I agree that non-coercive parenting "works" much better (and easier) when there is only one child. Only one of my kids has the laundry issue. She already has a laundry basket in her room to put the clothes into, she just doesn't want to use it (or the cute hamper she had before, or anything else we have thought of). I can't justify the other four members of the family not eating well or the other two kids not going to places they enjoy because this one refuses to deal with her laundry before it becomes a problem for everyone. Where does that leave us? Since I don't know anyone who is home during the day who could stay with her while I take the others out, it leaves me doing last minute laundry (at least for now). I find this is a common problem here, however. One child will make things difficult or refuse to co-operate and many others are affected; how to handle this can be really difficult. As we all know, one child who really doesn't want to be somewhere/do something can make a trip truly miserable for everyone else. Past threads addressing this topic have had people say that you shouldn't "make" your kids go places/do things they don't want to do. Well, I must admit I am on the fence about that. Sure, if I can arrange to get a sitter I trust at a time that is convenient I am happy to run errands and leave the kids at home. However, when this is not possible, I don't think the errands should simply be left undone. We all do things sometimes that we don't want or like to do because they need to be done or because someone else's happiness is important to us. Contrary to popular belief, I don't *enjoy* going to the grocery store. What a shock! I go because we all like to eat, and for various reasons, the shopping is my job. Yes, you could argue that the shopping is not the kids' job, so they shouldn't have to go. Well, that's why I am happy to do it without them if possible. At the same time, the kids do eat the food (well, sort of) and have the benefit/luxury/joy of being at home during the day instead of at school. So, since they "get something out of" my inability to go while they are all away from home all day, and they reap the benefits of the trip, is it really too much to ask for them to "get on board," go to the store without too much whining, and co-operate so we can get in, get out, and move on to more exciting things? Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think this is unreasonable.
I think there are parallels to the "educational concerns" that have been mentioned within the unschooling lifestyle. Dar asked about our unschooling status before last year. Yes, we have always unschooled. I guess I used the term "radical unschooling" when referring to last year because it was our first "official" year. The first year of flying in the face of "you should be doing/learning X, Y, and Z this year." What was different last year, you ask. Well, lots. Our oldest is 7-1/2 and her younger sister (4-1/2) has always been very whiny, irritable, and unpredicatable. It turns out she has a lot of food allergies we didn't know about. Also, a baby brother (2-1/2) became a toddler who wants to be included in everything. So, lots of the fun "unschooling"-type things we used to do a lot of were curtailed because taking an explosive middle child and a toddler who screamed in the car (you remember that stage...) was just way too overwhelming. Also, our family was hit hard last winter in terms of cold and flu. Someone was constantly sick. During this extended time at home, we did lots of reading, and arts & crafts, and played games, but my oldest loves the zoo, aquarium, and museums, places we just really couldn't get to or manage at that time. So, I think this is why ahe thought we weren't "doing anything," even though she leared how to read and do basic math, and lots of geography during this time.
Now, we are out and about again, although we are now constrained (somewhat) by time (lessons and group activites). I love to read Dar's posts because she seems so comfortable with the life she is sharing with Rain. It sounds like they really enjoy each other's company and follow their interest -- their own, and each others. At the same time, these posts sometimes make me a little sad, because I remember when my oldest was still an only, and we shared this sort of comraderie. Our unschoolng lifestyle was very free and easy -- we could go to the zoo and spend an hour watching the gorillas, read every sign at each exhibit, and skip the insects. Now, someone has to pee after 10 min. with the gorillas, the 4-1/2 year old doesn't want me to read the signs, and ds loves the bugs. Everyone can't have everything they want all the time. Once there is more than one, it just isn't possible. the grocery store used to be a place where we used the scales and talked about the produce, all the things unschoolers like to say "count" as part of their "curriculum" or "schooling." Well, with three in tow the goal is simply to get in, get some food, and get out before someone melts down or hurts himself/herself or another shopper. not exactly the sort of "quality time" it once was.
i think it was Barbara who mentioned the idea of leading. I see my role in that way as well. Unfortunately, my oldest does not want to be led. Her issue isn't with following, it is really fighting against being led. She knows the laundry needs to be done, the house needs to be picked up, and the food must be shopped for. I don't even think she minds doing it; she just doesn't like being told it needs to be done. Unfortunately, she has not yet reached an awareness that drives her to do it before I have to mention it. I think part of her problem with this is that she spend so many years, even though she was quite young, making "joint" decisions with me -- the zoo or the aquarium? the monkeys of the zebras? lunch now or later? And she doesn't like (maybe even resents) that she doesn't have as much control as she used to. Unfortunately, once there are four or five people affected by each and every decision, someone has to have the job of saying, "hey, guys, this is it." Lucky me...
Anyway, sorry this is so long. I have done a lot of thinking about this, and it is something we struggle with on a daily basis, in one form or another. I guess I also want to take a minute to say that our kids get along with each other really well and I love each of them so much. I am glad we chose to have more than one child (I am an only child myself) and would consider even more. At the same time, I am not oblivious to how things have changed with the addition of each new person and I wonder how to mesh my philosophy of how best to raise*a* child with the task of raising three.