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Hello. I've always had an unschooling view of education, but not of lifestyle. My kids have always been free to pursue whatever interests (or lack thereof) they have. And over the years, as much as I've felt unschooling as a lifestyle is not for me, I cannot stop questioning what we do, why I think this way, and feeling like if we just jumped off that cliff we'd all be so much happier for it. We've been at tis for 10 years now, I'm not dealing with toddlers here. So here are the issues that have always kept me in the unschooling-for-education-but-not-for-everything-in-our-lives camp, and I'm hoping those of you who do not have these issues (because you're on the other side of my dilemma) can help me see the way. Can show me how it plays out, how it CAN be done. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br><br>
1. bedtime: If I don't dictate a bed time, when will I get the time I need to hang out with my dh, to just veg, watch adult content flicks . . . kwim? And yet i so get it that at night, when we read stories, they want more, the want to get up and act it out, hey want to please be with us . . . and we squash his to get them back in bed so we can get OUR time, which we wait all day for.<br><br>
and if I let them direct their schedules, my eldest is a true night owl, and would sleep in very late each day, which means we cannot go out because we are waiting for him to get up.<br><br>
I have insomnia/sleep issues, they are huge and a real struggle for me, and so I have a need for silence to fall asleep, to know no one will disturb me. If you're still awake in my house, then I am, b/c I cannot relax until I know it's safe to let go, no one is going to make a noise or ask me for something. So the idea of saying 'i'm off to bed kids' or being open to cuddling with them, aving them get up again if they need to . . it makes me panic at how little rest I will get!<br><br><br>
2.the other issue I'd like to discuss is hard to define. I have my own personal choices/views etc that I live by, and thus our family lives by them. (dh agees with me and the kids know the sance, so we live this way). We do not have cable, we do not buy tons of cheap crap, we do not play video games (I know, I know, it's the unschooling taboo to restrict this), we do not eat food colouring or artificial foods . And yet all the reading I've done talks about how those are MY choices for me, not choices I should make for my kids. some of them are based on economics (cable, shopping, respecting how hard my dh works and not blowing that $$ on crap (my term) we do not need nor can afford) or ethics (cheap crap creates waste, supports cheap labour, means our home is cluttered with tons of bits that I must then clean up and stuff that can usually not be rcycled after it breaks, which it always does) or health (food additives and colouring, sugar's effects on immunity) and then it's just my own stuff. I think there are loads of stupid, stupid movies/books/video games out there for kids. And I think things for adults should be watched by adults. The humour in adult tv shows is not appropriate for kids, IMO. And so I, in my own arrogant, power-using parent way, have always directed them towards what I feel are good media outlets, good movies (studio ghibli, not spongebob) and books, cool vid games (World of Goo, not lego star wars). And do not support spending money on things i do not agree with (personal video consoles for ex). I cannot imagine opening the doors on these topics and just letting go, because I am opposed to them on so many levels.<br><br><br>
I've run out of typing steam, but I think you get the gist of my deal-breakers that keep me from truly embracing my children's needs and desires, letting go of my own power-as-the-parent and trusting that it will be okay.<br><br>
Talk to me. I'm ready to listen. and thanks, as always.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/love.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="love"><br><br>
WCM
 

