or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at Home and Beyond › Unschooling › Feel like RU has ruined my life
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Feel like RU has ruined my life - Page 3

post #41 of 74

When I'm feeling bored and depressed because no one else in my family feels like pursuing anything that's really interesting to me, I see this as a wakeup call that I need to start spending a little time each day pursuing some things that interest me.


Also, since I have pretty much zero interest in computer games, my natural tendency is to see computer game playing as sort of a dead zone, but whenever I take some time to really watch my girls playing their games, I see all kinds of cool stuff that they are learning by figuring out how to navigate their path through whatever universe they are drawn into at that moment. It honestly doesn't interest me enough to make me want to play any of those games -- but I see that it's very much a live zone for whoever feels drawn into it, which seems to be about everyone else in the world apart from me.


Housework. Sometimes I sort of seem to keep on top of it a little, sometimes I don't...but guess what? My almost 12yo just recently graduated from a state of sadness over us not having a cleaner house...and moved on on her own to a state of empowerment at the realization that she really does have the ability to work a change in any area of our house or her life that she wants to. Now she has days (not every day, of course) where she rolls up her sleeves and just tackles whatever part of the house she wants to get in order.


She really livened up our stairway one day by washing the walls and creating her own artwork to cover all the cracks in the plaster.


She has also been very interested in sewing and crafts pretty much all her life. I have little skill or inclination in that area, but I did start providing her with needle, thread, and fabric, and showing her how to do some really basic stuff, several years ago. We got a Knifty Knitting kit but never really got too far with it. When she was around six, a neighbor gave her a few sewing lessons before her (the neighbor's) life got too busy; When she around ten, she learned to knit at homeshool co-op but then got discouraged when she'd get so far with a project and then mess up...


So, as of late, it seemed like she was expressing a lot of "I'm not good at anything" kind of vibes but wasn't really wanting to do any of the stuff I suggested that I thought might make her feel more successful...but I'm learning that it's much more effective for me to just be aware that she has a need, stay on the alert so I'll recognize an opportunity to meet that need when it pops up, and then just throw the opportunity out there.


A couple of weeks ago, I learned about a neighborhood craft group that meets one Saturday a month. I work on Saturdays so I asked dh to go with her. They went last Saturday and LOVED it! It was all adult women who were very helpful to both her and dh (who incidentally learned to knit that day). One of the ladies showed dd how to finish off a knitting project, and since the time she came home, she's been, off and on, just whipping out all kinds of little projects like bookmarks, belts, headbands, and a case for our cell phone. One of the ladies also gave her a crochet hook...and the other day, dh got her some crochet yarn, and dd went right online, googled "how to crochet," watched a video, and immediately whipped out two gorgeous roses.


I'm not saying this super-productive high will last forever; I'm sure she'll get bored again, but I think she's really, really, come much further in learning about her own power to, like Ghandi, "be the change she wants to see in the world."


Oh, and she's also learned to make many of her own simple meals and snacks. And sometimes she makes stuff for her sister, too, so the food thing really does get easier as they grow, even in families like yours and mine where each child often wants something different.

post #42 of 74

I'm going to go against the tide, OP, it doesn't sound like RU is working for you or your kids.  I unschooled two of my kids for a long time.  I don't unschooling works for everyone.  I unschooled my oldest daughter for ten years, she was the poster child for US.  


She is smart, funny, enagaged, and for a long time very motivated.  Then she wasn't anymore and she was so miserable.  She came to my husband and I and begged us to give her more structure, more rules, and to hold her accountable.  She said the lack of structure and her own expectations were too much for her.  After talking things over with her and therapist, we decided to give her the structure she asked for.  I think sometimes being a good parent means giving up my own fantasies of being the parent of the perfect unschooled child.  I had be the mother she needed, no the mother I wanted to be.


I have two other kids who required clear expectations and expectations.  The funny thing with my kids, they are much happier with the way things are.  We still kind of unschool my middle son and he is thriving, he is happy, learning and engaged.


I think unschooling can work.  I just know it doesn't work for everyone.  I want my kids to have choices in life and being able to function in a literate world is something they need to be able to have choices.  All four of my kids play Minecraft and have learned a lot from it.  Minecraft =/= education.

post #43 of 74

Accepting Minecraft and gaming as something worthile wasn't easy for me since I never got into games but I am trying to see it from my children's view. Saying that, my children don't have problems with doing other things, they can spend time on a game and then go to the playground or play outside or draw or whatever else they feel like doing including eating and sleeping adequately.   

