#41 - Jen Keefe | Thriving Teens, Freedom through Unschooling and Authentic Parenting
🗓️ Recorded October 14th, 2023. 📍Coma Ruga, Spain
Where do you want to listen?
About this Episode
Are you ready to challenge the status quo and question conventional wisdom? Join us, as we welcome back Jen Keefe in a revolutionary conversation that has the potential to shatter traditional assumptions about education, parenting, and societal norms. We examine the journey of Jen's daughter, who, despite being homeschooled, exceeded all expectations and aced her driving test, proving that homeschooling does not limit a child's exposure or readiness for the 'real world'. Along the way, we also embark on an exploration of a series of historical murders initiated by four families, emphasizing how homeschooling can provide immersive and enjoyable learning experiences. Ever wondered about the influence of conformity on our moral compass? We dive headfirst into this thought-provoking topic, examining why as a society, we are so desperate for acceptance that it often skews our morality. We are not afraid to question societal norms, asking which rules are worth observing and which ones are meant to be broken. We also talk about lifestyle changes, such as adopting a plant-based diet, and how it can positively affect our personal integrity. We conclude with an engaging discussion on the transition from childhood to adulthood, both on a personal and educational level. Jen shares her experiences with partying, the aftermath, and the lessons learned. We broach the subject of 'unschooling' and its potential to challenge traditional education. We tackle the constraints of adult conformity, the beauty of choice, the struggle with social anxiety, and the power of authenticity. Finally, we explore the realm of parenting, emphasizing the importance of openness, vulnerability, and adhering to strong value systems. So, tune in for what promises to be an enlightening and enriching conversation.
Jen Keefe, also known as Pondering Jen, runs an old-school blog where she writes extensively about herself, believing that sharing personal stories fosters genuine connections. She emphasizes the profound wisdom that can be derived from listening to others' experiences. Jen's journey has been featured in various platforms including HuffPost Live, Parents Magazine, Scary Mommy, and more. She has also been a speaker at numerous workshops and conferences across the country. Embracing a creative life, Jen faced significant challenges, including a severe mental breakdown at 42. This event led her to introspect, rebuild her life, and pursue her passion for writing. As a Voice Over Talent and Podcast Host, she explores her creativity publicly. Despite not having a traditional business plan, Jen's goal is to remain open to new opportunities and be ready when they come knocking.
▬ EPISODE LINKS ▬
- Website: https://ponderingjen.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ponderingjen
- X: https://twitter.com/ponderingjen
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ponderingjen/
- Jens podcast: https://www.hirejensvoice.com/real-womens-work-podcast
- Jens podcast on X: https://twitter.com/realwomenswork
Watch the full interview on YouTube
0:00:00 - Jesper Conrad
Welcome to Self-Directed. We are your hosts, cecilia and Jesper Conrad, and now it's time to welcome this week's guest. Today, we're yet again together with Jens Kief, also known as Pundering Jens, and last time, when we were about to finish, we were like let's talk again, and one of the subjects we wanted to delve into was teenagers. And just before I hit record, you said that you have had an epic fall, not like down the stairs, but the season.
0:00:44 - Jen Keefe
Fortunately we could also.
0:00:46 - Cecilie Conrad
Just, you know, I like the head on, but we could say hi.
0:00:50 - Jen Keefe
Yeah, it's nice to see you. Hi, I'm so glad to see you guys. I've been so looking forward to this and it's been on my mind as we've been having this epic fall, so this is awesome.
0:01:00 - Cecilie Conrad
Right, then we're having a good.
0:01:03 - Jesper Conrad
It just for me it sounded like a YouTube video Epic fall.
0:01:07 - Cecilie Conrad
All the tyrannies, all the waves is in the terrain and yeah.
0:01:13 - Jesper Conrad
So in lightness, how has it been?
0:01:16 - Jen Keefe
We've just been having so much fun. We've just been having so much fun. So my son turned 16. First of all, I'm super like jazzed about all of this, so stop me if I just start rambling, because I've been doing a lot of that these last couple of weeks. But my son turned 16 and said right around the time we talked last and here in the US and New Hampshire that means you're eligible to get your driver's license. So that happened, which is very exciting and interestingly I can share this with this audience that was his. So in the US we have to go through driver's education if you want to get your license prior to turning 18. And my son opted for that.
0:01:59 - Cecilie Conrad
Can you get it without an education after 18? Yes, getting scared. Now I'm going to the States. I want to be like killed in traffic In Europe. You don't need the driver's license, the education, no matter what. I took it when I was personally 37. Oh, okay, yeah, you can't drive without the permit. You get the permit after the exam. Age is of no relevance.
0:02:26 - Jen Keefe
You still have to pass a test, a knowledge test and a driver's test. Okay, thank you, but you don't need the education. Yes, so you can rest a little bit. A little bit easier. Okay, gotcha, okay, understood.
So Owen was undecided. He was thinking he was going to wait until he was 18 because he didn't want to go through the whole class and blah, blah, blah. Then he inherited a car and that was highly motivating. So we signed him up for Driver's Ed and you guys, this was his. So he was 15 years, nine months. It was his first experience out in a class with the Muggles. Like no homeschool parents there. I wasn't going to be with him. It was all public school, private school kids, not another homeschooler. This was the first time he'd been in that experience and so he had homework. He had tests every single week, first time he'd done any of that stuff. Wow, it was amazing to watch. All of a sudden it was like all of the criticism and concern we'd heard over the years about how they wouldn't be able to function in the real world. They wouldn't know how. And what do we say mean? When we say the real world, we mean the Muggle world. Right, like the, he wouldn't be able to. Yeah, exactly exactly.
Yeah, and he finished one of the highest scores in his class. He did every test. It was funny. There were a couple of things in the beginning of the class that he didn't know how to do. They were schooly things in terms of like switching papers to grade them. He was like I didn't know I was supposed to grade them. It was just silly little things like that. But he finished great. He was one of the few who ended up. So you switch paper tests with the person next to you.
0:04:11 - Cecilie Conrad
It's very common here Multiple choice thing and then it's objective. Okay, I got it.
0:04:15 - Jen Keefe
Exactly, that's exactly right. They're all multiple choice and it's common. I mean, I grew up doing that and it's just like a thing that happened but he had never, he'd never done it. So he was like, oh, I'm supposed to be, but he learned it within five minutes and so he was one of the few. He was the very first to get his license out of that whole class and he was 15 minutes early to every class. This kid's that's never been required to have a bedtime, never been required to set an alarm. I mean it was just an awesome experience so we had that.
But then I've been trying to figure out how to get language around all of this because I feel like it is so valuable and so, just unscoolly, in the beginning of September, end of August, a little group of families four families started talking about a particular subject. There were some murders that happened here off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine called the Isles of Shoals. There's a series of islands out there and back in 1873, there were some murders that happened there that were very curious. Somebody was convicted and hung, but it's always been sort of a real true crime from the past situation.
The murders were turned into a, or the story was turned into a bestselling book by an author called Anita Shrieve and she wrote that maybe back in the late nineties and then maybe 15, 20 years ago it was turned into a blockbuster movie called the Weight of Water, famous movie every, and it took place right here. So we all got excited talking about this, the parents got excited talking about this. We were like beside ourselves with excitement that we were all geeking out about these murders and where they took place and how they took place, and so we decided we were going to explore them a little bit.
0:06:01 - Jesper Conrad
And not so Right.
