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#61 of 90 Old 10-08-2008, 04:47 PM
 
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There are absolutely parents who are struggling across the board. But some of the unparenting I have seen from RUs is a deliberate intentional choice not to provide guidance to their kids, rather than just a lack of skills in that area. And it is compounded in the instances I have seen by the fact that the community for an RU-unparented child tends to be looser so there are fewer adults available to those children to help them learn social skills and appropriate behaviour (as an example).
Wow, it just freaks me out that here I am, an RU-parent putting out fliers and feeling like we'll be so blessed if we can hook up with even one friendly uschooling family in our immediate neighborhood (not that I'm averse to relating to people of other philosophies -- I'd just like some in-real-life friends who know where I'm coming from) ...

While obviously in some parts of the country, RU is so freakin' common that some see it as a trendy excuse for failing to provide guidance to their kids. While I'm not saying there's anything positive about unparenting, I see it as a real positive that there are actually pockets of the country where RU's the hot new thing, the thing that makes some people say, "Oh, I was about to hotline you for neglect -- I'm so glad you explained in the nick of time that you're radically unschooling!"

Yep, I'm being sarcastic -- but in a lame, unschooly, and not-exactly-wanting-to-offend way. Seriously, Karen, I'm just jealous that you say you're not an unschooler, and I'm guessing you probably aren't putting out fliers looking for unschoolders -- and yet you keep stumbling across so many! What is it about that "A watched pot never boils" saying?

Edited to Add: I just reread your post, and see that you actually know enough RUers to make generalizations about what the community for an RU-parented child is like ... so there really is some place in the world where lots of RU-folks are congregated ... I guess I should take heart ... maybe I'll find my tribe yet.

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#62 of 90 Old 10-08-2008, 06:49 PM
 
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I consider myself a radical unschooler, at least I aspire to be one. I'm kind of new to it. My oldest unschooled-from-birth child is only 4. I don't know any unschoolers, much less radical unschoolers, irl.

I have the feeling that there are several people I know who would think I was neglectful if they really knew how I homeschool and parent. I try not to laugh when people say they really admire me for homeschooling because I know they are imagining us sitting at little desks in a room in our home for several hours a day doing worksheets and going over "fundamentals". I do make a deliberate and conscious effort to not interfere with my children as much as possible. I try to answer their questions and help them when they ask but, otherwise, pretty much leave them to their own devices. I try to provide guidance about acceptable social behavior and respecting others by treating them respectfully and modeling. I think maybe that could be called unparenting in the same way unschooling has been labeled, since it goes against the conventional, mainstream ideas of how children should be "raised". That would be positive unparenting, imo.

For me, I think RU becomes unparenting in a negative sense when parents do not provide any attention or guidance to their children. Is that even possible? It's seems like such a fine line and we can't know everything that goes on inside another's home. The examples of not doing anything when one's children are hurting others or damaging other's property is unparenting to me.

There's all kinds of stuff floating around in my head but I can't seem to formulate it into a coherent concept to put down here. Maybe after I think on it some more...

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#63 of 90 Old 10-08-2008, 07:25 PM
 
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Wow, it just freaks me out that here I am, an RU-parent putting out fliers and feeling like we'll be so blessed if we can hook up with even one friendly uschooling family in our immediate neighborhood (not that I'm averse to relating to people of other philosophies -- I'd just like some in-real-life friends who know where I'm coming from) ...

While obviously in some parts of the country, RU is so freakin' common that some see it as a trendy excuse for failing to provide guidance to their kids. While I'm not saying there's anything positive about unparenting, I see it as a real positive that there are actually pockets of the country where RU's the hot new thing, the thing that makes some people say, "Oh, I was about to hotline you for neglect -- I'm so glad you explained in the nick of time that you're radically unschooling!"

Yep, I'm being sarcastic -- but in a lame, unschooly, and not-exactly-wanting-to-offend way. Seriously, Karen, I'm just jealous that you say you're not an unschooler, and I'm guessing you probably aren't putting out fliers looking for unschoolders -- and yet you keep stumbling across so many! What is it about that "A watched pot never boils" saying?