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You may be pleasantly surprised. If you have done a reasonable job of communicating not just your rules, but the values behind them, your kids may see the wisdom in the choices you've made. Especially if they feel that you are demonstrating some genuine open-mindedness to their points of view.<br><br>
We began having family meetings a number of years ago, really listening to what the kids were saying ... and really explaining and talking about why we as parents had made the choices we had on their behalf. And then we began working to reach consensual solutions, rather than parent-decreed ones. We have talked our way through several of the issues you've mentioned, and have always managed to come up with mutually agreeable solutions.<br><br>
For instance, with bedtimes, we discussed everyone's needs and desires. The night-owl kids' desires for late night freedom and the responsibility of deciding when they needed to go to bed, the morning-lark kids' desires to be able to go away from home and do things as a family during the day, the parents' desires for quiet time and a certain amount of privacy, everyone's needs for healthy amounts of sleep ... And we brainstormed new ideas and discussed their possible shortcomings.<br><br>
"Why can't you and daddy watch your movies on the laptop in your bedroom?"<br><br>
"What happens if we wake him up but he went to bed so late he's really grumpy and he wrecks the whole day for all of us?"<br><br>
"What about those ear plugs? Couldn't dad wear those in bed?"<br><br>
"How about using the family room as a late-night quiet space for anyone who wants to stay up past 11? And they can stay up if they're really really quiet?"<br><br>
And so on. We have adjusted the solutions over the years to respond to changing needs and habits, but the model has remained the same. We find solutions together. They don't take only the kids' needs into account -- they take everyone's.<br><br>
Radical unschooling isn't about the kids doing what they want, all the time. It just means you're not coercing them with rules they don't agree with. If you take the time to discuss, listen to each other with open minds, and problem-solve collaboratively, they will likely find solutions they feel they can agree with that take your needs and desires into account as well as theirs. They may turn out to be perfectly reasonable people. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink"><br><br>
Miranda
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>moominmamma</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15359407"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Radical unschooling isn't about the kids doing what they want, all the time. It just means you're not coercing them with rules they don't agree with. If you take the time to discuss, listen to each other with open minds, and problem-solve collaboratively, they will likely find solutions they feel they can agree with that take your needs and desires into account as well as theirs. They may turn out to be perfectly reasonable people. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink"><br><br>
Miranda</div>
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Yes, this.<br><br>
I was very reluctant to let bedtimes go for many of the same reasons in the OP- my own insomnia and need for time to myself, worry about grumpy kids, time with dh, etc. I do admit there was a period of adjustment but through open communication about the issues we have been able to work through most of those things. I can honestly say I'm happier with this arrangement than I ever was with struggling to get the to go to and stay in bed.<br><br>
I think the rest can be solved with a small allowance. Our kids have seen the family budget and know that the share of the bounty they receive is the only portion that isn't spoken for elsewhere for bills or savings therefore any extras they want must be paid for with it. They only get $5 per week which seems to be enough to satisfy them w/o being so much that they don't have to really think about their choices. At first they did buy 'crap' as you call it (and I would agree) but soon found these things either didn't last or didn't hold their attention. We've discussed the economic and environmental impact of these things and they are starting to get it. I feel pretty confident that these are values that they will now take with them into adulthood because they have learned them for themselves- before they were my values, not theirs and would have probably been abandoned as soon as they could decide for themselves. They do occasionally blow their money on junk food because we simply don't have wiggle room in our grocery budget. It works out well because it's not forbidden fruit but they don't have enough money to buy enough to really damage their health. The bottom line is that I don't spend my share of the bounty on things that don't coexist with my values and I openly discuss those choices with my kids. Often they agree, occasionally they don't but it's their money so it's their decision.<br><br>
We don't have cable/sattelite either but the kids can watch things on hulu or video. They have unlimited access to video games as well (the first of which was old and gifted to him by my brother, the second of which he saved up for himself so not our money) . However there are still some guidelines in place for sharing, getting some 'face time' with the family, recognizing body cues that you need a break, understanding that ratings on movies, tv shows, and games are there for a reason and respecting those ratings, etc. This was a process. We didn't just one day give them unlimited access. We leaned into it with lots of discussion along the way. It's still an ongoing process because needs change.<br><br>
HTH!
 

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I could have written the op's post. I will be watching this thread eagerly! Thank you!
 