0:06:03 - Jen Keefe
And ideally not. Yes, no, no, no, I'll tell you, owen has been. I also have. My youngest is my daughter is 13, almost 14. Owen has really been keeping us in check about making sure we're not exploiting them, making sure we're not romanticizing them. There's been a lot of interesting conversation, cause we're so enthusiastic about it. Yeah, that he, you know.
So anyway, we've been spending the last four weeks just like maniacs. There's maybe 15 or 18 of us, these four families, like maniacs, running around our state, going into this research library, this Athenaeum. The librarians there are just feeding us all the materials they can, because the kids are just, you know, inhaling it and the parents are inhaling it. And we've been all over towns looking at buildings, looking at cemeteries, finding other people who related to the murder, learning about how the fishing industry was changing off the coast of New Hampshire in 1873, how there were different, you know, ways of fishing that have ultimately led to overfishing.
We've talked about all of that. We've talked about food preservation, so many different things, and it has been nothing but pure joy and pure excitement. And I'll tell you, if my kids ever wanted to go to college and they were sitting in an admissions office talking about their transcripts. It would be and this is like just so much of our lives the most meaningful conversation to that adult, because my kids were thrilled to be doing all of this. They don't even know what they're learning.
0:07:51 - Jesper Conrad
No, no, no.
0:07:51 - Jen Keefe
0:07:52 - Cecilie Conrad
And then you're not doing it for the learning.
0:07:55 - Jen Keefe
None of us are doing it for the learning. We are all just so excited and it's been really fun to watch the other parents find the freedom and the joy of following what's exciting.
0:08:11 - Cecilie Conrad
0:08:12 - Jen Keefe
0:08:12 - Cecilie Conrad
And just doing it for fun. I find that was it yesterday we discussed is it really worth it to take a dual university degree, especially in the States where you pay so much money for it. What's it worth with that piece of paper afterwards? And I always say you should never take any education if it isn't fun. If you get up in the morning and you really want to know what's in that book, then you're on the right path. And studying shouldn't be for studying. It should be because you're so excited about the subject, like what you're explaining here. It sounds amazing, maybe especially because you bounce it off. Each other, your four families and you get all excited and you have this synergy.
0:09:05 - Jen Keefe
Yeah, that's it.
0:09:05 - Cecilie Conrad
Synergy, synergy. There was so much. Yeah, sounds fun, sounds good. How did it start? Did you watch the movie by?
0:09:15 - Jen Keefe
accident. No, we were sitting at a picnic table talking about cool stuff about New Hampshire and we talked about this movie and we were like Halloween's coming. This is a murder mystery. Wouldn't this be fun to explore a little bit? And I don't think. Well, a couple of the other families lean toward unschooling, but I think I'm the only real unschooling parent there and one of the parents is very much the opposite of unschooling, and so we all were like, for different reasons, yeah, this would be really fun to check out, but nobody expected the group to move so enthusiastically and cohesively through this experience. And I think everybody is just amazed. When we try, when we have to put it down for our evaluations that we have to do, I think people are going to be amazed at how they have to stop themselves from writing it all down because there's just too much.
We know, you know, there's just too much.
0:10:14 - Jesper Conrad
That's been learned.
0:10:15 - Jen Keefe
So it was just a conversation at a picnic table and we said, hey, next week let's go see if we can find the gravestones. Yeah, that's fun. Yeah, it is fun.
0:10:24 - Jesper Conrad
So, just for the people who haven't know the murder story, do you agree with the one who was convicted originally, or where are we? Let me hear.
0:10:34 - Cecilie Conrad
This is a separate episode, so we should do an episode on it. That would be fun Like an extra Halloween yeah.
0:10:42 - Jesper Conrad
It's so good. Yeah.
0:10:46 - Jen Keefe
So I was steadfast because we're going to hear the author of this particular book Talk on Monday. I will have a better answer after that, on Monday, but I'm reading this really thick book. That is really the definitive answer to that. And he is a researcher, he is a local historian, his book is famous. He says, yes, it has to be Louis Wagner, and he gives really good reasons for it and I believe him.
Okay, that being said, maybe. That being said, it is so convoluted. It is so convoluted. There is so much, there is so much possibility of some sort of a love triangle. There is so much possibility that he was a fall guy. There was. So, I mean, the fishing industry was changing at that time right here. So the husband of one of the victims was very successful fishing here off the coast of New England and he was saving up money to buy the next boat that would. He would be able to implement this new way of fishing with all the big ways to catch the fish. A lot of people didn't want that to happen, for a lot of different reasons.
0:12:05 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, we have the conspiracy. I like it. I understand why you went down the rapid fold.
0:12:12 - Jen Keefe
We went out. We went to the spot where, so the night after the murder he his, if the, if the, if the, the reasons for the conviction are accurate, which I'm trusting from this book that they are we found and this was a. We had to contact the historic society. We had to go to a research library to figure out what this might be. I had to call multiple people to find out the place where he docked the boat, left the boat the morning after he committed the murders. We went and found that and traced it back to how we got back to town. There's a lot of I'm not so sure anymore.
0:12:54 - Cecilie Conrad
So that's, another line of the unschooling movement. Question everything.
0:12:58 - Jen Keefe
Yeah, question everything, but we have a whole bunch of notes to ask the author on Monday question the kids have come up with, the parents have come up with so that we can ask him. Well, wait, the kids have raised the most amazing questions. Wait, what about? You know what about this? Were the or handle things, would they really have been that war in the next day? And just just, they have so many great questions so we'll get more information on Monday.
0:13:19 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, you said something that made me think back about my own life and being a young, young human being, and it was how your son was a natural, how your son was a natural moral compass, raising the finger and saying, hey, let's remember, it's actually people who have been murdered here. And I just remember how I myself had that moral standing ground when I was young and how it for some reason had been corrupted during life, and I can even remember back then standing there and and talking about stuff and being a little who I must kind of maybe be annoying to be around, but this is what I believe is right. And in the last couple of years I have returned more and more to find back to my kind of true self and it's just fun how the morality we feel so naturally when we are young somehow disappears a little. Do we have some thoughts on that?
0:14:41 - Jen Keefe
I. It resonates what you're saying resonates morality and so many other things too. It's I don't know. I don't want to put feelings onto your experience, but how. How I think about that is it's almost like we feel too square, we feel like the killjoy, we feel like we're ruining everybody else's fun maybe by raising questions like that. Feel like we're not fitting in. It's hard to have a moral. I mean, even in this environment for Owen, everybody else was so pumped about the next activity we were doing and he was like hold on, we're marching in a parade, a historic town parade, as this scene, like an Owen was like we've got to read, you know so. So in that environment I think it does just feel and ultimately comes back to you shouldn't be who you are right? There's something wrong with who you are.
0:15:46 - Cecilie Conrad
And also maybe it comes back to when we were growing up in the school context. We were so dependent on being accepted by the group because you're totally dependent on surviving this basically cruel environment. It is to be away from your parents. You're locked up in the school, you're not allowed to leave, you're not allowed to eat when you're hungry, go to the bathroom when you need to get a bit of fresh air or finish the book if it's interesting. I mean, everything is so regulated and it that is emotionally very hard was, for me at least, to survive. And then, on top of it, if you don't have any friends, then it becomes really rough. So if you're the annoying guy killing the fun, then you lose the friends, whereas our children, they, don't really have that problem. Yeah, I think, especially our sons, but that's a little unfair to our daughters.
