the network for radical unschooling families
I really could use some loving support on this issue:
My 14 yr. old son has been needing to wear an occlusal guard for the last two years now. He must wear it four hours during the day, and when he goes to sleep at night.
I have been alternating between nagging him to put it in at such times to giving up exasperated and trying to get his father to get him to do it - which is somewhat stressful on me as well.
What do other people do in this situation when they are raising a free child that has no limits - yet his Dentist insists that there are limits.
How can I get him to take his own responsibility? Tonight he refused to put the guard in when I caught him in bed and the guard was in its container in the bathroom.
I sweetly said through his closed bedroom door - "I really hope you will choose to get up right now and take responsibility for your own teeth and put your guard in. I'm walking away now."
He kept saying this night is different, he's not going to...etc..etc..
I'm really tired of being a nag, and yet logic talk to him is not working either.
Can anyone give me some new ideas please (that could work!)
By becoming your child's advocate rather than the dentist's. Right now it's you and the dentist in a battle against your son.
What's the purpose of the guard? Is this for teeth grinding? If the teeth grinding is a result of stress, then nagging him is increasing the stress. Has he always been unschooled? Did the teeth grinding start while he was (perhaps stressed) in school? If the stress of school is gone, if you take away the stress of nagging, if you've given him a month of recovery for each month he's been in school with no pressure to do anything he isn't interested in, where is there stress in his life?
What are the alternatives?
What happens if he doesn't wear it? If he's been wearing it for 2 years I'd say you don't know! What will happen if he takes a break for a year? For 5 years? For until the problem bothers him? (What I do know is that the longer you keep him from deciding based on *his* need to fix the problem, the longer it will take for him to decide he wants to fix it. Right now he's fighting not the fixing, but your control. And he's going to associate your control with the problem for quite some time.
What about the problem bothers him? If he's not bothered, then why are you trying to fix it? Would it feel loving to you if your husband kept focusing on some gray hairs you have?
** when they are raising a free child that has no limits **
Neither free nor no limits are good ideas for radical unschooling.
Radically unschooling parents lend their children their power to help kids explore what they want to explore. They aren't free but they are given greater power and support to explore than most kids.
And life has limits. The sun sets everyday for unschooling kids just as for schooling kids. ;-) The neighbors don't like being awakened at 3AM by unschooling kids any more than schooling kids.
Radically unschooling parents don't set *arbitrary* limits. They partner with their kids to help them find safe, respectful, doable ways to get what the kids want.
** How can I get him to take his own responsibility? **
Despite the 100s of millions of parents who define responsibility as you have, that's not responsibility. Responsibility is a choice to do something to our own internal code. He has neither choice nor the ability to use his own internal code. What you're doing is imposing a duty on him but calling it responsibility. And then you're seeing him as irresponsible when he's not. He's fighting for control over his own body.
Kids won't fight against what make sense to them. Unless their power to choose is taken away. And then they will fight control and sense becomes an innocent victim.
Kids will trust their parents if they know their parents are there fighting to find an alternative that will work. How many alternatives have you tried? How many dentists did you visit to discuss the pros and cons with, being your *child's* advocate, asking the questions he wants to ask but can't? Asking and asking until you know all the facts? Asking your son what *he* wants to do?
Have you read Parent/Teen Breakthrough: The relationship approach by Mira Kirshenbaum:
It should be essential reading for every parent before their kids become teens :-D
Joyce thank you ! I'm not the one who wrote asked for support, however your reply was a perfect reminder for things I''m facing in my own life.
You're welcome :-) Glad it was helpful.
And I think everyone knows, but I meant a month for each *year* in school, not each month. That would make deschooling last a *really* long time!
**** So while I'm glad your post helped Jean yesterday, it really doesn't answer the question for us. Specifically, how does one impress upon their child that there is something that will help them from greater pain and/or anguish in the future even if it isn't obvious now? ****
Actually I did answer it. Just not in the way you were looking for.
How do you pull someone from their point of view to your own? You can't. Not without causing some damage to the relationship. This is true whether it's parent and child, spouses, friends, coworkers, any two humans where one has an agenda that the other isn't fully on board with. It's why dictatorships need strong police forces. It's why people avoid religious proselytizers.
If he does understand, does want it, then there's something else in the way. You're so focused on where you want him to be that you're ignoring what his actions are saying. So let go of where you want him to be. If it's where he wants to be too, then you don't need to pressure him. Let go and find out what's in his way. What doesn't he like about it? What does he want to do? What would he rather do? Really listen to him. Don't just listen for the answers you want to hear. Is it painful? Is it a pain in the neck? What can you do to tackle those problems?
Right now what you've done is turn your son into a problem to be solved. Stop doing that and partner with him to solve *his* problems.
One thing that's possible is that he doesn't feel he has a choice. Often when my daughter would say she didn't want to take the drive up to her art class and I'd knee jerk reply that she had to since we'd paid for it, then she *really* didn't want to go. But from her reaction I'd catch myself and say she didn't have to. And then, realizing she did have a choice, she chose to go.
If you can let go of the necessity that he wear the guard, give him the choice everyday whether he wants to continue with it or not, he's more likely to choose it. *IF* you've explored what's bothering him. If you've explored other alternatives with him. If you've let go of your idea and helped him explore to find what *he* wants to do.
As I said before, kids won't fight against what makes sense to them. But they *will* fight against a feeling they have no power over what's done to them.
**** He knows that we advocate for him and he knows that it is precisely because we don't want him to deal with the pain of wearing braces if he doesn't have to. ****
Goodness, braces aren't that painful! Nothing that an ibuprofen won't take care of once a month. My daughter may have taken something once or twice over 2 years. It sounds like he's going through a lot more emotional pain right now than my daughter ever had physically with braces.
This is similar to the tactic parents use to keep kids doing their school work by dangling the parents' greater knowledge of what bad things will happen to the kid if they don't do what the parents think is best.
I think better to get the facts than scare tactics. Let *him* decide which he'd rather do.
*** As far as other dentists: We like this dentist and trust him. Our son likes him too. Not an easy task. I think it would actually backfire to go to another dentist. ***
The point was to get more information so *he* feels comfortable that you've helped him explore all avenues, helped him acquire the information *he* needs to understand the choices. Not a full on dental school education. Just the information that he wants to answer his questions. Dentists will meet with potential new patients without charge. You don't need to change dentists in order to consult with another one.
*** And maybe the definition of responsibility we are using is different, but it is understood and agreed upon by our son. ***
But which is more important? Your son or the understanding? At this point the understanding seems to be the priority. If it weren't he wouldn't be so miserable. Let go of the understanding. Go back to square one if you have to. Be *his* advocate rather than the advocate of where you want him to be. Let go.
*** Yes it is a duty in order to prevent braces. No it's not life threatening, but still required. So as the sun sets, he still needs to wear the guard. ***
It will help you think more clearly about the situation -- to see his point of view the way he does -- to see that it *isn't* a requirement. It *isn't* a need. No one will be arrested. No one will die.
It is a choice you made. It's a choice that you felt you made together. Your son is rethinking the choice because of *something* that's in his way. But you're still standing on the "choice's" side. Your son is standing alone.