Edited to Add: I just reread your post, and see that you actually know enough RUers to make generalizations about what the community for an RU-parented child is like ... so there really is some place in the world where lots of RU-folks are congregated ... I guess I should take heart ... maybe I'll find my tribe yet.
I live in a homeschool friendly, pretty crunchy area. I belong to a couple of homeschool groups. We have lots of unschoolers in our area - most who do wonderfully with and for their children. But there are some families whose kids are struggling academically, socially and/or developmentally because their parents are making a deliberate decision not to guide them in certain areas. The wider homeschooling community is now or already has backed away from these families as a result of the parents approach.

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#64 of 90 Old 10-08-2008, 07:49 PM
 
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There are absolutely parents who are struggling across the board. But some of the unparenting I have seen from RUs is a deliberate intentional choice not to provide guidance to their kids, rather than just a lack of skills in that area.
This is what I have seen. A specific example is a mom whose son goes around threatening to hit and hitting other kids whenever they do something he does not like. The mom not only does not give him guidance on this...she actually justifies his behavior...to the child who was hit !!!!! While normally I would not associate this with unschooling....because this kind of un-parenting happens outside of the HS/US realm too.....she labels her reasons for doing this as "unschooling".

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But there are some families whose kids are struggling academically, socially and/or developmentally because their parents are making a deliberate decision not to guide them in certain areas. The wider homeschooling community is now or already has backed away from these families as a result of the parents approach.
This is what I have seen with this particular mom.

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#65 of 90 Old 10-08-2008, 08:27 PM
 
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I live in a homeschool friendly, pretty crunchy area. I belong to a couple of homeschool groups. We have lots of unschoolers in our area - most who do wonderfully with and for their children.
I'm glad you see most unschoolers in a positive light!

But it's so hard to know how others may evaluate what we're doing. Like MarineWife, I'm inclined to think that others in my homeschool group (none of whom seem to be unschoolers) would also see me as neglectful if they realized I don't make my 8yo do lessons.

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But there are some families whose kids are struggling academically, socially and/or developmentally because their parents are making a deliberate decision not to guide them in certain areas. The wider homeschooling community is now or already has backed away from these families as a result of the parents approach.
The scary thing is, some folks (such as the family member who hotlined me) would say my 8yo is struggling academically (because I'm allowing her to pursue reading at her own pace), and they'd say my 3yo is struggling socially and developmentally (because I haven't forced her to toilet-train, because her language skills are unfolding a little later than average, and because she's so darned aggressive right now).

I realize you, being an MDC-member, probably wouldn't equate coercion and punishment with "guidance" -- but I know people who would and do see my rejection of coercion and punishment as "a deliberate decision not to guide my children in certain areas."

Now, when I say that I avoid coercion -- I'm certainly not saying that I sit back and allow my 3yo to hurt other children, take over their toys, and so on -- and just make excuses to the harmed children like the mother llp34 knows. I will use coercion if it seems to be the only means of protecting others from being harmed and coerced by my child.

But some people seriously do see not-punishing as not-guiding. Maybe that's why I keep getting my back up about the more critical posts: I've been the subject of so much criticism lately, I can't help wondering if these descriptions are being used about me.

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#66 of 90 Old 10-09-2008, 10:15 AM
 
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But it's so hard to know how others may evaluate what we're doing.
In light of your recent experience, I can understand your concern about this.

But most people will not make formal complaints over their disagreements with our parenting decisions. My basic policy is "You can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself." I don't ignore my kids. I wouldn't stand around and do nothing if one was hurting someone or otherwise being unkind. But I'm sure that I "fail" to parent in some people's eyes.

I know that others have evaluated my parenting and hsing as inadequate because some of my kids didn't read at a particular age. Or, because they can have a cookie before dinner, or because they don't have a bedtime. Or because they are X age and don't know Y yet. Or for a million other reasons.

