Today my daughter, Tasha, who will be turning 14 next month, spent quite a long time on Polyvore, a website relating to art and fashion. She commented on a woman's set that celebrated kids returning to school. Tasha's comment lead to a lengthy conversation. I wanted to share that conversation here because she explains so much about our relationship, which many of you will appreciate even if the woman she was responding to did not, and gives some great insight into the life we are living.
A Conversation I had with a Conservative Christian Grandmother on a Fashion Site.
by Tasha Kiri on Sunday, September 5, 2010 at 8:38pm
Her: The kids may not be glad school has started, but there's a party going on in the parent and grand parent corner, lol!
Me: I find it wrong that parents and grandparents can't wait for school to start so they can get rid of their kids. You have kids because you want them, not so you can ship them off to a place where they won't get their needs met and are forced to do things they don't wanna do. There are so many alternatives to school. My sisters and I started Unschooling last year, and my mom loves to have us home. My mom wrote a blog on the subject: http://withthefamily5.blogspot.com/2010/09/other-side-of-first-day-of-school.html
Her: Dear it was meant as a joke! And when we "ship" you off it is to better your mind and your life! We love you so we don't want you to grow up to be ignorant. I do not have a problem with Homeschooling, especially in light of the schools teaching their stupid Evolution classes. If a person is qualified to teach their kids at home, I say more power to them!
Me: When I was sent to school it was not better for my mind or my life. The classes were boring, and I was terribly bullied because I stood up for my beliefs. Now I learn about what I'm interested in and am so much happier.
Her: That is great. But some parents are not qualified to teach their children at home. Also your name that you chose to call yourself on here lends me to believe that there is a bit of rebellion there! You are NOT UNschooled, you are HOME schooled dear!
Me: Unschooling is a form of homeschooling.
Her: Well maybe in your book but to define it correctly, here it is: Home School, Home Schooling..Homeschooling or homeschool (also called home education or home learning) is the education of children at home, typically by parents but sometimes by tutors, rather than in other formal settings of public or private school. ...Definition of Un Schooled...lacking in schooling; "untaught people whose verbal skills are grossly deficient"; "an untutored genius"; "uneducated children"....If you like to be called "grossly deficient " then have at it! It is more likely that you are trying to make your schooled friends jealous of the fact that you do not have to go to school, which is not right either.
Me: "Unschooling is a range of educational philosophies and practices centered on allowing children to learn through their natural life experiences, including child directed play, game play, household responsibilities, work experience, and social interaction, rather than through a more traditional school curriculum. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities led by the children themselves, facilitated by the adults. Unschooling differs from conventional schooling principally in the thesis that standard curricula and conventional grading methods, as well as other features of traditional schooling, are counterproductive to the goal of maximizing the education of each child."
What we actually do is radical Unschooling, which is this:"Whereas unschooling philosophy applies primarily to learning activities, radical unschooling applies to all areas of life. For example, the radical unschooling lifestyle necessarily excludes authoritarian and punitive parenting practices. While unschooling parents may use conventional parenting practices such as set bedtimes, food restrictions, television or video game limitations, etc., radical unschooling parents favor cooperative practices to meet the needs of all family members in equitable ways. Radical unschooling parents may use some tools like those listed below in complementary philosophies."
I would never try and make most of my schooled friend jealous. If they are jealous, it is because they want what I have, which is a happy, non-controlling family. They most always prefer to come over to my house, when their houses have Wiis, big TVs, and lots of other stuff we don't have. They like it here because it's a safe environment, where they will not be forced to do things (ie. chores) and are allowed to do pretty much anything they want.
Her: I disagree with what you say all around! It is still considered HOME schooling! Unschooled is a lack of education, a willful decision to not be taught an education!....Also are you assuming houses that have Wiis, big screen TV's and such are unsafe environments? If so, that is stereotyping people unfairly! Also I am sure they like it if you and your friends are allowed to do whatever you want., BUT what does that say about your home life? I loved my children enough when they were kids and now my grand children so much that I care about what they are doing at ALL times! I want them to have structure and stability and learn that life is about following rules and having respect for authorities! What kind of message is your mother sending out to you if she allows you to do what you want? I was active in my kids lives and now my grandkids. They strive to make good grades, be responsible by doing their chores and learning to respect authorities. These things need to be learned to make it as an adult. Chores never killed anyone! Just the opposite! It helps to grow them into being a responsible, hard working, self sustaining, reliable adults!.
Me: The label that is used for what we do is Unschooling. I know of hundreds of people who do it, and all of the adults I know that were unschooled turned out successfully. I don't think you understand what I'm trying to say. I'm not saying that houses like that are unsafe. I'm saying that I think it's cool that my friends choose to come over to my house, and feel safe there. My mom trusts me and my friends enough to not need to know what we are doing all the time. She lets us do what we want, so there is no sneaking around. I tell her almost everything. She understands that there are things that I don't wanna tell her, and she excepts that. My mom doesn't want us to grow up and feel that we have to do things we don't wanna do. She wants me to be a strong, independent adult, so she starts by treating me like one now. She is very active in my lives, and in my friends' lives. I tell her things they tell me not to tell anyone because I know she won't go out and tell their parents.
