Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Q and A: Byakuya on Kids and Stuff

You may have read my "About Me" at some point... I post it almost everywhere. You might call it my "elevator pitch." It goes something like this:

"I'm an unschooling mom in pursuit of minimalist and (relatively) moneyless lifestyle."

I don't really talk about any of that much here at Technicolor Typecast - they are kind of difficult topics to address (and I kind of like having a little bit of a break here too :). What we're doing is actually really awesome though (in my opinion anyway), and I hope I get around to sharing more about it someday!

Back on the 3rd of July I wrote a tiny bit about what we've been doing and invited questions. Here's some of what I wrote:

"...Yes, we are a family of 4 living off of $800/mo (US$) plus whatever else we can scrape up! It can be done, and it doesn't have to be That Bad. We're kind of hoping to be an example for others to show you can "have everything" without a wasteful lifestyle...."

"...Feel free to ask questions about our lifestyle, I would love to answer them in posts. We are EXTREMELY low-income (partly by choice), unschoolers (kids are 1.5 and 7 years), members of our local self-reliant and sustainability groups, and when we move we plan on trying out minimalism, or at least the 100-Thing Challenge. Oh, and my husband and I (though we are not "officially" married) have had a fantastic relationship over the last 5+ years of spending our lives together 24/7. And I had a homebirth. Damn, we do all sorts of different shit. Let me know what you'd like to read about..."

Byakuya was kind enough to ask a question! He is the author of Serenity Blogs: including RPG Index, Riot of Legends, Hilarious Images, and Serenity Anime.

He asked:

"Won't your children resent you for not having what most normal kids get at that age?
No offense intended, it's just if I had to grow up like that I wouldn't be friends with my parents, I would probably stop contacting them when I moved out."

I like being asked difficult questions and challenged and growing and learning and all that good stuff, so I really wanted to answer because it's a valid concern and I think a lot of people have it.

Will my children resent me? I can't really control how they feel about me, lol. All I can do is my best, and I think unschooling and minimalism is best. This isn't to say that we force them to do it.

Granted, once we are more on the minimalist side of things (we are not quite yet), they are probably going to have to have fewer toys than the average American. But they will still have toys, and we'll get the best quality we can. Even though we are trying to go moneyless, that doesn't mean we buy a bunch of Dollar Store junk.

We do our best to live by example, not only as an example to our kids, but as an example to others: Things can be done differently. You don't really need things that you feel like you need. That kind of thing.

We do our best to make sure our kids have lots of freedom and let them make their own decisions. We're not perfect at it, but perfection is an illusion anyway -- especially when it comes to parenting. It's interesting though, because our 7-year-old doesn't really realize he has a lot of freedom and kind of takes it for granted, so that's been an interesting thing to try to help him overcome.

We're still pretty new at unschooling (though technically we've been doing it for almost 8 years!) and we don't claim to really know what we're doing. We're constantly learning more, and I figure the best place to learn about homeschooling and unschooling is not necessarily from other parents (although they are a huge help) but from adults who had been homeschooled and/or unschooled. What worked for them? What didn't?

I was so excited to see that one of my favorite bloggers, Ev Bogue, was actually unschooled growing up, so I asked him what he had to say:

"Unschooling rocked. 
Here's the two things that I think you need to think about to make it work. 
1. The kids need to have uncontrolled ability to interact with the world. IE, no one watching over their shoulder. The most important things I learned were things that no one watched me do. The new world will be very different from the one that we're currently living in, you and I won't understand it but our kids will.

2. Many cities live in isolation. People living in boxes, unable to interact with anything but their TVs. This is sad, and I'm doing everything I can to fight it. There are cities that aren't like this. They're better for experiences. This is why Leo Babauta moved to San Francisco to unschool his kids, because there are experiences here. If you live in nowhere, your kids will end up nowhere. I know, it's hard to say, but it's true.
Anyway, hope that helps!

That said, we are planning to hopefully move to Tacoma in the upstairs apartment of a home owned by a really awesome woman who's really active with the community and permaculture scene. The move is planned for a couple of months, and I am SO excited (even though it's certainly no San Franscico). There really will be a lot more resources and hopefully we'll be out doing stuff a lot more often. Although I do think unschooling could be pulled off really well anywhere - I agree, it probably is easiest in the city. Along with minimalism and living with not much money! Nothing like growing up in the 'hood. :D

Hopefully I answered your question, Byakuya! Let me know if you want to know more and I will share in the comments. :D


  1. I think it's hard to resent when you're in that situation. Growing up I was in a similar one, I was uh, kinda weirdly homeschooled. Anyway, I don't resent it and it all went down like it did, I love my parents the same as I would if I'd gone to a normal school, if not even more. But then yes, I was active and I do live literally in the middle of the largest city here, those factors definitely help make that all smoother. I guess I was living pretty minimalist too, we had to. I dunno, I think it's because of all that that I am who I am, and I like who I am. I see just about everyone who was raised "normal" and how they're unhappy and unsure of themselves and I'm glad my parents did what they did with me. I can be happy.

    You guys are doing good.

  2. This is kind of comes at your post sideways but I don't much care for the term 'unlearning' just because evbogue's coinage of a term out of an existing word is counter-intuitive. And "un-tention" just had my eyes rolling.

  3. Wow, lots of thought in this!

  4. now there are some values most people dont value in the US today