Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Learn Nothing Day 2012

Happy Learn Nothing Day! 

Well we learned a lot on this learn nothing day, darn it. And we really wanted to observe this wonderful holiday in all it's glory (smile).

So let's see... what did we do today:

The day started with us deciding to go to the library. Skylar picked out a horde of Nancy Drew books, The Diary of Anne Frank and a book about a princess, of what the name escapes me. Summer, who is not a fan of books, decided she wanted to get a Magic Treehouse book she hasn't read before.
We talked a bit about Amelia Earhart as we thumbed through some biographies and the kids learned today was her birthday. We also talked about Joan of Arc as we saw her face on a few books. While at the library we looked at the art gallery they have there.

Afterward I wanted to go to Gamestop. I was looking for something specific that they didn't have and ended up picking up Big game hunter and a Lego Harry Potter game for really cheap.

Since we were in the same shopping center, we decided to hit Petco and see if the sweet little bunny that we love was still there up for adoption. And yes sadly he was. So we talked to him for a while. We noticed they had some ferrets up for adoption too and we watched them a bit to see if they'd wake up so we could get a better look at them. They did not. Then we went over and watched the baby ferrets play, oh I was so tempted....but we are waiting until we buy a house so we can make a ferret friendly bedroom for Skylar so they can have free run verses living in a cage. While we were there we talked to the assistant manager about the ferrets that were up for adoption and why they had been given up. Then one of the sales associates was so sweet and came over to us and was talking to us and telling the kids about all the animals she has at home. She told us the set up for her ferrets she uses, giving them free run of her downstairs that has all tile flooring.
Then the kids grabbed some animal info sheets and while we were standing there looking at hamsters Skylar was reading about some of the small animals they were selling.

In our travels in the car we talked about all sorts of things today. Seashells, oil, birds, batman (we watched one of the batman movies last night).

After the pet store we went and got Smoothies and headed on home.

Once home, Decklin and I wanted to try out our new "used" games. The Harry Potter game started out so fun. But it froze and wouldn't work any longer, so that would have to go back. Then we played Big Game Hunter. I can't stand hunting at all, but Decklin loves to pretend shoot so this was a game right up his alley. I told him while we were playing that I felt bad hitting the animals. He said "Oh Mom, they are just computer animals, no one is being hurt, we are playing a pretend game." He is so smart. : )
We both kinda stunk in the competition but it was still a fun game.

I exercised using my Wii Walk it Out game, while the kids played for a bit in the loft above me. Then we decided to go for sushi for dinner and to take the broken game back afterward.
Dinner was fun. They got to try Miso soup, some liked it, some didn't. Most everyone except Summer enjoyed their sushi. She said she liked the Trader Joes sushi better.
Afterward we took the game back and then stopped to see Bry as he was finishing up a call on duty. We always like to see him when we are out and about if we can.

So now that we are at home, everyone just wants to relax. The older girls are reading. Ember is sleeping on the couch. And Decklin is watching Netflix on his kindle fire.
I'm off to find a text message app for the kindle fire and to order us a replacement Harry Potter game.

Hope everyone had a great Learn Nothing Day!

Friday, July 20, 2012

What we've been up to lately

It's been pretty hot here so the kids and I have enjoyed relaxing at home, with a few days at the splash pad at the nearest park thrown in, when we want to brave the heat.

Things that have come up in the past few weeks:

  • Talked about what it's like having a baby. (from my 3 year old)
  • Decklin (5) and Ember (3) had a great dialogue about Condors while they played Condor and prey with some beanie babies and small wood toys. 
  • Yesterday all the kids enjoyed while I read from The Jesus Storybook bible. 
  • I read a book about parenting and the older girls, Bry and I talked about it, gave our thoughts to each other about the content. 
  • The girls got some new Monster High dolls and played with those. 
  • Summer (8) and Ember got some Lalaloopsy dolls and Skylar (8) got another one. The kids played almost the whole day with their new dolls. 
  • We watched Lalaloopsy on Netflix. 
  • Decklin and I went to the store so he could pick out a few new toys. 
  • Decklin went and saw the new Spiderman movie with Bry. 
  • We took two weeks off of church as our Pastor was away, and went back again last week. 
  • We talked about Grace. 
  • Skylar and I have been really into watching True Crime shows on TV lately. 
  • We watched some of the Around the World in 80 Plates episodes and So You Think You Can Dance. 
  • Skylar, Summer and I went to the eye doctor because her eyes were giving her a spot of trouble. Afterward we went hunting for more Monster High dolls, of which we could not find any they didn't have already. 
  • We made a trip to the eye doctor for Skylar to have a check up the following week. After which we went to look at pets at a local pet store. We saved a little hamster that was being attacked by another hamster. They moved the poor thing to another cage and were going to make sure she was okay. After that was taken care of we watched all the birds fast asleep. Skylar picked up some pamphlets on animals she wanted to read more about. 
  • Another day, when we went to pick up Summer's glasses from the eye doctor. We passed a bush with odd looking fruit on it. Decklin suggested it might be the forbidden fruit from the Garden of Eden. We had some discussions as we stood there looking at the bush. We decided to pick some so we could bring it home and open them up to have a look. We cracked one open in the garage with a hammer and we were greeted with just seeds. Nothing which seemed edible. We decided to put the open "fruit" out to see if birds had any interest. None did so the girls pondered it possibly being poison to birds. 
  • We observed a couple Condors flying and had some nice conversations. 
  • We talked about drugs and what they do to people and how they act when on them. 
  • The kids gave us constructive input on our parenting. We ask for feedback. 
  • We went to watch the Conures at the pet store. One has birds that dance and are so friendly. This day we also watched some rats and my favorite the ferrets. 
  • Another day we fell in love with a beautiful black bunny who was up for adoption at the pet store. We talked to him a while. Then we went home and googled about owning a rabbit and talked with Bry about it. He felt it best that we not get a rabbit. He's not much of an animal fan, though we have 2 cats and a dog. He loves one of the cats and doesn't mind the other. The dog, well he's not a fan of hers. 
  • Summer went grocery shopping with me and picked out some new things for us to try. Mahi Mahi burgers being one of those new things. 
  • All the kids and I went to the grocery store because they asked if we could have root beer floats. We picked up some Hansen's root beer and some organic vanilla ice cream. And decided to try a jar of organic curry in a flavor we'd seen on Masterchef that week.
  • We watched Hell's Kitchen and Masterchef. 
  • At church on Monday our Pastor read us some of The Lion, The witch and the wardrobe. Skylar decided she wanted to read the whole Narnia series over again. And we plan to watch the movies. 
  • Skylar has been playing Lep's world a lot on her Fire. 
  • My brother came over a few times to play with the kids. He played Hide and Seek and also played Decklin's new Xbox 360 Spiderman game. 
  • Decklin, Summer and I played Lego Batman 2, with Ember and Skylar watching and helping. 
  • Ember and I played Wii Just Dance and she and Decklin watched me as I played Walk it out. 
  • Decklin built a puffer fish out of clay and corn holders. 
  • The younger kids and I have been building a lot with Duplo and Megabloks. 
  • Summer was having trouble building a house with the blocks so Skylar helped her out. They ended up making a village. They all prefer the larger blocks at this point even though we have the smaller Lego's as well. 
  • Decklin built a ton of space ships and transformers with his bristle blocks. 
  • Decklin played a lot with his Transformers in the family room. 
  • The older girls helped me build cardboard blocks. It was like origami : ). We had fun. Then they built a retaining wall across the family room floor. They did this several times over the past few weeks. 
  • We met my brother's new girlfriend.
  • Summer wrote to a new penpal. And Skylar wrote to a long time penpal. 
  • Everyone's been pitching in on Friday's to help tidy the house. 
  • Ember had us listen to Katy Perry about 50 times in the car the other day. Holy smokes that was such a fun trip : (. 
  • I watched as Decklin did Spiderman flips on my bed. 
  • Decklin had Summer draw web shooters on his arms so he can be Spiderman.
I know there is a horde more but I am falling asleep as I type this evening. Hopefully when more comes to mind I can add them. : ) 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Book review - Loving Our Kids On Purpose

Loving our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk

I think it was on a Christian unschooling forum where I saw this book mentioned by another Mom. I checked out a sample and it looked like a good read in line with my gentle, respectful parenting beliefs. I would soon find out that only extended a few chapters until Pastor Silk and I were worlds apart in our parenting.

This book started out wonderfully giving great detail and scripture to back up why the bible does not teach us to demean and control or children. So many great points were covered about how Jesus loves us, how we are to be examples and show that wonderful love to our children.
So bravo to Pastor Silk for saying such wonderful things in support of respectful parenting! But...... if only he had used parenting examples to back up this kind of loving, gentle, respectful parenting.