My ds's were in a store recently and the 8 yr old was counting out his money to pay for something. Another shopper barked at my 17 yr old to help him. When 17 yr old replied, "He's okay" she said, "OBVIOUSLY he needs help." When I asked the younger, he said he didn't know why the woman yelled at his brother--he said if he'd needed help, he would have asked for it. I asked the older if perhaps ds2 was holding up the line, and he said no. I suppose she would have said that ds2 was being unparented (unbrothered?) because SHE felt he wasn't getting what he needed. The boys disagreed. :

There have been times when there's been a disagreement between one of my kids and someone else's. I didn't step in because it seemed they were capable of working things out, but the other parent DID step in and told them how the problem would be resolved. She may have thought I was neglectful, but no one was getting hurt and nothing was getting broken and they weren't asking for my help. Had things escalated, I would have stepped in with some offer of help or suggestions, but I didn't feel it was warranted at that point.

otoh, I've been at the park and witnessed kids throwing rocks at ducks. The parent didn't say anything, but I did. Maybe that parent thought I shouldn't have.

And I have felt many times that other parents are controlling and overbearing, so it goes both ways.

There will always be someone who disagrees. I'm sure if we knew people who were hurting my kids we'd just not hang out with them--regardless of if they were RU or schooled or whatever.

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#67 of 90 Old 10-09-2008, 10:34 AM
 
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But most people will not make formal complaints over their disagreements with our parenting decisions.
True!

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#68 of 90 Old 10-09-2008, 11:53 AM
 
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I think SagMom said it perfectly!

I'm sure there have been planty of times parents have seen us as "unparenting". The kids in our group have been yelled at by strangers for walking UP the slide at a nearly empty playground. They also get into disagreements all the time being a very close-knit group of kids, but WE know when to step in and when to let them hash it out. We parents get plenty of dirty looks from other parents - several for two brothers or friends wrestling when someone assumed they were fighting.

I certainly know that many people assume that because I treat my son as I would treat my best friend or sister that I'm not guiding him. But as any other adult, I would never be so rude as to call someone out in public (unless physical harm was being done) and potentially humiliate them and instead would try to diffuse or distract from the situation until a better more private time is had to discuss it. I see that as mutual respect for another human being. Others see it as ignoring the problem - they don't see the discussions later.

The only person I've ever used that term on has been a close friend of mine. I feel/felt I could only judge that situation *because* I know the family so well. But I can also see it is happening because of family struggles and I can lend understanding rather than judgement. At least this friend has a group where they can be open and honest and real without fear of judgement.

I'm sure every RU has been judged at some point by someone looking in from the outside. If someone wants to only view the surface of the situation and assume they know best, so be it. I've learned to look a little deeper and attempt to understand it from the other POV.

Another thing I've learned is that people tend to judge what they see in themselves. All of us feel like we're lacking as parents in some way. If we can find that attribute worse in someone else, we can feel better about ourselves. Sometimes when I'm really having a bad time at parenting, I go hang out with conventional parents. It makes me a better mom to view my negative attributes thru my own judgemental eyes - it reminds me of why I do what I do.
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#69 of 90 Old 10-09-2008, 02:21 PM
 
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I just think the reason why unschooling and unparenting are often mentioned in the same breath is because non-unschoolers can't imagine any responsible parent:

- not making the child do "school at home"
- no "finish your veggies before dessert" mentality about food
- no bedtime

etc. and so therefore the parent must be "unparenting"

Meaning that unschooling=unparenting and putting unschoolers in a position of having to refute that. We all have to make our own parenting choices, and of course it's easy to look in from the outside and say "they are too hands-on" or "they are too hands-off" or what have you. All we can do is make the best choices we can make for our own families.

Of course it is frustrating when others make unschooling look bad, but even done "correctly" unschooling is still misunderstood and underestimated, and as many others have pointed out, while there are many unschoolers who may need to be more connected to their children, there are many many more non-unschoolers who are detached from and/or delusional about their child's behavior.

Hope that made sense,

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#70 of 90 Old 10-09-2008, 02:59 PM
 
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Vijay, that makes a lot of sense!

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#71 of 90 Old 10-09-2008, 03:32 PM
 
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Something's been bothering me about this thread. This idea of "correct" unschooling. I don't remember who first mentioned it, but I have heard it in other conversations about unschooling. I've heard it here and I've heard it on some of the RU boards I read on.