Grades are not that important. On that subject, neither is college. What's important is doing what you love, and what you wanna do.
When my mom used to try and get me and my sisters to do chores when we were in school, it caused a lot of conflict. We all hated cleaning because of that. Now that we don't have chores and school, we have all the free time that we need. Because of that, we are more likely to help with the dishes, or clean our rooms. There's nothing that we have to do, so the things that we used to not do because we had to, we do. Chores are not necessary.
I feel more prepared for the real world now that I can do whatever I want.
Her: Well whatever your reason or your moms, I still don't agree with it, but it's your choice...I praise God that I had parents that cared enough about me that they told me what I could and could and couldn't do. They made me go to school, pushed me to be an honor roll student, made me go to church, decided who I could hang out with, where I could go and knew what I was doing! All these things molded me into the responsible, hard working, caring, self sufficient adult I am today. Because of their constant involvement and input in my life, I was able to raise my kids in that same environment and their kids as well......Grades ARE important! Do you really want to be known as the kid with a D and F average?? I was proud that I was an A & B Honor Roll student.....
Me: I honestly would hate if my parents pushed me to do something, or decided what I could and couldn't do. My mom has helped me dye my hair every color in the rainbow and is fine with me choosing my own friends. If I wanted to I could get almost any piercing or wander around the city at three am with my friends, and she would trust me to do that and be safe. I pick out all of my clothes, and she says as long as I feel good in them I can wear them. I could even date anyone I wanted to (boys, girls, gender queer) and she would still except me for who I am.
I was known as the good girl with all A's all through out elementary school and part my first (and only) year of middle school, and I hated it. All of the teachers expected too much out of me, and if I didn't do my work they would be disappointed. By the time I left middle school I didn't care about my grades (I still finished the year with mostly B's). I'm still considered a good kid, and most adults enjoy hanging out with me.
Also, I have no piercings and have never dated anyone. I don't dress super inappropriately, and I have amazing friends.
Her: Well that sounds like to me a lazy way for your mom to get out of her parenting responsibilities! I for one DID care if my child were running around on drug ridden, gun-toting, gang infested streets! I DID care if my child was engaging in sexual relationships not only without the sanctity of marriage, but also not to mention in a sinful gay relationship! I DID care if my daughters were wearing skirts up to their booties, tops low enough to see their cleavage and pants tight enough to see every curve on her body! I cared enough because I wanted others to look at them with respect and not drooling at the mouth with lust! I do care because I wanted them to know they were more than a sexual object, they were a woman whom God made to become upstanding, moral, respectful individuals who grew up up to be good mothers and wives! I did care who they hung out with because "Bad company corrupts good Character"!.......I think it is sad that your mother doesn't have enough interest in your well being to know who you are hanging out with, what you are doing, when you are coming home and etc...... What will she do if you end up pregnant or on dope or in jail??? Will she say "she did what she wanted to do"??? I think it is irresponsible way to raise a family!
Me: My mom DOES care about me too. The streets here are very safe. I NEVER mentioned sex once. In my family we are excepting of everyone, and love is love. I DON'T wear tight clothes. My mother knows who I hang out with, and enjoys hanging out with them too. I let her know where I am, and when I'll be home, even more than my more traditionally raised friends tell their parents. I don't do drugs, I've never kissed anyone, and I don't do bad things. If I was in a bad situation my mom would be there for me. She loves me just as much as you love your kids. Oh, and my dad teaches parenting classes through a social services organization.
Her: You contradict yourself! One minute you say you don't have to answer to anyone, you come and go as you please, and so on. Mow you say she knows everything you do, everyone you hang out with and so on. Which is it??
Me: I don't HAVE to do it, but I choose to. That's not contradicting myself.
Her: And yes, you did mention sexuality..."I could even date anyone I wanted to (boys, girls, gender queer) and she would still except me for who I am.".....If she loves you as much as she should, then she would be raising you in an environment where she decides what is best for you, not you! She is suppose to be the mother, the responsible one!
Me: That's sexuality, not flat out sex. There's a difference. She loves me, and lets me be my own person. And she is responsible, but so am I.
Her: Yea well, letting you do as you want is not being responsible! I hope when you are practicing being your own person, you don't get into something you cant handle. Will she blame you then because you were "doing your own thing"??
Me: I don't need to practice being my own person, I already am. In our family we don't divide by adults and kids, we are all individual people.There is no blame. If I did get into a bad situation, she would be there for me and take care of me.
And then she blocked me.