Where this book fell flat for me was in the parenting examples supplied. It seemed to me as though the how to portion of this book was in direct opposition from the earlier chapters of the book. Almost as if it was written by two different authors from very different view points. He quotes a lot from Love and Logic, which maybe is why it seemed as if the advice was coming from a different source that earlier chapters?

He gives a Fun or Room option to his toddler. This seemed to me to be forcing a child who is in need of parental understanding and loving guidance to essentially go away because they are not being fun. He used the similar Fun or room with a toddler who was having trouble with a cup stuck in the top rack of the dishwasher and began to have a meltdown do to the struggle. It seemed as if a child was not being guided with understanding their feelings but being essentially taught to deny them if they wanted to stick around with the rest of the family. Not at all a great lesson to be teaching a child. There are so many great ways to deal with a toddler meltdown, but you won't find any of those suggested in this book unfortunately. : (

It really seemed to me that the parenting he actually uses is all about controlling the child through various types of manipulations.

  • Controlling them through giving choices (choices that only the parent thinks are great options). 
  • Forcing bedtime by having them do chores until they are tired. 
  • Forcing a child to have a clean room by either doing it themselves or the parent coming in and doing it requiring a payment for this service. Even going so far as to tell the child his or her things will be sold to cover the cost. 
  • He goes on to talk about how things like making lunch or dinner or doing laundry can be paid for services. That anything a loving parent would do freely because they are a loving parent can then be turned into a way to control a child by making this a paid service. : ( 
  • He relates being a parent to being an IRS agent who enforces consequences. Yet these consequences were parent contrived not natural consequences which is what we experience in real life. 
  • There was an example of his daughter in fourth grade who the Mom announces she's no longer making lunch for, and the stuff is in there to make your own lunch. And when the daughter forgets her lunch the Mom refuses to bring it up to her at school, saying things like, how are you going to solve this problem.  
  • A similar scene as above plays out with a child who forgets a back pack with a hamster in it on the bus and the attitude of the parent is, it's your problem, how are you going to solve it. I believe this child in this situation was 8. 
  • There is another example about two brothers fighting and the parents sit on the couch and just let it play out with no involvement of protecting either child from harm, and no action to find out what made this evolve to a fight, what happened earlier what caused the fight? 
  • He also talks about spanking "the spirit that is rebellion" out of a child. And saying in this circumstance the child had complete control of this situation. The child had no control of this at all. This portion on spanking after having read about not using anger or violence seemed so at odds with the beginning chapters in this book. 

I am torn on if I would recommend this book to another parent. I couldn't see using any of his methods with my children. We use a no lose conflict resolution which is where we all come up with ideas and solutions when there is a problem, similar to how things are in a healthy marriage, where the couple comes up with solutions which are agreeable to both parties and there are no losers. If after time the solution doesn't work, we meet again and come up with more options. We also use active listening with our kids. We don't send them away because their behavior is not fun. I can only imagine my husband sending me away if he felt my behavior or attitude was not fun. Could you imagine saying that to another adult? ***To read more about the methods we use, please refer to Dr. Thomas Gordon's book.

So on the one hand if you are coming from a traditional Christian parenting mindset, then yes I think this book would be specifically helpful because of the really wonderful beginning chapters. But if you want to put the parenting into practice that he talks about in the earlier chapters I think you'd be best served to find that, how to, in another book. My recommendations would be books like Dr. Thomas Gordon's - Parent Effectiveness Training, or Alfie Kohn's - Unconditional Parenting, and lastly, from a Christian perspective is Parenting Wild things by Jessica Bowman.

If you are farther and well established in your gentle parenting then this book will really not hold much appeal beyond the beginning chapters.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Spanking, hitting, swatting, .... it's still violence

The majority of Americans still ask, "What harm does ‘a good slap’ or ‘a well-deserved paddling' do? It didn’t hurt me, did it?" One answer to that is, It has made our country the most violent in the "civilized" world, and it has made you the kind of person who would physically assault a child. Think about that for a while.                         ~Parenting without Punishment~

Spanking......   This post has been sitting in draft mode for quite a while.
This topic has come up a lot lately in homeschool circles I frequent or used to frequent,  from traditional homeschool forums to Christian unschool forums and even facebook walls. Really makes you want to hit that unfollow button on Facebook when you see so many pro spanking posts. I don't know about you, but that's not something I enjoy reading. Parents who seem to get such joy out of hurting someone smaller and dependent on them, joking about how they deserve it. I'm sorry, it just bothers me. Do I sound a bit judgmental? Yes, I might just a tad bit. It's not that I'm judging. It's just that I've reached a bit of a limit with how much of this pro spanking stuff I can handle. I have been asked for my feelings on the topic and I always try to remain pretty benign and graceful in my responses. So with that said, since this is my blog, just for the sake of getting it out of my system and sharing my real feelings on spanking ..... so let's see what comes of it here. 

