"Unparenting" - have you seen it? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 06:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It is possible that I am living in a bubble, I live in a place where hs in rare and unsschooling very rare, so I don't run into to US og RU much at all. But I am wondering, for those of you who have more contact with RU's and live in places where US is more common - what exactly is "unparenting"? When does RU become neglect in you eyes, and have you ever seen it?
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#2 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 08:45 AM
 
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Nope. I've seen neighborhood schooled kids somewhat neglected, though.

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#3 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 08:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Nope. I've seen neighborhood schooled kids somewhat neglected, though.
Yeah, I am just so curious where the "unparenting" term comes from? Is it a term already used seperate from RU or US, or is it a term that means the negative side of RU? Is it kids not having their needs met and parents calling it RU. And does the term apply to babies as well?
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#4 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 09:04 AM
 
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Without exception, the unschooling families I've known/have met have been loving, involved, gentle parents.

Any time I've heard the term "unparenting" (always online, never irl) it's meant in a negative way--to imply parents are not doing what they're "supposed" to do, as parents. A parent who believes that the adults are in charge may feel that a child who is free to make her own decisions is not being parented, yk?

However, I have no idea where the word came from.

I've known neglected kids, but they weren't unschooled.

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#5 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 09:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Without exception, the unschooling families I've known/have met have been loving, involved, gentle parents.

Any time I've heard the term "unparenting" it's meant in a negative way--parents who are ignoring their kids or who are uninvolved. However, I have no idea where the word came from.

I've known neglected kids, but they weren't unschooled.
The unschooled families I have met along the way (I have met quite a few, even though we now live in a country where they are few and far between) have just been these wonderful, loving, interesting people. I have often said to my husband that US has put me in contact with AMAZING people! So, I am thinking about how unschooling or RU could look neglectful to someone? I don't know - one would really have to know the essence of RU to understand it. But I am wondering if there are any of you unschoolers who have seen what looks like unparenting among unschooled folks? The US kids I have met also strike me as happy, kind and well adjusted if I can use that term. We just met a new family, they moved in to the neighborhood and are unschoolers - once again it strikes me how well my kids get along with them, how different the play is (in a very positve way) from the schooled kids they hang out with. So yeah, with out exeption the ones I have met are really cool families.
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#6 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 09:38 AM
 
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So, I am thinking about how unschooling or RU could look neglectful to someone?
Maybe it's the lack of limits, and that the kids are not obedient. There are some people in my life who *I* view as terribly controlling. They are pretty much horrified by what my kids are "allowed" to do. They have not come out and cried "neglect" or "unparenting" but I know they think I'm lacking in certain aspects of parenting. :

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#7 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 09:45 AM
 
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I'll preface by saying that most of the unschoolers I've met have been very interesting, involved people.

But I also know a mother who is a self-professed radical unschooler, and have seen several instances at the playground where her children were bullying and hurting other children -- younger and smaller children -- and when her attention was called to it, she got very defensive and angry about anyone saying anything to her children, because the word "no" would damage their fragile psyches. She also refused to do anything about it, because "they'll figure it out themselves." Never mind that her children were running wild while she sat across the park gossiping and ignoring them. *That's* unparenting.

She's very vocal about her beliefs, so the fact that she's an unschooler gets connected a lot with the behavior of her children, although I'm sure that's not the impression she's intended to send. Those kinds of unschoolers (radical or not) give the rest a bad name.
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#8 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 09:48 AM
 
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I think some people find it unmoral to not force kids to be obedient. And I'm sure others are put off by wild tangled knotty hair or grubby faces on kids who hate having their hair brushed and faces washed. It bugs me when ds has ear wax oozing out of his ears but it doesn't bother him!

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#9 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 10:27 AM
 
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Oh, I've come up against a few self-proclaimed RU'ers whom I would consider unparenting. I don't know where the term came from, but when i saw it on a yahoo list I said to myself "Aha! It's not just me seeing this!" I'm very laid back, I think. Don't legislate my kids, let them figure out many things on their own, but do step in where their freedom infringes on someone else's safety.

One mom had a single child. At every event that they attended, the mom would literally disappear, while the child ran rampant, destroying things, pushing around little kids, arguing with docent and staff. We'd often find her mother reading a book in a corner, or 'fulfilling her own needs' (her words) at the museum we were at.

