Couple ‘unschool’ their children, don't believe in medicines and let their kids make all the decisions
A couple has opened up about their unique methods for bringing up their three children including letting them make all the decisions, choosing to "unschool" them and avoiding the healthcare system.
Adele Allen, 39, from Brighton, and her husband, Matt, believe in child autonomy for their children, Ulysses, 12, Ostara, eight and Kai, four.
The youngsters aren't forced to learn to read and write and instead are allowed to make their own choices about what they want to learn.
With no fixed schedule, set bedtimes or meal times, the parents believe that their unconventional parenting method gives their kids a strong sense of identity, as they are not spending their lives doing what other people are telling them to do.
Adele, a stay-at-home mum, says: "We got into natural living before we had our kids, so it just became a natural progression that continued and began to affect all of our decisions after I fell pregnant.
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"I didn't have any medicalised births, and we started doing things alternatively and out of the system," she continues.
"We didn't do vaccinations for our kids, which people say is cruel of us, and we don't use the healthcare system. Instead, we use natural and herbal remedies."
The couple also don't use the education system, instead choosing to "unschool" their kids.
"This means they have to show an interest in something for us to explore it with them, instead of following a curriculum and telling them what they are going to learn," Adele says about the approach.
"We believe in child autonomy and enabling kids to take governance of their life, make their own choices, and decide what goes on in their life rather than dictating to them.
"However, this doesn't mean no guidance. It's just about involving them in the decisions.
"We don't believe it is up to the parents to choose what kids do," Adele continues. "We follow our kids' passions and what makes them happy and then just go with that."
Explaining their educational approach, Adele says that when their daughter Ostara started to show an interest in sewing, the couple bought her a sewing machine and some lessons and plan on letting her take it as far as she wants to.
"We just follow their lead," Adele says. "If they want to do a club and try a new group for a little bit, we just provide that for them.
"Our eldest, Ulysses, is more of an animal and computer person so we take him on trips to sea life centres and animal parks."
Adele trusts in what she refers to as a child's natural ability to learn and doesn't believe education needs to be forced upon them.
"Our son was 10 years old when he began taking an interest in wanting to read and write," Adele says. "He just picked up pen and paper and taught himself.
"He wasn’t bothered about us teaching him. Language is all around them, so they are bound to pick it up.
"With them not being in a classroom setting, there isn't the pressure there to do certain things by a certain age."
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With no strict schedule to stick to, the family say every day looks different to them.
"The kids go to bed when they like, wake up when they like, as we don't like alarms, and we don't have set meal times," Adele explains. "We just make food when they're hungry, and as they get older they make themselves food.
"We don't have any set limits on anything. However, we do have mutual agreements of respect such as not being too loud when someone is sleeping."
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While the family don't believe in forcing their children to do chores, they actively encourage them to help out.
"They help us look after our animals, garden in our allotment and keep their rooms tidy," Adele says.
"They're all pretty close to being vegetarian, but they do make their own food choices too.
"They were all breastfed full-term, until a minimum of three years old, which gives them a good healthy foundation. It sets them up for eating healthier and being healthier in the future."
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Adele says the family's parenting style has helped develop a respectful relationship between them and their children.
"I think it can be confused with permissive parenting, where there are no boundaries or guidance, but we do have boundaries just not arbitrary rules," she explains.
"We don't want them to spend their life doing what other people are telling them to do. We want them to find their passion, so they know who they are by the time they get around to having kids."
But their different approach has caused some controversy with those who don't fully understand the couple's reasoning.
"People have called us lazy, which just makes me laugh, because our parenting style is the opposite of lazy," Adele explains.
"They don't see our lifestyle in action. It's full-on in the fact that we don’t have as much of our own time as adults, because we aren't in the routine of putting the kids to bed.
"We're always monitoring the kids, their emotions and how they're feeling," she continues. "We aren't just sending them off to school for teachers to deal with. We have to respond and adapt accordingly to how they're engaging.
"We are taking full responsibility for their development."
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Adele says others have accused them of being "cruel" because they don't use the healthcare system or believe in vaccinations.
"We just focus on natural remedies, and grow our own herbs so the kids are involved in that too," she adds.
It isn't the first time the family's unusual techniques have courted attention. Back in 2016 they made headlines after their daughter appeared to pee live on television.
The couple were appearing on This Morning to discuss their unique family life and drew some raised eyebrows about their free-spirited views, with some saying their children who were wandering the set were "unruly".
But there was also some social media support for the couple.
“Why are people so horrified that the children are jumping around, being breastfed and weeing? All natural parts of being a kid,” one user wrote.
“So refreshing to see these parents doing what feels natural rather than conforming,” another added.
Additional reporting Caters.