It seems to bite me back when I give the kids too much freedom. It goes from "freedom" to "anarchy" in one short walk in the snow.
They have a list on the fridge of what they are to do every day. I have stepped back to see how motivated they are to get through the "must-do" things. There's a lot of walking around the house, a lot of free-form conversation about whatever's interesting to them at the moment (all things Japanese and Pokemon are the phases of now). When I rustle them up for a walk at ten a.m., only math has been done.
Nate free associates about his friends and the ranking of these various friends in his esteem. When he arrives at the pinnacle friend, he suggests we "walk to his house"--as in TODAY. My weeks are so varied that I need to check a calendar to see what's up for each day, work-and appointment-wise. Visiting this most esteemed friend can't happen for, oh...several days. Maybe not until Saturday. This refusal puts him in a snit.
When we get home, the snit has become a semi-rage and he's turning irrational. Then a thought dawns: he hasn't eaten yet, has he?
I ask, and he snarls "NO!". Then he stomps to his room, shouting that he refuses to eat (!).
This is where freedom turns sour. I mix a soy shake--lots of protein included, demand he remove the barricades, and proclaim that "I'm in charge" and that he will eat .
He is quiet. He drinks the shake, big eyes looking up at me over the blue glass rim. Within ten minutes, he's a rational person again. I explain about our calendar, reminding him that I offered over the last weekend to have over ANY friend he wanted--but he declined.
"You can't do anything at anytime you want, Nate. That's not how the world works." You have to take your opportunities when you get them, and do your work whether you feel like it or not.
So: one strike against unschooling and one point for domineering parenting. I heard a bit on NPR about successful parents in limiting alcohol abuse:
"The parenting style that led to the lowest levels of problem drinking borrowed something from each of the extremes. From the strict parents: accountability and consequences for bad behavior. From the indulgent parents: warmth and support
Bahr says these parents tend to be more balanced.
"They recognize their kids when they do good things and praise them, but they offer direction and correction when they get off a little bit," he says."
In other words: tyranny leads to rebellion and laissez faire parenting leads to bad choices. You set the rules, and when they don't comply, you stick it to them. So perhaps this was a better day than it seemed.