0:16:49 - Jesper Conrad
I think our daughters are there as well. I remember, you know, the time before Netflix, my moral compass about downloading a movie from the Internet was absolutely skewed, you know, and until one day one of our children looked at me and said but then you're stealing it and but you have written books, dad. How would you like it that someone just come and took one of those? And you're like explaining it to yourself. It's difficult to get it for back in the days where it actually was difficult you see, I'm still trying to explain my dirty deeds it was difficult.
0:17:28 - Cecilie Conrad
I would say, with that thing I was never on board with it.
0:17:31 - Jesper Conrad
No, no, you were always also the board, but also not afraid to not get accepted.
0:17:37 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, yeah, I was out in school and I don't think I didn't care.
I don't think it was fun to be the odd one out. It wasn't fun. I just don't think I ever considered it an option to be part of the group. It was like for me in school. I don't know, I think I just I don't know, I just couldn't. I mean, there was no way that I could be part of whatever it was going on in the in the center. I would, I would be. I was in four or five different schools before what you call high school. So it was two or three years in each school because we moved around and I was just happy if I had one friend. Yeah.
0:18:36 - Jen Keefe
It also made me think there's a trying to figure out throughout life, and maybe especially in the teens. There's the moral compass and the morality of things, but there's also to your point about school and so many other things trying to figure out which rules should I observe and which rules should I break. And how does that line up with my morality. Because if you follow all the rules, none of us would be living the lives we're living. But also there are some rules that are just dumb and if you follow all of them, I just have to sit here all the time. So that's a tough thing. In the teen years maybe is when you start to sort of play with that.
0:19:24 - Jesper Conrad
It might be that actually it made me think about another thing, which is when I went primarily plant based soon now, seven or eight years ago and stopped eating meat.
0:19:38 - Cecilie Conrad
Soon seven or eight.
0:19:40 - Jesper Conrad
0:19:43 - Cecilie Conrad
It's been a while.
0:19:45 - Jesper Conrad
It's been a while I can't remember the exact length, many years now I stopped killing to eating. I saw a change in my whole integrity that I hadn't thought would happen, but it was like I knew in my personal integrity I wasn't okay with the killing to be to eat, but I had somehow accepted it, not accepted it. I have said to myself it's okay, it's okay, it's okay. But then when I stopped, I could feel that I kind of straightened up myself on many more levels than just this one and it's just something I've been walking around thinking about. Also, one of my sons said something to me the other day where I was like, oh yeah, he's right.
0:20:32 - Cecilie Conrad
That's so annoying.
0:20:33 - Jesper Conrad
I should stop doing that, and they are clean in a way I admire. Why have we on some levels lost that? And it reminds me of some words American self-help guru Jack Canfield, who I was on a call with one day, said. He said self-development, personal self-development, is actually about removing the layers of you that aren't you and I love that one.
0:21:06 - Jen Keefe
Absolutely. I think that is so. So it resonates so deeply and for me feels so spot on and I think to what you both were speaking about earlier our kids being in this bubble, meaning outside of that necessary conformity. I do think so many of those layers aren't there. They're going to have stuff they're going to have to figure and work through, they're living on planet Earth, but so many of those false layers they may just never have needed to develop, or developed by not being in that environment, I think, probably teenagers who are unschooled will have more relevant problems to work with.
0:22:01 - Cecilie Conrad
I mean, they can put their, they are powerful, they have a lot of thought battery, if you could call it that. There's a lot going on in there and motivation to figure out how does this whole life thing work. But they get to think about things that are actually relevant for life rather than, you know, peel back the layers and try to impress the others and all these things that we had to struggle with because we were in a toxic environment when we were teenagers. Maybe also, therefore, it's more clear to them what's right and what's wrong, because they just they don't have to comply, they don't have to impress anyone, they're not afraid of being the one to turn off the candle. You say that in English.
0:22:56 - Jesper Conrad
I'm not sure it's a Danish expression.
0:22:59 - Cecilie Conrad
Expression is you're the one who turns, puts out the candle.
0:23:03 - Jen Keefe
Yeah, I've never thought of this in this way before, but it's so interesting that I totally just lost my train of thought. Oh my gosh, I hate when that happens. Then I'll just go on for a little while and then you're back. All right, the lack of conformity, it'll come back. It'll come back.
0:23:26 - Cecilie Conrad
You can have time.
0:23:27 - Jen Keefe
No, that's okay, It'll come back when you're talking, you want to talk.
0:23:31 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, I have one. I have one which is this whole moral talk about when we actually know what we feel is right and true. I like that. It's the subject of teens that we started without and it's actually then turns back to them. For me, there is a fun thing about the teens as the time they're living in. Our oldest son, he is turning 18 this January and he has lived without societal pressure. But we have heard there is something about 18 that it's where different legal stuff happening, then you can start to vote, and it's where you can get your driver's license and all that. He's a little put off by it. But I just find it interesting that he has actually lived a life where the years doesn't matter in the same way that it does for us, that it's like now this step is going to happen. Now this step is going to happen. I feel envious on the life they're living actually.
0:24:44 - Cecilie Conrad
I think that. It's an interesting point that I'm not sure it counts for all of our children, but what it does. There's no peer pressure to grow up fast. It's one of the big advantages of the home-based life in general from they are toddlers that there is no pressure to perform quickly. We don't care if they are 11 or 15 months when they start walking.
We don't count how many words they can say when they are a year whatever, it doesn't matter when they learn to read or if all these things and with I think there's a lot of pressure, not just from the peers, probably more from the system in and of itself of schooling, with the whole standardization of childhood that you have to grow up in a certain pace not too fast, not too slow, but maybe a little faster than the others just to be in front of whatever cartridge on the train that you're supposed to stay in. It's pretty ugly actually, and I think it gets worse when they are teens because of all the things that are emotionally and physically happening to them at the same time that they also have this pressure of being actually young adults. I think I see a lot of 14, 15 year olds trying to live a life of a 21 year old and there is no space to be this in between space that teenage life is. They are quite mature. I find we have a lot of adults in our household. Ours are 17, 15 and 12, the ones living with us, and I totally get that.
We are a lot of adults, but we are also a lot of children. They have this, they bounce back and forth and it's totally okay, and no one's telling them to whatever everything. All the adult stuff of dating and driving and voting and making money and smoking cigarettes and having sex and whatever. That is the pressure using makeup, and I mean, if they want to go ahead and get started with whatever element maybe not the smoking is bad idea, but the rest whenever they're ready I'm not against things, I'm just I'm against the idea that you cannot do it fast enough. And I see that they have the space to just be who they are.
And the reason I find it very interesting to talk about teenagers besides the fact that I have a few of them myself at the moment, is that this is the second, maybe third time we really lose people from the homeschooling and unschooling movement. We lose them at four or five ish, when kindergarten happens or some places they call it school at that point. We lose them again when they really call it school, and then we lose them again when they are teenagers, because there's this misconception that teenagers need to unfold their lives away from the family and with other teenagers in a very stressful environment. So I think it's important to talk about how we keep the teenagers on board, how we keep the families feeling okay about having teenagers at home.
0:28:27 - Jen Keefe
This is why this last month has felt so profound to me. It's not that it's exceptionally different than the way we've always lived life. It's that this group that we're moving through all of this with is all teens.
It's all teens and their parents, and they are all, and you're absolutely right. And when Owen went from 14 into 15, he started feeling the pressure of a lot of the homeschoolers went to high school because now life is serious. Okay, it was fun until they were 14, but now it is time to grow up and get serious. And even if they weren't going to school, things got more serious at home, more formal with their curriculum, more formal with their grading work, and that put a lot of pressure on Owen and he went through a period of really almost in a panic about am I going to be ready for the real? You know, we had to do a lot of. I pulled in a lot of resources, we had to do a lot of talking, a lot of looking at the facts. Well, if you do want to go a traditional college route which I am only in support of, there's a really specific reason then then, are you actually limiting yourself by how we're living right now? No, you're not. We met with an expert about that. Nope, you're not. So we gathered all the data.