I think the notion of correct unschooling is a cultural phenomenon. Standards of mothering and caring for children have changed as time changes. The people of every era of time think that they've got it right.

I've been a mother for over twenty years and it seems like the older I get, the less judgmental I get about what other parents are doing. I would hate to think that anyone here would feel qualified to judge whether my own children are academically or socially on target. Whatever that means.

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#72 of 90 Old 10-09-2008, 03:40 PM
 
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That's why I was careful to put "correctly" in quotes, because there really is no such thing.

If you are a) not sending your kid to school and b) not using a prepackaged curriculum/schedule and c) not forcing your child to sit and do "school stuff" when they are not in the mood then you are probably unschooling. Workbooks can be unschooly. Classes can be unschooly. Set bedtimes and no-TV households and no-sugar households can still be considered unschoolers, albeit probably not radical unschoolers.

Unschoolers can be very hands on, very connected. But they can also allow their children lots of freedom. Other unschooling parents can be very overprotective by anyone's measure. Others may let their kids "run wild" or so it seems to observers. Unschooling is like people, it takes all kinds, it contains all sorts of contradictions and is still not "wrong" or "right".

Are your children happy? Loving learning? Thriving? Social? Healthy? Then it doesn't matter if they are in school, homeschooling, or unschooling, clearly the parent has made the right choice for that child. And hopefully will continue to follow that child's lead as they evolve and grow.

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#73 of 90 Old 10-09-2008, 04:20 PM
 
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You haven't convinced me you're qualified to judge what I do.

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#74 of 90 Old 10-09-2008, 04:20 PM
 
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OT: My ds was extremely aggressive from about 11 mos to about 4.5 years old. Its frustrating and bewildering isn't it? I was the object he most liked to hurt (drew blood once! ) . Hugs for you! It sounds like you've worked really hard to help her with this. It sounds like you are a religious person. I am not, but something amazing happened anyway; I found praying over him while he slept helped the behavior!
Thanks. She does not try to hurt me or her brother and sisters. Just strangers, random kids, always her size or smaller. She rarely unprovoked hurts an older child.

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So, that is what I get for posting without reading the responses, lol. Anyways, hopefully some of my experiences will help you. I have been so frustrated with dd sometimes in the past, but now that I understand her better, I can even explain it to the parents of kids she does hit so that they understand where she is coming from...
Thanks for posting. This is a topic DH and I have discussed so much so we have ideas to why she does this. She has a very large personal bubble and does not like it when others get in it. Other times who knows.

Okay back to the unparenting topic. I live in an area with quite a few unschoolers and I have never seen unparenting. I have seen things done that I would not do or allow my kids to do but would never consider it unparenting as everyone has different ideas of what they are comfortable with. I am not a RU so we do have some limits.

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#75 of 90 Old 10-09-2008, 04:30 PM
 
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You haven't convinced me you're qualified to judge what I do.


Here is a blog post that I really like. Not specifically talking about US or RU but could easily replace the words in it with those. Just some thoughts.

http://www.hippiehousewife.com/2008/...r-thought.html

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#76 of 90 Old 10-11-2008, 06:28 PM
 
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I realize you, being an MDC-member, probably wouldn't equate coercion and punishment with "guidance" -- but I know people who would and do see my rejection of coercion and punishment as "a deliberate decision not to guide my children in certain areas."

Now, when I say that I avoid coercion -- I'm certainly not saying that I sit back and allow my 3yo to hurt other children, take over their toys, and so on -- and just make excuses to the harmed children like the mother llp34 knows. I will use coercion if it seems to be the only means of protecting others from being harmed and coerced by my child.

But some people seriously do see not-punishing as not-guiding. Maybe that's why I keep getting my back up about the more critical posts: I've been the subject of so much criticism lately, I can't help wondering if these descriptions are being used about me.
I read somewhere that most people think you can punish, or you can be permissive. No middle ground. But actually it's a scale that runs from punishment, discipline, guidance to permissive. So to most (well, at least to authoratarian types) discipline or guidance look like permissiveness.

