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Permaculture and Parenting

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Hi Looby,

I saw your book at the recent Mother Earth News conference in Pennsylvania at the Chelsea Green Publishing table and picked it up. I thought I would like to read it someday, after I have finished the stack I'm working on. Great to have it featured on permies.

I have two questions regarding permaculture and parenting. The first is how to facilitate mutuality with young children. I am a fan of Peter Gray's Freedom to Learn blog with Psychology Today, in allowing children as much freedom as possible to direct their lives, and teaching mainly by example. But I find myself many days going from crisis to crisis between spilled food, fights, respecting property when we out, etc. It is not always like that, of course, and there are many times they work together harmoniously. I would, however, like to not be so crisis driven. I need a set of tools to pull out when there is not much time to think of alternatives to a reactionary response. But in my background it's "Parents are the boss, you are just to obey without question." I would like an alternative to this thinking. I am also a fan of Charlotte Mason, an innovative schoolteacher from England a century ago, who refused to see children as anything less than fully human. How do I respect their humanity to the fullest, yet influence their behavior so that they respect others and their needs? We do have rules in our house, set by the parents, but they are on an as needed basis. For instance, when there is too much food being scattered throughout the house, we make the rule "kitchen or outdoors only". Yet when they get to the point that they can eat responsibly by cleaning up after themselves, then the rule is no longer needed. We have a saying in our house, "Boss yourself well and you can be your own boss." Or something to that effect.

My second difficulty is in integrating a village approach with our family life. This is difficult, because our culture has everyone divided up into age groups. For parents to be able to spend more time with their kids, they must be stay at home parents and homeschoolers, and sacrifice their own "village life". I long for a community where parents share child care with others and children are also integrated into productive village life, while home life remains a safe retreat. Do you have any advice on how to go about making this change possible? Thank you for taking the time to share with us at Permies.com!

-Sara Harding
Posts: 1172
Location: Central Wyoming -zone 4
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i love your idea of allowing children their freedom, i feel this is a VERY important thing if our society is ever to pull back from the brink of tyranny, as a lot of our societies problem is not knowing what to do with freedom even if they had it, for example, montana irradicated speed limits about twenty years ago - a wise choice - but the people had not experienced enough liberty to use this newfound freedom wisely and many tragic deaths later the states solution was to take that freedom away again ( another tragedy in my opinion)
i think that this way of parenting will make the future generations more able to handle freedoms and be more apt to defend their freedom rather than slouch down as they are taken away - in short i APPLAUD you for parenting in this matter

i dont have any kids of my own yet so im afraid i dont have a lot of advice on tools, other than focusing on positive things and never missing the oppurtunity to educate on principles

the age seperation i agree is all too bad, in my personal opinion the solution is to rid our country of the "public" school system that breeds this idea that we must seperate ourselves from those of different age "groups" rather than personal choice of personality compatability and or moral standards

you may find this video interesting - about 7 mins in talks about grouping children:
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