But it's why this month has felt so special and so profound, because we're watching these teams who otherwise would be in the race. They would be in the race. They would be up at five in the morning racing to do this, to submit this homework assignment, to get this grade that they'll never remember what it was they talked about or learned about. There's zero context. The goal is the grade. The goal is to get the check mark from the teacher. The goal is to do what you're supposed to so that, within the race, nobody's going beyond you. So when you reach the next benchmark 18, you are taking the lead, you are going ahead of everybody else. And to watch this group of teenagers start some of which would be their freshman year here in the US, some their sophomore year to watch them start the fall, what I don't know, what that means.
So first you have your first year of high school, so 15 and 16 year olds. These are 14, 15 and 16 year olds. So in the US that is high school, which is very important, all capitals very important. It is the most important. We should underline it as well. Exclamation big black sharpie marker it's high school, high school, high school. So these kids would all be in high school this year and we know what that looks like here and it's horrible and it's awful.
And kids don't sleep. They don't sleep. They get six hours of sleep if they're lucky at night, between their required sports, their required homework, their required school hours, their required driver's ed, their required instrument, all of these things. They don't sleep. And so to start September, which is when school starts. In the area of the country that I live in, it starts in September. To watch our kids have this September, where I know they are learning we all know this a gazillion times more than they would in school. And it's all contextual, knowing to your point earlier the relevance to their life, not just now but forever. It's such to me a marked difference than my kids being in high school. It just feels so profound.
0:32:10 - Cecilie Conrad
And, more importantly, they're learning that life can be really fun, that you can obsess over something with some friends and go into a rabbit hole, and it will be really exciting. I mean, what they learn in school is that they have to obey and they have to learn something so they can get the mark and forget about it as soon as possible. So there is space for something else. It's not about what you feel excited about. It's not about feeling happy. It's not about. It's not even and that's one of the things I really hate about the school system it's not even about what you think about it, what you learn, because you can read that book, that big fat book about these murders, and get something out of it.
If I read it, I'll have another story to tell. It will be another learning journey for me. There will be other associations, other ideas that spring from it. For me it will be other questions, and that's relevant. But the whole curriculum based learning journey thing at this point at least, where we come from, in the school books it even says in the beginning of the chapter this is your learning goals, this is what you're supposed to learn, and then you read the chapter and then you take the test and then hopefully you learned what it said in the beginning there's no space, no wiggle room. You cannot have a creative idea ever.
And go in whatever direction would make you happy, or maybe you could come up with something new. That's not the point. You have this structured. It's like a train on the rails and you stay on those rails, and that's one of the things I find horrible about the way that you quote unquote learn in the school system?
0:33:57 - Jen Keefe
There's no personality in it, and we know that school, here in the US at least, was literally designed to do that. That was the whole purpose of designing school. But you made me think of something else, and now I'll probably end up all emotional again. God forbid I talk to you guys and don't get emotional. But another thing that has felt really profound about these past weeks is what you said earlier.
You said that this age 15, 16, we're supposed to be pushing our kids out, preparing less time, less time with our kids, less time. They're more adults, they're more out in the real world, and we are having the polar opposite of that. We are. All these families are leaving early in the morning. Even my late sleeper is getting up early in the morning because she is so excited to get out and explore this thing that we're doing this day. So, from early in the morning until late at night, we're all together out in the world, talking to experts, exploring the geography, exploring the topography, exploring the boating route. We're spending more time together. Yeah, when I didn't think that was possible.
0:35:17 - Jesper Conrad
0:35:17 - Jen Keefe
And another thing that it makes me think of is when we first started to go down these rabbit holes. This is a new group that's come together. We've always known each other, but a new group. And one of the things that I said it happens to be all moms they were. We were kind of like, ah, the kids really going to love this, and we all said if they don't, we'll stop. We're just, we'll try it.
But what I said to the parents and I feel even more so now we were the parents were so excited about this topic. I mean, we were giddy, like just like kids being so excited, and I said to them I'm going to be really curious to see how that fills in for the kids If they aren't super excited about the actual story. I'm really curious to observe our level of collected excitement about this topic and what that does for them. And it has created one of my friends keeps calling it magic and a bottle. It has just been because we've been so excited. Our enthusiasm and our excitement about this has just so.
I feel like there's important information for us parents of unschooling teams, like, if you don't know what to do, we've heard this, but what are you excited about? Like, not like. Do you like crochet? What are you so excited about that? You are running to the spot where the boat was, cause you can't wait to see it, cause I feel like I can almost guarantee now, if you've got four moms who are booking ass to get to that spot, you're going to have 15 kids behind you who are like what are we so excited about? They might run faster, and then they, and sure enough, what happens?
They get there before you with a theory with a theory based on all the research we've done.
0:37:04 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, it's really interesting, but it touches upon something very important. I think that sort of annoyed me a little bit in the beginning when I was researching on schooling, because I thought these mothers, they seem to be a little too much interested in themselves. It was very much about me, my de-schooling and my emotional, my personal attachment scars and how can I make sure that I'm balanced, and I was, like you know, your mother could be about your kids this, so it annoyed me. But the reality is we can only lead by example. If I'm not healthy and happy and balanced and responsible and excited about my life I might have to I didn't plan this, but might be other important stuff Then why would my kids?
It's exactly like when they are small and they play kitchen in the kitchen. When I had a house, I had a kitchen and in the kitchen I had a play kitchen. Because what did my kids want to play when they were hanging in the kitchen? They wanted to play cooking. And they look at you. There's no way that I mean I'm not the only important person in their lives, but I'm a very important person in their lives, Also now that they are older, than when they played kitchen in the kitchen. If I'm not excited about learning, if I'm just doing whatever and watching Netflix, whatever and scrolling Facebook, there's no way my kids can see how amazing life can be. Well, there is a way, but the best way is if they have the example at home. And the fact that we keep being enthusiastic about our work, that we keep learning new languages, that we study the countries we go to, that we are excited about meeting new friends and going new places is the way we show our children that life is really pretty awesome and the world is quite interesting. I think that's and I also feel still now that they are 12, 15 and 17, that they very much enjoy studying with me. It's so much more interesting to explore something with mom or with dad than doing it themselves.
At the moment, stoomar, son of 17, he has gone down a math rabbit hole. He's just going crazy with math and at the end of every day he wants to show me his new accomplishments. I learned this, I finally figured it out, and I actually have to sit down and have an espresso and focus and see if I can follow him, because he's been studying for three, four, five, sometimes six hours a day. He's doing math and then he just wants to really quickly show me like in 10 minutes, right. So that's where the espresso comes into the picture, but I'm a big part of it still, even though I mean the high school kids. They just pushed out and supposed to do it on their own. But our children is very, very clear that that their journey into academia is is linked to their relation to us and our relation to academia.
0:40:54 - Jen Keefe
And again you made me think of something I hadn't considered, that, yes, academia and also life in general, that idea that we aren't, instead of instead of feeding the fears that are of our kids, that they are supposed to be taking actions to be grownups now, instead of feeding those fears in our environments, we're actually calming them and calling them back into reality, which is you're safe, you're cared for, everything's okay. All these choices are good, life is good, and I feel like now, with Owen, I'm really reaping the benefits of that as a mom and as the family. He was out yesterday with some friends, which is new for us. He was out without me in a car, went to lunch. This, I know, it was a very, a very different experience. He's actually also rowing. Now he does crew six days a week, which is very new for us.
