3 Reasons People Are Complaining About Your Parenting

complain
When our children were younger, we were very conscientious about their care.  They didn’t drink “Kool-Aid.”  We mixed their juice half and half with water.  There was not often candy in our house.  We didn’t have network or cable television, and they would occasionally watch something from our collection of age appropriate DVDs (and by age appropriate, I don’t necessarily mean G rated, Cartoons, or Disney movies, many of which are extremely confusing and traumatic for a very young child)  We weren’t denying them anything they were asking for, but simply not giving them anything that was potentially damaging to their health and happiness when they weren’t even asking for it.

For some reason, this upset people.  A chorus of “You can’t shelter them forever!” was constantly ringing in my ears.  A phrase that never made much sense to me, because all parents “shelter” their children to a certain extent.  You don’t sit your 3 year old down to watch hard core pornography.  You don’t offer your 5 year old a shot of vodka.  You don’t drop your 2 year old off on the outskirts of town and see if they can find their way home.  Oh, and then there was the story of so-and-so.  You remember s0-and-so, don’t you?  Their mother never allowed them to have such-and-such, and when they finally got ahold of it they were obsessed with it and never did anything else!  You don’t want your kid to be like so-and-so, do you?  People were also constantly trying to undermine our parenting decisions.  Thrusting spoonsful of ice cream toward my 8 month old daughter, or putting on movies they knew we wouldn’t want the kids watching.  In short, it was extreme disrespect for my children’s wellness, and extreme disrespect for my wife and I as parents.  Obviously, we didn’t know what we were doing, so they had to correct it for us.

Well, some years and a few kids later, things have changed.  The kids are older, candy is inevitable, and we now have a TV with Netflix and a computer with the internet.  But one thing hasn’t changed, we are still upsetting people with the way we raise our children.  The problem now?  Too much freedom.  We don’t force them to dress a certain way, we let them eat when and what they would like, they do not have a fixed bedtime, they decide who they do and don’t want to hug and kiss, and we have no limits on screen time.

Why then, are people still upset?  Isn’t this what they wanted?  For us to stop sheltering our children and to stop being so “controlling”?  But that was never really the issue.  The issue was that we were doing something different.  We were going against the grain, and we still are.  That is a problem for three reasons:

1. By doing something different we must be implying that the way they raised their children was wrong.

2. They are jealous because they wanted to do something different, but gave in to pressure to maintain the status quo.

3.  Society has taught them to fear what they do not understand.

So, to all you different parents out there, I say be yourself, do what’s best for your family, and don’t listen for one second to the jerks who try to bring you down.  Your children will thank you, and you won’t have to ever wonder what would have happened if you had raised them the way you knew was right.

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Helpful Reminders For Making New Habbits Stick

I was reorganizing my office at work, and in the back of a desk drawer, I found a folded up piece of paper with eight lines of print on it.  This is what it said:

It’s on my plan, I gotta do it.

Past Me said to do it, and Future Me will thank me, so let’s do it.

Once I start, I’ll be glad I did.  All I have to do is take the first small step.

I don’t need to decide on this, or think about it.  It’s already decided.

This is a compassionate act for myself, an act of love.  Lets get to the loving.

I am doing this for others, to set an example for others, to make the world better.

Yes, “Just this once” does hurt.  Let’s not fall for our old thinking traps.

It’s time, let’s get to work like a pro.

This was taken from a post on Zen Habits called What You Can Say Instead of “I Don’t Feel Like It.”

It was from a time when I was trying to make some serious habit changes.  (eating healthy, staying off of social media, getting organized, meditating, not losing my temper, among other things) and I had printed it off as a reminder to myself.  If I remember correctly, this list helped me to maintain an upward trend for quite some time.  It is amazing what a little bit of positive thinking can do.

The Dinosaur Family (Never Lose Your Dinosaur)

You may be surprised to find out that Dadosaurus Rex is more than just a catchy title of a insanely fabulous blog, it is also a lifestyle.  My family is proud to be a dinosaur family.  So, what does that mean exactly?  and why does it matter?  Lets take a look at some dino characteristics.

