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Posted by on Apr. 14, 2012 at 1:15 AM
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How do you unschool when hubby is strict? He has certain rules we have to follow.. no food outside of the kitchen, no playing on the couch, things have to be picked up and in their place (he may have OCD). He enforces bedtimes and constantly tells our son he needs to "toughen up" because he "acts like a girl."

He grew up in a strict military family, and we have discussed our differences, but we still haven't come to a compromise. I want our son to have total freedom and independence, and he is making that very diffcult for us to do. I agree with him on some aspects, but I am pushing more for radical unschooling and he is not comfortable or supportive of it.

Also, my son is 6. He has no interest in reading or books. I try to read with him every day, and he fights me. So I let it go, but I know that reading to him is important in developing his own reading skills. When I ask him what he wants to do for the day, he always turns to video games. He is constantly on my computer, on his PS2, on his DS, or Xbox. I try not to limit him, but he never seems to grow tired of it. 

We do other things as well, but video games consumes a lot of his time. He made an office in his room the other day, but he isn't into drawing or writing yet. I don't know how to get him interested in these things and I feel like I am doing something wrong, or that I am not doing enough for him. He has access to craft supplies, Legos, movies, music, and books, but never seems interested in them. It's always video games or computer stuff. 

I know he's fine. But I freaked out a little bit and started looking into a virtual school in the area that uses the K12 curriculum. I had him do one of the sample lessons available on the website and he said he liked it and would be interested in doing it.. but it goes against everything that I believe in. 

And extracurricular activties is a hard one, as we live on a very tight budget. I can't afford to enroll him in guitar lessons like he wants, or karate or baseball. He has friends he socializes with often, but I haven't found a homeschool co op or anything like that in the area I live in. It's hard, and I feel like I'm completely alone and in the dark here, and I'm afraid I am going about this the wrong way.

Any advice? I know I should trust in my son and know that he is doing just fine and will be alright, but I can't help thinking that I should be doing more for him. I don't want to push him, but what else can I do? 

by on Apr. 14, 2012 at 1:15 AM
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by Member on Apr. 14, 2012 at 11:58 AM

My husband comes from a strict military home as well. Surprisingly, it wasn't too difficult to get him on board with the unschooling, since he rebelled pretty hard against his parents in his youth. He's relaxed a lot with out kids, as far as school, food and discipline go. I can't seem to get him to let go of bedtimes though. By the end of the day, he just needs a break and time to relax with just the two of us. So we found our compromise. The boys go to their rooms at 9, but can stay up as late as they want, so long as they stay in their room. I suggest that you just continue to talk with him. Remember that you can't change his entire mindset over night. It's going to take baby steps. LIttle changes over time that will build up into the overall changes you want.

My boys also play a lot of video games. But I'm sure if I actually logged the amount of time they spend on them, vs other activities, it wouldn't be as high as I think. Over the course of a week there are days they spend all day watching tv, playing video games, or watching youtube videos on the computer. But then there are days where those things do not get turned on at all. The key is to look at the bigger picture. Look at how he spends his time over the course of a week, or month, or year.

Right now my boys are building forts, and creating a battle scene in the living room. Playstation, Xbox and computer are completely forgotten.

by Group Owner on Apr. 15, 2012 at 1:45 AM
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I insisted that if dh wanted to have any say at all in any aspect of parenting and childhood education, he was required to first read any of a selection of books I believed were important in the field.

I am, in my house, the Subject Matter Expert on psychology, child development, human sexuality, pedagogy and education. If he wanted his 'opinion' to be respected, it would have to become --in my opinion-- an informed opinion, not an ignorant one.

Since he's the SME on electricity, plumbing, rock music, comic books and playing Mass Effect, I don't argue with him about any of his information or instructions on the subject, ever.

Turn about is fair play.

by on Apr. 15, 2012 at 9:17 AM
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After reading through this a few times, I think my number one suggestion might be for you to simply try to be more OPEN. It sounds like you might be too worried about doing unschooling "right" and you have a lot of expectations of how it "should" work. Unschooling can and does work a lot of different ways. They may look very similar or very different to someone outside the family. But the one thing that all of those ways have in common is that they respect and trust in each INDIVIDUAL child. Your child is different from mine, so what is life-giving to my child might be life-depleting for yours. Don't look to any "experts" - including other unschoolers - for answers to what is best for YOUR child. He's the only "expert" there.

Extracurricular lessons are not necessary. If he really wants to learn to play guitar, there are other ways to learn besides paying for lessons. You can barter with someone who plays guitar, get videos from the library, or just hand him a guitar and point him to youtube videos, to name a few.

If he already has friends he socializes with and he is happy with that, why do you feel you need to find a homeschool group? Do you really need it, or do you just think you "should" have it? If you are just wanting to make more homeschooling friends, try going to the parks or the libraries during the day while all the other kids are in school. That's a very easy way to meet other homeschoolers and it doesn't cost a dime (except maybe gas to get there). Some libraries, health food stores, churches, etc. have boards where you can place an "ad" looking for other homeschoolers or unschoolers in your area. When I started out, those were the ways that worked best for me. Oh, and online groups for my state. 