So there's this whole separation that's naturally of time. That's naturally happening just because of his interests. But when he was out for this social and this is very common when he was out for this social event, out to lunch with friends, they were doing something very funny. They had this plan and it was an all you could eat thing they were unveiling, and so they went to do this very funny thing. He was texting in our family thread the whole time he was gone. He was showing us photos. He was like hey, we're on bowl number three, like. And I just sat there thinking this is so awesome.
0:42:35 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, this is so awesome.
0:42:38 - Jen Keefe
He's so. He's so excited to share it with us. And guess what? The other two kids he was with, we're doing the exact same thing. They were all and I just thought. I don't remember being like this as a teen. I don't remember being 16, being excited to keep my family in the loop.
0:42:56 - Jesper Conrad
No, no, no, no. And to talk about leading by example, I actually primarily sit when I work, in the middle of the house, next to everybody else. If I need to concentrate, I'm listening to music, but it's deliberately one I do not like, not sitting alone. I don't know why. Should I like that? I like to see that if I'm doing something that is not family time, I want to see the ones that is benefiting. I like that part and the other is I decided at some point to start getting a better health and stuff, so I did daily exercises.
The more classical thing would be to get a subscription to a gym and that would go away or go out with the boys and bike. But how would that be an example for the family and for the kids? It wouldn't. So now I do my yoga wherever I can, wherever there is space, and the fun thing is. In the start nothing happened, but at some point our daughter started to do yoga and now she's 70 years old. She's also starting to do some exercise and it's just because you see how other people get happier doing it. So I think the leading bike sample and passion is the strongest and excitement is the strongest motivator.
But I actually wanted to jump back to something about this forced teenage life. I remember when I was like 14, 15 and started in gymnasium, which is equivalent to the high school thingy in Denmark. It's from like 15 to 18, 19. So it's a little different, but still, when I left public school I almost never had touched alcohol. And then Denmark you can drink from like your 15. So it's a different way. We are the happiest country and also one of the ones with Finland.
they are now they are, but we are but we are also one of the countries where the youth drinks a lot. So I went from not being into drinking alcohol to now I started in the in the gymnasium, which is similar to high school, and there there was parties every Friday and I wasn't ready to go into it but I jumped full on in because I wanted to be part of the crowd and became a huge party animal. And I'm just thinking that this is really why, how, how? Because the culture is like that Most I know my wife wouldn't follow along the crowd in that way, but many others did in my youth. And then I'm thinking about how people in the stage I don't know how common it is to to live on campus ground and when you start doing that, that's after.
Yeah, that's after, but still it seems like you have lived a very controlled life for a very long period and then all of a sudden they throw you into chaos. You live without parents and it's meaning you should have a party life and the time of your life.
0:46:21 - Cecilie Conrad
0:46:22 - Jesper Conrad
But it's still a while different. But yeah, but I still feel it's some kind of false development that is put on to you that now you are here, now you should act and behave like this. And I know from my sake. It was very difficult not to just follow along and partying with all the others once, even though I, like three months before I almost never had chance to appear, and but then I started and then I was down that road. You know how was your experience with all this?
0:46:54 - Jen Keefe
exactly the same as yours.
Okay exactly the same as yours to a T. I went to college at 18. I didn't want to go. I was supposed to go, I had to go, I had to go, I didn't want to go and I had never been a drinker, ever in high up until 18. Never, never been a drinker, been an athlete, but was turned loose at 18. All of a sudden, one day in September, was turned loose and I started abusing alcohol, not right away, I guess, it was more later that year and into my second year, abusing alcohol all so badly that I'm not joking when I say I'm really lucky. I didn't die many times. I, and it's the. I mean, I am so, just plain lucky. I'm just so, so, so lucky. I'm just so, so lucky. I'm just so, so lucky. I'm just so, so lucky. I'm just so, so lucky. I'm just so, so lucky. And looking back, I mean, at what you know, we were talking about anxiety last time. It was a lot of, a lot of. I had no time to understand how, and I'm not blaming anybody for this, it's just the way the world was but, I'd had no time prior to 18
0:48:15 - Cecilie Conrad
to figure out how the world works. Nope, the only language experience is the world, because even that to me, coming from Europe, is a very superficial environment. No, not superficial.
0:48:29 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah. That's not what I'm looking for Artificial artificial environment it's.
0:48:35 - Cecilie Conrad
It's not what it is reality. It's part of reality, it's a reality for a lot of people in the States, but it's not like what I would call real life. It's you put a lot of people of the same age together in what looks like a box and acts like a box, and and they have to do certain things and then they come out of that box six years later with a piece of paper and a hat and and that's not the real world. To my opinion, for many Americans it's part of reality that they have to go, but is that the reality you're supposed to prepare for as a child? I don't know. Is there any? I mean, can you go to college without living at a campus?
0:49:29 - Jen Keefe
Yes, yes, you can, and people do.
0:49:34 - Jesper Conrad
Yes, people do.
0:49:37 - Jen Keefe
It's not a lot. A lot of people do, but it's not the traditional experience. It's not what you're supposed to do. It's not what the best people do. The best people get into a best college and live on campus and graduate in four years and go crazy.
0:50:03 - Jesper Conrad
So the stomach.
0:50:05 - Cecilie Conrad
Get what the equivalent education is, that like a bachelor's degree.
0:50:09 - Jen Keefe
0:50:10 - Cecilie Conrad
0:50:10 - Jen Keefe
Yes, so four years Yep. So you go for your four years.
0:50:14 - Cecilie Conrad
generally, systems of education are a little they're a little skew yeah. Because a bachelor would be three years in Europe, or at least in Scandinavia, and then you would have two years to do your math.
0:50:27 - Jesper Conrad
But back to your experience. So you were an athlete, you had lived a more or less, you know, straight eight live.
0:50:35 - Jen Keefe
0:50:36 - Jesper Conrad
And then all of a sudden, hey, now it's party time and it's really difficult to say no to and it's an out.
0:50:46 - Jen Keefe
It's an out when you don't know what to do, when you don't understand why you're there, when you don't know what the goal is, when it's not your goal, when, when you don't understand no, I don't mean like I, I wasn't even like philosophizing. I mean I could have been, but it was all to your point about your morality. It was all taken away from me Any philosophical understanding I had of anything. I was, you know, a dumb girl. So when you don't, I don't mean, like what's the point of all this? I mean literally like, oh, I don't know what I'm doing here, like what's going on, like it was something to mask it. It was something, it was a way to fill the time and numb, survive it really, which is so ironic. But really it was.
And, not surprisingly, I didn't finish college. I mean I did, as I went back as an adult. But I, to this day, I guess I I don't know if I dropped out or failed out after my third year. I really don't. I just didn't go back my fourth and final year, I just didn't show up. I was a mess. You know, I was a mess.
0:51:57 - Jesper Conrad
But it's just a. It's just a wild, wild transition from childhood to, in my world, forced. Now you don't need to live like a young adult and just party because that's what you do in your twenties and I think by looking at this I would almost say more natural unfolding of life. I see in homeschooled and unschooled teens that there it happens very slowly and very much more controlled. They are trying stuff out slowly, they are, they are looking into it and it's not like from one day to another. Then you just need to go and there's younger, stronger people than I was when I started in gymnasium. I was insecure in myself and I overcame it by being the party animal kind of do.
