I recently read a post about the ‘Unconventional Parents’ https://www.littlethings.com/free-range-kids/ by Emerald Pellot . Whilst I understand and encourage parents to parent as they see fit as long as there is no risk to the health of their children, there are a couple of points explored and beliefs in the article that do not sit well with me at all.
The title of the post Is ‘Mom Who Breastfeeds 5 Year Old Son raises her kids without any discipline or rules!’ the title itself raises alarm bells with me. The breast feeding part is maybe a post for another day! According to the ‘Unconventional Parent’ (Adele Allan) ‘We follow a child-led, unschooled approach to lifestyle. We feel strongly that limits should not be set on issues such as bedtimes, food intake and choice and screen time. We wish for our children to learn to listen to their own body’s needs over someone else’s ideas of what is appropriate for them. This way we believe they will not lose touch with their own well being e.g. hunger and tiredness cues’ My problem with this is that like it or not society runs on rules, and has done as long as the first mention of the 10 commandments (I am not religious but do believe that this is the basic blue print for all statute) . As parents I believe it is our duty to introduce the concept of obeying and living by these rules, both through our actions and through discipline. I touch on this briefly in my post ’10 ways to ‘cope’ with the terrible twos!’ My father was known as Corporal Lee in the Royal Military and at home he was known as ‘Dad’ however at home his name carried the same respect. This respect came from The Royal Military Police motto ‘exemplo ducemus’ which means ‘by example, we lead’
How do we Discipline?
Now a father myself we have developed our own methods of discipline through the use of reward charts and stints in ‘The Naughty Corner’ The duration of these stints depends on the age of our children, for example Worm Boy who is 2 will spend 2 minutes there (My wife and I are always on our best behavior as we do not have time to spend 30 minutes in the naught corner!) Going back to the point it is important we do this as when they go out into society they will have to understand that there is sanctions for breaking the law.
So what about Child Led approach to life?
Again, unsurprisingly, I disagree with this. Exemplo Ducemus (By example, we lead) should be a motto for parenting as well as the Military Police. Our kids look up to us, they want to take ques from us. Worm Boy will often come and sit next to me and begin mimicking me. He will look to me to see how to react in certain social situations. When it comes to eating , when he does go to school or work he will have certain times to eat lunch and have breaks so it is important we get him into this routine. When it comes to routine he is a stickler for it. He knows when you get up in the morning you have breakfast, he knows that before he goes to bed he has a bath and a story. The idea of routine is explored further in an article I wrote for The Dad Network about Bedtime Routines.
The non immunization debate
This is a debate which I heard long before I heard of the ‘Unconventional Parents’ The idea being to let nature take its course. The thing with that is society moves on, science moves on. We are lucky enough to live in a day and age where child and infant death rates are at a proportionately low. Yes I accept that we have not always had modern medicine but in centuries gone child and infant death rates have been higher! We need to embrace modern medicine. I choose to immunize my children but every child who has not been immunized is still a potential risk to mine!
Nothing against enjoying nature…but
I really do not have anything against enjoying nature but as a Scout Leader who teaches children methods of survival, I cannot over estimate the importance of learning about the world around us. Adele allows her children to pick leaves from a tree and eat them, whilst this is not a problem in its self, the idea that you can pick up and eat any plants from natures larder will most likely make you sick or worse.
I am also always telling Scouts to ensure they have good supportive and appropriate footwear, again a lot of research has gone into this. The ‘Unconventional Parent’ encourages her youngest child to walk around bare foot. This opens up all kinds of dangers as we unfortunately live in risky times, glass, needles, thorns. I see this as an unnecessary risk!
All views in this post are my own, however, the couple believes they are doing what’s best for their children, this cannot be ignored. However I urge you to think carefully before embarking on a similar lifestyle. Please let me know what you think in the comments below.