They learn from the world while playing in it.
Adele and Matt Allen are using a parenting style called “child autonomy” which involves allowing their children to have some control over their education, sleep schedules, food choices, meal times, and chores.
The Allens, who reside in Brighton, UK, follow an “unconventional parenting” method that correlates with their lifestyle of “frugal and natural living.”
“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,” Adele said.
The parents of Ulysses, 12, Ostara, 8, and Kai, 4, who are both 39 years old, have given their children the freedom to make their own choices as they don’t have faith in the healthcare and education systems.
“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 mother said.
The parents breastfed all of their children for a minimum of three years, believing that this will give them a strong and healthy start for their future.
“We also don’t use the education system. Instead, we unschool our 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.”
The couple “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,” but defended her lifestyle explaining that “this doesn’t mean no guidance. It’s just about involving them in the decisions,” she said.
The Allens think that parents should not make decisions for their children. They let their children explore their interests and choose what makes them happy.
Adele stated that her family’s practices have resulted in positive interests for her children, which she has already observed.
She is currently helping her daughter Ostara improve her sewing skills, and her eldest, Ulysses, is pursuing his interest in animals and computers.
“We just follow their lead. If they want to do a club and try a new group for a little bit, we just provide that for them,” Adele stated.
Although the naturalist doesn’t force her children to learn to read and write, she is confident that they will learn everything they need to know. Despite some people panicking about her parenting methods, she believes her children will be fine.
“Our son was 10 years old when he began taking an interest in wanting to read and write. He just picked up pen and paper and taught himself. He wasn’t bothered about us teaching him,” she said.
“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.”
The family posts about their distinct lifestyle on Instagram and YouTube. They sometimes have to protect themselves, but they have also formed a community of like-minded individuals and curious followers.
The Allens are aware of the criticisms leveled against their parenting techniques and lifestyle, where some consider them “lazy” or “cruel.” However, the Allens believe that their ways are actually contradictory to the criticisms.
The family prefers to wake up without using alarm clocks and they prepare meals whenever the children feel hungry. Additionally, they encourage but do not insist on participation in household chores.
“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,” Adele said.
They claimed that their lifestyle is “full-on” and they don’t follow a strict schedule. This allows each day to be unique and they have to pay attention to their children’s well-being and emotions until the kids decide to go to bed.
“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,” Adele stated.
The Allens prefer to let their children set their own schedules, even though it means they don’t have much alone time as adults. This is their preference until their children reach adulthood.
“We don’t want [the children] to spend their life doing what other people are telling them to do,” Adele stated. “We want them to find their passion, and not waste time in their life, so that they know who they are by the time they get around to having kids.”