Too Far, Too Fast

Sometimes people will express (joyfully, giddily) that they are unschoolers and so now their kids stay up all night.

My kids didn't stay up all night except a very few occasions when they were teens.

Sometimes people will brag that their kids eat ice cream for breakfast.

My kids didn't eat ice cream for breakfast. I wouldn't have cared if they had, but they didn't.

Sometimes people will report that now that they're unschoolers, their kids break the rules.

My kids were happy to follow rules, out at museums and in parks. If a sign said stay out of a fountain, or don't cross this barrier, they didn't.

Unschooling should be about peaceful, supportive relationships, about modelling consideration and thoughtful choicemaking, and about learning.

Being loud and wild and "breaking the rules" seems to be a celebratory stage for some people who are new to unschooling, but it shouldn't be the goal or destination. It's not good for that family, really. It's not good for those who wonder what unschooling is about.

Gradual Change   •   Unschooing Nest

Sometimes people say that one should not 'throw the baby out with the bathwater,' meaning don't make so huge a change, or don't be so rejecting of something that you lose the valuable parts, too.

It seems some unschoolers want to move away from life as they saw it before, including school and rules, and they've thrown out the bathwater, the baby, and the tub.

Where will you live if you reject your whole culture and don't care about anything or anybody, safety or ownership or logic?
How long will a person stay in a house where he can get no sleep, no rest, no consideration?
How long will unschooling last after a divorce?
How happy can a home be if one or more people in there are very sleep-deprived and unhappy?

It's one thing for a nursing mother to be sleep-deprived because a tiny baby is hungry (or wet, or uncomfortable). That's natural.
It's an entirely different thing for an eight or ten year old to wake people up because his mother thinks being up late proves she's a cool mom, or that unschoolers are awake when other people are asleep, or some other questionable premise.

If a mother is a child's partner, she should be his partner in learning, and in living a peaceful life—not his partner in living wildly and being inconsiderate.


Joyce Fetteroll responded:
On Jul 5, 2012, at 5:13 AM, Sandra Dodd wrote:
It's an entirely different thing for an eight or ten year old to wake people up because his mother thinks being up late proves she's a cool mom
Or because it sounds like unschoolers are saying "Let your kids do whatever they want without interference or you'll get in the way of their learning."

That's *NOT* what anyone here is saying. (And if anyone is reading where that *is* being said, they should stop!)

Conventional parenting methods often imply that children must put aside their wants and needs if it interferes with anyone else.

But the opposite, letting kids believe their wants and needs should come at the expense of anyone else's needs, is worse.

Whose needs take precedence depends on the situation. Kids shouldn't be expected to just know.

It's up to Mom to be the broader focus to help them meet their needs AND take others into consideration. Help kids find respectful, peaceful, kind, safe, doable ways to explore their interests.

If they've shown they can't figure it out how to be considerate while meeting their needs, if they're then helped to consider other people AND meet their needs, they won't feel like they're in competition with others to be able to do their own thing. (Sometimes the "and" will mean waiting until later which they'll be far more accepting of when Mom has shown through her actions that their wants and needs are important to her.)


on Radical Unschooling Info, August 2016
Many people do have experience "removing restrictions," but please help us help others by NOT recommending doing that, ever. Sudden change confuses kids, they don't trust it, they assume it's temporary, and so their behavior reflects that. And it robs parents of the growth from gradually allowing more and more, as the parents learn more and more. You could have said "okay" and "sure" hundreds of times instead of "whatever you want" one time, and the gradual change would have been a joy.
—Sandra Dodd (here)
A little later in the same discussion, me:
Gradual is better, but when people jump, the reaction of the children to that is really a reaction to all of the controls from the past. And though it's difficult for the parents, it's a crop they planted.

Gradual is better. Pass on to anyone who listens to any of you about unschooling to change gradually and not to jump far.

This is a bit of both—threatening to go too far too fast, without a solid belief that any change shoudl be made. Going back and forth is a problem, for sure, but that's not the point I made, in October 2018:

(quoting from a question)
-=-Once a parent has decided to change their mind on tv and allow rather than fight it,...-=-
This sounds two steps away from a person actually changing her mind. 🙂

Step away from the TV, and look at "making the better choice." Deciding to change ALL of something, in one big decision, isn't practical, and it's not the path to better understanding or to more peace.

It sounds like the thing will still be there, still worth fighting, but the mom is going to surrender. Surrender is a loss.

to "allow rather than fight it" means.... "to allow it."
It what? What was being fought?
TV itself?
Children's access to TV?
Children's interests being respected?

It would help to know. It wouldn't help this group to know what one mom untangles emotionally, but it would help that mom to think clearly about what "it" is that she was fighting and now might not want to.

I like Jo's advice about the other. Don't change your position, but say okay. If that feels okay, say it again another time.

One big okay is a problem.
One giant "I'm changing everything" can make kids nervous, and could undermine their confidence in the mom's regard for them.

Depending how limited it was before, the mom shouldn't be surprised if there is a binge, or a frenzy. So go easy, and keep reading other things about unschooling, gradually, gently.

SandraDodd.com/betterchoice (Making the Better Choice)

Lots of little yeses are better than one big one (both for the mom and the kids).

Lots of little decisions are better than one unsustainable big one.

Sandra, at Radical Unschooling Info