Would any of y'all agree? Disagree? And why?

Also, where would "unparenting" fit in this scale in y'all's opinions? How about "neglect"?

Would anyone argue for punishing? Being permissive?

Just curious!

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#77 of 90 Old 10-11-2008, 07:46 PM
 
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I read somewhere that most people think you can punish, or you can be permissive. No middle ground. But actually it's a scale that runs from punishment, discipline, guidance to permissive. So to most (well, at least to authoratarian types) discipline or guidance look like permissiveness.

Would any of y'all agree? Disagree? And why?
I don't know if it's a straight scale. I've known people who seem to be "permissive" on some topics but extremely authoritarian on others.

And as has been pointed out on this thread, it's all very subjective. I've entered discussions about "gentle discipline" only to be astounded to hear things that *I* would consider rude, disrespectful and downright mean, but others feel it's "gentle" because noone was getting hit. :

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Also, where would "unparenting" fit in this scale in y'all's opinions? How about "neglect"?
: When I hear "unparenting" I think "neglect."

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Would anyone argue for punishing? Being permissive?
I wouldn't argue for punishing. Punishments are used by parents in an attempt to gain compliance from their children. I'm not interested in fostering that. I want a different kind of relationship with my kids.

What do you mean by "permissive?" Ime, that term is intended to be negative, but I'm usually pleased about things that I'm called permissive.

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#78 of 90 Old 10-11-2008, 08:26 PM
 
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I read somewhere that most people think you can punish, or you can be permissive. No middle ground. But actually it's a scale that runs from punishment, discipline, guidance to permissive. So to most (well, at least to authoratarian types) discipline or guidance look like permissiveness.

Would any of y'all agree? Disagree? And why?
Well, according to some in the homeschooling group I'm a part of, I "don't discipline" -- so I think you're right that for some folks, discipline=hitting/punishment, period. If your kids aren't made to suffer then they "won't learn anything."

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Also, where would "unparenting" fit in this scale in y'all's opinions? How about "neglect"?
It fits in where kids aren't getting what they need in order to feel loved and happy.

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Would anyone argue for punishing? Being permissive?
Like SagMom, I wouldn't argue for punishing.

I get kind of hung up on what's "permissiveness," since I see literal permissiveness as a very positive thing -- as in, having a yes-mindset, and working to help my kids go after what they want.

But the way that it's culturally-defined -- as parents being totally indifferent to their kids and not caring what they do -- well, I wouldn't argue for that.

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#79 of 90 Old 10-11-2008, 08:26 PM
 
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What do you mean by "permissive?" Ime, that term is intended to be negative, but I'm usually pleased about things that I'm called permissive.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#80 of 90 Old 10-11-2008, 11:38 PM
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I think of permissive as permitting things that you don't want to be happening to you because you're not secure enough to set boundaries... and I have seen it. If something affects me, I'll look for a solution that I'm okay with, as well as one my kid is okay with.

I had one friend when Rain was young whose boys would trash her house - break windows, jump on the roof (mobile home) until is literally sagged, have bowel movements in buckets because they didn't want to leave their video games to use the bathroom. Yeah, I was there, and I saw it. And she wasn't happy, but she felt like she would be harming her children if she said that these things just weren't okay with her, and other solutions needed to be found.

I guess I'd call that unparenting, as well as unschooling... because she did ignore the kids a lot, mostly because she just didn't know how to deal with them and she thought that she would emotionally harm them if she didn't let them do what they wanted.

They're adults now... still living at home, and they often don't leave home for weeks. They don't have many friends, if any, AFAIK. In other words, it didn't work very well. I do know lots of grown unschoolers who are awesome, happy, living cool, fulfilled lives... but these kids don't seem that way to me.

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#81 of 90 Old 10-12-2008, 08:25 AM
 
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I think of permissive as permitting things that you don't want to be happening to you because you're not secure enough to set boundaries...
I never thought of "permissiveness" like that. When I've heard it used, it usually means that person x is allowing something that person y would never allow, but not necessarily unhealthy/dangerous things, just a difference of opinion.

