Originally Posted by DadMan
It's never a good idea to start a conversation with a mother in law late at night. Let's start with that.
So, my 9 year old son was very defiant about heading to pre-bedtime reading tonight. And he yelled "no" at me a bunch of times. Eventually he got around to giving up, and we all went (delayed) to start bedtime. After kids were asleep MIL wanted to talk about how she didn't understand how we parent, and how he's going to learn to be respectful, that branched into how she's worried they're going to be illiterate, and how they are so behind public schoolers.
And I'm scared. Maybe they are. Maybe I'm failing them by not offering them more chances to learn. Maybe I need to be more commanding and get them to do what I say.
I'm scared that my "unschooling" is neglect.
HI, my children are 9,8,3 and have never been to school, I considered myself an unschooler. I have always gone through periods of doubt, they come and go. From talking to many home schoolers this is the norm. I imagine it is the norm for most parents...."am I doing what is right for my children". You are not alone there. Now being a homeschooler/unschooler you are outside of the box and may feel more pressure from society. Just breathe, you'll make if through.
As for being behind public school children, it may be true but in the future it won't be. When you child is 20 no one will know they learned to read at 6, 10 or 15...and no one will ask. I find that many kids in school "hate reading" and I would rather my child have a love of reading throughout their life, and they do love reading though most of reading now is someone reading to them. My daughter 9 can read pretty well and can search on line for any information she needs. If you asked my son 8 if he can read he would say no, though I know he can many words now. He does not sit down and read books. From the reading I have done this is not abnormal for boys at this age.....when left to their own devices that is, not compared to school children. This doesn't bother me, it would probably bother some of my family but we don't discuss this in detail. You get pretty good at answering those questions in a vague yet satisfying way. And even if my family is not satisfied they don't press it because I speak like I am know what I'm doing and it is right (even when I sometimes have doubt).
Children learn ALL THE TIME, no matter where they are or what they are doing. I'm not sure why people think you need to be in a brick building with a teacher and 2o-30 kids to learn? It takes a village, we are all setting examples, we are all teacehers.
Your MIL question, how is he going to learn to be respectful, is a simple one in my mind....if he is treated with respect and witnesses respectful behaviour he will be respectful himself. I would question why you were fighting so hard for your son to submit to your wishes? If he were an adult would you have made him read with you after he told you he did not wish to? Is that respectful? I am not trying to be critical, I'll explain....
I try to remember that my children are individuals just like adults and, to some extent, treat them like peers. Now this is not to say I don't parent, because they get their share of parental preaching, but I do believe they have the right to express what they wish to do/or not do and I am responsible to hear them out. A piece of parenting advice I always remember is "choose your battles"....battles sounds kind of awful but the theory is a good one. Is it really worth all that stress right before bed to not read for one night? Why do you have to win that battle? Is it because your MIL is there? would that have happened if she wan't there.
I get that the situation is not black and white. My husband reads to our children at night, sometimes my son is a bit whiny but he ends up having a good time and enjoying it, my hubby knows this so ends up talking him into the reading. But, if he were to have a tantrum and scream no, no, no a bunch of times I'm pretty sure it would not happen. Why? This behaviour is outside the norm for him, something is wrong and it could be many things that have nothing to do with reading. I find my children are more likely to exhibit this behaviour when their blood sugar is low, ie they need something to eat. Maybe we had a busy day and they are over stimulated and need some down time but don't know how to express this, or even that they need it. Whatever the reason, if the child can articulate the reason or not, is it worth the upset?
And we are not perfect, we have had power struggles here too! One example is a few years ago is when my daughter refused to eat her broccoli when my husband was telling her she had to. (I am more unschooler than my hubby, I no part in the conversation). She finally stood up and said "it's my body and my supper and I'll eat what I want" and stomped off to her room. He looked at amazed that his child spoke to him in such a way. I just said "well, she's not wrong"...and she wasn't, her points were totally valid.
Another example is just this spring when my daughter refused to go to her last computer science class. We had just driven all the way home from the cottage in a rush to make this class so I was not impressed. I knew she felt a bit under the weather lately, was sleeping a lot and not herself but computer science is not very strenuous. We were in the parking lot and I really tried to make her go in, she dug her heals in and ended up in tears. That's when I stopped and said okay, your don't have to go. (I took he rto doc later that week and she did end up having a virus and needed her rest and I felt awful that I had even tried to squabble with her about it.