Any Radical Unschoolers Here? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 49 Old 10-21-2005, 12:35 PM
 
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I think a lot of such things mentioned in the OP, would depend on the age of the child.

My oldest is 5. She needs her parents to help her ensure she gets plenty of rest. If she doesn't, we're ALL dealing with the consequences the next day. She doesn't just sleep in. However, when she's a little older, I really don't see the "harm" in letting them keep a schedule that suits thems, provided it fits reasonably with the rest of the family (sorry, can't have the tv on keeping the rest of the family awake). And even tonight, I let dd1 stay up later than usual because she wanted to, and tomorrow's plans are more forgiving of a slightly tired kid.

And I guess my first thought is that of course I regulate my child's tv time. But when I thought about it more. I suppose that on the extremely rare day that she has asked to watch The Sound of Music AND Marry Poppins, I've said yes sometimes. Yeah, that's a LOT of tv in one day, but eh, big deal every now and then. It's just that if you ask me if I'd allow that IF she wanted it everyday, I'd say no. But she doesn't ask that often.

So I suppose the reality is, she does end up regulating herself more that I was thinking. I guess it's just that I give the final nod of permission.
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#32 of 49 Old 10-21-2005, 12:53 PM
 
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Some consider me radical. Some don't.

For example, my child decides when and what to eat but is limited to what is in the house or what we can order in because she usually doesn't want to go out to eat and doesn't like to go shopping with me. I try to get things she will like and some new things to try. She isn't forced to go places she doesn't want to go. Of course, there are times when she chooses to go shopping but she has a choice.

Another example is that, in the evening, my husband has asked that we have time alone to watch movies and talk. We read books to my daughter, set her up with some food and drinks, turn on music and ask her to please give us this time. We leave our door open. She knows she can come in for hugs or ask for help getting more food but we would rather she let us have this time. It's important to my husband and for our marriage. But I don't force her to go to bed at a certain time. It's usually 8:30, 9 or 9:30 when we all head back to her room to begin this routine. She comes into our bed sometime during the night or the morning and sleeps as late as she likes.

This works for now and it may change as time passes. We are all open to change
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#33 of 49 Old 10-21-2005, 12:57 PM
 
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Ruby, I'm confused too

Were you quoting me as one example of TCS + unschooling = radical unschooling, or were you using it for evidence that none of us can agree with each other? :LOL

It's a good question, but I think we could go round and round and probably never come to a concensus about whether a relationship between TCS and radical unschooling is necessary, or if they are in fact actually the same thing.

In any case, I think that the scenario described by the OP -- that of a child making demands and the parent doing whatever the child wants regardless of how it affects the parent or others -- is not TCS anymore than it is unschooling.

As for us, we unschool *and* our kids make their own choices about things like bedtime, food, clothes, and just about anything else that is non-critical for us to be involved with, but we are *not* TCS, at least as far as I understand it.
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#34 of 49 Old 10-21-2005, 02:22 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mykdsmomy
For instance....I was talking to a lady this morning who has a 15 year old who refuses to help out around the house, is always demanding her laundry clean, and who complains when dinner is not to her liking.....the mama told me...."all i can tell you, Judy is to be really strict with your kids because I wasnt and now i'm paying for it ) She was basically saying her kids were brats because she gave them what they wanted as kids....
No, her kids are brats because she behaved in a way that rewarded her kids for treating her badly.

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I dont get it but i've heard it over and over again....set limits now, set boundries now or you'll pay later.....
This is true. But to be effective it has to make sense, it can't be arbitrary. You have to know what your goal is, and base your limits and boundaries on that. Setting limits and boundaries just to set limits and boundaries is stupid and unjust. If I say "no" for no good reason, all it does is embitter my children because they know it is arbitrary and unjust.
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#35 of 49 Old 10-21-2005, 02:48 PM
 
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My point was but if we are giving into their every want, and they DO get to a point in life where you are basically following someone's rules and boundaries....will they be ready for that? Will they have enough practice at being told no? I know we dont necessarily want our children to completly conform to society but we do want to equip them to deal with disappointments and rules they dont like.....does that make sense?
But who said we were "giving into their every want"? I already pointed out that there are plenty of natural and necessary "no"s already. It seems like you're saying those are not enough, that kids must be made to also get used to being denied for no good reason so they can deal with being denied for no good reason when they are grown up. But that was what my example of the absurdity of created scenarios was meant to address. It feels like we're going around in circles, maybe I'm not understanding what you're really wanting to know?