I used to think its only fair that the kids clean up after themselves and they have chores but I am looking at differently now. I want them to have the opportunity to want to help in the family, not be forced to do so. I was never forced to do chores as a child or teen so not sure why I think I should do that to them.  

I want to unschool for the realtionships and that is built on trust. It involved a paradigm shift. I really had to change my thinking about many things. At the heart of it it is about the needs of each ofmy children. I actually have one child at school and if my children wanted structure I think it would go against helping them if I refused to work with them on it. 

post #44 of 74

I've never even seen it as antithetical to unschooling to respond to a child's request for structure.


As far as children feeling miserable, I'd certainly feel concerned if one of my girls felt this way all or even most of the time, as I did during many of my school years. The difference between feeling miserable in school and feeling miserable as an unschooler is that the unschooler has a lot more power to affect a positive change in his or her life.


For me, having a better school experience was mainly about learning to accept and adapt to the things I didn't like. I'm not going to say the environment was totally unresponsive, though it felt that way at the time, since I do believe that if I could go back and relive that time as the adult I am now inside a child's body, I'd see all kinds of windows of opportunity to do little things to change my environment and change the way that my teachers and peers perceived me and treated me. I just didn't have the tools back then to see those opportunities and know how to utilize them.


My older daughter certainly does go through times of not liking her life -- but she talks about it and I listen and brainstorm about how to help her shape a life that's a better fit for her at that particular moment. Since she's growing (as we all are) what's a good fit at one time isn't necessarily going to be a good fit a few months from now.


At this time, she has found that she's happiest with more of an early-to-bed, early-to rise approach to life. She and her dad like going for morning walks in the mornings and picking up any bags of pop cans that neighbors have left on their curb, plus any they see on the ground. This means she always has spending money. If they don't go out fairly early, someone else comes along and collects the cans because there are lots of folks in our lower-income neighborhood that rely on recycling as part of their income.


So she has her early morning routine, and she really likes being productive so it's great to see her getting back into her knitting and learning crocheting. It makes her so happy to create things, especially useful things. A friend at church just gifted her with a sewing machine that she'd bought but never got around to using, so when dd wants to take a break from crafting with yarn, she'll probably want to learn to make clothes and stuff on her sewing machine.


I love seeing her happy, but I also see that it's in the discontented times that she figures out what she wants and makes a change.

post #45 of 74
My grown unschooler never really got into gaming systems, but she did have periods of playing PC games for hours on end, or watching TV series' or movies...looking back, I did a number of different things. Sometimes I'd ask her about what she was playing or watching, and she seemed to enjoy showing me things she'd figured out in the games (mostly she enjoyed finding new and better ways to kill her Sims and her roller coaster tycoon people, to be honest). Sometimes I played the games too, and then we had that to talk about (and I got sucked in a bit too). Sometimes I invited her to do something with me that I knew she liked, like baking cookies. And sometimes, I just said something like, "Hey, you've been glued to that screen for hours and hours and days and days, which seems like a lot to me. Is there something else you might like to do for a bit?" Often just getting away for a bit sort of broke the "spell".

She still tends to get lost on watching movies or tv series or reading when she's stressed out, but I think now she realizes that she's using these things as a way to destress... well, we talked about that a lot as she was growing up, actually. After a long busy day outside of the home we both found that we needed some solitary screen time or reading time to relax a bit.

Nine to ten seems like a lull period for a lot of unschoolers I've known... they often get to the preteen-early teen years and amp up a bit. I think some of it is developmental - they hit formal operations and suddenly they are able to really think and plan for the future.

For the OP, I would set some boundaries on cooking and cleaning - even a 4 year old can make a bowl of cereal - and focus more on spending, say, 20 minutes a day with each kid doing something fun together. Talking, reading to them, watching tv together, going for a walk, cooking, wiping down counters (hey, many 4 year olds like to)... just something to feel like you're doing something positive to maintain your relationship, and then see where it leads..
post #46 of 74


Originally Posted by Dar View Post

Nine to ten seems like a lull period for a lot of unschoolers I've known... they often get to the preteen-early teen years and amp up a bit. I think some of it is developmental - they hit formal operations and suddenly they are able to really think and plan for the future.


This really does seem to be true for us. Now that Dd1 is about to turn twelve, things are suddenly coming together for her. The other day when she googled "how to crochet," watched a video, and then jumped right in and started crocheting stuff was like an epiphany for her.


As an analogy, I have a neice who was miserable and fussy as a baby, but her disposition totally changed the moment she developed the strength and ability to maneuver her way around rooms on her own. And I think dd1 has a similar temperament in the sense that she really doesn't like being guided or helped too much by others; she would often stop me when I'd be heading to the computer to google some topic that she'd asked me about but I didn't know much about.


