3.12.2008

Consensual Living

I just stumbled onto this phrase/idea/philosophy. At first I agreed with a lot of what the author was saying about respecting our children not manipulating them with 'false' choices and focusing on the positive of our everyday experiences instead of dwelling on the negative. As I read more though I started to find I was disagreeing with a core concept.

The 'have tos'. The article states that we limit ourselves and our children when we succumb to the 'have tos'. Kids 'have to' eat at dinner, share that toy with their friend, or go to bed at 8 etc etc.

Now I am all about allowing Braden to have choices when it comes to eating, or if he is cold and doesn't want to wear a jacket... I will even bend on the sharing part - because he will learn quite quickly the consequence of not sharing with friends.... BUT (and this is a big but) I take HUGE exception to the argument that kids can sleep when they are tired and choose when to brush their teeth.

I know that may sound silly - and I know that Braden can choose if he brushes he teeth or not... BUT their will be consequences.

I guess technically none of us humans "have to" brush our teeth... but good golly we certainly know that it a very very very smart idea. Besides the cosmetic and hygiene issues - we know so much more about oral health and how it can adversely effect our heart and other areas of our body.

Do I like brushing my teeth... not really - did I do it as much as I should of when I was a kid? NO... did I get lucky that I didn't get any cavities or have any other issues ... HELL YES!

I hate to disagree with such an enlighten way of thinking and I may just be putting my ignorance on display here (so please correct me if I am wrong) .... but I think there are at least a FEW have tos in this world - maybe not everyday or twice a day... but there are somethings things that whether you like it or not just have to be done.......

1. clean up puke poop or pee if it is in on or around a living space
2. don't poop where you eat
3. wash your hands at least once a day or after dealing with sickness or poop or puke
4. don't stand in the sun unless you want to burn.
5. don't stand barefoot in the snow - you 'have to wear shoes'
6. you can't walk through glass without any sort of protection either....
7. you can't drive blind
8. two men can't create a baby - you 'have to' have a woman involved somewhere
9. you can't walk into traffic and not get hit by a bus - you 'have to' watch where you are going
10. YOU HAVE TO BRUSH YOUR TEETH

if I have missed something here... please let me know.... and if anyone has a really enlighten AP unschooled consensual living way of getting their kids to brush their teeth without have tos or manipulation or force I am ALL EARS!

3 comments:

Anna Brown said...

Hi, Someone sent me this link and I couldn't resist a comment. It's really long because I'm copying another post so feel free to delete, I just wasn't sure how else to get you the info.

As for the list of "have tos", it's still all a *choice*

1. clean up puke poop or pee if it is in on or around a living space

>> I want to do this because to not would be really unpleasant in my surrounds, but I don't *have to*

2. don't poop where you eat
>>Again, you could - but why?

3. wash your hands at least once a day or after dealing with sickness or poop or puke
>> still a choice, I do it so I don't get sick, it's not a chore

4. don't stand in the sun unless you want to burn.
>> it isn't a given that you'll get burned but again a choice

5. don't stand barefoot in the snow - you 'have to wear shoes'
>> why? I've been barefoot in the snow, it was cold and I went back in :)

6. you can't walk through glass without any sort of protection either....
>>sure you can, it might hurt though, so why would you?


7. you can't drive blind
>>> that would be tricky :)

8. two men can't create a baby - you 'have to' have a woman involved somewhere
>>>two men could have child but I suppose they would be adopting or doing some pretty cutting edge science.


9. you can't walk into traffic and not get hit by a bus - you 'have to' watch where you are going
>>> people walk in traffic all the time, I look because I'd like to not get hit but I don't *have to*

10. YOU HAVE TO BRUSH YOUR TEETH
LOL!! No you really don't :) Below is an old post about this

What does buying into the concept of "have to" do for you? I think it can make you feel trapped. When you can let go of that you can see the world of possibilities out there, you realize that you are in control of your own life and that you ALWAYS have a choice. It feels really different to change a diaper because you want to keep your child clean and dry than to change a diaper because you "have to".

