Friday, July 29, 2011

Don't Call It a Brat Ban

There is a lot of buzz about this movement to provide child-free experiences in places like airplanes, restaurants, and grocery stores. I have lots of issues with it, but by far the most upsetting thing is that some people have started calling these restrictions Brat Bans.

I can't stand the word brat in general. While I suppose I can picture what people are talking about when they use the word, I can honestly say that I don't use it myself. What upsets me about the term brat bans is how the word brat is being used as a substitute for the word child. That is unfair.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ignore Anyone Who Tells You This Is a Good Parenting Technique

Just two days after my post about children being like bladders (and why it doesn't make sense to ignore either one), I came across this article, about something called nonreactive parenting. It might have been good if the rest of the article supported this statement:
This approach requires that a parent delay a response to a negative situation with a child until it is clearly understood what the true need of the child is; the reaction is in a manner that strictly addresses the need.
This sounds pretty good. Figure out what the underlying need is before reacting. Yes.

However, the author inexplicably goes on to say that she has "figured out" that ignoring her kids is a great way to stop any behavior she doesn't like. This, to me, is not even close to figuring and addressing the need. I don't think a child "needs" to be ignored in most cases. But I read on.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Freedom Doesn't Always Look Pretty

My children have a lot of freedom. They are free to make their own choices about lots of things like food, television, sleep, bathing, helping around the house. This makes a lot of people nervous. I have had more than a few people tell me, That's great if it works for you, but it wouldn't work for my kids. My kids wouldn't be able to regulate themselves.

I understand it's difficult to imagine what it looks like when you allow children this kind of control over their own lives. We grow up being told that children are incapable of making good decisions. It's hard to let that idea go. I was doubtful about it when I first read the suggestion, not long ago. But as we read more about radical unschooling, my husband and I decided we could and wanted to trust our children.

About a year and a half later, I can definitely report that the freedom is "working" for us. My kids are happy and healthy and fun, and we have wonderful relationships with each other. That doesn't mean it's always easy or that it always looks pretty, though. Some days the kids make choices that seem to be extreme and, if taken out of context, would probably make us look like "bad" parents.

So what does freedom look like in our house?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What Society Tells Us About Being Friends With Our Children (And Why It's Nonsense)

Dear Parents,
You should worry about who your child's friends are, because his friends will be very influential in his life. His friends will have an affect on his self-esteem, his eating habits, his chances of doing drugs, and lots of other important things.
You should combat this possible negative influence by trying to be influential in your child's life.
But you must do this while never attempting to be your child's friend. Don't ask why. Trying to talk about it will only make us angry. So just don't do it. Good luck.
But I wonder:

Is there a better way to ensure that your child has good friends who are positive influences, than to be one of them?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How Your Child Is Like Your Bladder

If you are like me, you sometimes wake up in the middle of the night feeling like you have to pee. You have two options when this happens. You can get up and go to the bathroom or you can try to ignore the urge and fall back to sleep. But one thing is for sure, even if you somehow manage the second option, the need doesn't go away. In fact, when you wake up again, your need will probably be even stronger.

What if you talked about your urge to pee, and people around you told you to ignore it? What if the people who declared themselves "bladder experts," based on the fact that they have one of their own, told you you shouldn't have to get up to pee at night? Or that if you pee exactly six times per day while awake, at regular increments, it should take care of your night urges?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Unschooling: Motivation and Inspiration

This can usually be found as a static page on the blog, but I wanted to share the latest version here as well. I have added links to other sites for inspiration! Happy reading...

Comparing Schooling And Unschooling

It's no secret that I am not a big fan of school, especially the way it is currently set up. Here is why I think going to school is like riding a train, and not even to an exciting place.

Here is how unschooling is extremely different from that: 

Now, I know what you might be thinking. And it probably has to do with some combination of the following topics. If so, check out my posts that attempt to answer the questions and feel free to question even further.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Television Ate My Child's Brain! Or Not.

I've been reading a lot lately about how bad it is for kids to watch television. How television is like an addictive drug that induces a brain stupor for anyone who watches for too long. How kids can't possibly learn anything from watching a screen. How kids love limits and will someday thank me for limiting their screen time. How I should not let my kids watch too much or they might actually be sucked into the screen and disappear forever. Ok, not really that last one.

How can I tell if he is turning into a zombie?

My kids watch television. I'm not afraid to admit it. We love watching it together. We don't have cable, but we do have DVDs, VHS tapes, a library card, a computer hooked up to our television and a Netflix account, so there are almost no limits on the number and range of programs we can access.

Also, they have absolutely no arbitrary limits on how much television they can watch. We let them decide how much is right for them. There are days when the television is on all day. Does this mean my kids are zombies with brains of mush? If so, I haven't noticed it.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I Am Not My Child's Teacher

This is an updated version of the original post, published in March 2011...

My children are four and two years old. By now, they have both learned how to talk, walk, run, jump, climb, make jokes, dance, and do a bunch of other things. But I won't say "I taught them" how to do these things.

Friday, July 8, 2011

I Invited My Children To This Party

I am not the boss of my family. I didn't hire my kids as employees, to follow my orders and make me look good. I don't have a job description in mind for them, a list of responsibilities and tasks they are expected to perform, in return for compensation. The food, shelter, and other things my husband and I provide are not part of a salary. The love we give is not the benefits package.

It's more like I'm the hostess of a party. I sent invitations to my kids to join me in my life as honored guests. And they each had no choice but to accept my invitation. Now my goal is for all of us to have a good time. I suggest and plan fun things for us to do. I invite other interesting people to join us.

I aim to treat my children like I would treat guests at a party.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Ten MORE Ways To Confuse a Child

  1. Tell him you are worried about his ability to focus (on doing things he's not at all interested in), but then get angry when he doesn't hear something you say because he's so focused (on doing something he loves).
  2. Whine about how annoying it is when he whines.
  3. Give him something really cool like a cell phone or computer, call it a "gift," and then take it away (or at least threaten to) whenever he does something you don't like.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Four Books I Love: On Discipline, Childhood, Siblings, and Sex

Unconditional Parenting 
by Alfie Kohn

This book gave me a whole new outlook on my children and all children. Kohn clearly explains the problems with a lot of the mainstream "wisdom" about parenting. In doing so, he challenges the effectiveness of discipline, and offers an alternative way to parent, focusing on "love and reason."

Friday, July 1, 2011

Parenting Without Punishment: Taking Responsibility

Since I explained that I don't discipline my kids, I know some people must be wondering what it looks like when something goes wrong around here. This is one recent example:

My son Emmitt (2) once pulled off a few of the keys from our laptop keyboard. And I can't put them back on. There are plenty of ways I could have punished him to attempt to make him realize it wasn't a good thing to do. To make him feel responsible for his actions. To make him feel bad for doing this in hopes that it would prevent him from doing it again.

It makes typing interesting.