Another mom with a single child would adamantly defend her childs right to say whatever horrible mean stuff she wanted to, which included writing "I'll kill you all" on the wall of the hosting family. Her theory was that she didn't want to shame her child by addressing bullying, breaking, etc in public, but then it wasn't fair to bring it up to her nine yo so much later (ie after they left)

One family had three children. The smallest (to be fair was only three) would hit/shove/kick whomever had the toy she wanted, while the mom watched. If another parent stepped in to try and moderate, THEN she would say "OH no, we don't hit" and then step back. I say only three, that's the age that kids need their parents the MOST. The older child would look for the rules of any building we were in and work hard to break every one. At one rec center, he tore up the gym mats, laughing about it the whole time. Where was the mom? Trying to gossip with the other moms...who were all actively engaged with kids as it was a cooking class with about twelve families.

I know of about three more families just in my immediate area that my kids are afraid of, because the kids are so out of control. We stopped hosting events at our house because they've broken too many of our things and hurt the lil ones too many times and the kids just don't want them there. BUT they don't want to exclude them specifically from an invitation list because it might hurt their feelings.

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#10 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 10:34 AM
 
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Well, I don't throw around the word "unparenting" because you can't ever really know what's going on in other people's homes, but I have read some stuff on RU boards that I found upsetting and chose to step away (e.g. a story of a 4 year old who was no longer being put to bed at night, and was not getting the sleep she needed and was miserable to be missing out on morning activities she liked, but everyone there was sure that this little girl MUST learn to put herself to bed NOW, or people sharing stories about letting their kids gorge on treats till they were sick.) IRL, I don't think I know any RU families, but in our area the RU families seem to have segregated themselves, and I prefer to hang out with an inclusive group.

I have known some lousy parents, including one I see fairly regularly at park day (the one who's reading her book while everyone else deals with her out of control kid).

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#11 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, I've come up against a few self-proclaimed RU'ers whom I would consider unparenting.

I know of about three more families just in my immediate area that my kids are afraid of, because the kids are so out of control. We stopped hosting events at our house because they've broken too many of our things and hurt the lil ones too many times and the kids just don't want them there. BUT they don't want to exclude them specifically from an invitation list because it might hurt their feelings.
ok, I see. No, I have never met any families like that. I have seen som kids at playgrounds who look very lost and sometimes are being agressive- but then I usually cant spot their parents, and this is not unschooling types - just a regular day at the playground.

How do you think the children feel? Do they want to be there at all? I read a post once when someone was describing a mom who sat the whole time talking about the "wonders" of RU and her children were saying something like "god, cant wait to get out of here, we are so bored but mom HAS to do her US talking"....

I sometimes have a hard time feeling connected to my kids schooled friends. They seem to run wild when no one is close by. It is as if the rules and control are in place all day and when the control is lifted they go overboard. They just do weird things that I don't get - destructive things And they are always checking to see if I am looking. Sometimes I will walk into the room and they all look up and yell "WE DIDN'T DO IT!!". Poor kids. But I know they are told that we are the "weird", free, hippie types - and all they here is "THERE ARE NO RULES" - I trying to clearify to them though, hey, we have lots of rules, they are just different from what you might be used to at home...

I have not met unschoolers with this type of behavior.
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#12 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 11:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think some people find it unmoral to not force kids to be obedient. And I'm sure others are put off by wild tangled knotty hair or grubby faces on kids who hate having their hair brushed and faces washed. It bugs me when ds has ear wax oozing out of his ears but it doesn't bother him!
Yeah, I am sure some people are are put off by tangled hair (specially grandparents...lol), and the such. And that might look to others who don't US like crappy parenting. It is interesting though to hear what other US consider crappy unschooling parenting - or unparenting.

I might get get a little carried away when I finally meet other cool families - hey, I dont get out much But I don't think I have ever "ignored" my kids to the extent that is being described by some here. My kids still "need" me to the extent that not interacting with them at playdates etc, would be impossible.
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#13 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 11:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'll preface by saying that most of the unschoolers I've met have been very interesting, involved people.

But I also know a mother who is a self-professed radical unschooler, and have seen several instances at the playground where her children were bullying and hurting other children -- younger and smaller children -- and when her attention was called to it, she got very defensive and angry about anyone saying anything to her children, because the word "no" would damage their fragile psyches. She also refused to do anything about it, because "they'll figure it out themselves." Never mind that her children were running wild while she sat across the park gossiping and ignoring them. *That's* unparenting.