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I just mean, saying no to the candy or no, we're not having peanut butter tonight, we're having chicken...doesnt seem unreasonable or does it???
It's unreasonable if there's not a good reason for it, yes.
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#36 of 49 Old 10-21-2005, 03:55 PM
 
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our kids make their own choices about things like bedtime, food, clothes
I thought it might be helpful to elaborate on why we (my husband and I) do this.

We have observed, in ourselves and others, that when people have their choices continually made for them, they become neurotic and internalize the belief that it's actually not okay for them to make their own choices. Obviously this can be debilitating. Their ability to determine what their actual needs are may even eventually atrophy. I see both these things happening, for instance, in women's relationships to their bodies and their reliance on "experts" to tell them how to give birth.

We want our children to self-regulate when possible so that they can become strong in themselves. When you are always telling someone that they cannot decide for themselves something even as unimportant and inconsequential as what clothing they put on their bodies, that sends a subtle message -- every day, building up over and over until it is ingrained in them so deeply that they don't even think to question it -- that they are lacking insight or intelligence, that they are not to be trusted, that these things are important when they really aren't, that they are inherently followers, that "might makes right" is okay.

We don't think they need practice getting used to "no" -- we don't want them to get used to "no". We don't want them to take for granted that other people are right just because they say they are, and that we have to do what they want us to just because they say we do. We want them to always expect to be given a good reason for "no", and to know they have a right to it. This is ethical, but it's also protective. The less likely they are to accept "just because I said so," the less likely they are to be abused and taken advantage of.

We do think they need practice listening to their inner voice. We want them to make decisions based on logic they understand, on value they perceive, and on conscience above all.

We have observed that when given true freedom and when free from neurosis and able to obtain adequate information (and assuming we're not talking about a chemical dependancy that can't be psychologically controlled,) people will always make choices that are best for them, but that when restricted or denied, people often act out of a desire to rebel or out of confusion rather than in service to their true needs.

When I hear about kids who can't self-regulate in healthy ways, it amazes me that the parents' only response, usually, is to enforce greater control over them rather than trying to figure out why they're doing this unhealthy thing. If my kid wants to [insert unhealthy action] all day every day for the rest of his life in spite of the fact that it's making him sick, well, that is not the result of a healthy environment. There's something going on there other than that he just likes the thing. Banning might work, temporarily, that is until he grows up. But what then, when the original reasons for the behavior have never been addressed, and the ban has only fostered his obsession with it?

My husband grew up in a fairly strict household. I grew up with a lot of judgement. We both are still struggling with separating out the false and arbitrary from the true and relevant, and with overcoming our irrational compulsions and lack of initiative and confidence that are a direct result of someone else having their thumb on us at all times while we were growing up.

That is what we want our children to be free of.
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#37 of 49 Old 10-21-2005, 05:00 PM
 
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Linda very well said! Your ideas/theories/applications make perfect sense.

But who said we were "giving into their every want"? I already pointed out that there are plenty of natural and necessary "no"s already.

I guess I didnt understand what you meant by necessary "no's".? can you give me examples of what kind of things you say no to?

I honestly am not trying to argue with you at all.....on the contrary...just trying to understand more about radical unschooling. I come from a family where this style of parenting is OPPOSITE to my mother's "style" of parenting...hers was very very very very very (did i mention very?) controlling and abusive.....this is fascinating to me....thanks for all the clarification...

Here's me I married then we had dd15 , dd11 , ds10 , and then and now we and I blog!
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#38 of 49 Old 10-21-2005, 05:07 PM
 
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: - all that fourlittlebirds and UnshoolnMa said!!

For me it was realizing that I needed my children to make their own choices and really find out who they are, even if that means they do things that I don't like. I would rather they find out now, instead of having some sort of mid life crisis and needing years of therapy to "find themselves" because they have been conforming for years to someone elses standard.


Let me tell you that being "radical unschoolers" doesn't mean I run around the city all day fullfilling my childrens desires. They understand that I have desires as well and they respect that. Sometimes its one of those nights of intense and long discussions, but I learn a lot about myself and my family.

