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  1. #1

    Default Radical unschooling question

    How do you personally decide what is okay for your kids to watch or do? If a 5 year old wanted to watch, for instance, an R rated movie, would you just have the conversation with him about it and let him choose or would you protect him from that until you thought he was ready? Thanks!

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  3. #2

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    I dont think unschooling is "unparenting", but I could be wrong. Neither is it "nonschooling" where you hope your kids spontaneously educate on their own. The flavor of unschooling as explained by CrazyMom seemed more like dancing attendance on your kids enabling them to pursue their curiosity and interests. And it was the parents job to make sure the education was taking place, generally withhhlut curriculum. An interest in pet fish would lead to learnig about their natural habitats, math would be involved in measuring the food they eat, in calculating what kind of fish to breed for profit, science learning in the comparative fish anatomy, etc...
    The parents work was a lot more in juggling the world so that learning took place.

    Not so much feral children watching whatever they want on the television including inappropriate movies.
    Homeschooling DS11, DS5.

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  4. #3
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    So first, just so I'm on the same page, my understanding of radial unschooling is applying the principles of unschooling to all aspect of life, not just formal education. If that is your understanding too, then what Alex's mom said, unschooling is not unparenting.

    IMO part of parenting is learning about child development. The brains of adults and children are different. That ever so important frontal cortex is still not done developing until the early-mid 20s. If my child wants to do something that is developmentally inappropriate it is my job to ultimately give the final say.

    I'm not going to let a kiddo find out that scary shows give you nightmares by letting him binge watch Dexter. I'm not going to let my teenager find out how alcohol or other drugs affect him by letting him get drunk at 16. I'm not going to let my kid get a 2nd degree sunburn to prove the necessity of sunscreen or swim-shirt.

    Of course I discuss my decision and reasoning with them. Often, I find that we can usually meet in the middle. They will want a large leap, so we take a mid-size one and work towards the large leap.
    Rebecca
    DS 12, DD 10
    Year 6

  5. #4

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    I have just found in reading blogs (so not a whole of information really) that radical unschoolers are more likely to allow their children the freedom to make choices like this. I was doing some research and found the term "respectful parenting" that seems centered around (for the most part) trusting your children to make decisions on their own such as bedtime, screen time, etc. Not implying at all that they are un-parenting, just guides for their children really. I have found with my own children that if I explain why I wouldn't do something, but let them decide, they usually make a really good choice on their own. And then they don't rebel with the attitude of "I'll do what I want". This has led to us unschooling, and now more radical unschooling or respectful parenting seems to be the approach we are taking (hard to tell because I'm really just getting whatever information I can off the internet.) So I guess I'm just curious about other families and how this plays out in all aspects of their lives. The teenage drinking is a good point. What if your son did want to get drunk to see what it was like? If you told him no, would he do it anyways at a friends house? And if you explained the pro's and the con's of doing it but trusted him to make the right choice, would he? It's fascinating to me right now and I've been really curious about other families who parent this way.

  6. #5

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    We're not unschoolers - I've been influenced by unschool thinking, but I wouldn't call myself an unschooler at all at this point - so take this with a grain of salt, I guess.

    We parent much the way you're describing. And it works extremely well. Want to do something I think is inappropriate? We talk through it. The kids nearly always make the "right" call. If it's something where they can stand to make the wrong one (like, seeing a too scary movie, instead of, say, running in front of oncoming traffic) then I let them make what I think will be a mistake. This works really well overall for us - my kids are pretty respectful, they make good choices, they're kind kids.

    But... I'm not going to take full credit for this. I mean, yeah, parenting plays a role. But I'm also remiss if I don't look at my kids and recognize that I got neurotypical kids who are wired to be thoughtful rule followers. It's innate in them. And if I had ended up with kids who are wired to push the boundaries for the heck of it, then I might not be able to employ the same parenting techniques so successfully. And, honestly, I've seen some parents who are trying to parent this way - respecting their kids - while the kids have zero respect for them and the world around them. As in, the kids are happy to be as nasty and manipulative and cruel to everyone as they like and there are never really consequences because it's always an available choice. And the parents are waiting it out. Oh, it'll get better. Little Johnny won't be so bad in a few years once he's matured. But I've seen some of these kids grow up... and I don't think it's gotten much better. Sure, 13 yos don't throw rocks at other kids on the playground and say bad words loudly to get a reaction, but they do other things that are just as harmful and maybe a little harder to pin on them.