She's very vocal about her beliefs, so the fact that she's an unschooler gets connected a lot with the behavior of her children, although I'm sure that's not the impression she's intended to send. Those kinds of unschoolers (radical or not) give the rest a bad name.
I am wondering, are these kids seeking help from their parents? I mean, do they seek out their parents when they are in a rough spot with other kids, or are they just running wild?
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#14 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 11:58 AM
 
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Yeah, I am sure some people are are put off by tangled hair (specially grandparents...lol), and the such. And that might look to others who don't US like crappy parenting. It is interesting though to hear what other US consider crappy unschooling parenting - or unparenting.

I was at an unschooling conference once where the level of "trust in the child" was a bit too high for my comfort. The conference was held in a hotel in a city with other people there besides the conference attendees. There were multiple ways in and out of the hotel. There were parents who were very Ok with their under 7's or so being free to explore the hotel and hang out with whoever, w/out the parents knowing where they were.

To me, it seems that sometimes the ideal is to trust the child to the point where the parent becomes unnecessary. I don't know if this is the goal, but I know I cannot parent like that. Even my then 10 yo and 14 yo kids needed to keep us informed as to their whereabouts. I don't view this as an infringement on my kids rights or as a misguided need of my own, but as a responsibility.
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#15 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 01:14 PM
 
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I am wondering, are these kids seeking help from their parents? I mean, do they seek out their parents when they are in a rough spot with other kids, or are they just running wild?
The smaller kids being abused do come to their own parents for help -- when they're not surrounded or immobilized. :

The particular RU kids I'm thinking of who are doing the bullying absolutely don't go to their mother for help. Why would they? They're doing what they want to be doing, and from what I know of the situation, they probably know she would just tell them to work it out themselves, even when they're the ones hurting smaller children.

I'm not a generalist. I don't think that means every USer or RUer also unparents, nor do I think every PS kid is an angel. There's usually one person in every group that you really don't want to be representing your group, though, and this has been my experience with that one person. Unfortunately for USers, she's VERY vocal about her RU beliefs. That's the kind of thing that gives the "unparenting" idea credence, and generalists will take that to mean that USing supports unparenting, even though there are plenty of other parents who do the same thing.
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#16 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 03:00 PM
 
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sorry, what is RU?
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#17 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 03:06 PM
 
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ru= radical unschooling. i don't really like the term because it has little to do with "education" as most of us know it. it's just an extension of the unschooling philosophy into every day life. more appropriate, i think, is to call it consensual living or something like that. but i f'ing hate labels anyway.
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sorry, what is RU?
Radical Unschooling. It usually means people who strive to live more consensually with their kids, don't have strict rules, etc. Some people unschool as their approach to academics but have a more conventional household where the parents make the decisions. So Radical unschooling is more of a whole life child led learning experience, not referring only to academic learning style. Hope that makes sense. There is a car alarm going off and I can't think straight!

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#19 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 03:08 PM
 
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stop following me, woman!!
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i f'ing hate labels anyway.
Yes, I have you firmly labeled as a label hater.

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stop following me, woman!!
You're following me but I can't type which slows me down so your posts pop up first. :

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#22 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 03:12 PM
 
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RU = radical unschooling

I have seen what others describe. I think allowing children freedom is important, but I also think that "teaching" social rules is important. I've seen parents ignore children who are breaking the rules of an establishment - like literally climbing the walls of a very public store. I don't really feel like it's safe or reasonable behavior and I think it's the parents job to convey safe behavior as well as explain societal expectations. I mean, I'm very relaxed with my kids but I let them know what's expected of them. They still have a choice about acting goofy or crazy, but I definitely draw a line regarding the safety of themselves, others and private property.

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#23 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 04:44 PM
 
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now someone needs to make me a Tshirt.
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#24 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 04:48 PM
 
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i have seen unparenting in lots of families, but none of them were radical unschoolers.