OK again, sorry about the length.
~Anna


==A few things that are often pointed out when toothbrushing and mindful
parenting come up on these lists (just in case you haven't heard them
yet :), and also a few thoughts of my own:

Apples, carrots, celery and other crunchy fruits and veggies help to
clean plaque off of teeth, and cheddar cheese helps to change (I
think) the pH balance in the mouth so that plaque is less likely to
form. You could just plan on keeping small snack plates of these
available and out much of the time.

Rinsing with water after eating, especially after eating sugar, will
help reduce the formation of plaque. Again, have a favorite water
bottle or cup with water available where she is -- in front of the TV,
in her room, whatever. Then it's easy to reach when she wants it, and
it's no big deal if she doesn't.

There are some great kids' books that really explain what plaque is
and how it works, on the bacterial level -- the scientific
information. If you don't already have them, buy one or two of those
books and just have them in your book collection -- that way the
information is available as she happens upon it.

There are lots of different toothbrushes (including the
electric/rotating toothbrushes), toothpastes, and mouthwash/rinse
products out there that kids can try. There are also different gums
that can help clean the teeth, and those Listermint papers kill some
germs, too (my son Fisher loves those things -- go figure). This
doesn't have to be a big deal, but when you go shopping together, you
can just let her pick out some of these things that look fun to her,
and that way you'll have an assortment of different things at home.

I often just get Fisher's and Riley's toothbrushes ready and bring
them to the kids in the middle of the day, especially if I'm brushing
my own teeth at that time anyway. In front of the TV is a great place
to hang out and brush our teeth together :) -- this is very low-key
for us. If needed, I also bring a cup of water so Fisher can rinse
and spit without leaving the TV.

You didn't mention if the dentist you visited was a pediatric dentist
or not. If your area has a good pediatric dentist with a good play
area in his/her waiting room, you might check in with the staff about
just bringing your child there to play once in a while -- just a
trip to the playground, in a sense. You don't even have to talk about
the dentist or to the dentist at all. That way, as he gets
comfortable with the waiting room, that will be one less hurdle to
overcome if/when he's ready or she *needs* to go to the dentist.==

One last thought -- Pam G mentioned that brushing teeth does come up
really often in these discussions. She talked about texture and taste
of the toothpastes -- I agree, and think it's even more than that. I
think the activity itself just raises a *lot* of sensory issues for a
lot of kids. At that age, when their mouth is still so related to
pleasure and comfort and taste of food, it can feel very violating to
put something relatively large and hard and prickly in there. I've
posted before that my son finally decided to sing while he brushes to
help get his mind off of that. That's what works for him.

I think as parents we can *start* the conversation there -- validating
that it can be really unpleasant to do this thing.

One other thing you could try is, instead of using a toothbrush, use a
wet washcloth with toothpaste, pushed over his teeth by one finger.
It might feel gentler and more in control.

Julia Stewart said...

Anna - thank you so much for your thoughtful answer. I think I understand where the CL philosophy is coming from. I just have a hard time balancing that with my perceived idea of how best to teach my son about this world - and what is expected of him. I am certainly on a 'quest' here and I look forward to seeing how my parenting is changed by this knowledge.

Thank you again for stopping by my blog and taking the time to answer my query.

annie said...

We're in the originating land of permissive parenting and there are so many aspects of this approach that tempt us. At the end of the day, we need to keep ourselves sane by taking off. That means the kids have to be packable. Go anywheres. It's not all polite 'be seen and not heard' either. If I want them to be in the field with me, from Dhaka to Attis, they have to stop when I say stop or maybe a snake will get them or a rickshaw will smoosh them. I really trust the kids as a result of our boundaries-style parenting. In the park, they stop when I say stop, even at the cost of whatever lovely thing they were just about to destroy. Er, explore.