Radical Unschooling, Attafchment Parenting, and Religion. - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 18 Old 09-08-2013, 03:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I promise I am not trying to start and arguments, only looking for input. My kids are 2.5 years and 4 months. We are/are planning on unschooling. Right now we are in the process of really looking at how we interact with our children and looking at what boundaries are necessary and what we do and do not want to impose unnecessarily. ie.: instead of having set chores that they will do in the future we discussed asking them to help us with certain chores. Now I am kind a sorta but not really an AP parent. Or I guess I should say I would like to be. My 2.5 year old only nursed 4 months and then was FF, she co-slept on occasion but also had her own room at around 6 months I think. Little DD has a few special needs that she will grow out of by 2 years old. She is not mentally or physically handicapped but may be delayed in some things and has a feeding tube and tracheostomy tube. These obviously keep her from being breastfed or co-sleeping but I am able to occasionally wear her. We are also Christian. We go to a non-denominational church. We would like to raise our children as Christians as we believe it is the 1 true religion (again, I am not looking to start any fights).

 

I guess my questions is/I am looking for input on how to blend these all together. How do you in corporate your beliefs, religious or otherwise into unschooling? How does attachment parenting blend with unschooling? Any advice, opinions, etc.?


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#2 of 18 Old 09-08-2013, 05:28 PM
 
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I'm a Christian so praying, reading the Bible, and listening to Christian teaching is just part of our day. To me this is just what I do. I do not belong to the local Christian homeschooling group. I don't fit in with them. (I'm not sure where I fit in. LOL) If you look at learning as part of the day then you will just do it naturaly. If you are a spiritual person then it just comes out.

 

I hope this helps a little.

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#3 of 18 Old 09-08-2013, 06:28 PM
 
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I'm not religious in that sense, but unschooling works because the things that need learning (for the most part in the early years) are practiced in daily life by the whole family.  I think someone who openly and faithfully practices her religion at home has a better time bringing that religion into unschooling better than one who believes firmly but practices privately or in certain circumstances.  (Sort of like school children and parents believing that learning is something done in certain settings.)

 

In unschooling, the divisions between learning and life are effectively nonexistent.  I see that what you are doing can be totally consistent with this.  Good luck!

 

What I'd be interested in (genuinely interested, as spirituality is one of the great interests of my life) is if the religious aspect would be treated as the chores would be.  What happens if they aren't interested?  Your answer might clarify how "radical" you wish to be.  (Though, "radical" isn't necessarily the ideal-- I don't count myself as radical in the least.)  I would guess that a radical unschooler would treat religion and say, chores the same way. 


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#4 of 18 Old 09-08-2013, 07:41 PM
 
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Are you familiar with this blog? http://www.christianunschooling.com/

 

Aside from that, I think that if you are living your beliefs, that is the strongest way to teach them to your kids, and it easily mixes with unschooling.  

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#5 of 18 Old 09-08-2013, 08:03 PM
 
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Not trying to start an agrument with you OP but as an unschooler you are in essence 'child led'. What happens when your religion clashes with science?  When your kids want to explore and accept a scientific explaination for something and veer off the church path based on discoveries?  My kiddo is 13, we never did church here but based on his own learning, research, reading whatever you want to call it, he is a full on science kid.  He has been taught tolerance of others and others beliefs but for him to accept something other than science is not going to happen.

 

You can't really unschool or radical unschool and say... yes kiddo you can explore everything BUT those books over there... you can read everything on the internet but THESE websites, you can't go anywhere from 5-6pm because thats 'family time'.    See what I'm getting at?

 

Not to say your kids can't have both, but just something to chew on.


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#6 of 18 Old 09-08-2013, 08:11 PM
 
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Not trying to start an agrument with you OP but as an unschooler you are in essence 'child led'. What happens when your religion clashes with science?  When your kids want to explore and accept a scientific explaination for something and veer off the church path based on discoveries?  My kiddo is 13, we never did church here but based on his own learning, research, reading whatever you want to call it, he is a full on science kid.  He has been taught tolerance of others and others beliefs but for him to accept something other than science is not going to happen.

 

You can't really unschool or radical unschool and say... yes kiddo you can explore everything BUT those books over there... you can read everything on the internet but THESE websites, you can't go anywhere from 5-6pm because thats 'family time'.    See what I'm getting at?