0:52:50 - Cecilie Conrad
So it can. Of course, my experience was quite different.
0:52:53 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, I know, but you're not.
0:52:55 - Cecilie Conrad
You're not in pain with it, it's interesting and it's not statistically relevant, but I'm just saying. You know it can be very different. Yeah, and I do wonder why. I think that you know there is a word or two to say about partying. I mean, we were talking about it like it's shit. I love to party. I've had a lot of fun partying and I started early and I parted hard and then I got over it. It took me about six years.
0:53:30 - Jesper Conrad
0:53:32 - Cecilie Conrad
Some whiskey and I had a lot of a lot of fun. I don't regret. I made my regret one or two nights, but I had a lot of fun. I started at 14. I was pretty young and so I was already ahead of the game when I started, in that you made some things and I had a lot of fun there as well. I made five friends in what you call high school and we had a lot of fun and within the 10, many mornings because we had been out partying and I'm just, but that's what's most?
0:54:09 - Jesper Conrad
my choice then, for yeah.
0:54:10 - Cecilie Conrad
I had fun. I was at the jazz clubs and they were playing great music and it was fun. And what I'm saying is just it's fun to have fun and I would love for my kids to have more fun and the very few parties we've been able to attend with other unschooling teens I wish there was one every week.
0:54:30 - Jesper Conrad
They had a lot.
0:54:33 - Cecilie Conrad
I mean, you don't have to get that drunk, you don't even have to drink any alcohol, but to to have fun and party and and scream some of that, and I think that's what I'm saying. I think that's what I'm saying. I think that's what I'm saying Even though they are probably more balanced the homeschooled and unschooled teenagers under less pressure, getting their sleep and and having their secure attachment in place and all these things it's still wild Ride to be a teenager and there is a lot going on. And if you can just dance Once in a while, I think that's great. I, I, I I'm almost 50. I enjoy going, dancing and just letting it all do. It's different because I'm not a teenager, but I would love, I would love to see more great party options for our teens and I think they would love it as well.
0:55:32 - Jen Keefe
And what you're talking about is different than when I'm talking and maybe what Jesper's talking about. I wasn't partying and dancing and joyful. I was abusing alcohol and drunk to numb myself and sick all the time and very unhealthy.
0:55:51 - Cecilie Conrad
I couldn't afford that. I couldn't afford one or two drinks at the gas club. Yeah.
0:55:56 - Jen Keefe
Yeah, I mean I, I couldn't either. You know, you've you, you, you. It leads to a whole, a whole crappy existence, and I think that's a great thing. I agree about the staying up all night and dancing, and another thing I find interesting is that we have played around so much with bedtimes and sleep and what feels good, and I mean we have pulled all nighters. We used to go to bed at four in the morning and get up at noon, Like, and so I think about that often too for the kids, that they've already had a chance to try all this stuff out. My kids have no desire to pull another all nighter in their whole lives. You know I'm a little overrated. I need my sleep, so I do find that interesting too.
0:56:39 - Cecilie Conrad
But they do also, at least my teens. They enjoyed a good party. It could be sitting around a bonfire with 10 friends, Absolutely Playing music and dancing. It can be a more formal situation of the funny thing is one of the best parties we ever attended was someone turning 80. One of our friends, her dad. She lives with her father, they have a farm so they have two separate houses and her dad turned 80 and he threw a party and it was a great party. There were several bands playing, there was a cocktail bar and, as they are on schooling and we are on schooling, there was a few on-schooling families. Our kids were there, we were dancing, singing.
0:57:25 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, and you would call it H-Mixed Play. They're on schooling.
0:57:29 - Cecilie Conrad
H-Mixed, yeah, that's awesome.
0:57:32 - Jen Keefe
That sounds so funny. It was a great party.
0:57:36 - Cecilie Conrad
It really stands out yeah.
0:57:39 - Jesper Conrad
But to sum that part up, there's a difference on going out on your own because you need to express something or you need to go away from how the situation was at home and you want an outlet. I understand the outlet parts of partying. I like that. What I found was really strange about this shift was it was like over summer, from never being a party animal to starting in this new part of youth life. Now you are suddenly a lot older and now you should drink a lot of alcohol. I found it forced in a way that I hope won't happen to our children and yet I do not see it in the way they live. I like that part of it a lot.
0:58:28 - Cecilie Conrad
Isn't that part of maybe the whole thing that we? I mean it's like unraveling a lot of chaos when, once, we start questioning things. So there is a mainstream picture of what life is, and we see it in the sitcoms, we see it in the movies, we see it in the commercials, we see it in what's for sale in the mall and supermarket, we see it in how the neighbors live, the systems of school and public transportation and even the politics, the voting, and there is an idea about different stages of life and how they are supposed to unfold. And some of them are romanticized and some of them are maybe not touched too much upon. The stages where you get really sick because you ate really shitty food all your life, that we don't talk too much about that.
But my life doesn't look like the life of your regular 48 year old mother of four with a university degree. I mean my life should look completely different In most things I do, in how and where I sleep, what I do when I wake up in the morning, what I wear, how and where I would do exercise, who I talk to, when and where I work and what I work with and what I call work, how my family life unfolds and how I handle my friends. It all looks very different from the mainstream picture of a happily married mother of four. And I think there is also a very strong consensus on how should teenage life look. And for us we also have like the end of teenage life, sort of approaching our oldest son. He will be a teenager for another two years and two months. But this thing 18 is really a thing because we have the voting and the legal adult and the driver's license at the same time in our culture. So it's really a mark to be 18. So the transition should also look in a specific way.
Like many parents in our culture would expect their children to pay their own bills at this point, and many, many, many young people and then Martin Vau from home when they're 18, in that first year after they turn 18. And they're supposed to figure it out on their own. But there is like this standard idea of how should that look? What is the standard, what is the expectation, what is the successful life? Like you said before, the good people they go to the good college and they live on campus and they complete in four years and that's like the goal. But I just think that when you're on school it is as if you pull the plug of the school out of the whole equation. The whole thing falls apart and life just looks so much different. I've said to all of my four children many times they come funny enough, it starts early, sometimes even at seven. They're like how will I even support myself when I'm an adult? And I'm like you're seven.
1:02:25 - Jesper Conrad
Can we talk about it in 10 years?
1:02:27 - Cecilie Conrad
Obviously, it's an existential need, worry that comes to them in their life, and one thing that at least I can guarantee is I will always share what I have with you and there is no reason I would stop doing that because you're XYZ years old. It doesn't matter to me. I will always be your mom. You can always come live where I live. I can sleep on the couch and I will always be able to make you rice and tomatoes. It's not harder than that, and I think with Storm we had to talk about in Spain, it's fairly normal to move out from home when you're 29. It's normal. That's what people do.
1:03:22 - Jesper Conrad
They live at home until they get married.
1:03:24 - Cecilie Conrad
And they live at home until they finished university and get married, and when you get married you get your own home. So it's just a cultural thing. It's arbitrary, this number, and we're not part of that. We're not part of any standard culture. Actually, we have a background culture that we have our feet planted on it, obviously, but we don't have to live like everyone else. It's not even a failure to never move out. What if you want to just live with your family? I lived with my mother and grandmother for 10 years while we were married and having children.
It was just had its option.
1:04:02 - Jesper Conrad
1:04:03 - Cecilie Conrad
We had separate houses, but we were neighbors like three houses, that was nice.
