's awesome.

ShannonBurton:   Bea...i see that, too. i hear people complaining about how hard it is to deal with their kids, and I smile.

JillP:;  Tell Keith.

ShannonBurton:   Love that, sandra!

piscesmomx3:   I wish I could smile, Shannon. I feel frustrated because they won't or don't want to listen to me, even when they ask my opinion

ShannonBurton:   i smile....getting through to MYSELF is the trick. The kids are easy, joyful, and so much fun!

SandraDodd:   At this last conference, Good Vibrations, Matthew was right in the middle of the teens and young adults.

ShannonBurton:   Pisces...been there. Let it go.

SandraDodd:   He's 21 or so now.

ShannonBurton:   only those who really want to listen can hear.

JillP:    What I found in Sandra's words were such deep thoughts and that this person was willing to say them out loud in the face of going against mainstream...very intriguing and exciting for me.

ShannonBurton:     "the rest shall keep as they are"

SandraDodd:   And he was a very awkward kid. But he was AWESOME--articulate. Calm. Cool. Inspiring.

ShannonBurton:     Cool!

piscesmomx3:   Yeah. I just feel really bad for the children, but I'm getting there about the letting go

JillP:  Is he not so awkward anymore? I met Matthew in 2005 in ABQ and he was still kinda awkward.

BeaMantovani:   bye! my computer is requested for watching Dora

JillP:   ah you answered before my typing, that is so cool to hear.

ShannonBurton:   This was a good chat. I have (as always) lots to chew on.

piscesmomx3:   Before it's time to close this chat, I just wanted to say thanks for being here to everyone. Sometimes I feel so alone with unschooling because I am the only one in my area who does it.

ShannonBurton:   Pisces...hang in there!

SandraDodd:   Yeah, this was the first time I'd seen him so collected and direct. And I've known him since he was eight or nine. Maybe ten.

JulieDaniel:   Yes Pisces, it's great to know there are people out there who share our values, I don't know many real-life people who do either

piscesmomx3:   That is awesome, Sandra

piscesmomx3:   I have a friend I call at least once a week to keep my sanity LOL And the alwayslearning list helps a lot too

SandraDodd:   So I need to go, but if anyone has other "I would have changed this..." I'd appreciate having them.

The photos above are links to posts at Just Add Light and Stir, where the posts are tagged by imagery. There are a few others tagged "rearview," too and if you see this past early 2023, there may be several others.

Hindsight Help for New Unschoolers Deschooling