I know a lot of parents who say, well I'll raise my kids my way, and you raise your kids your way. That's all well and good, of course. But when you make remarks implying I'm less than a Christian, or less than a Mother and my kids will run wild if I don't spank. Then that's not really us agreeing to raise our children our own ways. That's more like, you saying, you are doing it wrong Melissa, and you should see the error of your ways. I don't dislike parents who spank. I don't dislike other parents period. If we have something we connect over, in the huge realm of other interests in our lives, that's great. I don't see someone who spanks as a person I cannot be friends with or as a lesser parent or lesser person in any regard. But 
it is my belief that with all the choices a parent has before us,  hitting a child, makes the least sense to me. Yes, I have used hitting or spanking, or whatever way you wish to frame, it so it's not as if I have no idea what mindset a parent who spanks has. And it wasn't because I was in control of myself.  It is by the sheer Grace of God that I realized the flaws of my thought process and changed the type of parent I wanted to be. I am ashamed that I behaved in such a fashion with someone who I love so much.  I apologized to my son and humbly asked his forgiveness and that was the end of that chapter of spanking as well as time outs for our family. 

It's very hard to parent differently when you are surrounded by those who parent the exact way you don't want to be. You definitely start to feel like the odd woman out, fighting against a huge tidal wave of opposing viewpoints. In some cases folks find it offensive and even unbiblical that you are not drinking the same cool aid they are anymore. It sort of reminds me of being unplugged from the Matrix and seeing things in a completely new way. 
Discovering the gentle respectful parenting method practiced by families in the radical unschooling world, was like finding a life raft in rocky seas. Finding inspiration and gaining strength from them. Feeling encouragement from their stories of their teens who rarely have the teen/parent struggles that you so often see parents so forlorn about. When typically the general belief is teens go wild. And there is a huge gap between parents and teens, as if they are worlds apart. But when you read about unschooling families, you see that wonderful connection. As I said in another post, I realized they were in on a huge secret, a way to treat your kids with respect and kindness. And to have a great relationship and friendship with them, all the way through life, done without punishment. Now if that's not something amazing to strive for and aspire to,  I don't know what is. 

The most common response of Christian parents who spank their kids is: 
  • It's biblical. (My bible is clearly missing the pages where Jesus opened up a can of whoop ass to get folks to follow him.) 
  • We do it in a calm and loving manner. We don't spank in anger. (If you are in control, and still hitting, why would you still spank? Why not find an alternative?) 
  • Spanking is an important tool in the Christian Parents toolbox. (Is that in a rule book I missed? Cause I know it's not in the bible.)
I'm not diving into a verse by verse bible analysis here. But the wonderful folks at Parenting Freedom have taken the time to do that very thing for your reading pleasure. They have done a smashing job, admittedly much more thorough than I would be. So I hope you will click on over and spend some time reflecting on their wonderful article. 

You can't hit your neighbor (even if you want to). You can't hit your spouse (even if you might envision it in your head because they drive you nuts). Domestic violence is the most prevalent call Bry goes on here in our city. He is constantly taking folks to jail for hitting each other. Teens hitting parents, husbands and wives hitting each other, other family hitting one another, but not for a parent hitting kids, that's not against the law. Unless the officer feels it's abusive or excessive and calls in CPS of course. But that's extreme cases. 

Very rarely do you see parents hitting their kids in public. Is that because most people actually find it distasteful? Probably.  Do parents think hitting in public is going to result in a call to the police? Probably. But if spanking is so great, why not do it in public and let the world see all your biblical spanking glory? Chances are because it is going to open up a whole can of worms for the family with the police and CPS and people don't want to take the risk I guess? If spanking is something done in secret because it's so offensive to others, then isn't that some kind of indicator of it not being the greatest parenting tool, whether it's legal or not? If it's not something you'd do while a police officer is standing there watching, then maybe it's not such a great way to "train up" a child after all. What about if Jesus was sitting next to you. Do you think he'd be all for you spanking? 

