DiscoverExploring UnschoolingEU364: Unschooling Stumbling Blocks: Including Kids in Decisions
EU364: Unschooling Stumbling Blocks: Including Kids in Decisions

EU364: Unschooling Stumbling Blocks: Including Kids in Decisions

Update: 2024-04-11


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We are back with another episode in our Unschooling Stumbling Blocks series and we’re talking about including kids in decisions.

There are many reasons why parents may rush through big decisions without giving children a chance to weigh in, but we’ve found that including kids in decisions provides us with useful questions and information, helps avoid dysregulation and melt downs, and results in so much learning for everyone in the family. Being a part of making important decisions now gives children experience that will help them when they have their own big decisions to make in the future.

We also explored how important validation can be as we’re talking about making changes in a family. Anna mentioned an inspirational TikTok video that is a great example of validation and we have linked that below.

It was a really fun conversation and we hope you find it helpful on your unschooling journey!


TikTok video from @youngmi

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Watch the video of our conversation on YouTube.

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We invite you to join us in The Living Joyfully Network, a wonderful online community for parents to connect and engage in candid conversations about living and learning through the lens of unschooling. This month, we’re talking about supporting our children’s autonomy. Come and be part of the conversation!

So much of what we talk about on this podcast and in the Living Joyfully Network isn’t actually about unschooling. It’s about life. On The Living Joyfully Podcast, Anna Brown and Pam Laricchia talk about life, relationships, and parenting. You can check out the archive here, or find it in your your favorite podcast player.


ERIKA: Hello, everyone! I’m Erika Ellis from Living Joyfully, and I’m joined by my co-hosts, Anna Brown and Pam Laricchia. Hello to you both!

On today’s episode of Exploring Unschooling, we are diving into another unschooling stumbling block, which is including kids in decisions. I’m really excited to talk about this one, but first I wanted to give a quick plug to the Living Joyfully Network, which has really been life-changing for me in so many ways.

On the Network, we have amazing discussions about so many topics, since our community has such a wide variety of experiences. I love the community so much, because everyone there is really learning and growing and being intentional with their families. If you’d like to learn more about the Network and check it out for yourself, you can visit or you can click the link in the show notes. We would love to meet you there.

And Pam, would you like to get us started talking about including kids in decisions?

PAM: I definitely would. This has really been a fascinating part of the unschooling journey for me and it grew out of just recognizing how capable my kids were. I mean, even before they left school, I respected their feelings and their needs. But it wasn’t until they were home and I was seeing them in action day in and day out that I came to see how truly capable they were of making choices.

So, I saw how even if I wouldn’t make the same choice, the choice that they made made great sense for them. I got more and more comfortable with them making choices for themselves, and it was just brilliant to see it in action. Once you give them the space to do that instead of jumping in with, “Oh, well why don’t you do this? Oh, why don’t you do that?” it was really amazing to see.

And then let’s peel back another layer. It hit me that the decisions that parents typically make, that impact the whole family, we’re impacting them, even though I was making a decision. And so, that thought bubbled away alongside the thought of how capable my kids were of making decisions. And I was soon drawn to involving them in more choices, not just the ones that affected only them directly.

So, the first big one that I remember was about two years into our unschooling journey, and I went back and just quickly checked the dates and it started about two years in. And that’s when the idea of moving came up for us. So, I remember thinking that this is such a big decision, not just whether to move, but where to move. And it felt uncomfortable at first to fully involve the kids in the whole process. I worried that I would feel the need to override them at some point because they just couldn’t understand the nuance of this, or that, or the other thing that was involved. But I chose to step up and realize that this was my work to do. Let’s see how it goes. Put on that investigator’s hat and get curious about it.

Even though the process of finding a new home took about a year, fully involving them was amazing. They brought great questions with them, questions I didn’t think of asking, but were actually very relevant. They brought thoughtful feedback after touring properties and houses, and even if I didn’t have the same reaction as them, theirs made sense. Because now I was capable of seeing things through their eyes, so I could see how, yeah, that might feel a little off, or that might really excite them. So, their reactions and their feedback was awesome.

Their enthusiasm inspired me to keep going when I was getting tired of this long, long search. And when they didn’t feel like participating at times, they trusted the rest of us to keep their needs top of mind at that point. Because we had been all working together. There wasn’t that power dynamic of parents and kids at that point. They trusted that they were being heard, that they were being considered.

So, all in all, it was a very meaningful experience for me. You know how we talk about understanding something intellectually, but then getting it more deeply once we have our own experience of it unfolding in our lives? Well, after that experience, I understood in my bones that kids are capable of being included, as much as they are interested in, again, not at whatever level we expect them to be participating in it, but being able to participate as much as they wanted in those big family decisions. It reached every facet of our lives. It was just so meaningful for everyone and it just helped in so many ways that we will get into in this whole conversation, but like yes, an example of it in action.

ANNA: Right! And I think what’s so interesting is that it’s really stories in our head that it’s not going to be okay. Because we start thinking, like you said, they’re not going to understand the nuances, or they’re not going to get this, or they’re going to be more self-serving in what they’re wanting.

And then when we start peeling that back, it’s so interesting, because anytime we’re making a decision, we’re all kind of self-serving and thinking of what we want. We all have our thing top of mind. And so, what I loved about it, because we actually did a similar one with moving, and people did not understand, because in our case, we ended up not moving in large part because the girls weren’t ready to move. And people did not understand that. Like, what? Why are they getting to have the say in this big decision? And I was like, well, it is their life, too.

What I found was that they weren’t coming up from a place of being difficult or whatever. We were just able to talk about what it felt like to them. And then David and I were able to say, well, here are the thin









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EU364: Unschooling Stumbling Blocks: Including Kids in Decisions

EU364: Unschooling Stumbling Blocks: Including Kids in Decisions

Pam Laricchia