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I consider it all a conversation. We are very loose on most of that, but sometimes I pull rank because of my limits, my boundaries. But it's not an arbitrary "no." The only difference, really, between what I do and what mainstream parents are doing, is that I have to explain and reason my way through it all. The kids get it. They seem okay with it. They're learning, too, from my example, how to express their own boundaries.<br><br>
I mean, I guess I'm not really RU, but I really think that values and principles directing us is pretty radical. Eventually I quit questioning the label and sometimes I admit it, other times I use other descriptors like Consensual Living. I'll tell you though, even the crunchy neighbors scratch their heads at me. Ultimately, not every moment of our lives is going to adhere the line of the ideal. I have a goal that is not entirely my reality. At this point, that just feels inevitable. I keep working towards it anyway. But it's not really a free-for-all here. I have a lot of input. I'm their mother, after all! The difference is that they still have choice and we respect it to the best of our abilities.<br><br>
Not that long ago, I decided to call it anarcho-parenting. To me, this puts the emphasis on the collective while respecting the individual. It means that life takes longer because there's lots of talking, maybe. I don't know. I could go in circles with real life examples of me imposing my will but how it's different than others who impose their will pretty endlessly. At the end of the day, I'm doing my best. I don't have to look like what other families look like. When it comes to portraying ourselves to one another, I think most of it becomes pretty inaccurate in translation.
 

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OP, when you say you've been at this 10 years, do mean mean that your oldest kid is 10 or that your oldest kid is 10th-grade age (because I know some people consider kids younger than school age to be unschoolers or homeschoolers)? If it's the former, I foresee changes in the next few years. I think controlling stuff like is much easier with younger kids, and harder with teens, and I think that having build a groundwork of *not* controlling but instead of talking and making decisions together makes the teen years much easier.<br><br>
I also think that radical, whole-life unschooling doesn't mean that your kids will decide to ignore your values - at least, that's not how it has worked for us. We pretty much share the same basic values, I think. I figure that if my values are right, I should be able to argue convincingly enough for them that my kid will agree with them, and if not, perhaps I need to take a second look at them and see if I've missed something.<br><br>
Like... we haven't owned a video game system since Rain was a toddler. We've had some PC games that have gotten played a lot during certain periods, and at times we're both thought about getting a game system for one reason or another, but they're expensive and really, buying one would have meant not buying something we wanted more. Ditto for cable tv - we've had it for maybe 2 years total, out of the 17 since Rain was born. Maybe if you have more money it would be different, though - but then, my objections to these things are basically the cost/value thing.
 

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We all make choices for our kids based on our values, like it or not. It could be the kind of foods you eat, whether you live in the city or the country, etc. So I wouldn't beat yourself up about imposing your values. It's inevitable when we have children that they are stuck with the life we lead, at least for a while.
 

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subbing - because we were just talking about the bed time thing and all again today and wondering if we should try to be more scheduled again or more RU. We seem to function better as a family and DD is less anxious with the schedules, but we all fight them so much it seems like there must be a better way to work it all out.
 

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Could you tie bedtime to some natural routine instead of the clock so you don't feel like you're either being rushed through your evening activities or left sitting up awake with nothing to do?<br><br>
As someone who tends to stay up late reading "just one more thing" online, a bedtime is a useful tool for me, but if you mostly do things that have a natural stopping point, it might feel weird to watch a clock for an arbitrary stopping point.
 

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I thought of something that might be helpful to your bedtime dilema. When we first started moving toward no bedtime we didn't just turn over complete freedom to the kids. I think it would have been too much for them at that point and I know it would have been too much for me. Instead in the beginning we still had them go to their rooms at a certain time but they had to do quiet activities in bed. Eventually we started letting them go to the same room, still for quiet activities, and that eventually evolved into no bed time. However they know that they must still respect everyone's sleep and that if they can't I will get up and tell them to go to bed since they are keeping us awake.<br><br>
The transitional time also helped dh and I adjust and figure out how we were going to handle having alone time. Honestly some days that's still a struggle but most of the time it's no big deal. If we want to watch something that we don't think the kids should watch we tell them that and ask them to play in one of their bedrooms for a while. They understand and it's no big deal.<br><br><br>
HTH!
 

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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/notes2.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="notes right-handed"><br><br>
Hi! I'm subbing too. I'd like to let go of bedtimes, really I would, but I just can't see how it would work. (change scares me a little <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment">) It does help to know that it was hard in the beginning for some of you! Thanks!
 