That situation with your friend is very sad.

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#82 of 90 Old 10-12-2008, 04:02 PM
 
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I never thought of "permissiveness" like that. When I've heard it used, it usually means that person x is allowing something that person y would never allow, but not necessarily unhealthy/dangerous things, just a difference of opinion.
Yes, that's how I've usually heard the word used, too.

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#83 of 90 Old 10-19-2008, 10:25 PM
 
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I think of permissive as permitting things that you don't want to be happening to you because you're not secure enough to set boundaries... and I have seen it. If something affects me, I'll look for a solution that I'm okay with, as well as one my kid is okay with.


That's actually the most useful definition of permissiveness that I've ever seen. Thanks, Dar.
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#84 of 90 Old 10-20-2008, 05:06 PM
 
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I think of permissive as permitting things that you don't want to be happening to you because you're not secure enough to set boundaries... and I have seen it. If something affects me, I'll look for a solution that I'm okay with, as well as one my kid is okay with.
Ditto!

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#85 of 90 Old 10-20-2008, 05:51 PM
 
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Well, according to Dar's definition, it sounds to me like that's something for each individual parent to figure out for herself -- not something we can figure out for others (or them for us).

For all I know, something that would bug me isn't bugging another parent -- so maybe it's not permissive for her to allow it, whereas it would be for me.

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#86 of 90 Old 10-20-2008, 07:18 PM
 
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For all I know, something that would bug me isn't bugging another parent -- so maybe it's not permissive for her to allow it, whereas it would be for me.
Yeah, I've been called permissive, but it's not because I'm not secure enough to set boundaries.

I've been called permissive over things like, the kids eating in the living room, or the kids not having curfews. I don't feel a need to set "boundries" on these things, I'm happy, the kids are happy, it's not a problem. Other people I know have strict rules about these things and feel I should also. :

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#87 of 90 Old 10-20-2008, 07:23 PM
 
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I've been called permissive over things like, the kids eating in the living room, or the kids not having curfews. I don't feel a need to set "boundries" on these things, I'm happy, the kids are happy, it's not a problem. Other people I know have strict rules about these things and feel I should also. :
Yes, that's generally how I've heard the word "permissiveness" used as well -- other people use it to express their feeling that I shouldn't allow certain things because they don't. It seems more like a word used to push parents into the "mold" of the majority, than a word used to encourage parents to be honest with their kids about their own personal boundaries.

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#88 of 90 Old 10-20-2008, 09:12 PM
 
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So, can anyone talk to me about boundaries (as in our own personal boundaries) and specifically how they relate to unschooling/radical unschooling?

How they relate to toddlers?

Is there ever a point where you enforce a boundary not because the behaviour bothers you, but because you feel it is/could grow into a negative character trait in your child? (For all kids, not just toddlers!)

How and where do you set limits? How do you decide? How do you know when to stretch and when to stand firm?

How is this affected when your limits are different from others' and when others are telling you how to parent/teach/live life as a family? Is it affected?

Just curious! Clearly, these aren't questions I'd ask just anybody, but I respect y'all's perspectives and opinions.

TIA!

Learning & growing & changing everyday!
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#89 of 90 Old 10-20-2008, 11:41 PM
 
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So, can anyone talk to me about boundaries (as in our own personal boundaries) and specifically how they relate to unschooling/radical unschooling?

How they relate to toddlers?

Is there ever a point where you enforce a boundary not because the behaviour bothers you, but because you feel it is/could grow into a negative character trait in your child? (For all kids, not just toddlers!)

How and where do you set limits? How do you decide? How do you know when to stretch and when to stand firm?

How is this affected when your limits are different from others' and when others are telling you how to parent/teach/live life as a family? Is it affected?

Just curious! Clearly, these aren't questions I'd ask just anybody, but I respect y'all's perspectives and opinions.

TIA!
I would suggest starting a new thread.

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#90 of 90 Old 10-21-2008, 12:01 AM
 
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OK!

Learning & growing & changing everyday!
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