Dinosaurs are hard to ignore.

No one ever asks, “Hey, did you happen to see the stegosaurus that was standing behind us at the market?”  They don’t have to ask.  They know you saw it, because you were both quivering in awe of its majesty and greatness.  You were filled with a mixture of fear and confusion at the sight of the colossal beast .  When you meet a dinosaur, (should you survive) it is not likely an encounter you will soon forget.

Dinosaurs are big.

They are indeed “terrible lizards”, and you will know it when you see them.  Gargantuan, not always in mass, but in style and panache.  When a dinosaur is near, you can feel the earth shaking with each magnificent step.  But don’t let this intimidate you, they are ferociously friendly, and love meeting new creatures.

Dinosaurs are often misunderstood.

It is a sad fact, and it is painful to admit, but the world isn’t exactly crawling with dinosaurs.  Because of this, there is a lot about dinosaurs that the average citizen may not understand.  This results in rumors, lies, confusion, and fear.  The best thing you can do to avoid all this is go straight to the source, and ask a dino.  Dinosaurs aren’t shy, and they are perfectly willing to patiently answer your questions.  Stay and chat long enough, and you will find that you and the humungous reptile have become fast friends.

Dinosaurs are diverse.

At present over 700 different species of dinosaurs have been identified and named. However palaeontologists believe that there are many more new and different dinosaur species still to be discovered. ~The Dinosaur Museum, Dorchester

Dinosaurs are not cookie cutter creatures.  They don’t break the mold – They pulverize it.  Each one is unique and unashamed.  Why should they be afraid to be themselves?  There is no need to conform, compare, or compete.  (Because of this, it is good to get to know Dinosaurs on an individual basis, what is true of one may not be true of another.)

The Dinosaur lives within you.

Somewhere, deep inside, you can feel it.  There is a roar that is longing to blast through your jowls.  There are times you just can’t resist the urge to stomp.

Pump your massive clawed fists in the air, and let it out.  Let the world know you are a dinosaur, and you are not going to hide it anymore.

“Never lose your dinosaur”

Now please enjoy this video clip  and get on with your bad dinosaur self.  (BE WARNED: There is a small bit of questionable language!)

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My Kids Are Better Teachers Than I Could Ever Hope To Be

10257268_768654803153707_6684229888910505074_oChildren.  Kids.  The next generation.  Progeny.  Offspring.  The genetic mashup of you and your partner.  The little people who completely change your life, who completely change you.  Children.

I am in absolute awe of my children.  For as long as I have known them, they have been teaching me, and helping me grow as a person.  I owe them a debt that I can never repay, and I am deeply grateful to them.

As they were growing inside of their mother, locked away where I couldn’t see, they taught me that there are some things I cannot control.  When they decided to break free, and join us on the outside, they helped me to see what an amazing person my wife is; and what it is like to care for someone who offered you nothing in return.  As I changed diaper, after diaper, after diaper, after diaper, My intestinal fortitude increased dramatically, and as the urine splashed me, an unsuspecting new father, I learned to change those diapers with lighting ninja speed.  When I was waiting anxiously for the next milestone, they taught me to be patient, that life is not a contest, and that everyone learns at their own pace.

Soon they began walking, and talking.  they taught me to watch, and they taught me to listen.  I learned that an ounce of prevention was worth a pound of cure.  I learned the number for poison control.  I learned to follow my instincts, and ignore the critics, to do what is best for my family.

And as they grew older, they showed me how to play, sing, dance, and laugh without being ashamed.  They modeled creativity, and originality.  They taught me that its okay to make a mess, and that most things come out in the wash.  I learned to love what they loved, only because they loved it.  They taught me sacrifice, and over and over they taught me unconditional love.  They showed me that I have something to live for, that I matter, and that I am needed.

Every time I hear those little voices saying, “Will you play with me,” or “Can you get me a glass of water.”  When I find a sandwich in the couch.  When I am at my wits end, I try to remember how much they have taught me, and how much they have given me, and what my life would be without them.

