Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why I Will Never Call Myself an Unschooler

Why are people so critical of other people's parenting without having clue one as to why what works for them may not work for others?

I just read a blog post by an unschooler about how parents these days are unnecessarily micromanaging their children's water consumption, which posits that doing so will result in kids divorced from their own thirst cues. This post, which probably had the vast majority of readers nodding in agreement, annoyed me no end because it assumes all kids and all families are best served by laissez faire, restriction or direction free parenting. But like everything else, parenting is not One Size (or Method) Fits All.

I am one of the horrid hydration haranguers that the abovementioned post despises.

You wanna know why?

My kid has sensory processing disorder. He *never* feels thirsty, and, left to his own devices, would pass out from dehydration before he voluntarily drank a sip.

I spend far more time than any same person would want to concerned about someone else's fluid intake, and I do it because the alternative is watching my kid pass out, throw up, or develop heat exhaustion.

So, if my nagging about water offends the unschoolers I come into contact with, sorry, but I just don't care. Because my kid's health and safety mean far more to me that your acceptance, or being able to assume the cool parent label.

I *do not* and *will not* call myself an unschooler precisely because of the narrow minded sanctimonious harping on other people's parenting found one one particular unschooling list, where people with kids with anaphylactic allergies were lambasted as horrid parents and failures as unschoolers for restricting their kids from imbibing their allergens. OK, so hate me for that too. I care more about my kid not ceasing to breathe after ingesting gluten or dairy than I do about my unschooling badge of coolness.

If allowing your kids unfettered freedom to choose their diets and control their fluid intake works for you, then realize you are in the extremely lucky majority who have kids for whom diet and drink are inherently not hazardous. Do your thing, be happy, and don't pass judgment on people whose situation you know *nothing* about.

Just one more reason I refer to us as eclectic, even though a good percentage of what we do is interest based, child directed learning...


jugglingpaynes said...

I don't mind labeling myself unschooler, even though some might not agree that that is what we are. I remember reading something Lisa Heyman had written about unschooling not implying unparenting. I think that was where I truly had my turn around about it.

To paraphrase, I look forward to a time when we are not judged by the "color" of our label, but by the content of our educational character. :o)

Peace and Laughter!

Ruralmama said...

I hear you.
We have various educational an sensory issues in our house, and we. need. structure. Non-structure would equal my kid bouncing around like a ball, doing nothing academic ever, and slowly going mad. We've tried it, briefly to "unschool" and it was a gigantic, awful train wreck of an experience. She was in total chaos mode.

It seems like there is a branch of unschoolers who are what I'd label "militant"--if that's not an oxymoron, I don't know what is. It seems to be their job to stick their noses into everyone's business and make them suffer for what works for their families.

Take heart, there are those of us who understand. You are doing what you can to help your son survive, and that is a very good thing.

MamaTea said...

Ok, I have never been to your blog before, but sweet woman, I LOVE this post. You said it well. Amen and all that jazz! I will never understand why some people underneath a certain label will feel the need to tell you you're totally screwing up your kids for having boundaries, limits, telling them to do something...when in your family, its just the way it needs to work. Drives me nuts!! Great post!! :)

Jessica said...

Its the same reason that i get my youngest to hold my hand near roads(she just didnt think near roads), and have spent a lot longer on "no small parts" in the house (beacuse my 6 year old SPD/SID child was still putting EVERYTHING in her mouth). Some children are indeed fine with their own cues, so dont actually get the right cues to begin with. Somepeople would think the same of us too. You HAVE to do the right thing by your child, if your little guy gets dehydrated who would be to blame? People need to think of that too, not just one size fits all cause it works for them. Hugs.