Freedom with food is one of the most challenging aspects of Radical Unschooling for most parents striving to live a more peaceful life with their children. Some have asked me, “What if you child wants to eat sugar, all day?” My response is always the same: Control causes an unnatural dynamic to occur between a child and food. A child will want what the parent is attempting to control in abnormal abundance, in an attempt for autonomy. However, parents see this behavior and assume it is children simply making poor choices and without control, children would do nothing but eat, “junk” all day. This simply is not true. When a parent is controlling something, it warps the child’s relationship with whatever is being controlled. A humans’ innate desire for freedom and autonomy is so strong and when being controlled, a person will overdo, abuse and do things that aren’t natural or balanced for them. The need for autonomy, choice and freedom are at the forefront, always. In short, even subtle control and coercion causes imbalance.
When living in partnership with your children, and not controlling them, then are able to find true balance with what feels best for them and their bodies. This is coupled with Trust. When you’re living with trust for your children and not fear, you usually do not feel the need to control. My children believe me when I share information with them. They do not think that I am inadvertently attempting to control them to control them with fear-based information. We research together, watch documentaries and they truly want their bodies to be healthy! Who doesn’t? This is amazing to those who have never experienced this with children before.
I do think it is important to have balance as a parent yourself and not live in fear. I sometimes crave something like chocolate and do not feel guilty for indulging with moderation. I know that my body is resilient and strong and more often than not, I am supporting my children in their desire to give in to a craving because honoring these moments of desire are where we can be balanced and healthy.
So, my children would never desire to “eat sugar all day long” anymore than I would. I have total freedom with food, as do they. We lead a healthy life where they desire to learn about how to keep their bodies healthy. Devin and Tiff have both done their own research and have the freedom to form their own beliefs surrounding nutrition and wellness.
My children have the freedom to eat what they want. Currently, Devin is Paleo. Tiff is vegan and Ivy eats very healthy. Orion sticks to the few things he likes right now. I eat a high-raw diet and my husband calls himself an “opportunist” and eats whatever is available. We all have the freedom to choose the diet that feels best to us. I shop, based on what the kids want and prepare whatever they’d like.
Based on his own research, Devin prefers that I purchase free-range, organic meat. So, I purchase it at a farm down the street. He has researched homesteading and ideally wants to hunt for his food. Tiff & Ivy, my daughters, are very much against his desires, so at the moment in life, they have many discussion/arguments about who is “right.” They all have fabulous points about sustainability, animal rights, freedom and healthy. I support them all!
I do not judge my children’s choices. I respect them and I know that what they choose to eat is an extension of themselves. I know that if I say that what they are eating is “junk” that they internalize this. What does this do to their bodies when they eat what Mom judges as “junk?” What does consuming what you judge as “junk” do to you? Everything I put into my body I view as nourishing, no matter what it is. I believe that what you feel about the food you eat is just as important as what you are actually eating.
It is through true freedom and respect that my children have balance and have discovered their own path to wellness. They respect what I say and use information that I share as a valuable truth to them. They look at me as a guided resource and believe what I share with them. I am never standing between them and their desires. They know that I value and honor their choices in life. It is through partnership and true autonomy that children discover balance, health and wellness.