Oh, and they taught me to play Minecraft.

Looking back at the person I used to be, I can’t believe I have made it this far.  There is no way I could have done it without them.  Thank you kids.  Thank you.  I love you.

Can Humans Find a Greater Purpose?

Jõhvnööbikud“Why am I here?”  “What is my purpose?”  “What is God’s will for my life?”  “Am I making a difference?”  “How will I be remembered?”

I have often asked myself these, and many similar questions.  We as humans seem to be programed with an insatiable interest in purpose.  We want to accomplish something, we want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, and we want to know why.  We often imagine purpose as something that we must find, discover, or create.  Or something that must be bestowed, or given to us by some other entity.  But purpose is something that is always with us.  It is an integral part of who we are, and we cannot be separated from it.

Consider Water

Water does not strive, it does not desire, and it has no goals.  It does not search out its purpose.  Simply by behaving according to its own properties, it fulfills its purpose.  As a result clouds are formed, canyons are carved, and life is sustained (The water does not aim to accomplish these things, yet they are still accomplished).  The purpose of water is to be water.

Consider A Tree

What is the purpose of a tree?  Other than to grow and to become a perfect manifestation of itself?  There is none.  A tree does not desire to make a name for itself.  It does not try to make the world a better place.  A tree is a tree, and that is its purpose.

Can we live like the tree, or the snail, or the bird?  With no purpose other than to be ourselves?  Is it possible to stop striving, planning, searching and asking?  Or is longing for a greater purpose simply part of our nature?

“The Master gives himself up
to whatever the moment brings.
He knows that he is going to die,
and he has nothing left to hold on to:
no illusions in his mind,
no resistances in his body.
He doesn’t think about his actions;
they flow from the core of his being.
He holds nothing back from life;
therefore he is ready for death,
as a man is ready for sleep
after a good day’s work.”  ~Lao Tzu

What Unschooling Means For Our Family (Part 1)

I spend a lot of my “Social Media Time” in unschooling groups, and on unschooling pages, sharing unschooling memes, and reading unschooling articles.  Because of this, I forget that there are people out there who might not think unschooling is the best idea, and some who don’t even know what it is.  For a long time I have been putting off writing an article about what unschooling means to us and why we uncshool.  But I think it is time.  It is kind of overwhelming, so I am going to tackle it in smaller chunks, starting with a basic idea of what unschooling is, and how unschoolers learn without a curriculum.

What is Unschooling:

I used to tell people who asked that unschooling was “Homeschooling without the curriculum,” but calling Unschooling a lack of curriculum is like calling the ocean a lack of air.  Unschooling is journey, it is an intimate relationship with your children where all parties are treated with equal respect.  Unschooling fosters creativity, encourages curiosity, follows passions, and chases dreams.

So, what is unschooling?  It is learning from real life, in the real world.  There is no distinction made between life and learning.  Life is learning, and learning is life.

“When pressed, I define unschooling as allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world, as their parents can comfortably bear.”  ~John Holt

The World is Your Textbook

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Humans are always learning.  It’s what we do.  If you’re not learning, you’re dead.  So I chuckle a little inside when people ask how our children learn.  To give you an idea, here are a few of the “pages” from our “Unschooling Textbook”

  • Microscopes
  • Nature Centers
  • Bird Feeders
  • Cooking
  • Neighbors
  • Legos
  • Youtube (MinuteEarth and CrashCourse are two of my favorite channels)
  • Minecraft
  • Parks
  • Rocks
  • Ponds
  • Libraries
  • Books, Books, and more Books! (Fiction, Non-Fiction, Pictures, No Pictures)
  • Wandering
  • The woods
  • Caterpillars, ants, worms, slugs, snails
  • Grandparents
  • People at the grocery store
  • Archery
  • The University of Utah
  • Dancing
  • Museums
  • Google
  • Trees
  • Magnifying Glasses
  • Binoculars
  • Telescopes
  • Cleaning
  • Paper
  • Gardens
  • Taking things apart
  • Forts
  • Wikipedia
  • Reading Eggs

There is no shortage of knowledge out there, and it doesn’t have to be funneled through a teacher, a professor, a priest, or anyone else.  It is available to anyone who looks for it.  Any activity is an opportunity for discussion.  Something as simple as bird watching can lead to learning about animal behavior, biology, anatomy, the diversity of life, the history of aviation, light and color, the properties of air, or phases of matter.

