Anne Ohman and Anna Brown, both veteran unschooling parents, join me to answer listener questions. Click here to submit your own question to the Q&A Round Table!
Quote of the Week
“Today I will connect with my child, expand his world, bring joy into his life and nurture and encourage what he loves to do.” ~ Anne Ohman
Anonymous Question [TIME: 4:27]
I have twin boys (almost 8) and an 11-year-old daughter. I have always said yes, because of the whining and crying with the twins (they are high strung, zero patience and harp on things). So the boys have tantrums every day about wanting to wear a specific shirt or shorts (that they missed placed) and it’s every day and fighting in the car and punching and hitting and screaming and I am at the point where I lose it and flip out (my parents NEVER yelled at me). My husband yells; now I yell and I try not to but they get me to my wit’s end. I do not know how to fix it. I do what you say, sit with them, play games, read to them (they fight over who sits next to me…). There’s no control (not that I want to control them—they don’t value my husband or me and only act good if I break down and cry).
Sonia’s Question [TIME: 17:53]
Hi, my kids are still little (five and seven), and we follow their interests as much as possible, but, to be honest, it’s expensive. I often find that I’ll invest in something that they’ve shown a sustained interest in, only to find that as soon as I spend on it, ARGH, they are on to the next thing. I find that what happens then is that I turn into school-teacher-mum and ‘we have to do this because I’ve spent money on it.’ How do I balance providing rich resources without being rich ourselves? And teach the kids to value resources that are invested in them? Thanks!
Jennie’s Question [TIME: 31:20]
Hi Pam, Anna & Anne, thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions. I continue to learn so much every week.
I’m a mom of 3 kids, 7, 4 & 2. I’ve been deschooling for a year and only my eldest daughter attended one year of JK.
I find myself in a bit of a dilemma after a conversation with my husband (who hasn’t deschooled to the point that I have, not that I’m that far at all, but he has less overall patience with the kids).
Here’s the dilemma, it’s the holidays so I’ve been super busy trying to do everything & think of everything plus work has been a little more involved these last few weeks (I work part time from home) and today after numerous attempts to get my older two to stop hitting one another raised my voice and got angry. Now, I have made a lot of progress with patience and compassion but I’m human and I made a mistake. Afterwards, we were getting in the car and they started again. I angrily got in the driver’s seat and forgot to pass them their iPads, normally I would have pulled over at this point and grabbed them for them but not today. Today, I decided, no iPads on the trip back home. They complained a bit. They got over it. Mistake #2!
When I picked up my husband, I explained what had happened and his reaction upset me. He said “good, it’s good for them to understand that people have limits, it’s human nature and their behaviour can sometimes result in negative consequences.”
Although I disagree with my own behaviour towards them and don’t feel it helped deepen our connection at all, the fact that he connected it to people’s human nature having limits and the kids learning I had my own jolted me a bit. It caused me for a second to think that he had a point (shocking!). Is this part of learning about one another?
I should add that I believe I often struggle with balance between being too permissive however that might be me working through more deschooling while being surrounded by people who aren’t.
Curious about your perspective, thanks!
Jen’s Question [TIME: 44:12]
I have an almost 18-month-old and I’m very drawn to unschooling. I’m curious how you would apply this philosophy to the sleep issue we are currently dealing with. I believe that sleep should be like food—that my son should sleep when he’s tired and be awake when he’s rested, regardless of whether that is on the schedule people think an 18-month-old “should” be on.
But, it seems the last couple months my son has a very hard time actually going to sleep. Often in the evening, he will start to seem tired—rubbing his eyes or getting a little cranky. So we will say, it looks like you’re getting tired & we’ll brush his teeth, get him dressed for bed, read a story, turn on the white noise in the dark & then nurse or rock to sleep (depending on whether it’s me or my husband doing it). He will be floppy, limp, drowsy—clearly ready to sleep—but it will either take 2+ hours before his eyes actually close or after about 30 mins he will wake himself up and be ready to play again. At that point, if we continue to hold onto him and try to put him to sleep it becomes a wrestling match with a lot of crying that lasts an hour or more before he finally sleeps. If we don’t fight him, he will often stay up until 11 or midnight or even later, and when he starts acting tired again and we try to put him to sleep again, it still takes over an hour before his eyes close.
If he were able to just go in his room and go to sleep on his own like an older child, I wouldn’t mind him staying up so late- but that is later than I want to be up, and it means I’m not getting enough sleep to function during the day, and it also means I’m not getting any time to myself or to spend with my husband. We don’t have this issue with his nap—when he starts acting tired for a nap, I change his diaper, turn on the white noise, make his room dark & he nurses to sleep within 10 or 15 mins.
Thank you for your insight!
Jen’s Question [TIME: 57:20]
I have 1 son, 18 months, and I am unschooling him. I love everything about it, watching him learn, explore, get excited, discover things, and share all of that with him. I love showing him the breadth of the world- for instance, he got interested in some toy trains, so I have shown him pictures of real trains, videos, we have ridden trains, and gotten him other train sets with tracks. It’s so much fun to explore each interest with him.
My question is about how to balance that with the household work that needs to be done—cooking, cleaning etc. I try to let my son participate in these things if he wants, or go off and play by himself while I work if he prefers. He is often content to play on his own without interaction with me, to the point where I could spend most of the day doing housework with little interaction with him beyond changing diapers & helping him get snacks when he asks for food. In so many of your answers to people you talk about spending time doing the things your kids love with them to see what they love & see them shine- so I’m curious how you balance that with the time needed for housework, especially with young children (since “help” from him can make a 10 min task take hours) and also any thoughts on whether I need to more actively stop my adult agenda to engage with him (sit near him and watch him play) or just let him go on his own until he asks for my attention.
It just seems like a lot of letting him do whatever he wants without engagement, but if I always engage with what he wants to do then I never get housework done. (While he’s sleeping isn’t really an option for us, because he will rarely sleep without me lying next to him, and in those rare times that is my precious alone time for self-care).
Links to things mentioned in the show
- Anne’s conference talk, What Is so Radical about Radical Unschooling? text or audio
- Pam’s conference talk, A Family of Individuals, text or audio
- Pam’s blog post: Unschooling and the Power Paradigm
- Childhood Redefined Summit
- Anna talked about the book, The No Cry Sleep Solution
- Submit your own Q&A question here