What I’ve been up to lately…

It’s gotten a little quiet here, hasn’t it? Yes, it has. We have had some major changes in our family and we are still adjusting so I have to set priorities. Don’t worry, everything is fine!

And I just want to let you know what I’m thinking about.

In the past I have been focusing on unschooling mainly. However, unschooling is something that just doesn’t work for us. Not because of us – we sure love it! But because of the country we’re living in. Unschooling is illegal over here. We have to either public or private school our kids. There is no alternative whatsoever.

I hate that thought and I will ponder about unschooling and homeschooling and home education and educational freedom some more, I promise. But I feel I want to focus more on Catholic Attachment Parenting in the future.

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How does that sound?

There are some great Catholic Attachment Parenting blogs out there and I think this blog can be part of this community. How do you feel?

So what am I planning to do?

I want to share some thoughts about why Attachment Parenting is Catholic – for me. What that means. What we can learn from our faith for our parenting journey. How we can parent our kids in gentle and loving way – not just infants, but also toddlers, kids and even teens.

I want to share some thoughts on how we can build strong families and why that is important. I want to share so many thoughts!

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Are you excited? I know I am!

But let’s take it slow, because I need to focus on my family right now. But what about you? Are there topics, questions, ideas you want to read about here at Living a Catholic Fairy Tale? What’s on your mind? Just let me know!

When you’re choosing a lifestyle that is illegal – Compulsory School Attendance and Unschooling

Are you an unschooler? Or a homeschooler? And is your government fine with that? Well, lucky you! Not everyone is as lucky as you are. In a lot of countries Home Education is just not possible because of compulsory school attendance. Home Education is considered illegal. A crime. Home Educators are considered criminals.

Like us.

In our country we have compulsory school attendance and Home Educators are harshly prosecuted. You can be fined until you’re financially ruined, children can be taken away, you can loose custody and even go to jail. There is one thing you really need as a Home Educator over here: Guts.

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No, I’m not joking. This is the reality we are facing. Every. Single. Day.

How do we cope with that? Well, our kids are still very young, so they don’t need to go to school. Yet. So we can pass undetected. For now. But what about the future? I’m going to be honest with you: I don’t know. I don’t. And that’s hard.

We have several options that we can choose but none of them really seems to be the right one for us.

Give up the battle before it really began and try to fit in

Option No. 1 is Give up the battle before it really began and try to fit in. We would just go look for a school that would somehow meet our needs and give our kids away to an institution we don’t believe in. Just to fit in. Just to not get into trouble.

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Look for a great school that is need-oriented and as close to unschooling as possible

Option No. 2 is Look for a great school that is need-oriented and as close to unschooling as possible. That, however, is complicated, since there are hardly any schools like that in our country. There are schools like Sudbury schools that have a very need-oriented approach which could be almost considered as unschooling – the thing is, however, they are hardly ever permitted by the government.

Leave the country and go somewhere where you can live according to your beliefs

Option No. 3 is Leave the country and go somewhere where you can live according to your beliefs. That would definitely be a possibility because there are several neighboring countries that allow Home Education. But leaving the country still is a tough decision. You’ll leave everything behind to move to a foreign country and to an unsettled future. It could be a real adventure. It could also be a nightmare.

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Stay and just do it. No Matter what.

Option No. 4 is Stay and just do it. No matter what. Lots of people do that. Regarding the consequences you can face that is a very courageous decision to make, though.

What will we opt for? I really don’t know. For now I stick to prayer and hoping for the best. What would you do?

How to start a minimalist-zero-waste-need-oriented-unschooling-catholic lifestyle as a family

First of all: What do you think about the headline? It’s quite impressive, isn’t it? And what on earth is a minimalist-zero-waste-need-oriented-unschooling-catholic lifestyle?

Well, let me explain.

Actually this kind of lifestyle is exactly what we chose for us as a family. Sometimes I feel it’s kind of unique and I think it shouldn’t be so that’s why I’m sharing our thoughts and our philosophy here. And I also share what you can do to start something similar.

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Anyhow, why would someone choose something like that after all?

Since we’re a Catholic family our faith means a lot to us and we’re eager to live a faith-based life. And that’s where you can start because actually that’s where everything started for us.

What does it mean to live a Catholic life? Obviously there is a lot of personal and family prayer, Church time, Bible reading, pondering, celebrating and getting together with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Being a Catholic requires you to ask for God’s will and his plan for your life. And that’s what we do – and God answers. He always does. Not always the way we want him to, though. He answers our everyday questions and he also answers the big questions. And you know what he told us?

And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

~ Matthew 25:40

So where does that lead us?

It made us ponder the consumerist lifestyle that we mostly have in our Western culture. It made us think about the side effects that are created by it: Substandard labor conditions, pollution, species extinction, mountains of trash, misery.

“No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

~ Matthew 6:24

God always called us to humility – not just for the sake of ourselves, also for the sake of others. Think of those who are sewing our clothes, think of child labor, think of God’s beautiful creation that is destroyed – by our greed basically. God doesn’t want that, that’s why he called us to humility.