Some parents act as if their children are their property, to be treated any old way they choose, respect be damned. I remember a good Christian Mom making a comment that kids don't deserve respect or privacy. She went on to tell another Mom to install video cameras to prevent her son from using the computer. Yes this is a true story. 
I have had many parents email me and say that's so great for you Melissa that this kind of parenting works for you, but it could never work with my kids. Why wouldn't it? I'm not doing something foreign and magical here. 
I am treating my kids the way I would like to be treated. I do not punish them, yell at them, force or control them. I respect them. I stay ahead of behavior melt downs by being present and staying attuned to their needs. 
Your kids wouldn't like to be treated with respect? And they wouldn't like to have the safety and security of knowing that they would never be so demeaned again? Yes, I find smacking to be demeaning.  If my husband smacked me I would feel mortified. Doesn't a child feel the same sense of shame? I can't help but wonder if the folks who are pro spanking have purposely avoided reading all the studies that prove what harm it does.  And were talking some biggies. Spanking does some big time damage down the line. Why would a parent keep on doing it? If you love a child, why not do anything in your power to avoid spanking them instead? Anyone can spank. A toddler spanks and hits. Don't we tell our toddlers that hitting is wrong? 
Great book and great studies linked here if you like reading studies (It's a free Ebook): http://www.nopunish.net/

And then you have this:
Here is a well written article by Dr. Michael J. Marshall, P.h.D
The 13 Ways Spanking Harms Children

1. Creates aggression. Children who are spanked engage in more hitting and fighting than those who are not physically punished by their parents.

2. Lowers self-esteem. Spanking sends a message to kids that says, "You are a bad person who deserves pain and you are not valuable enough to protect from being hurt," which is incorporated into their self-concept.

3. Creates negative affect (bad feelings). Physical punishment results in feelings of fear, anxiety, humiliation, and depression. In extreme cases it can lead to such personality disorders as sociopathy and multiple personalities. Children become very confused emotionally when the person they expect to love and care for them periodically flip-flops and deliberately hurts them.

4. Alienates the child from the parents. People naturally try to avoid a source of physical punishment, resent the perpetrator, and generally do not like or feel good about the person who is responsible for it. Likewise children may come to associate the punisher with the punishment and end up being fearful of and try to avoid the parent.

5. Creates suppression effects. Kids who receive a lot of physical punishment are less spontaneous, more reserved, and afraid to try new things out of fear that it will result in more punishment.

6. Contributes to antisocial behavior. Spanking teaches children that the motive for desired behaviors is concern for the consequences to one’s self, that is, to avoid pain, rather than be concerned for the effects of one’s behavior on others.

7. Creates masochistic tendencies. Through the conditioning process, children who are hurt by those who love them will come to associate pain with love.

8. Hinders learning and achievement. Children who have had a lot of physical punishment do poorly in school, perform more poorly on tests of development, graduate from college at a lower rate, and earn less money.

9. Models undesirable behaviors. Children of parents who use hitting as their primary means of controlling behavior learn that "might makes right" and are less likely to acquire and use nonviolent conflict resolution skills.

10. The undesirable behavior is not eliminated. The unwanted behavior is only temporarily suppressed in the presence of the punisher. Through discrimination learning a child quickly learns that she can get away with engaging in the wrong behavior whenever the punisher is not present to act as an enforcer.

11. Makes children more likely to engage in the forbidden behaviors. Children brought up with physical punishment have higher levels of reactance, which is the desire to engage in those behaviors which are prohibited, than those who are disciplined nonphysically.

12. Raises the punishment threshold. Children can eventually adapt to a given level of punishment and it will lose its intended effect. This forces the punisher to constantly increase the intensity of punishment in order for it to have any effect. The increased level of physical punishment then makes them become jaded to being struck by others and more likely to accept abusive relationships as normal.

13. Causes physical injuries. Pediatricians are alarmed at the number of injuries they see like radial arm fractures and shaken child syndrome, which result from parent's who physically strike or shake their children.
The above article is copied from Stopspanking.com, the direct link is: http://www.stopspanking.com/articles.html

So why keep on spanking?  