1:04:08 - Jesper Conrad
It was fantastic.
1:04:10 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, so there are many ways it can unfold and I think we just have to think out of that box and even our unschooled children. Storm has not spent one day of his life in school and still he gets hit by this massive, massive, manipulative core story about how his life should look at the moment. And we have to talk about. It's your life. You should think about how you want it to look and we will support you in making it happen the way you want it to unfold. He, for example, does not want to drive his license. He just doesn't want it. He could take it. A year ago he didn't want it, which is fine. You have something else.
1:05:01 - Jen Keefe
It's such a I don't even know a big enough word to describe what a gift it is in the journey of unschooling into teens when you really realize there's actually no end, like there's actually no end, there's nothing, there's no end point, that we're racing to.
This is all just. This is all just life Like we are in it. We are in life. It's such a what's that word? Like a cliche. It's such a cliche that people say you only get one life, there's no finish line. But I think what we're doing is living that Like we're really living, that we're in life now. Our kids are in life now, not waiting to finish whatever schooling they finish at 18. Not waiting to finish whatever schooling they finish at 21. Not waiting for that job, that they're in life and I imagine to have the support of parents who say you can always live where I live and I can always make you rice and tomatoes. That's a different existence that gives so much more ability and freedom to take steps that feel right, which kind of sounds cliche, but it isn't Like when you're actually living it. It's a massive difference. Like I know it's okay.
1:06:42 - Cecilie Conrad
I mean, that's another. I was just reflecting I had that. I actually had that Growing up. I knew I can always move back with my mom or even with my grandmother, and I did it several times, sometimes just for fun, just, you know, boring to live alone. And I went live with my grandmother for three months and that was nice. We had some cake and tea and watched crime stories on the TV in the evening.
1:07:07 - Jen Keefe
Oh that sounds so lovely.
1:07:11 - Cecilie Conrad
It was like a failure. So lovely, it was just lovely. And I think we have to break up that idea that you know, the idea of the 30 year old living in his mom's basement. Maybe that's actually really nice, maybe they're having a great partnership, so judgemental.
1:07:32 - Jesper Conrad
There is something around this that reminds me of some folks I've had about right of passage, Because I'm in doubt if there needs to be a right of passage at all. But when I look back to my own life, I smoked a lot of weeds in my twenties and drank a lot of alcohol and party and all that. But when I look then it more or less seems like the partying thing was a right of passage to step into the grown-ups. And after I've been pondering about that I've been like thinking, okay, but do we? Should we then have better rights of passage than partying and being all wired? But what I see? When I look at my son, who have lived this unschooled life without these expectations, I don't actually think he needs the right of passage. So I'm coming to doubt the whole idea of there being a time in your life where you go from one thing to another.
1:08:43 - Cecilie Conrad
It's always Louis. I mean, maybe there's a big marker when you become a parent that happens on a specific day and that is a huge change, but I also think the whole now you will soon be an adult thing that my son is at the moment being bombarded with by everyone. We've had a lot of interesting conversations about what it is to be an adult and how adult life has changed many times for us, how, I wouldn't say that it's funny how we even talk about it, even the three of us right now, like we have the toddlers and we have the children, and then we have maybe the teens and then the young adults and then the adults. That's it. It's like 50 years of your life being one thing, as if you were not, if there was no progression. I mean there was a great difference between being 25 and 50. Really, these stages, these things that represent the adult life, lots of them.
I can't even take the boxes. I'm almost 50 years old. I don't drive. I mean, your son drives, I don't drive. I have a driver's license. It took me forever to get it and I sometimes use it for identification because it has my picture. That's it.
I sometimes back it out or move it a little bit, and if it's an emergency I'll drive. But I don't drive. I don't make money either. Haven't had a job for like I don't know, 20 years.
1:10:26 - Jesper Conrad
You're not an adult.
1:10:27 - Cecilie Conrad
I'm not an adult. I'm married to a teen.
1:10:29 - Jesper Conrad
That's kind of weird, that's right, that's right.
1:10:32 - Cecilie Conrad
I mean many of these things. We have these ideas, that and people say that. So how are you going to make money storm? Maybe I'm not. Maybe I'll contribute in the world with something else than going to a job, and maybe I will. And maybe it's just as if these markers are so fixed and they come so early and you have to have a plan for them. And the reality of adult life is that it's a very flexible thing that takes many forms and has many stages and is very interesting and fun. And I think we need to teach, talk about with our children how nuanced it is, because the picture you see in that mainstream idea about the stages and how they're supposed to look, it's not very nuanced, it's very square.
1:11:40 - Jen Keefe
And you know you've got me thinking about other things too, about this coming back to full circle, to the layers that we have. But I was just thinking I mean, you're exceptional, obviously, like you've lived this exceptional life with a lot of ability to not hold that necessity of conformity, like you've been able to move through life differently than me and many. That's why you're here talking about it. It's amazing and I was thinking about how even adulthood, at least here in the US, is very square and box, like there is very much a way we move through our days that is not nuanced and where any nuances are really discouraged, and we move through our days from the morning until the night and basically the same way. Kristen and I used to laugh. We lived in this town in Colorado with like I don't know a thousand houses that were all right next to each other and they looked exactly the same, and we chuckled, not in a mean way, just in a isn't this wild way, like I swear.
Every day at 6.45 all the garage doors opened, out back to the cars. Out went the dads to work, down went the doors A half an hour later. Out came the kids to go to the bus with their backpacks with the lunches that the mom had packed. And then, you know, half hour after that, the moms came out in their yoga pants and their ug boots and they went and they did their Pilates. And so I and I'm being I'm not picking on anybody, I'm really really not just observing that there are a lot of us who aren't living in that way.
But maybe adulthood is just this continuation of unless we make the choice to step out of it which is sort of what we've given our kids the ability to step out of that earlier on. And it brought me full circle, jesper, to what you were saying about the beginning, about your moral compass. Feeling like that was either layered up or taken away from you by a need to conform, and thinking about the 29 year old living in his mom's basement when, cecilie, you said maybe that's normal, maybe that's good If a 29, maybe it's lovely that a 29 year old wants to live in his basement. But we've removed that nuance, we've removed the ability for that abnormality to be lovely because we have such a picture of how it's all supposed to look. So now I'm thinking, like all the personal development I've been working on with myself, about being present and being in the now and all of this stuff We've just told, we're telling everybody what they have to do all the time.
1:14:28 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, yeah. One of my big insights when I was really young I think I was, maybe I don't know, 21 years old. That was when I was still reading newspapers and interested in politics and engaged in feminism and that whole deal was how the society that I lived in, with every little, with every little add on to the system or adjustment to the system, it just became more and more narrow and we had to walk in the same pace. And I could see how, if you love that, if you want to have 1.7 children and you want to have a little house with a mortgage of 30 years and you pay it within the 30 years and you save up for retirement and you want to go on vacation in the South two weeks in the summer and North to go skiing one week in the winter and then maybe skip the skiing, if you're having a year with not that much money, if that makes you happy, then the society that we come from, with all the welfare and free education, free hospitalization in case you get sick, it's amazing. The problem is, what if you don't want that? What if you don't want that? Then you're just out in the dark. Then there is no path. It's not like there is a narrow path and then there is another one in case. No, there is one, and it just becomes more and more and more slim, and that scared the hell out of me.