One example is soccer. Both my older kids wanted soccer. They preferred the travel team with longer practices and more games. But because of their age difference, they would be on 2 different teams and DH and I wouldn't be able to see all the games and there is the expense of driving around the state. So we discussed this with the kids and we decided that the town recreational league would suit all of us.

I also felt it was about time I started to respect my own needs instead of putting everyone elses in front. IMO, kids learn very quickly by our example.

I am not as articulate as the previous folks, but I hope this helps.

Stacey- WOHM and wife to Jesse- : Athena , Huckleberry : Fiona : Shillelagh : and Calliope
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#39 of 49 Old 10-21-2005, 06:39 PM
 
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I honestly am not trying to argue with you at all.....on the contrary...just trying to understand more about radical unschooling.
I understand.

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I guess I didnt understand what you meant by necessary "no's".? can you give me examples of what kind of things you say no to?
Well, when I say that they are "necessary", I mean (like I said before) that they can't do them for reasons of legality, developmental ability, or safety. I'll add to that things I won't allow them to do because it makes things hard or unpleasant for others.

Anyway, sure. (Keep in mind that I usually try to phrase these things so that I don't actually have to use the word "no", although of course it is implied, and I usually follow up with other options. Keep in mind also that most of these are age-specific.)

-No you can't play in the laundry detergent.
-No you can't have turkey for lunch, we need to save it so that papa has something to take for lunch tomorrow.
-No you can't keep your seat belt unfastened, it's dangerous and we could get a ticket for it.
-No we can't go to Joe and Kate's house today, they are busy.
-No you can't play Sonic DX because I have a headache and you will not play quietly.
-No I can't take you on a walk down to the river right now, I need to get dinner started so we can eat before bedtime.
-No you can't play in the street.
-No you can't use my permanent markers to draw on the wall.
-No you can't use the X-acto knife.
-No you cannot all jump on the trampoline with the baby.
-No you cannot go over to the church to play alone.
-No you cannot run and yell in the library.
-No you cannot play on the library computer past your allotted time, even though it is a stupid rule.
-No you can't drive the car.
-No you cannot come hang out with me in the bathroom while I'm going poo.
-No you cannot eat the cookies that I've made to take to the potluck.
-No you can't drive grandpa's tractor by yourself, even if he thinks it's safe.
-No you can't go with me to the party, it's just for moms.
-No you can't have that mega-Lego set, we don't have the money right now.
-No you can't stay home alone.
-No you can't have the rest of my ice cream.
-No it's not okay to hit your brother even though he was being a jerk.
-No you can't go to work with papa.
-No I don't feel like playing UNO with you right now.
-No you can't watch Spongebob at top volume for three hours straight.
-No you can't play this game, it's a text game and you don't know how to read yet.
-No you can't go down the slide by yourself, it puts you in deep water and you can't swim yet.

I could go on and on and on...
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#40 of 49 Old 10-21-2005, 09:06 PM
 
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First of all, this thread is awesome!!! Thanks Mykidsmomy for asking so many questions, and thank you for the radical unschooling mamas for being so cool and answering so thoroughly! I have learned an amazing amount. And Linda, your responses are so dang eloquent and make so much sense. I want my dh to read this.

Now for my quesiton though: Ds#1 is 4 years old. He is pretty much unschooled for preK. Some days he'll say, "I gotta do some homework!" and I give him a workbook to play with. He takes the lead, even if that means reading Magic School Bus a zillion times a day. :LOL But, he is also a TV junkie (my fault - I was a latch-key kid, and TV was my company after school). My thinking is if I gave him free reign with the TV, he'd literally watch it from the time he got up until the time Dad got home from work and we ate dinner. He LOVES TV!!! Granted, all he has to choose from is PBS Kids and videos (taped Magic School Bus, Leap Frog, Dora, etc), but still ... that is a lot of TV.

Would he eventually get it out of his system, or would this set him up as an unproductive child? Now in his defense, he did just turn off the TV because Jakers! ended, and he and his little brother are outside digging in the mud. But, that was at like 4:30 ... (oh we've been watching a lot of TV lately because I am unbelievably tired).

So my question is: how does free choice of TV look? If your child is choosing to watch the entire day's programming of PBS Kids, do you just let them do it (assuming it's not impacting others in the family)? Do you just go about doing other "cool" stuff with other siblings and if he wants to join in, let him? I just see many, many hours of TV viewing ...