Oh and just in case, here is something else for your reading pleasure. This one is pretty short and sweet: http://www.neverhitachild.org/neverht.html

Here are some great places to do some reading: 
Parenting in Jesus Footsteps
Here is a great book by Jessica of Bohemian Bowmans. 
And some other books I recommend are:
Parental Effectiveness Training by Dr. Thomas Gordon. 
Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn 
Connection Parenting by Pam Leo. 

Message boards and forums:
GentleChristianmothers.com (They also have a public facebook page and a private facebook group)

The point of view of this list is that punishment may control a specific behavior but that it interferes with the long-term goal of promoting self-control and that alternative nonpunitive ways of relating to children are preferred. Punishment includes hitting, spanking, swatting, shaming, ridiculing, threatening, using harsh or cruel words, penalizing, holding back rewards, or other methods that assert adult power or vent adult frustration. We are seeking alternative approaches that provide guidance to our children that will encourage self-control, thinking before acting, learning to take responsibility for their own behavior, and especially that will promote a lifelong warm, close, and open relationship between parent and child. 

As for me, I'm shooting for the goal of long term loving respectful relationship. For loving my kids as much as is humanly possible. Following Jesus as my example of unconditional love, showing value and love to the children as Jesus did himself when here on earth. I'm shooting for a friendship with them through out their lives, where they enjoy me and want me around, not because I have the title of Mom and they feel obligated, but because we are truly friends and they really just like me as a person.  When our kids are grown, they don't have to have us in their lives. They could choose to exclude us. It happens all the time. Adults who were treated badly as children opt to discontinue relationships with the parents who hurt them, when they have the power and freedom to do so. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Saying "Yes"

Part of our radical unschooling adventure is mindful, respectful parenting, it's the foundation really. So a part of that is saying yes to my children as much as possible. I try not to say no and come up with alternatives whenever possible instead of just a flat out no. And if I have to say no I make sure it's really a no, not a because I'm to lazy, kinda no. So whenever possible I like to say yes or some form of yes.  My goal is to say yes. 
My kids ask me permission before doing a lot of things. It's not something I require or tell them they must do. But it's something they automatically do out of consideration. 

  • Yes, sure, you can have a slice of cake and milk for breakfast. 
  • Yes, you can have that lollipop. 
  • Yes, I will read to you. 
  • Yes, I can stop doing the dishes to come and play. 
  • Yes, I will paint your nails.
  • Yes, let's have a sword fight. (not real swords : ) 
  • We are out of that, but let's go get some tomorrow. (not a flat out yes but not a no - so still in the yes camp). 
  • We can't buy that new toy today, but let's put it on the list together for another trip. Seeing me take out a pen and paper and write down a want or desire when it's something that can't be done in that moment or purchased at that time, really makes my kids feel so good, like they are being heard and respected. And it's not a no. 

Yes...... such a simple word. But it has almost a magical ability. It can create the biggest smile and the happiest twinkle in the eye of any one of my children. 
So what have I said yes to this past week?

  • Yes, of course you can do that craft kit.
  • Yes, you can let Summer draw Spiderman web shooters on your wrists. (Decklin)
  • Yes, you can have ice cream (several days of yes on this one).
  • Yes, I'll come home now so you can go to the driving range. (Bry and Deck wanted to go hit some balls). 
  • Yes, sure we can play Spot it again. 
  • Yes, you can stay up later to play. 
  • Yes, you can go have time alone from the other kids. 
  • Yes, Ember, I will dump out the ice tea I just gave you so you can do it yourself. 
  • Sure, we can go to the pet store and look at pets again today. (this is like our mini zoo : ).
  • Yes, let's look that up because I don't know exactly. 
  • Yes, we can watch Fear Factor. 
  • Yes, you can have a lollipop. 
  • Yes, sure you can have another white nectarine. 
  • Yes, you can fall asleep in my bed. 
  • Yes, you can play with shaving cream in the bath tub. 
  • No, I don't mind your target set up and shooting in the bathtub. When asked by my son if him doing this was okay. So this was a good no : ). 
  • Sure, it's okay if you don't want to clean your closet. When you do, if you want help, let me know. 
  • Sure we can stop at the pet store after the eye doctor. 
  • Yes, you can blow these candles out. Sure you can all have a turn. 
  • Yes, sure you can use the corn holders to cut up your clay. 
  • Yes, I can make you a line of dominoes to knock down. 
Somebody might be looking at this list of yes moments of this past week, and think, that's a lot of yes. Yes : ) it is a lot of yes. The point being, my goal is to say yes a lot. Did I say no at all this week? I'm sure I did. But only when absolutely needed, and usually with an alternative. I am not a permissive, just do whatever you want kind of Mom. 
  • I'm sorry, we are all out of that type of ice cream, but we have these others. 
  • No, I'm not cooking dinner tonight but I got us a wonderful pizza. (I'll bet you can hear the cheers on this one)
  • Ember please don't pull the dogs tail. She doesn't like it. But she loves when you pet her head and belly. 
  • That is really hot right now, let's wait until it cools down and you can touch it. 
  • I'm sorry the iced tea is empty, but we can make some more if you'd like? 
  • Girls, the way you are speaking to each other is unkind. How can you work this problem out without hurtful words? 