    For me, there has to be "non-negotiables." Everything before the line of non-negotiables is up to the kid ultimately, though I may employ natural consequences and logical discussions and various persuasions to try and get the choices I'm hoping for in their best interests. You want to stay up late, okay, but then maybe we can't go out tomorrow evening because it won't be fun for me to take a tired kid out. That kind of thing. But hurting others or destroying property not your own, including things that belong to us as a family and not to you personally? Nope. That's where your autonomy ends. Just like mine does out in the real world. If I had a kid who struggled with addiction - to junk food, to screens to the point of being unable to participate in other activities - then perhaps I'd have to make some of those things non-negotiable too. I think having a pretty open policy about that stuff has helped my kids have healthy attitudes... but I also think it's possible that it wouldn't have worked very well and we'd need to adjust.
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  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by sarah12345 View Post
    The teenage drinking is a good point. What if your son did want to get drunk to see what it was like? If you told him no, would he do it anyways at a friends house? And if you explained the pro's and the con's of doing it but trusted him to make the right choice, would he?
    I don't identify as an unschooler but I parent similarly to how you are describing, I allow them more and more autonomy in the decisions they make the older they get. A five year doesn't get full decision making power on what they are allowed to watch on TV but I might let a 10 year old. In fact, when I Am Legend came out on Pay-Per-View (once upon time when we still had cable) my oldest son was 10 or 11 at the time and dying to watch it. Definitely not my cup of tea movie wise but he was offering his own money to pay for the pay-per-view, he had researched the plot of the movie so he knew what he was getting into, I let him watch it. It's only PG-13 but he had watched more gruesome movies and been fine. I wouldn't let say, my younger more sensitive daughter make the same decision at his age. I base my decisions on what kind of decision they can make for themselves based on the individual child, not their age.

    As for the drinking, no matter how you parent, many decisions are out of your control once they are teenagers. My parents were very strict and forbade many things, including drinking. I still found ways to do as I wanted and my parents were none the wiser. I know this because as an adult, I have told them some things and they were shocked to learn how little they knew about what I did as a teenager. I'm nearly 40 and there are still things I haven't told them about. When they asked me why I would do these things despite them trying to "protect" me with their strict rules, I honestly told them "Sometimes, just being told something isn't enough. I had to make my own mistakes and learn my own lessons." That is actually a large part of what my parenting philosophy is made of.

    I want my children to make mistakes. I want them to learn how to make good decisions and feel like they can come talk to me when they make a bad one. My oldest children are 19, 17 and 16 now. I am under no delusion that they will always make good decisions or the "right decision" but they have had years of practice now making their own decisions and having to own the consequences of all their decisions, good or bad. So far, none of them has made any truly horrible decisions that say, landed them in jail or worse. Might they have had a drink or two that I don't know about, maybe. None of them has come home with a hangover though and even if they did, I would just have them own the consequence. The world doesn't stop because you made the bad decision to get drunk, I would expect them to carry on and do the things that would normally be expected of them (chores, homework, work obligations) and own the consequence. Yes they are underage. Yes we would talk about those ramifications as we already have but as teenagers, I'm no longer able to govern every decision they make as my parents came to find out. So far, my method of parenting and allowing decision making and mistakes in steps hasn't come out any worse than the outcome of my very strict parents.

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    I'd be willing to bet that a large percentage of us on here parent the way you are describing.

    And like Farrar, I think at some level depends on the child. I've also seen handful of families where this style of parenting is obviously not working for the family.

    In addition to protecting them from obvious physical or mental injury, I think another place where we as parents make the final decision is if the behavior would some way violate our personal ethics.

    Of course there are always gray area. What constitutes physical or mental injury (to the point where a parent would step in), and personal ethics is going to vary by person. Sometimes the decisions you make in the gray area is what gets you kicked out of the club by others (you no longer get to use the ____ label), so in the end we each have to do what is right for our families. But it is interesting to talk about!
    Rebecca
    DS 12, DD 10
    Year 6

  9. #8

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    Thanks, that gray area is what I have been curious about I guess. It is really cool to hear from other families and how it works for them

  10. #9

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    I read a definition of radical unschooling as having no arbitrary rules. No "Because I say so!" or "Do as I say, not as I do" nonsense. If we accept that as the definition, then sure, I'm a radical unschooler. The rules I have in place are not arbitrary or based exclusively on "I'm the adult, so what I say goes!" I have rules based on hygiene and safety, (physical and mental safety). There are some things he is not mature enough yet to assume full responsibility. And by "full responsibility", I don't just mean that my son can perform the task correctly each time. It also means he knows how to handle problems as they come up.

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