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#41 of 49 Old 10-21-2005, 11:43 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mykdsmomy
But my question about letting them choose what they watch, wear, eat, etc.....what if they choose to watch something like Desperate Housewives when they're 10? What if they choose to open the fridge up and pick out pickles for dinner five nights in a row? What if they want to wear a leather mini skirt and tube top when we got out for grandma's dinner?
My kids choose what to wear, watch and eat. Your big question seems to be "what if they make a bad decision?" I think the answer is that some of the things that you've decided are bad decisions really don't matter, and the things that DO really matter and your kids make poor decisions, they will learn from and make better choices next time. My kids have learned, for example, that they really need to eat some protein at meal times because they don't feel well if they don't. They don't have to eat what I make for dinner, and there are lots of things they can grap/fix for themselves, but they know which things have protein in them and they want to eat some protein because they know from personal experience that they will be happier that way.

We talk about TV and movies, and they've learned that the way they dress affects how other people react to them and how well prepared they are for various activities. They don't need to do stupid things just for a reaction because they are truly free. Because they are able to make simple choices such as what to eat for dinner, what to wear to art class, etc, I think they are learning the underlying principles for making bigger decisions as they get older.

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I was talking to a lady this morning who has a 15 year old who refuses to help out around the house, is always demanding her laundry clean, and who complains when dinner is not to her liking.....the mama told me...."all i can tell you, Judy is to be really strict with your kids because I wasnt and now i'm paying for it ) She was basically saying her kids were brats because she gave them what they wanted as kids.... :
Have you read the Continuum Concept? It talks at length about attitudes towards work and it really shaped the way I see my own work and how I view teaching my kids to take care of themselves. I'll see if I can dig my copy out later and find some nice quotes.

I think there is a really really big difference between allowing kids to manage their own lives and allowing them to boss others (esp. their moms!) around! This girl is bossing her mom around and most likely has been since she was a toddler.

For me, the balance comes in being clear about what I will and won't do for them. For example, my kids don't have to eat what I make for dinner but I won't make them something else. They are free to grap/fix something else FOR THEMSELVES. I don't do short order cooking because it annoys me. So often people think that if you aren't controlling your kids, then the only other option is for your kids to control you. There is a 3rd path.

There are times that I tell my kids "no" about things but they are few and far between. There were more "no's" when they were younger. Now it just doesn't come up much.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#42 of 49 Old 10-21-2005, 11:46 PM
 
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Originally Posted by MyLittleWonders
Would he eventually get it out of his system, or would this set him up as an unproductive child? Now in his defense, he did just turn off the TV because Jakers! ended, and he and his little brother are outside digging in the mud.
It sounds like he knows his limit and will turn it off when he's finished or some other activity comes up that he would rather do. He might watch a lot initially and then not be as interested, or he might just be someone who really enjoys TV.

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So my question is: how does free choice of TV look? If your child is choosing to watch the entire day's programming of PBS Kids, do you just let them do it (assuming it's not impacting others in the family)? Do you just go about doing other "cool" stuff with other siblings and if he wants to join in, let him?
It's definately an option for my kids to watch TV all day, and we do have days where there are lots of programs we watch. Sometimes the TV is just on either on a music program (videos etc) or just as noise but no one is watching. Anyway, if they did choose that it would be OK. If it was starting to be a problem for other members of the family (like if we had one TV and others wanted a turn, etc) we'd just discuss that like we do anything else. I would just go about my day and activities and make sure that he knows he's welcome to join us at any time. There's no reason why you can't discuss your concerns about too much TV with him if it became an issue.

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#43 of 49 Old 10-22-2005, 11:41 AM
 
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Linda(fourlittlebirds)~Your post almost made me cry.
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When you are always telling someone that they cannot decide for themselves something even as unimportant and inconsequential as what clothing they put on their bodies, that sends a subtle message -- every day, building up over and over until it is ingrained in them so deeply that they don't even think to question it -- that they are lacking insight or intelligence, that they are not to be trusted, that these things are important when they really aren't, that they are inherently followers, that "might makes right" is okay.
I think I had pretty great parents, and yet when I read your post I had all sorts of emotions bubble up over that quote. To this day I am very uncomfortable making important decisions on my own because I just know that the decisions I make won't be the right ones. When we go out to eat with my ILs they always want to know where each of us would prefer to go. I always say it's up to them because I feel like my opinion is the least important. It's all of those little things that I never really realized I did, or why I did them that have me thinking now. Most of the little decisions were made for me as a child and I can see what an impact that has made on me now. Thank you very much for your post. My husband and I have had a really great talk and we are going to try very, very hard to raise our children in a different way from our parents so that they don't have self-esteem issues like their momma.