I love this quote from Joyce Fetteroll at Joyfully Rejoycing (a great unschooling site): Don't drop all your parenting rules at once. Just say "Yes!" more.
One of the biggest mistakes made is after reading how conventional rule-based parenting feels and looks to kids and then declare: there are no more rules: eat whatever you want, stay up as late as you want ... The result is kids feel tossed into the middle of a storm tossed ocean without support and chaos ensues. While it works great to declare vacation from school and just plunge into unschooling, it works better to ease into applying the unschooling principles to parenting.
Here are some links on Sandra Dodd's page about saying yes:

Have a great day! And say Yes! 

Friday, July 6, 2012

In Remembrance of Elijah Rainbow

Deepest heartfelt sympathy to 
Lauren and David Fisher 
and their beautiful daughters 
as they lay to rest their son, 
Elijah Rainbow 

Do not stand by my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep, 
I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the Diamond glints on snow
I am the sunlight on ripened grain
I am the gentle Autumn rain

When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds circled in flight
I am the soft stars that shine at night
Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there, I did not die. 
~by: Mary Elizabeth Frye~ 


Drawing Artist Moppy
Rainbow picture credit

A Chore bin.... Really?

Source: via Pattie on Pinterest

My girls and I were talking the other day about the type of Mom I used to be. 
If my kids forgot to pick up their clothes from my bedroom after taking a shower or bath, I'd have them do jumping jacks as "punishment". Some things, like lying warranted writing a specific statement, like I will not lie, fifty times. If they left toys out, I'd pack them up and put them in a bin in the closet and they'd earn them back by keeping their room clean. I used to send them to their rooms. I gave my son time outs : ( and there were a few horrible times that I spanked him. : ( 

I used to be that type of Mom. Thank God, I'm not that type of Mom anymore! I have an amazing respectful relationship with my kids. Via radical unschooling I learned to get away from that type of parenting. I learned that I never again had to punish, smack, threaten or try to control my kids through force or threats. 

So when I look at the chore bin above from my current frame of reference, it just doesn't sit right with me for many reasons.
  • Taking my children's property is not my right. Their belongings are theirs. Taking their things as a punishment is not okay. Looking out into my backyard right now I see a huge golf net set up with tons of golf balls sprinkled about in the lawn. My husband was outside hitting golf balls last night. I can only imagine how he would laugh at me if I gathered up all the golf balls, took his net and told him he had to earn them back. : ) 
  • Forcing them to do chores, again is not my right. I'm the Mom,  I signed on for cleaning up and keeping the house gig when I became a stay at home Mom. I agreed to make keeping the home my job,  not my kids. All I can do is ask for help and be okay with a no. If my husband asks me to do something I am free to say "no". He's free to say "no" to me also. Therefore the kids should be free to also say "no" as well. Even with the right to say no, my kids help out, from my 3 year old on up to my 10 year old. Every week I have a cleaning day. Sometimes it's Thursday, sometime Friday. We change sheets, clean bathrooms, sweep and mop, wash our dog, change her bedding, wipe down appliances and things of that nature. Many hands make light work, but I'm not forcing them. I ask for help, or it's simply they ask "Mom can I help you?"
  • There is no modeling of how to clean up, cleaning with companionship and making it fun. My Mom used to come into my room with a trash bag every once and again and take my stuff because my room was a mess and she'd get frustrated. No greater torture was there for me than to sit and look at that big mess and think, what do I do? Where do I start? How do I clean up? All the while knowing that the trash bag would be making an appearance if I didn't get it done. I figure that my having a hard time getting rid of stuff now as an adult can be traced back to my fear of having my stuff thrown out or taken away at anytime. 
  • Why would I get to assign them chores? No one assigns me chores. I pick and choose by what needs to be done and I can put things off or decide not to do them at all. Kids don't have the same view point as adults. Having toys put away might not be something of importance to them, not because they are lazy or like to make us miserable. Attribute kind positive traits to our kids. You can't force a child to view the world through your eyes, not in chores or anything else. 
  • A chore bin is manipulation and control over one's children. It's saying, this is my house, I want it clean, you don't get a say, you must follow my rules regardless of your feelings on the matter. 
  • The value seems to be more on a cleaned up mess than the importance of the relationship with the child. 
I showed it to my girls, 8 and 10, and they responded with: It's awful. It would be torture. It wouldn't teach us how to clean up. It would make them feel mad at me. They'd think I was mean. They would hate chores more and never want to do them. They'd feel bad, mad, sad, like they would want to squish my head : ).