Now she seems to feel more like she's in the driver's seat and is fully able to maneuver her own way around the world. And it's exhilerating for her and for all of us!

post #47 of 74


Originally Posted by lizvan View Post

I am not a RU, but would describe myself as an eclectic, relaxed homeschooler.  I did AP and all that.  I did have a very authoritarian upbringing and wanted to avoid that, and I also am not very tolerant of chaos.  When my kids were little (toddlers) and I was really working on AP and GD, I would frequently feel at a loss with trying to figure out what my very little children wanted (to do, wear, eat etc.).  My ah-ha moment came when I realized that what they needed (and our whole family needed) was a leader, a benevolent, loving leader.  I set out to be that leader and have never looked back.  I can ask what people want, I can try to talk and explain, but when push comes to shove, someone has to get out there and lead.  I felt this frequently calmed my kids (and still does) as they do not have to worry about the big picture or making all the decisions and can get on with more age appropriate things.


Most of us can think of jobs we have had where our bosses have been either good or bad leaders.  My best boss looked out for the good of the individual, the good of the organization and his own well-being and tried to balance all of that.  I didn't have a say about benefits or health insurance options, but I knew he was on our side and would do the best he could under the circumstances.  This freed everyone else up to worry about their own work.  I feel like this works in families too.


I didn't actually "do" anything specific when I had my ah-ha moment, it was an attitude shift that made life so much better for all of us.


Good luck!


totally snap! you are so right about the boss thing. I do feel, at the end of the day, my job is to create a secure environment for my kids. tbh I kind of see us as following an unschooling approach to age 7, then a few years of getting the basics down and building relationships with helpful outside people, then unschooling for the teenage years. This probably looks a bit shocking to RUers. I struggle with all the labels too, as we just don't have them in the uk. most of us seem to be pretty relaxed/autonomous but sometimes for various reasons hit the books. Very few people do whole mornings of work 5 days a week, afaik. So all this relaxed RU eclectic business is pretty confusing! interesting though


post #48 of 74

I have a friend who sent her dd to a Sudbury school (part-time) thinking it was the answer to her extroverted child's high social needs, but instead her dd became more and more depressed, anxious and withdrawn and was the target of bullying. So it's not always the panacea that people think it is.

post #49 of 74

I do worry about that, too, because in the school we're considering, he would be far away in a town where we don't know anyone. In contrast to the small, similarly-run school that existed near us for a while....in that case it was more of a community. We knew the people running it and we knew the kids.


In the Sudbury-style school we attended (before it, sadly, had to close) we knew the values of all the families in attendance and none of the kids there would have participated in, or tolerated, bullying. The thought of it happening to my kid at some school where I'd no longer be able to see what goes on--it makes my blood run cold. 

post #50 of 74

And sometimes people send their kids to schools like that because they've run out of options in traditional schools. Their kids are coming with significant baggage to the experience... Without some experienced guidance, things can get ugly amongst the kids.

post #51 of 74



You can always change your mind and put them in school. My kids are grown, none of it matters, keep them safe and love them.

Most important, love your self, what ever it takes. Get takeout, go to the movies, shop at Marshalls.


Your kids will not remember most of it, the only thing that matters is to love them, keep them safe.

But you cannot be nice to them if you hate your life!


When I think about what I thought about what my kids needed, and gave them, and then they remember nothing.


If they are meant to be doctors, or a hairdresser, it will all happen!!!


Get a great baby sitter, it takes a village!


Mama Gertrude

post #52 of 74

That's not a case of depression. That is a case of being overwhelmed with children that are taking advantage. Surefire threaten her lazy ten year old behind with regular school and see if that helps.

post #53 of 74



Originally Posted by mamagertrude View Post


You can always change your mind and put them in school.



Originally Posted by aj_18 View Post

Surefire threaten her lazy ten year old behind with regular school and see if that helps.

When I see threads like these posted in the Unschooling forum, I have to wonder what kind of response the OP wants.  Does she want encouragement in the unschooling vein?  Seems logical.  But it could also be a critique of unschooling, how it is not working in their situation and the OP might not want  to continue with it.  I usually assume the former.  I'm not about to go into the Vegan food forum and post about how the veggie life let me down, so I assume that threads about difficulties of unschooling are seeking advice from those here that might have been through this and resolved the issues in question.   It's nice to keep all options open, for sure, though.


post #54 of 74


Originally Posted by aj_18 View Post


Surefire threaten her lazy ten year old behind with regular school and see if that helps.


