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Learning in Freedom

Welcome to Learning in Freedom, a blog all about the learning adventures (and mishaps) of the Allen family. My four children are unschooled, following their interests and passions every day and living the lives of their choosing. The purpose of this blog is to share our every day lives (and my not-so-humble opinons) with anyone interested in stopping by. We hope this will give a glimpse of how natural learning unfolds from day to day......

Friday, August 17, 2007


I read on one of my lists this morning, about a single Mom enrolling her only child in school because she gets NO breaks. Whatever. When she said something about loving her child but how the rest of us only have a taste of how hard it is to parent alone (when our partners are gone for a couple days) I got my hackles up. Of course I believe she loves her child deeply. I resent the assumption that the rest of us know nothing of single parenting or what it's like to not have a partner. One of my best friends in Pensacola has been a single parent for most of the last decade and manages to unschool joyfully with three children and a passle of grandchildren visiting (two of her children are raised with children of their own). Hows that for single???

So how do the single parents unschool for years and years? I had FOUR children and was single for many months. School is a cop out, I'm sorry but it is. Especially when you are wanting a break and your child is driving you nuts. Change your parenting style so you can embrace your child and ENJOY them. Can you imagine being put in school because your Mom is tired of spending time with you? What kind of message does that send?

I know people who have utilized school in order to survive. I actually understand that. I know food and housing might be unavailable in some situations if a parent didn't make money in some form. I know people who have done that temporarily in order to change their lives. I get that...really I do. But in order to get away from your child? Nope, I don't understand that at all.

Judgemental perhaps. My opinion it is. I think parents should change themselves and how they treat their children before they decide that school is some kind of solution for anything.


Blogger Sylvia said...

I know four single, home/unschooling Moms -- one widowed, two divorced/separated, one never married. Sure, it takes some creativity to figure out childcare and income, but it can be done.

I spent 10 yrs as a single Mom - pre-unschooling, admittedly, but if I found myself as a single Mom again, there's no way I'd put them in school.

First, having kids in school is not easier than having them home. I've done both -- had one in school for 11 yrs, now 2 to 3 at home for 6 yrs. Definitely, not doing school is the best way to go.

Yeah, putting a child in school to *give Mom a break* is a cop-out.

8:48 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Great post I'm just agreeing with you, what a terrible thing, I hear it a lot for the SAHM who puts the kids in daycare a couple days a week to have a break. Why do some people have kids in the first place???

10:31 PM  
Blogger diana-still-evolving said...

For me, the *never, ever gonna be a single mama,* school is the LAST place I want my kid to be!! Why have kids if you want to separate yourself from them so willingly? Why have kids if YOUR needs are still more important than theirs?
I've dreamed of it, really and truly, but it's more of a nightmare than anything *real* I've got going on in my life.
It is a cop-out, then again if the mom is so quick to cop-out mayhap school is where that kid belongs. At least there, there's a chance s/he'll meet someone with more resolve than mom.

4:16 AM  
Anonymous ~DanaB~ said...

Hear, Hear!


8:25 AM  
Blogger Deanne said...

If that mom wants to get away from her kid so badly, maybe she's doing her a favor by sending her to school. Unfortunately, we know conditions are not great in schools as they are, but there are still caring, compassionate people in "the system" who could show this child her real worth. Ideally though, I agree with you, the mom needs a serious attitude adjustment!!!

10:08 AM  
Blogger tribalmama said...

I spend a lot of time parenting on my own. John's in Bemidji right now, haven't seem him in about 3 weeks. I could walk around here and brew over how badly I need a break, but I don't. I **LOVE** being with my boys, and it's all about how I choose to approach parenting solo at times. (or parenting in general, really) I can bitch and moan, or I can have a blast. I'll choose the latter, thank you! Love your rants, baby! Rant ON!!!

2:05 AM  
Anonymous Linda said...

Well, it's the same rationale married SAHMs use for putting their kids in school, isn't it. So starting from there, with that mentality, take away one partner, and yeah, sure, it's going to be harder and you're going to get even more of a relief from putting your kids in school.

But start from where your kids aren't a burden to begin with, and it's irrelevant whether you're single or married.

I don't fear much, but one thing I fear is the thought of my husband dying and me having to put the kids in school so I can go to work to support us. That, to me, would be a nightmare, to be forced to be away from them for most of their waking hours. So yeah, it's actually *not* about married vs. single, it's about how you feel about being with your kids.

Regardless, even if I desired that kind of break from them, no way would I feel justified in doing *that* to them in order to get it.

Musing on the language involved too. "Break". Yes, it can mean to rest. But it can also mean to detach, to sever, to damage.

It's a hard thing to understand. How do people get to that? Where does it start? What an incredibly sad thing it would be to feel that way about one's children.