Knowing that we started to refuse consumerism, we started to try to live a “zero-waste-lifestyle” – and we started to raise our kids in a need-oriented unschooling way (remember MT 25:40?).

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So what can you do to start?

Well, you want to take it one step at a time. Noah didn’t build the arch in just one day, right? You have plenty of time ahead of you so you can change the way you live. So here’s my top ten:

  1. A good starting point is to ask yourself “Do I really need this?” – because often you will honestly say “No!” Then don’t get it! You don’t need what you don’t need. Simple as that.
  2. If you do need something than there’s another helpful question to ask: “Do I need this to be new?” You can buy so  many things used and they are still good! Search for thrift stores or try to find the things you need online.
  3. Many of us own just so many things. You can go through your things and ask yourself: “Do I really use this?” If not: give it away, donate it, bring it to a thrift store, sell it on the internet.
  4. If you do need something new double-check the way it is produced. Where is it produced? Does the company it is produced for apply certain standards? You may want to support the Fair Wear Foundation.
  5. There is also a lot you can do in terms of food: Opt for organic fresh food. That means vegetables and fruits in the first place. Make sure they are not wrapped in plastic. That IS difficult, I know. Maybe you can get vegetables and fruits from a local farm? Or a food coop? Or something like that? If that’s not possible you will most definitely find some fresh food in the supermarket that is not wrapped – but maybe you’ll have to really make an effort. I think it’s worth it, though.
  6. Try to buy vegetables and fruits that is produced in the area where you live – opt for apples from your neighborhood instead of papaya from kenya e.g. Avoid long hauls!
  7. Eat less meat and other animal products!
  8. Start DIY. It’s a lot of fun, it’s a lot cheaper than buying everything new and you avoid products that are produced in a bad way (plus things you made yourself aren’t wrapped in plastic!)
  9. In terms of unschooling: Well, there actually is not real start – it just happens naturally. Unschooling is natural learning. Unschooling happens by the way – intrisically. You don’t really have to do much. What you should do is talk with your kids, be a part of their lives, ask them what they are busy with, ask them how you can support them – show interest in them. Try to really meet their needs.
  10. Speaking of needs: Need-oriented parenting isn’t hard, either. Observe your kids, communicate with them, take them seriously, value them – and set your limits.

What do you think? Tell me how you feel!

Setting limits as an Attachment Parenting family

Sometimes we get asked whether we do set limits at all as an Attachment Parenting family. Some people seem to believe that being responsive to your children’s needs and treating them respectfully would require to just let them do anything they want.

But that’s not need-oriented, that is permissive. Attachment Parenting is all about love, care, respect, freedom and communication – but it is not a permissive parenting style. To the contrary, Attachment Parenting is an authoritative parenting style.

Parents who want to raise their children in this way do discipline their children but in a gentle way – and they do set limits.

The question is not if Attachment Parenting families set limits but which limits they set – and how.

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Attachment parenting is a highly communicative parenting style. As parents we communicate our own needs, we respond to our children’s needs, we communicate the needs that we have as a family and we also communicate the needs other people have. We also talk about our values concerning faith, manners, ecological awareness, humility, generosity and so many other things that are important to us.

And that is also the way we set limits, we talk about what’s right and wrong in our family and how we can do things better. Setting limits doesn’t mean to force your children to do certain things or to behave in a certain way, it’s not about punishing misconduct or conditioning our children’s behavior. Setting limits in an attachment parenting way means to communicate and to ask our children to do or not to do certain things.

This is a beautiful way of growing together as a family in love and respect and yes, it does work. Sometimes it works better, sometimes it doesn’t work at all – like all things. Give it a try!

Why I consider Unschooling as deeply Christian

Just last week I pointed out what Unschooling is all about. This week I want to discuss why I consider unschooling as deeply Christian.

Yes, that’s right, I think unschooling is a Christian thing to do!

How is that? you might ask.

Well, let me point that out to you: As parents we are rewarded with the most precious gift you can get – our children. They are given to us by God – and they are given to us in trust. They are created in the image of God, not in our own image or in the image of society or culture.

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Our children are not unfinished beings who have to be shaped and finished by us in order to fit in. They are little persons who we are fortunate to get to know and who we can learn from. They will also learn from us and they will be shaped by us just as we will be shaped by them – but that’s not the point. The point is we can learn learn together, grow together, draw closer to God together.

So what’s our job as parents, really? Do we have to shape them – for society, workplace, culture? God? Or will it suffice to model our values to them? Will God do the rest? Do we trust him enough to let him do the rest?

Don’t get me wrong here: I’m not saying every Christian family has to unschool their children. And I’m also most definitely not promoting any kind of permissive parenting style!

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All I’m saying is that God gave us our children in trust – so we should trust our children and trust God and model that trust in our families. A beautiful way to do that is a need-oriented unschooling parenting style. It’s not the only possible way and it’s not the answer to all questions but it’s a great path you can choose for your family in order to honor God’s trust in you as parents.