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Fantastic thread! You've already gotten so many good suggestions.<br><br>
We're finding that asking the boys (currently 10 & 6) to go to the "other end of the house" or play quietly on the computer is working nicely. My hubby needs to get to sleep earlier than everyone else, because of work schedule and personal needs, and the computer is in the living room next door to where he is sleeping.<br><br>
The boys understand that they can play on the computer as long as they like, if they and it are quiet. Or they can head to their rooms at the other end of the house from the master bedroom. There they can stay up as long as they like as long as their noise doesn't carry to the master bedroom with the door closed. (I'm up late and can help them to monitor that noise level.)<br><br>
Part of this will resolve itself this summer as I intend to get a used laptop for my elder son for his birthday. With a wifi connection they can play together in their rooms and not bother their papa.<br><br>
We don't have a tv or cable currently. But when I asked the boys recently if they thought we should get it they said they didn't care either way. They have access to many of the shows they like via the internet and with netflix. And they mostly play games instead of watching shows anyway.<br><br>
As for good vs. bad shows or games or whatever, that is something that I have only recently stopped thinking about. When it comes down to it I can believe that whatever they are interested in is just fine. They are drawn to it for a reason and it fills some need whether they can articulate it or not. That's enough for me.<br><br>
And the more I sit and watch them while they play or watch I am able to see what it is about what their are drawn to that works for them. And that helps me have great conversations with them.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks everyone! Indeed so many kind suggestions, thoughts, etc. And you're all correct. My eldest is almost 10 Dar. And it is exactly because he is so rule-bound (his comfort), and has been so 'responsible' as a kid and I see adolescence (sp?) approaching that I want to gently say 'hey buddy, you can decide lots of things for yourself". He just naturally asks me before he does ANYTHING.<br><br>
bedtime in our house is not a battle, it runs pretty smooth. and we all share one huge bedroom, so 'going to your own rom' to chill (a concept I lived by as a kid) is not possible in our house. but the idea can still be carried out. I like what you did joy seeker, but don't know how I could work it in our big open shared space. the toddler needs to sleep, and if the others aren't in that bedroom too, she'll ask why and want to find them.<br><br>
I'm like you sapphire chan, I need to tell myself go TO BED because I'll read and read and read (or craft). and my kids are the same, so far.<br><br>
I think part of my feeling of angst about unschooling is that when we have met other unschoolers at big unscoolers gatherings (park days etc), there is always talk of video games (we've never heard of or played those ones) and tv characters and dyed junk food. I kid you not. for sure we talk about lots and play lots, and it's great. but I feel like an unfaithful hiding in plain sight. that my kids are 'supposed' to know about spongebob and jelly rings and world of warcraft, and that since they don't, it's because I am oppressing them. kwim? my kids have never heard of any of that stuff, in the friendships they have, the families (all unschoolers) live like we do, and so no one is exposed to junk food, tv and vid games.<br><br>
kwim here????<br><br>
And so I think I'm denying what I 'should' be doing, or how they 'should' be. which i find ironic too, because I do not have this issue with more mainstrwam concepts (ie my son has hair to his butt, i think grade are crap, we talk about gendre issues all the time) and I have no problem with thinking my kids should be a certain 'more mainstream' way.<br><br>
Am I making any sense at all? I'm typing as they are asking me things, and I need to go start a task, so I'm rushing.<br><br>
I guess my overall realisation is that while we've been educational unschoolers for life, and much of our lifestyle is unschooled, certain things are not, and there's this perception that unschooling as a list of must-do's, and if I'm avoiding any of them then I'm in denial. I'm unenlightened. When in fact, it is about consent and agreement, of being heard, each of us. And right now, there are no battles waging in our house, about the guidelines I do run the home by.<br><br>
WCM
 

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Maybe you should avoid big homeschooling conferences? <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1"><br><br>
Really, though, there's no rule saying that you have to watch Sponge Bob or eat jelly rings to unschool... and if you and your kids are happy with the life you have, why change it? If it stops working for you in the future, then maybe look at ways to adjust things, but feeling pressure to be like these other unschoolers doesn't seem like a good reason to change something that's working for you.<br><br>
I think some unschoolers (no one here, but maybe others) feel like they have to "prove" how free they are by doing everything society frowns on... the dyed hair, the tv and video games, the junk food.... whatever. IMO, choosing those things because they're considered "bad" by mainstreamia is just as problematic as choosing things just because they're considered "good"...
 