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#25 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 04:54 PM
 
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regarding what annakiss said, i saw LOTS of that when i worked in retail. these "crunchy" moms would be asking me for herbal advice while their kids fought with eachother, screamed, and knocked stuff off the shelves. the mother never said boo to them, only paying attention to me, even though *i* was so distracted i wanted to scream myself. of course, when she had decided on her purchase, she hustled them back into the cart and walked out of the department... leaving me, who she raved about as being "oh-so helpful!" to clean up after her kids. :

the worst example i ever saw of this was a woman i know through a local moms' group who just sometimes came over to my department while she was shopping to "chat". there would be times *i'd* have to pause the convo to ask him to stop busting up the shelves and she'd go right on yapping, or give me some BS line about "kids will be kids" or how he's "so spirited!" i wanted to say "look, if you want to teach your kid that clerks in stores are of a lower caste and meant to clean up your crap, that's your preference, but don't pretend to be my friend in the meantime." i mean, would she come to my house and let him trash that too? (most likely. she just doesn't want to crush his fragile little spirit.)

i actually saw him smack one of my coworkers when she told him he had to stop climbing on the counter and ask his mom for help getting a cookie. again, no response from his "attached" mother.

fyi, this woman does not claim to practice unschooling. AND she's in childcare. i shuddered when i found out she was pg last year. these are definitely the people f'ing it up for the rest of us.
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#26 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 06:27 PM
 
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I sometimes have a hard time feeling connected to my kids schooled friends. They seem to run wild when no one is close by. It is as if the rules and control are in place all day and when the control is lifted they go overboard.

I have not met unschoolers with this type of behavior.
It's funny because I don't consider unparenting to be an unschooling thing, it just is what it is. There are kids in school who are similar, but my children have friends who are in schools are fit in WONDERFULLY at our house. Even with school, their parents are still VERY respectful of their children, the kids feel very supportive and they are careful and considerate of the little ones, of how things happen. Two of my son's friends I *love* because they will come and sit with us in the kitchen and TALK...and yet I know know rather surly unschooling teens that lock themselves away and roll eyes. The only problem is waiting for them to get out of school It's the relationship, not the schooling that makes the difference, I think.

But yeah, who needs effin labels?

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#27 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 06:31 PM
 
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Yeah, I am sure some people are are put off by tangled hair (specially grandparents...lol), and the such. And that might look to others who don't US like crappy parenting. It is interesting though to hear what other US consider crappy unschooling parenting - or unparenting.
speaking of grandparents and hair. My 7yo has a tail, and while the rest of his hair is very short, that one bit just bunches and tangles like nobodies business. So when we visit my dad (who has long hair) he and Sam sit in a corner and my dad gentle combs it out. Sam never minds, but he certainly doesn't want ME to do it. So, it's my dad's issue, but Sam likes the time together.

Just a lil side note. I am the mom I used to glare at (before I had kids) it's funny how much we know before we're put into a situation.

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#28 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 07:21 PM
 
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I'm not a HS, UN or RU, we haven't figured out what we're going to do with our 2 yo DD yet - anyways:

I think the mere concept of unschooling and especially radical unschooling is so entirely foreign to most people. They just have never considered it as an option, don't know anything about it and have no idea what to make of it. So it may come across as uninvolved parents, or kids being in chage, or neglect because they aren't in school, or any and all of those things.
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#29 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 08:06 PM
 
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I think the mere concept of unschooling and especially radical unschooling is so entirely foreign to most people. They just have never considered it as an option, don't know anything about it and have no idea what to make of it.
I agree. I once mentioned on a board that I let my child make decisions on matters that concern her (giving examples such as food, sleep, clothing) and people replied things like "Oh, so I guess your child will decide that you not pay the bills this month because she wants a new toy or something"

Unparenting - I have come across a German website a while ago. The title word means misbehaved, but the literal translation is unparented. Because homeschooling is illegal there these people have taken the principles of unschooling and are applying them to the rest of their lives. I love that word, unerzogen.
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#30 of 90 Old 09-03-2008, 09:07 PM
 
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The US kids I have met also strike me as happy, kind and well adjusted if I can use that term.
And yet -- how many people in mainstream society see child-happiness as a parenting goal? I'm frequently hearing folks talk about "distinguishing children's wants from their needs" -- and within that framework, letting a child go out with unbrushed hair, just because it's what she wants and it makes her happy (and doesn't hurt anyone), gets labeled "unparenting" -- because it's so darned important (to many) to drive it home to our kids that "it's not all about them and what they want."

Within that framework, those of us who help our children go after what they want, and avoid what they don't want, are seen as totally falling down on the job, failing to prepare our kids for the "real world," and so on.

I've only met one radical unschooler in real life -- and she was a very involved parent. I agree with the other posters, that the "unparenting" I've seen has not been connected with unschooling.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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