Jessica, wife of Marc and Momma to Nikolai (10) and Nathaniel (9) and Olivia (3).
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#44 of 49 Old 10-22-2005, 12:03 PM
 
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Jessica--

You are definitely not alone! I was raised in a similar fashion and although it has been a tough journey breaking those thought patterns, it has been so very rewarding for me and my family.

Stacey- WOHM and wife to Jesse- : Athena , Huckleberry : Fiona : Shillelagh : and Calliope
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#45 of 49 Old 10-22-2005, 03:03 PM
 
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I just saw this in a newsletter I get and it made me think of unschooling discussions. I thought it applied to the conversation about trusting our children to learn what they need to learn and to make the decisions they need to make for their individual lives. Since unschooling isn't about schooling, but about life, this seems to me to be a pretty good "curriculum."


The Rules for Being Human


1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period this time around.
2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full time informal school called life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant and stupid.
3. There are no mistakes, only lessons .Growing is a process of trial and error, experimentation. The "failed" experiments are as much of the process as the experiment that ultimately "works."
4. A lesson is repeated until it is learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. Then you can go to the next lesson.
5. Learning lessons does not end. There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.
6. "There" is no better than "here." When your "there" has become a "here", you will simply obtain another "there that again, looks better than "here."
7. Others are merely mirrors of you. You can not love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.
8. What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need; what you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.
9. The answers lie inside you. The answers to life's questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.

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#46 of 49 Old 10-22-2005, 04:45 PM
 
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I just wanted to thank EVERYONE who has answered my questions....You mamas are so helfpul and inspiring! I love this thread and it almost seems like we need just a "radical unschooling" board : There is so much to learn here from all you mamas who have been doing this....Thanks so much

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#47 of 49 Old 10-22-2005, 11:28 PM
 
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"When we go out to eat with my ILs they always want to know where each of us would prefer to go. I always say it's up to them because I feel like my opinion is the least important.'

Me too.

"Thank you very much for your post."

You're very welcome, I'm glad it was helpful.
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#48 of 49 Old 10-22-2005, 11:55 PM
 
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lauradbg- wrote
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I have always communicated with my kids in a way that allows them, encourages them, to help find solutions to problems. So, I think they are good problem solvers--they always come up with reasonable, sensitive solutions. But, sometimes I just want to shorthand it and I do say "no", with an explanation.
I am glad that I read your post it showed me that I have gone a little off track from my principles. Sometimes I need to be reminded to give my girls more options and communicate with them better. Thanks
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#49 of 49 Old 10-23-2005, 03:25 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mykdsmomy
For instance....I was talking to a lady this morning who has a 15 year old who refuses to help out around the house, is always demanding her laundry clean, and who complains when dinner is not to her liking.....the mama told me...."all i can tell you, Judy is to be really strict with your kids because I wasnt and now i'm paying for it ) She was basically saying her kids were brats because she gave them what they wanted as kids.... :
I dont get it but i've heard it over and over again....set limits now, set boundries now or you'll pay later.....
Can you give me some feedback on this as it relates to radical unschooling? Thanks
I wanted to comment on this because my dh is terrible about housework. He was verr bad about helping out as a teen too.

The reason was not lack of discipline- my mil is very into "no,no,noing", but I think the problem is that his mom treated everything as her job and didn't LET her small kids help.

MIL is always shocked that I let dd (3yo) fill the dishwasher with soap and start it. (Detergent is DANGEROUS!) She is suprised I let her use a step stool to get her own food - and she has since like 18 months. MIL always says she was a "bad mom" for teaching my dh to get his own cereal in the morning at 3 yo so she could sleep in. No wonder he got the idea that everything was her job.

Small kids LOVE to help out if you give them a chance. If you repeatedly tell them they are too young to help out they get the idea that it's all your job. Their feelings of imcompetance grow, then when you ask them they refuse. You told them they were unable to do it- why should they try now?
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