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I agree with Dar! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up"> When I responded to your OP I thought you were asking HOW to do these things and responded with how it had worked for us. However I don't think you MUST do these things to be an unschooler. I have met those who think there's only one way to unschool and that if you don't do it just right then you're not really an unschooler. To that I say, pfffft.<br><br>
I actually don't care much about the label unschooling but am drawn to the philosophy. I frequent forums, join yahoo groups, read books, etc. because the philosophy lines up greatly with my own. That doesn't mean I have to adopt everything in that philosophy and it I certainly don't have to determine how I label myself based on what others think. If it works for us we pursue it. When it stops working we stop and figure out what will. We transitioned to no bedtimes because our kids were getting out of bed multiple times and not really sleeping well. Bedtimes didn't work for us. But they seem to work for you so why change it? If your current situation is working for you and your family then by all means keep it up! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up">
 

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oh yes joy seeker, I was at first asking about how others have experienced my two struggles, and sought such feedback. Then I was thinking about my post over the week, then reading all the replies, and so my next post was a mish mash of incomplete thoughts and more questions. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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Whenever I hear people ask the question 'Am I an unschooler' in relation to things they do or don't do, I always think 'does it matter?'. Unschooling is a philosophy and, as such, you can take the pieces that are meaningful and work for you, and you can discard the pieces that don't work for you. I've found that my homeschooling journey so far has been all about finding a comfortable middle ground that works for all of us - adults and children alike. I've found that I really need a set bedtime, because I am someone who needs a lot of personal space and get really overwhelmed if I don't get it....so I have a set bedtime for the kids - they might read or play in their rooms, but the living room is the quiet adult zone. That's not unschooley, but it's what my husband and I need to stay sane. Likewise, I really dislike having a planned schedule - I would like to be completely unschooley that way, but my dd really needs a structured routine - so I try to have a daily schedule set up for her. I have a friend who really embraces unschooling, but her dh really feels that there should be some 'academics' so they compromise - she does a few days a week of book work.<br><br>
I sometimes see people on here get really stressed about whether a choice they've made fits into the unschooling philosophy -- but it really doesn't matter. I believe that the right choices are the ones that you make when you are paying attention to the needs of your family members. It's about making the philosophy work for you, not you working for the philosophy.
 

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so true scoobymummy. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up">
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>WCM</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15398185"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">oh yes joy seeker, I was at first asking about how others have experienced my two struggles, and sought such feedback. Then I was thinking about my post over the week, then reading all the replies, and so my next post was a mish mash of incomplete thoughts and more questions. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"></div>
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What? You mean asking a question led to more questions!?! Unschooling mamas don't know anything about that, lol. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink">
 

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Pshaw, my mom was very hands-off (not HSing/USing though) and it was because she conveyed the values she lived by and we could see how they made her life good, and made others feel good, that we picked them up, too. I never would have played video games at all even if someone said play all you want. I did watch TV, but mostly it was a self-education course in English history and literature (ie watching Biography about Britich monarchs and movies based on literature). Basically I was taught work ethic and a passion for learning and that drove me and kept me well.<br><br>
I think as your kids grow into teens you may have to adjust your ideas about sleeping while they're up, and just let them sleep in and leave the house w/o them... but that's down the line. I see nothing wrong with imposing some family order that allows your family to function as a whole. I think we in America tend to stress individuality very heavily, but sometimes the good of the group is a good value, too. Not something to dominate your life, but something to balance in.<br><br>
Around here there are HSing groups with plenty of USers who still live very NFL lives. I know some don't limit screen time and let their kids eat what they choose, but they still are in charge of things like what cable channels they pay for and what food comes into the house. It's all balance without restraining the development of choice and self direction in the kids. Oh, and so maybe you can find a better group near you? I know how you feel, I start to feel weary after listening to my teen students talk about pop cutlure for too long. And I love pop culture, just not as an overwhelming topic for all social interactions, iykwim.
 
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