Sandra Dodd has a great bit on making kids work on her site.
Jennifer at The Path Less Taken has a great blog post about the chore bin. 

Our house is our playground, art space, crafting space, eating space, sleeping space, it's going to look like we live here and enjoy living here, it certainly should. : ) 

Weird unschooling beliefs

A lot of times the vision of unschooling families is imagining that the house is just out of control with kids doing whatever they want all the time. You hear that a lot when you might tell fellow homeschool comrades that you have been drawn to unschooling.  

Sandra Dodd shared this great response to a post a Mom had on the Always learning yahoo group, it was a post about sleeping issues and children being loud when Dad was trying to sleep. 

Sometimes people will express (joyfully, giddily) that they are unschoolers and so now their kids stay up all night.

My kids didn't stay up all night except a very few occasions when they were teens.

Sometimes people will brag that their kids eat ice cream for breakfast.

My kids didn't eat ice cream for breakfast. I wouldn't have cared if they had, but they didn't.

Sometimes people will report that now that they're unschoolers, their kids break the rules.
My kids were happy to follow rules, out at museums and in parks. If a sign said stay out of a fountain, or don't cross this barrier, they didn't.

Unschooling should be about peaceful, supportive relationships, about modelling consideration and thoughtful choicemaking, and about learning.

Being loud and wild and "breaking the rules" seems to be a celebratory stage for some people who are new to unschooling, but it shouldn't be the goal or destination. It's not good for that family, really. It's not good for those who wonder what unschooling is about.


Sometimes people say that one should not 'throw the baby out with the bathwater,' meaning don't make so huge a change, or don't be so rejecting of something that you lose the valuable parts, too.

It seems some unschoolers want to move away from life as they saw it before, including school and rules, and they've thrown out the bathwater, the baby, and the tub.

Where will you live if you reject your whole culture and don't care about anything or anybody, safety or ownership or logic?
How long will a person stay in a house where he can get no sleep, no rest, no consideration?
How long will unschooling last after a divorce?
How happy can a home be if one or more people in there are very sleep-deprived and unhappy?

It's one thing for a nursing mother to be sleep-deprived because a tiny baby is hungry (or wet, or uncomfortable). That's natural.
It's an entirely different thing for an eight or ten year old to wake people up because his mother thinks being up late proves she's a cool mom, or that unschoolers are awake when other people are asleep, or some other questionable premise.

If a mother is a child's partner, she should be his partner in learning, and in living a peaceful life--not his partner in living wildly and being inconsiderate.


Here is a response to the same post, this one by Joyce Fetteroll:

--It's an entirely different thing for an eight or ten year old to wake
--people up because his mother thinks being up late proves she's a cool mom

Or because it sounds like unschoolers are saying "Let your kids do whatever they want without interference or you'll get in the way of their learning."

That's *NOT* what anyone here is saying. (And if anyone is reading where that *is* being said, they should stop!)

Conventional parenting methods often imply that children must put aside their wants and needs if it interferes with anyone else.

But the opposite, letting kids believe their wants and needs should come at the expense of anyone else's needs, is worse.

Whose needs take precedence depends on the situation. Kids shouldn't be expected to just know.

It's up to Mom to be the broader focus to help them meet their needs AND take others into consideration. Help kids find respectful, peaceful, kind, safe, doable ways to explore their interests.

If they've shown they can't figure it out how to be considerate while meeting their needs, if they're then helped to consider other people AND meet their needs, they won't feel like they're in competition with others to be able to do their own thing. (Sometimes the "and" will mean waiting until later which they'll be far more accepting of when Mom has shown through her actions that their wants and needs are important to her.)