What is the point of parenting if you don’t get to force your own agenda? We start doing this early, by picking a mate. I picked smart, good looking, and Jewish. I didn’t pick good social skills. Believe me, I would have, if I had understood their importance at the time. But one result of not having social skills is you don’t know why anyone else needs them, either.

So I have smart, good-looking, Jewish kids. And I also have kids who spend a good part of each day running around fields and forests, which is also my agenda: I wanted that as a kid, so I moved to a farm as an adult.

So I talk all about self-directed learning and following my kids’ lead, but really, if my kid said he wanted to play football there would be a quick stop to the idea that kids know what’s best for themselves.

I have other agenda items: No teen pregnancy. I am starting early on that one. No keeping odd hours for bedtime. I feel like it’s a linchpin of to self-discipline. And no rampant sex videos on YouTube.

The last one was the hardest for me to manage. Mostly because my son has already done a lot of searches and knew what he’d be missing. So I started looking into my options. When I found Hax Attacks, and gave it a whirl, I learned something about forcing my agenda: The kids will try anything in the form of a game.

Hax Attacks teaches kids about safe Internet use in the form of a game. If I had said to the kids, “I need you to know about cyber security,” they would have decided right then that they don’t care about cyber security. But when I say, “Hey, maybe you’ll like this game,” they’ll give it a try.

This is my new tactic for forcing my agenda. I have already done this a few time – like with a geography game. But now I realize that I can force them to think about any topic for a few minutes if it comes in the form of a game.

10 replies
  1. Bec Oakley
    Bec Oakley says:

    That airplane tweet was one of my favourites of yours :)

    I think the whole key to learning in general is to make it into a game. Well, play at least. Thanks for the tip re: Hax Attacks, will have to look into that one. Cyber safety is a really important skill.

  2. MoniqueWS
    MoniqueWS says:

    Unschooling does NOT happen in a parental vacuum. Sharing things with your unschooled kids in a form they are receptive to is smart. If you deny them the option of discussing or questioning the things you share with them then you are forcing your agenda.

  3. karelys
    karelys says:

    My dad used to tell me things and pretend he couldn’t finish and go.

    I’d be thinking about it all day. Like when he told me the story of a neighbor girl he couldn’t name. According to him she got drugs slipped in her drink while at a party and omg what happened to her next!!

    Then he had to go.

    I never let my drinks out of my sight or accepted open ones ha!

  4. Elizabeth Kane
    Elizabeth Kane says:

    I don’t think we ever really stop making life, or learning, into a game. Adults are just sneakier about it. We compare ourselves to other people and feel when we’re winning, losing, or needing more points. We do it so we won’t get bored and to make it worth our time. It’s harder *not* to make it into a game.

  5. Sandra
    Sandra says:

    Singing songs always does the trick with my kids. But I usually forget that this works. So after 15 minutes of ‘clean your teeth, clean your teeth now please, clean your teeth, we are not leaving this house until you clean your teeth’ etc I finally twig and when I say ‘hey lets sing the I have the shiniest teeth in town song, wouldn’t you know but every kid is in front of the mirror frothing away!
    By the by, I can’t sing but I can easily make up insanely stupid lyrics on the spur of the moment!
    Also on the topic of games have you seen this?
    http://www.sst-institute.net./

    Oh and I should use my social skills: Hello my name is Sandra and I am an INTJ non homeschooling mum who has been lurking here for a little while!

  6. Annie Kip
    Annie Kip says:

    Yes – this was a great strategy when my kids were little, but my tweens and teens are no longer as susceptible to this kind of influence. In fact, they seem to have radar for any adult attempt to influence their already perfectly brilliant point of view. I have found that my best communication vehicle now is humor. If I can find a way to make something absurd or ironic, whatever I am saying seems to sink in more and can even spark a conversation. Humor, and just being quiet until the right moment occurs to ask a thought-provoking question, have been my best strategies lately. I am just figuring it out as I go!

  7. CC
    CC says:

    phew! my introvert just bought the unschooled kids iPods. I hate gaming. I have issues. I acquiesced, with great trepidation. sounds like it might turn out okay. phew. thanks for this post, timely.

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