 

Not to say your kids can't have both, but just something to chew on.

 

Zebra, I think that Christianity and the many ways people practice it is broader than you realize. 

 

Also unschooling. Most parents do restrict what their kids look at on the internet (there's certainly stuff out there I don't want my kids looking at) and even books to some extent. Unschooling does not mean that parents do not act as guides or attempt to pass on values and beliefs. 

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#7 of 18 Old 09-08-2013, 08:53 PM
 
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Zebra, science and Christianity are only at odds if you subscribe to certain types of fundamentalist Christian doctrine. I'm stunned that you think that being Christian necessarily entails censoring a child's exposure to ideas, to books, to science. I'm not a Christian, and never have been, but that has not been my experience with Christians and Christianity at all. Many of the most passionate and committed Christians I know are actually scientists. Some were led to their Christianity by their experiences with science. There is no necessary conflict. I know there are young-earth biblical-literalist fundamentalists lurking in some homeschool circles but please, don't let them define Christianity for you.

 

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#8 of 18 Old 09-09-2013, 12:15 AM
 
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I'm not a christian or religious in the slightest-hard core science person-but I'm finding this very interesting because it throws up questions around the edges of unschooling. 


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#9 of 18 Old 09-09-2013, 08:25 AM
 
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But there might be a difficult time if the child rejects the "one true" religion for another.  What would a radical unschooling parent do?  If it were anything else but religion, a radical unschooler would accept this path as valid and of equal importance to other possible paths.  But if one is genuinely concerned for your child's eternal spirit, well, wouldn't that be seen in the same light as allowing drug use/cigarettes in the home or other dubious paths?  I mean, I can imagine some wonderful debates regarding whether Christianity is the one true religion (which I promise not to broach here), but for me anything like this would be discussed adult-to-adult over large amounts of caffeine-- not in a parent/child context.

 

Sorry if this seems like a digression.  We love this kind of stuff here.  Thanks for the helpful support links.  I think I'm off the the Christian Unschooling blog to see if a dilemma like this is discussed.


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#10 of 18 Old 09-09-2013, 08:42 AM
 
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That is a great site, even for non-Christian unschoolers.  I love the format.  This conversation might speak to you specifically:

 

http://www.christianunschooling.com/category/unschooling-school-subjects/unschooling-bible/

 

I especially liked this entry, as it touched a little on what my questions are:

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 PAM: Jennifer, I so agree that in order for our kids to “see” our faith, our beliefs… we have to live them … when we walk, lie down. All the preaching and teaching can return void, especially if the parents and significant others in a person’s life do not live out what they say they believe. Of my 5 kids (who were all raised with the same teaching, preaching, studies…) one does not “believe” at this point in his life. He did in earnest when he was younger, but some events in his preteen and teen years (death of his dad and grandparents – all within a year, a youth leader who was very hurtful, the ambivalence and the hypocrisy in many Christians/church leaders) put him in a place that he lost his faith in Christ and in much of humanity. I believe one day he will return to what he used to “know” to be true, but until then, we keep living out our faith, allowing him to express his frustrations, anger, concerns, beliefs, loving him unconditionally so that he might one day feel that unconditional love from his heavenly Father and Savior. He has told us how much he respects what we believe and how we live it, and perhaps one day that will over ride all else.

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#11 of 18 Old 09-09-2013, 09:03 AM
 
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But there might be a difficult time if the child rejects the "one true" religion for another.  

 

I think that kids raised in religious families, if they end up rejecting that belief system, they tend to do so in adolescence or early adulthood. And whether the family is radically unschooling or not the reality of that break with the faith is pretty much the same: parents can't make a young person that age believe something they don't, and they're are unlikely to be able to force them to participate in a community of faith in a manner which would feel entirely hypocritical to them. So yeah, it's probably a very difficult, angst-ridden process no matter the educational philosophy the family has practiced. 

 

I wonder if on balance a radically-unschooling family might cope a bit better with a child's break with the family faith, having presumably had a good bit more practical experience with the "kids have their own minds about things" business.