How are you reading to him? Are you trying to get him to sit with you to read? Are you letting him run around, jump, and "be a kid" while he listens? Some kids like to read snuggled up a special spot, but other need to move around. I know several kids (including one of my own) who liked to be read to while they jumped on a mini-trampoline, for example. Some kids will like just about anything you read to them, while others have a very specific type of reading they are interested in, and it may not be BOOKS. Have you tried reading video game  manuals to him? Books based on video games? Road signs, car manuals, computer programming books, science never know what will spark an interest, but start with what you already know they are interested in. You could also try changing WHEN you read to him. Some kids can't focus at certain times of day. Does he seem more receptive first thing in the morning, in the afternoon, during the evening, or at bedtime? Or maybe only when you are outdoors or in a certain room or at the library? There are also some kids who don't like the BOOK itself. They are visually irritated by it. If you think that could be the case, try putting the book down, looking at HIM instead of the book, and re-telling what just happened every few paragraphs or so. Basically, figure out how, when, and what HE prefers. I have yet to find a kid who truly doesn't like ANY reading. What I do find quite often is a parent who has a very specific idea about what "reading to him/her" means and a child who has very a different ideal. Kids are also very good at picking up on our unspoken cues. If you have an ulterior motive for wanting him to read, he will likely pick up on that. If reading has become a battle, some parents need to totally remove themselves from the equation for a while. Audio books, online animated books, and film adaptations to the rescue! There is no rule that says he has to read a book to get information or fall in love with a good story. Think outside the book! 

There is way more out there about video games than I have time to address today because I'm leaving in a bit. It's discussed regularly on every single unschooling group around, and you can find them by searching by topic. There are quite a few essays and opinion pieces about it on places websites like Sandra Dodd's,, and other unschooling websites. There have also been several books and articles written on the benefits of video games. You mentioned that you "try" not to limit him, which tells me that you are still conflicted about it. Whenever the urge to place limits comes over you, try going and looking up some of the positive things about gaming.

We all have our "freak out" moments. Some people make their kids sit down and do worksheets or read an assigned book. Some enroll their kids in school on a whim (only to remove them a few weeks or months later). Don't allow your fears to make decisions that your heart doesn't agree with. Give it several weeks or months to weigh the pros and cons. If whatever you are considering is really is the right decision, it will still be the right decision in a few weeks or months.  

As for the father not being on board...that's actually pretty common too. I think it helps to remember that dads, especially dads who have to be away from their kids during the day while the mom is with the kids all day, will take longer to come to a place where they can trust unschooling. They just don't get to experience all the little, every day "evidence" that we do. And if they were raised in a strict household, it will probably be even more difficult for them. Doing things drastically different from the way their parents did can seem like they are betraying their own parents. It can hurt to look at the way your parents raised you and find fault. Be gentle, kind, and patient with your husband, because, if you think about it, it's not the ADULT version of him that you are dealing with sometimes. It's the little boy inside him. Treat his "inner child" as lovingly as you would your own son.

by Member on Apr. 15, 2012 at 1:58 PM
Thank you for the responses.

I have tried to get my SO to read some of the books I have on unschooling, but he himself isn't that big into reading, so it's somewhat difficult to get him to do it unless I read it to him. He agrees with not putting him in the school system, as he had bad experiences himself and with his daughters (who we don't get to see very often anymore), so we are at least on the same page there.

I have tried reading all sorts of things to my son in all different environments. He usually has me read things from video games to him, but sometimes I just feel it's not enough. I guess it's better than nothing though.

I am rethinking the K12 bit... I had a phone discussion with someone from there and I'm not super impressed with it (or the reviews I've read). I think I just had a freak out moment and decided I wasn't providing enough. I do admit, I worry about what unschooling should "look like," and whether I'm doing it the "right" way. But your replies have helped me put things in a different perspective.

So thank you ladies again for the input. I appreciate it.
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by Group Owner on Apr. 17, 2012 at 7:44 PM
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I actually have no idea how to fix this. My husband wasn't allowed to make rules for how I live in my house when he's not in the building.

by Member on Apr. 27, 2012 at 3:22 AM

First instinct is to tell him to lighten up

However, we grew up strict, started out strict, he spent 8 years in the army. I've always had to introduce new ways of thinking and then sit back and he'll end up researching it on his own and discover that I'm right. (haha)

I'd present your ideas and ask him to agree to a trial period - not a week, but like 6 months or a year. If he grew up military he knows a spouse joke "I can do anything for 2 years" (the usual minimum at a station) At 8, it still wouldn't take much time to "catch him up" if at that point you mutually decide that unschooling isn't working for your family.

It is said that the entire K-12 can be taught at 16ish in 6-9 months when the person is willing.

by Member on Apr. 27, 2012 at 3:23 AM

oh and you mentioned a lot of things that is considered "radical unschooling" when means that the unschooling philosophy extends to all areas of life - diet, bedtimes, personal hygiene, etc. You can also just "unschool".

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