Um, nice.  I love it when non-unschoolers (and those with tendencies toward un-gentle discipline?) visit here to dispense their vast unschooling wisdom.  Unfortunately, threads with this type of title (strong language like "ruined my life") tend to attract those looking for an excuse to jump in on a topic with which they don't have personal experience. 


SweetSilver, I know what you mean about how difficult it can be to know what the OP is seeking, especially if she doesn't come back and weigh in on the thread. 

post #55 of 74


Originally Posted by Luckiestgirl View Post



Um, nice.  I love it when non-unschoolers (and those with tendencies toward un-gentle discipline?) visit here to dispense their vast unschooling wisdom. 


The poster in question is a complete newbie, though.  Sometimes they just don't know that it is bad form to go into an USing forum and make these type of suggestions.  Sometimes they do not even realise they are in the USing forum!  I do admit…ignorance is no defense,  but on the other hand, we were all new once, we can cut newbies some slack.  

post #56 of 74

Good point, kathymuggle.  I think it's a tough balance--cutting slack and still maintaining a supportive environment for unschoolers, who may not have much support elsewhere. 

post #57 of 74
I'm really uncomfortable with the idea of school as a punishment, as something you "threaten" to do to a kid. First off, threat-based parenting doesn't tend to work well in the long run, and it's really not in accordance with attachment parenting principles. Also, though, school isn't necessarily some horrible unpleasant place, and using it as a threat paints it as such. Some kids thrive in some schools. Some kids thrive being unschooled. The focus needs to be on finding the educational situation that works for each kid and each family, not on punishing kids with unpleasant educational situations.
post #58 of 74


Originally Posted by Luckiestgirl View Post

Good point, kathymuggle.  I think it's a tough balance--cutting slack and still maintaining a supportive environment for unschoolers, who may not have much support elsewhere. 


I think it's important to call people on it (politely), otherwise this forum turns into a free for all, gang up on unschoolers.  This is an unschool support forum, as we regulars all know. Telling people who post here to send their kids to school simply isn't supportive and is against the forum guidelines. They have the whole rest of the world to get that advice. But, yes, sometimes newbies don't realize what forum they are on or what the guidelines are, and we can cut them a little slack:-) 

post #59 of 74

Ok, I'll confess to not being an unschooler.


That being said, I don't see how unschooling = mom being treated like hired help and doing all the work around the house. Unschooling doesn't mean being a martyr to your kids, nor does it mean that you shouldn't have expectations for behavior, does it?


Your kids need to learn what you do for them. Personally, I'd quit being a short-order cook and house cleaner. If they want something else, then they can make it. Gee, if they didn't clean up the kitchen after they used it, dinner can't be cooked. Yes, children are social creatures who want to please. But like most humans, they'd also like to take the path of least resistance. How are they going to learn to please if they never experience the natural consequences of displeasure at their behavior? There's a tension in human development between wanting to please someone else and wanting to please yourself. It sounds like that's gotten out of balance at your house.

post #60 of 74

Kids--my kids anyway-- don't seem to "get" the "mom's-pissed-off-because-I'm-not-pitching-in" consequence.  I do get impatient, but it is not a natural, immutable consequence in the same way as, say, gravity or lobbing a baseball into a glass window.  I am the last person to preach about emotional reactions to kids' misbehavior, but I do recognize that my reaction is a choice, not a universal constant.  It is, IMO, just as important to model appropriate reactions as it is to model good household habits.


I'm not exactly disagreeing with you.  I often think about the following analogy--the child, the cart and horse.  The parent should not feel like they are the horse, but instead sitting next to the child while they learn to manipulate the reins.  I'm not sure if that makes any sense to anyone but me, but anyway, it helps me judge the situation in my house.  When I feel some injustice, I try to think if it's because I've become the horse the child holds the reins to instead of the guide.


A household example:  my younger daughter is terrible about putting games away.  She likes going back to them, is wanting to spend time on a new game instead of cleaning up.  I do not have the persistence to keep up with her, and no desire to.  But I do draw the line at pathways.  And I have had to put my foot down about finding missing toys.  I have no problem doing "big-toy-finding" occasionally, and even if we kept the floor picked up keeping things organized is a whole other level of orderliness.  But lost toys is a natural consequence of not tidying up, and I stand my ground about this nearly every day.  She's 5, BTW.  But I don't complain about chores or tidying up, or helping others in general.  I chose this issue because it was damned-if-I-do-damned-if-I-don't kind of thing.  

Edited by SweetSilver - 4/30/12 at 4:31pm
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Unschooling
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at Home and Beyond › Unschooling › Feel like RU has ruined my life