 

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#12 of 18 Old 09-09-2013, 12:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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See, this is what I was kind of thinking about because you cant really unschool everything but then say, 'but you have to sit and go through this bible study book.' or whatever. But also think that if you try and preach religion that pushes them away faster and earlier than a typical teenage rebellion. I wasnt raised in religion, DH went through the motions of being baptised and confirmed catholic but rarely went to church, but we both ended up interested in religion in our mid-20's. We definetly believe in science, though. DH has an animal science degree and I worked in a medical lab. Its kind of a divine design type of belief. The more you study science the more you feel that all the ratios and chemical interactions, etc etc cant be just a coincidence. Theyust have been designed to be that way, and then it leads to 'designed by who?' type of questions.

I will have to check out those links! Thanks for you input ladies!

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#13 of 18 Old 09-09-2013, 11:17 PM
 
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It IS interesting to me. I have a few beliefs that are very, very important to me and I'm going to be honest, if one of my kids started espousing certain ideas I'd struggle. I'd still love them unconditionally-that's not really a choice, is it? But I'd struggle. For me that would be a kid developing neo-fascist or generally very intolerant ideas. When/if my kids have kids, I think I would struggle if they chose to use certain childrearing methods, like physical chastisement. 

 

I can certainly imagine saying to a kid, as a teenager, you may not use that word, or express those opinions, in my house. There are lines in the sand for me, entirely around things that limit or attack others based on stereotyping and prejudice. I'd also be questioning in myself how I'd raised a kid who could have these beliefs-because to me, such beliefs can't be held by a healthy individual. My guess is that for a highly religious person, a child leaving the faith might feel the same-a line in the sand, and something to make them question their own parenting?


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#14 of 18 Old 09-11-2013, 04:11 PM
 
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wow, exciting topic.  so exciting that I have read only a few of the posts and am jumping to add my own.  will catch up with the rest later 

 

i just want to say that i feel the unschooling approach is most close to my heart when it comes to my religion which is also very very close to my heart, so close in fact that i share it only with those with whom i am very close.   the avg person who interacts with me may have no idea what my religion is or that i am actually quite religious.  

 

because it is so dear to my heart i believe it should NOT be taught.  kind of the way i feel about mathematics (at least the early levels).  it is so beautiful it must be discovered.  i would not want to do anything to impede the path of discovery.  

 

I feel this way about learning in general but when it comes to the standard academic subjects there might be times that I decide to step in and present something even though no one asked for it, even out of context, whatever.  it is not always 100% natural learning or learning-from-life.  sometimes i will just say, i am reading this book about the constitution, let me tell you about this chapter.  

 

but when it comes to religion i do what i do and if dd chooses to join with me she does, if she asks questions i share my thoughts.  i honestly and deeply believe that she deserves complete freedom in religion.  impeding that would be against my religion. 

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#15 of 18 Old 09-12-2013, 07:59 AM
 
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What a fascinating topic! I myself started my parenting journey as a fundamentalist Christian; then I delved into attachment parenting philosophy as a new mom and my views of human nature started radically changing -- this may not have been such a big deal if we'd been part of a liberal Christian church community but it was a HUGE big deal in our fundamentalist Christian church and homeschooling community -- then I went on to embrace radical unschooling and, by the time my girls were 8 and 3, we needed to find a new community. We are Unitarian Universalist now, and are also part of a secular homeschooling group at which many of the families are also part of our UU church.

 

If you'd told me all those years ago that AP and RU would lead me out of fundamentalism and into Unitarian Universalism, I'd probably have run screaming in the complete opposite direction. But I can't begin to tell you how wonderful the transformation has been for me personally as well as for my family. I'm so glad about it now, although the transition time was kind of painful.

 

How RU works out in a more conventionally-minded church and homeschool community will probably depend largely on the personalities of the children. My own girls are both pretty extraverted and outspoken, but dd1 was able to learn to interact and play cooperatively with other children early on, whereas dd2, who is sensory-seeking, needed me to closely shadow all of her interactions with other children until she was close to 4, because she would get these sudden impulses to, say, reach out and grab another child's face and squeeze or up and whomp somebody over the head with a large toy. Not out of anger but just out of some inner urge to experience something or to act out an impulse.