But the most important part of unschool learning is the motivation.  Instead of being motivated by fear, coercion, or imaginary rewards (such as grades) they are driven by their passions, desires, dreams and goals.

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The Greatest Influence in Your Child’s Life

10347564_803849806300873_1315401923423764168_nWhether we like it or not, we are the single greatest influence on our children.  More than the books they read.  More than what they watch on TV.  More than the music they listen to.  They are watching our reactions, testing our limitations, and (believe it or not) listening to every word we say.  They observe how we treat our spouses, they notice how we treat ourselves.  They absorb our anger, feel our frustration, bask in our joy, and long for our approval.

They have been entrusted to our care, and we have an everlasting impact on their souls.  We shape their lives and their futures, and one of the best things that we can do is to let them be involved in our daily lives.  Cooking, cleaning, fixing, gardening.  Dishes will be broken, tools will get lost, and messes will be made:  Lessons will be learned, bonds will be strengthened, and spirits will be nourished.

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Top Ten John Muir Quotes

Händkakk_2014I love inspirational and thought provoking quotes.  I love when a complex, intricate, gargantuan subject or idea can be represented with not so many words.  They’re easy to find (thanks to the internet) They’re diverse and plentiful, and they draw me in like a moth to a fortune cookie

This morning, I am feeling a special affection toward the wise words of John Muir.  I’d like to have copy and pasted the entire list from Goodreads and BrainyQuote, but for the sake of brevity, I have only included ten.

10.  “Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” ~John Muir

9.  “As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can”.  ~John Muir

8.  “This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.”  ~John Muir

7.  “Going to the woods is going home.”   ~John Muir

6.  “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”  ~John Muir

5.  “Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.”  ~ John Muir

4.   “I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.”  ~John Muir

3.  “The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us. Thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love.”  ~John Muir

2. Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”  ~John Muir
1.  “The power of imagination makes us infinite.”  ~John Muir
BONUS QUOTE!
I thought this one would go nicely as a tagline on my Unschooling blog Dadosaurus Rex:
“One day’s exposure to mountains is better than a cartload of books.”  ~John Muir

Perhaps… (A Zen Koan)

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There was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Perhaps,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “What great luck!” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Perhaps,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

“Perhaps,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

“Perhaps,” said the farmer…

I love this.  It is such a wonderful reminder that no event is the be all and end all of life as we know it.  Don’t dwell on the tragedies, and don’t get attached to the seemingly positive.  True control comes from realizing you have none.

Oneness Vs Autonomy

“Step by step the longest march
Can be won can be won
Many stones can form an arch
Singly none singly none
And by union what we will
Can be accomplished still
Drops of water turn a mill
Singly none singly none”

1280px-Moulin_dussart_01I heard these words sung on the radio today, and I’m trying to decide how I like them.  My first thought is a resounding “Amen!”  There is truly nothing that we “singly” can do.  Without the sun, without the earth, without our fellow creatures, and our fellow man.  We are all interconnected, and we can all band together in love to make the world a better place.

But then a rebellious thought rushes in.  What if I don’t care for marching, and would rather sit by the stream?  What if I’d rather be a rolling stone than a stone in an arch?  What if I am a drop of water that doesn’t want to “turn the mill?”  What if my aim is to evaporate, join the cirrus and float about in a wisp of white?

So, do we take the path of cooperation, or individuality?  Is there a middle ground between oneness and autonomy?

BONUS HAIKU!

Too Many Choices

I cannot make up my mind

I’ll let you decide