Tuesday, September 18, 2012

No Rules?!?!

Yesterday Papa Bear was talking to his dad and his dad said something like, "I saw this post of facebook, do your kids really not have any rules? They get to do whatever they want?" Papa Bear was at work and couldn't really go in depth with an answer. I know our (attempted) parenting style is "radical" to many, so I thought I'd post our family rules here.

First and foremost, we all have the same rules. The boys don't have more or different rules just because they are smaller, less powerful, or less experienced than us.

#1- You own yourself and your body. Meaning- You are responsible for your actions. If you make a mess you clean it, or you ask for help with the understanding that "no" is an acceptable response. If something is bothering you, you have the power to fix it. You have authority over your body.

#1a- Others own themselves and their bodies. Meaning- You don't touch anyone without permission. You especially never harm anyone. You never physically make anyone do something. You don't manipulate people with fear tactics, promises of rewards, or any other coercive means. Those are attempts at control, and remember, you don't own them or control them. They own themselves. You respect others' bodies and choices.

 #2- You own your property. Meaning- It is your responsibility to take care of it. You don't have to share it. Your things belong to you alone.

#2a- Others own their property. Meaning- You respect others' property. You don't take it or use it without permission.

#3- Honor your agreements . Meaning- At any time you're welcome to come to an agreement about something, so long as it doesn't break rules 1 and 2. The agreement must be made voluntarily and be mutually beneficial. If you break your end of the deal, the other party is no longer bound by their end of the agreement and may be entitled to grievances.

That's it. Pretty simple. What happens if someone breaks a rule? Do we punish them? Absolutely not. Respecting other people and their property, and being a truthful person are good things. The boys are naturally motivated to be good. Punishment for mistakes (and we ALL make mistakes) would shift their motivation from "being good" to "not being bad", which leads to things like "not getting caught". Not our goal. Instead we help the boys understand what would have been a better choice. We are patient and understanding. We remind them everyone makes mistakes, and we all try to do better with what we learn.

What about things like eating dinner together, coming home at a certain time, or going to bed at a certain time? We often eat all our meals together, but its not a rule. Sometimes Josh isn't hungry, or would rather be outside playing. I trust he will eat when his body tells him he is hungry. I would rather him eat with me because we enjoy our time together than because I make him (which breaks rule #1 anyway). We made an agreement he would be home by 8pm everyday. So far he's always been home on time. I suggest he goes to bed by 9pm, but I trust his body will tell him when he's tired and needs sleep. Things have been so much more relaxed and enjoyable since we let go of the idea that we can control the kids. I highly recommend giving it a shot. Let me know if you have any questions. I'm only on my first cup of coffee and my writing may show it. ;)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Nap Time Liberty

We teach the boys the philosophy of liberty. What does self-ownership look like for Bug, who is 19 months?

One example is nap time. When he starts rubbing his eyes and acting sleepy, I tell him I think he needs a nap and take him back to his room. He sleeps on a mattress on the floor in his own room. We snuggle, read a story, I give him a kiss, say good night and leave. I don't latch the door. ...

He can get out of his bed on his own. He can get out of his room anytime he wants. He is never locked in the room against his will. He is not left in bed crying. Sometimes he will come back out once or twice for a few more snuggles, or because he wants to read Goodnight Moon ONE MORE TIME, but for the most part he sleeps when he's tired. If he comes out more than twice, I know he's not ready for a nap and he continues to play.

 Its not my job to make him sleep "for his own good". Everyone inherently wants to be healthy and happy. It is my job to help him listen to his body and give him to the tools he needs to be healthy and happy. Its never too early to teach liberty.

Its never too early to respect your kids.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Buying Kiwi

Today's math lesson- buying kiwi at the store.
(I'm often asked how you teach math when unschooling)

 Me- So if 1 kiwi is 38 cents and a 6-pack is $2.77, which is the better deal?

Josh- I can't multiply 38.... ...

M- Well, we could round it up to 40 cents. That would be easier to multiply in your head, right?

J- Yeah. Let's see, 6x4 is the same as 6x2x2 so 6x2 is 12.... and 12x2 is 24 so 6 kiwis would be $2.40.

M- Almost, don't forget we added 2 extra cents to make it easier.

J- Oh yeah! So that's 12 extra cents, and 40-12 is.....(struggling)

M- Do one place value at a time.

J- 40-10 is 30, 30-2 is 28. So $2.28.

M- So should we buy 6 individual or the pack?

J- Individual.

 M- Good job, Buddy.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How Time Flies

I'm feeling emotional, so I apologize in advance for this incoherent rant.

 Until about 9 months ago our parenting style was what I'd call willfully ignorant. We spanked Josh, not often, but it happened. We expected obedience. We punished or rewarded him to modify his behavior as we saw fit instead of helping him grow into his own person. It makes me sad to think back on it, now seeing what we put him through in a different light.

He turns 8 this month. He spends most of his waking hours outside playing with neighborhood kids, away from me, and all I can think about while he's out there is how quickly the years have flown by. He's out on his own, building relationships with people on his own, being his own little man, and I keep thinking how I didn't give him the foundation I wish I had.

Its something we work on a little everyday, but there is no substitute for the foundation you give your kids in those early years. Make it one of love, kindness, compassion, patience and understanding. I know parenting is hard, and the days are long, but hang in there and make these things your priority. You can never get those moments back.