 

So I'd stay close to her, within arm's length, and often I'd just take her to a different area and play one on one with her when dd1 was in her class at the co-op. If an aggressive incident did occur, I'd definitely take her away from the play-group, talk with her, and spend more time one on one with her if she wasn't doing well with the group. The other mothers talked amongst themselves and the one who was closest to me had a talk with me and recommended the To Train Up a Child book by Michael and Debi Pearl. This mother felt like, rather than needing to shadow my child all the time, I'd be able to relax off to the side and chat like the other moms did if I just started spanking my child whenever she misbehaved.

 

I just knew that hitting my child was not the answer. We stopped going to that group and joined the secular group, where I continued to need to monitor dd2 very closely but where at least nobody told me that I should be hitting her. Then, somewhere around age 4, dd's empathy clicked into place and she stopped doing all those impulsive aggressive things. She does still sometimes need guidance because she really likes showing physical affection. This works out great with some friends, and I'll often see her walking around the playground arm-in-arm or hand-in-hand with other girls -- but some children have a bigger space bubble and dd has needed some guidance from me about not trying to hug people who are stepping back or pulling away. She seems to be getting better about picking up these signals on her own, because the situations where I'm needing to intervene are getting farther and farther apart.

 

At any rate, many AP'd children, and many RU'd children, too, seem very peacable right from the start and seem not to have an aggressive bone in their body. These easygoing children would probably fit in just great in any kind of group -- conventional, RU, whatever. Because most parents are less interested in your "parenting philosophy" than in how your kids interact with their kids and whether they feel they can trust you to adequately parent your child in the group setting. The problems for me came in when the mothers in the Christian group didn't feel like I was parenting correctly -- they saw that I was involved and concerned and wasn't just allowing my toddler to savage their toddlers -- but at the same time, they felt that I was being amiss in not administering corporal punishment.

 

This didn't even come up much when dd1 was that age, because she didn't feel those same sensory urges and she was also very verbal from an early age. So I don't think anybody cared too much about whether she was getting spanked. And if all of the children in your family are like that, nobody, even fundamentalist Christians, may even care that you're RU.

 

Having said all that, I am now sooooo very thankful that dd2 forced me into some really uncomfortable situations and was, at least in part, the catalyst for such a wonderful upheaval in my life. Your experience as an RU/AP mom will probably be entirely different, but I've no doubt that it will be just what you need, too. Congratulations on taking this step, wherever it leads!

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#16 of 18 Old 09-23-2013, 01:59 AM
 
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It IS interesting to me. I have a few beliefs that are very, very important to me and I'm going to be honest, if one of my kids started espousing certain ideas I'd struggle. I'd still love them unconditionally-that's not really a choice, is it? But I'd struggle. For me that would be a kid developing neo-fascist or generally very intolerant ideas. When/if my kids have kids, I think I would struggle if they chose to use certain childrearing methods, like physical chastisement. 

I can certainly imagine saying to a kid, as a teenager, you may not use that word, or express those opinions, in my house. There are lines in the sand for me, entirely around things that limit or attack others based on stereotyping and prejudice. I'd also be questioning in myself how I'd raised a kid who could have these beliefs-because to me, such beliefs can't be held by a healthy individual. My guess is that for a highly religious person, a child leaving the faith might feel the same-a line in the sand, and something to make them question their own parenting?

my thought process after reading this was that we believe we can parent in these ways: minimally coercive, unconditional parenting, attachment parenting, unschooling, etc., b/c of a belief in the nature of humans as social beings who are interdependent with the world/community they're born embedded in, and empathetic as long as that is modeled for and nurtured in them, leading to cooperative, responsible, compassionate adults.

if your kids displayed intolerant or hateful attitudes – and in purposeful defiance of what they grew up learning and know you value – that would tend to discredit these ideas about these styles of parenting. if that was the normal result of kids parented in these ways, we as a community would have to admit we're wrong, and that these are, in fact, terrible ways to raise our kids. so of course you would doubt yourself if your kid turned out that way. it seems to me that result is an inherent contradiction of why we do what we do.