12:41 AM  
Blogger Ren said...

You know what it is, beyond the assumption that other parents don't know about being single, that bothers me?

When you say "I'm an unschooler" I don't necessarily have an expectation that we're speaking the same language. I DO have an expectation that you're a creative individual that is willing to think of more options than the knee-jerk put-the-kid-in-school mentality.

I work. I understand that. I also know that my life is exactly what I choose. Don't use the excuse that you need a break. Just say "I am forcing my kid into school" and I'll know we're just speaking a different language.

1:18 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

A break is taking a walk alone, or asking for a few minutes of quiet. If you work and need a break, you don't quit your job, you go out for a smoke. Sending a child to school isn't a break - it's a radical lifestyle overhaul.

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So nice! I got some flack for a post like this recently but really it must be said. I can't imagine that women's lib has gotten us anywhere if it has taught mothers to shun their children, seeing them as burdens to their own fulfillment. I have said many times that maybe I was too young to know better when I started having children but so was my Mom and she showed us we were her greatest achievement. Although we were all sent to school it was not so Mom could rest.

Recently the whole family was walking home from my daughter's violin lesson when we met the mother of the student who lesson comes after. When I said 'Hi' she told me she was just enjoying her twenty minutes of peace. It is not a wonder that her daughter makes little improvement on the violin. The mother plays no role.

Even when my children are their loudest, most unreasonable selves I can't imagine wanting to be anywhere else.

I must make clear though that I fully agree with the notion that we are speaking a whole different language. I see parents out without their children and think I have never wanted to do something without mine, or thought it would be better without them there so I really just don't understand where they are even coming from.

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your rant. This exact issue has been on my mind, well daily. I discuss it with my DH and he gleefully plays devils advocate. The only way I can wrap my own head around it is to look at the mother's OWN attachment issues in her family of origin. This way I can open my heart to her pain and how this translates into avoiding her own children. However, I do believe this is a chronically attachment disordered society and we are seeing the results in narcissistic adults with chronic materialistic needs. Whew, more ranting...

4:42 PM  
Blogger Lostcheerio said...

Okay, you put your child in school to get a break, and you pick them up at the end of the day. You've had your break, but the kid has to go back to school EVERY WEEKDAY now. Do you really need a seven hour break every weekday???


I heartily agree with your post, especially the bit about... how does a child feel knowing they are being put in school because their mother doesn't want them around, and furthermore, how does that color the child's experience with the school!?!? If school is being presented as a break for mom, then... how is that a positive approach to learning? Ack.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Ren said...

You know what the worst part is though? I think that "break" is an illusion. Not only are mother and child further disconnected, leading to more family friction, but all the work of centering your life decisions around the school schedule is NOT easy.

Can you imagine the stress of school hours and homework (regardless of whether the parents make an issue of it...that thing is there) grades and all the other bullshit they now have invited into their lives? I don't think it's a break at all.

10:24 AM  
Blogger majikfaerie said...

While I totally TOTALLY agree that putting kids in school so the parent can have a "break" sucks for every reason the PPs mentioned; its obviously going to send an awful message to the child, and mess with their whole lifestyle, etc...

but I just wanted to send a hug to that mother.

I can NOT imagine wanting to be away from my child 35 hous/ week, but I can imagine that if a mother (especially one who started on an unschooling path) gets to a point where she feels she has to do that, then obviously what she needed was some help and support.

Sounds to me like she's just not coping. Is she a recently-made-single mama? Does she live in an area where there's not much HS/USing support? Obviously I cant really say, I dont know the situation, but I wish I could have met her in the weeks before she made that decision. maybe all she needed was someone to hang out with and "decompress" now and then. someone who isnt making her feel bad about unschooling. Someone who has a child her child can play with.

Now she still has to deal with whatever stress and emotional issues led her to that decision, AND the s#!t school will add into her family's life, AND the guilt that goes with her decision, AND all the unschoolers around her (that had previously been an online support) dragging her through the mud.

That said, poor child. :( I wonder how she feels about all this.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Sandra Dodd said...

If one stops wanting to be with one's husband, the therapeutic recommendation is to spend more, better and different time together, not to spend less.

When a mom is feeling detached from her child, more detachment is not ever, not even kinda, not sorta NEARLY the cure.

The time and money and mis-directed energy involved in having a kid in school--schedules, lunches, fees, forms, supplies, clothes, right shoes, right coat, replacement coat, backpack, new supplies halfway through, transportation, sick days, snow days, extracurricular stuff, appeals to the mom for bake-sale goods or snacks for "parties", tests, tears, fears, sorrow...--that mother's life is not going to be better.

1:17 PM  

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