we have to be real here and admit that we intentionally, deliberately allow our kids to make themselves who they want to be in the context that we expect certain results and not others. we feel those results are important and valuable. we just have the opinion that kids will best arrive there with a gentler, cooperative, working-with parenting style, as opposed to a strict, authoritarian, disciplinary/punitive, doing-to parenting style. we may not want all the same things as the other type of parents (many or most of us value creative autonomy above unquestioning obedience, for example) but ostensibly all parents are trying to raise good, worthwhile human beings. even if we have some varied ideas of what that means, there's a LOT of overlap.

the OP, therefore, does (imho) raise concerns unique to wanting her kids to be following a specific religious path. b/c kindness, compassion, etc., aren't the unique domain of a single religious faith. and depending on where they get information, and which people model various religious or spiritual paths, they may believe that matthieu ricard (sp? sorry, typing on phone) is the one who best embodies these desirable character traits, and maybe they met a clergyperson of the parents' faith who seems lackluster. they may conclude buddhism has more to offer them based on the chance of what exposures they had. very real possibility (and pretty similar to my own personal experiences as a teen seeking spirituality).

that said, my mom assumed we'd all stay christian, but i didn't. and then even later on i went on to stop finding spirituality had anything to offer me (i'm atheist now), and not for any bad experiences, nor for being forced too rigidly in any direction or being left to wander aimlessly (as a kid were very involved in church and i LOVED it, all of it, from sunday school to vacation bible school to weeknight youth groups to church plays). my feeling is that religion (or lack or rejection thereof) is so incredibly personal that it is impossible to guarantee an outcome for your kids no matter how you approach it. so as long as you don't give them contradictory messages, like, be a free thinker & question everything, except in this arena (...), then you can do what feels right to you for your faith and joyfully include your children.

but if/when they don't end up ultimately in line with your faith, many years down the road, i don't think you need to go back and second-guess yourself b/c i really believe they will choose based upon factors and influences far beyond your early parenting/educational choices. and if you believe that praying for them to choose the right path will help, then obviously that can play a role in ways outside the scope of a conversation about parenting style, as can probably lots of other faith-type practices.

that said, i would be a little concerned that if your faith utilizes extrinsic motivators, such as be good b/c you'll be rewarded w/ a blissful eternity, and you'd rather your kid become intrinsically morally motivated, and treating others with compassion due to a deep and genuine internal empathetic orientation, you may have to figure out how to reconcile these things. i bet it's not as difficult a problem as it might seem, though, if you seek spiritual guidance from a really wise & experienced religious scholar. you may not find the right person at your local place of worship, but there are some really amazing people out there who have already come up with ways of framing things less as contradictory world views and more as delightful and worthwhile curiosities toward finding even stronger grounding in your faith. not that you wanna bludgeon your kids with this advice necessarily, but i guess what i mean is that those are the people who can help you find the wisdom/assurance you seek to field the inevitable questions from your inquisitive darlings. even if one of us had good advice on your specific concerns, wouldn't you feel more confident with their (a conscientious religious scholar's) advice? – especially with the very real possibility that nothing you do will be able to definitively lead your kids on the path you hope they choose (in terms of one specific faith)? i'm just guessing that would put your soul more at ease in the face of potential complications/heartbreak... sorry if i'm fumbling a bit to explain myself (i'm really sleepy!)... hope that made sense.

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#17 of 18 Old 09-23-2013, 04:55 AM
 
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sorry, deleted, not quite sure what I'm trying to say :-)


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#18 of 18 Old 09-23-2013, 11:26 AM
 
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we have to be real here and admit that we intentionally, deliberately allow our kids to make themselves who they want to be in the context that we expect certain results and not others. we feel those results are important and valuable. we just have the opinion that kids will best arrive there with a gentler, cooperative, working-with parenting style, as opposed to a strict, authoritarian, disciplinary/punitive, doing-to parenting style. we may not want all the same things as the other type of parents (many or most of us value creative autonomy above unquestioning obedience, for example) but ostensibly all parents are trying to raise good, worthwhile human beings. even if we have some varied ideas of what that means, there's a LOT of overlap.

This is a great point, in a very general sense. I do want my kids to love themselves and be kind and empathetic towards others -- but I also think love, kindness, and empathy are going to be lived out in a variety of different ways. For example, I see both Mother Theresa and Lady Gaga as very loving, kind, and empathetic people. And I don't see one woman's path as inherently better than the other's.


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