To be honest, I really had something like personal crisis. I remember sitting in my living room on the floor thinking about it, how this is great what we have, but it's also horrifying and it just scared the hell out of me. I have one option, basically, and I can see compared because I know I have privilege. I have all the privilege there are, except I'm female, but I'm female from Scandinavia, so it's not that bad, but still, this is a very privileged problem to have. But it's just still, at the same time, a little bit scary that the top of this pyramid, where we put the 1% of the 1%, the people who are living under the best conditions and being the most wealthy people on the planet, they have one option, one. And then they made that law where you couldn't marry someone from another country. Not that I was in love with anyone from another country, but that was the first real racist law that we had in Denmark. I didn't know what to do, I really. I just stopped reading the news. Well, that's another story. It was really crazy and I think that's maybe what I'm trying to be up against and what I think we have.
We really have to, because we have all this privilege and actually we have more than one option. We just have to fight a little bit for it. A good friend of mine always says freedom will cost you the freedom, so it will cost you some of the luxury, it will cost you some of the safety, it will cost you some of the comfort and it might cost you some hours and some money, but you have freedom. And we are all and probably 95% of our listeners are from these wealthy countries where we have a lot more option that we think we have, because the mainstream idea about what life is that rice and tomato is not good enough and living in a basement is a bad thing. It creates this very narrow spectrum of options. But we have to open up and make it an option to live a meaningful life and make it an option to think about it first what do I want? What makes me happy, who am I, and then take it from there. I think that's very important.
1:19:12 - Jen Keefe
Yeah, what you're saying makes so much sense. And when I listen to somebody like you, I'm like, of course, yes, that's what I want, that's it, that's it. And then let you get back to life. Like we get off the call, you turn the podcast off and you step back into the world you are living in. I won't call it the real world anymore, the world we are living in. And it's harder. It's hard to implement what you're talking about.
1:19:40 - Cecilie Conrad
It's very hard for me. I'm not. You say I'm exceptional.
1:19:44 - Jen Keefe
But you're doing it, but you're doing it. So now I'm going to ask you a question. But, Cecily, so for people who are like that sounds so good and yes, it makes sense and I want that, what's a step or something we can keep in our minds when that's Because it all resonates so much. And yes, a lot of us have already said we will give up some of the financial security, Like one of us can't work. There's an income loss there. There is. So we've made real and practical commitments to this life. We've given up some of that stuff, but what something we can keep in our heads.
1:20:33 - Cecilie Conrad
I think the question, everything is the key. I think we all have, and we have the advantage that we sort of play this ball between each other that if any of us would say that something has to be in a specific way, or that something is impossible, or that we need something, we have to do it this way, or then the other one will say it has to be exchanged that word with want to. We don't have to have organic, Absolutely we don't have to have organic.
1:21:12 - Jesper Conrad
And when Cecilia says it, I get annoyed at her, and when I pedantic about it, she gets annoyed at me.
1:21:20 - Cecilie Conrad
When I want to get the really expensive or organic blueberries and he says we don't have to have that.
1:21:28 - Jesper Conrad
Yes, we do, or new yoga pants, or whatever, and you would also maybe translate it to the word we need to go to the supermarket.
1:21:39 - Cecilie Conrad
We don't need to, it's a one Most days, you still have enough calories in your home to supply.
1:21:45 - Jesper Conrad
It's a choice, so making everything into a choice is really important.
1:21:50 - Cecilie Conrad
You don't even have to do the dishes. Did you know that? That's right. You don't have to, you just not do it. But the thing is, most days you would rather eat from a clean plate than not do the dishes. It's a value choice, it's something you want to do because you want to eat from a clean dish tomorrow morning and that mindset. Of course this is little things, but our children are very fortunate. Most people would say they're very fortunate. They don't have to go to school, they don't have to work, they can do whatever they want and they travel the world. But you could also say they live in a car, they've never had their own room, they have hardly any privacy, they have to share everything and very often they don't know what's happening tomorrow. Because I don't know what's happening tomorrow, you can always look at both sides of it. And one of the things I remember when we were expecting our third child I think it was- we have so many below count of what happened when.
1:22:55 - Jesper Conrad
No, no, no, I have four. It's not that bad.
1:22:56 - Cecilie Conrad
No, no, no. But the thing is, someone told me, oh, then you'll have to move, because we lived in an unconventional apartment but it had four rooms in total plus the kitchen and bathroom. And we were like, why would I have to move? Oh yeah, because you'll have a master bedroom and then you have two children already, who has their own room, and then you have the living room, and where would the third child have his or her own room? To me it was what I had a 200 square meter house with two terraces and a garden in a capital in Europe.
I would say a lot of mothers raise two or three times the amount of children I was about to have under something plastic that would keep out the rain. I mean, this was such a privileged idea that we had to move so that all kids could have their own room that it blew my mind, yeah, but I would like to go back to answering your question.
1:24:10 - Jesper Conrad
What does it take? And a big part of what it takes is To question your axioms. That's right, yeah, yeah. But also to not stop caring about the living room, to not stop caring about what other people think, but getting rid of the anxiety from people and the world and valuating yourself about a perceived idea about what the neighbor might think of you Not what they actually think about you, but your own perceived idea about what could they think about this.
If you reached the I don't give a flying about it, then it is sad that I even use that saying, because you don't have to give a fuck about what other people think about you. It's nice to be light and be around, but it shouldn't value what you choose is in life, and that is. It is difficult. I can still sometimes think, okay, is it okay? We left the beach early. There was a party for a birthday and some friends because we wanted to go home and make this podcast into you with you, and I was like, oh, how would they feel about it? And then I turned it around and said you know what? I came by and I said congratulations, I could have not done that.
I needed to catch myself there in that social situation and saying, hey, I'm okay, I'm okay, and it's really hard. And when you said, yes, you have succeeded in being non-conforming. Now, I've known her for more than half her lifetime. It has not been easy, and some of it has been in her own rebellious way, because she absolutely didn't want to conform, but also not as an act, not at all, but like a choice. I do not want to be part of this group where I'm all flew along and was part of the groups, but I have just I have this weird idea. For many people it's a weird idea. I walk into a room and my first feeling is I believe everybody loves me and it makes my life a little easier.
1:26:42 - Jen Keefe
1:26:44 - Jesper Conrad
But it's still kind of.
1:26:46 - Cecilie Conrad
But you also need that confirmed yes.
1:26:49 - Jesper Conrad
You need that more than.
1:26:50 - Cecilie Conrad
I do because I actually for real don't give a shit what the neighbor thinks about me. Really.
1:26:58 - Jen Keefe
This is what we're talking about when you come on my podcast.
1:27:01 - Cecilie Conrad
I'm really not here and because I don't know. I think it's just part of my probably just part of my even genetics. My mom was the exact same. I care a lot what you think about me. I care a lot. Sometimes you don't care at all if I'm being pissed or annoyed, but if someone in the street might not like you, yeah, yeah.
1:27:24 - Jen Keefe
We all have different.
1:27:26 - Cecilie Conrad
It's not that I'm specifically amazing, or Sometimes.
1:27:31 - Jesper Conrad
I would love if she cared more about what other people thought about it. I do care about what my friends think, yeah.
1:27:39 - Cecilie Conrad
But someone random in the street. I don't give a fuck. I really don't. I really don't, and I think it's part of who I am. But it's probably also because I've done a lot of introspection and now it spirals back to when I said earlier in this conversation that I was annoyed in the beginning of my journey as a non-schooler, listening to all this inner work and all the de-schooling and all the. I'm even a psychologist. I think you should look inside. But then again it can be too much, but really a lot of unschooling. And now I want to say it's not even about unschooling.
A lot of the personal freedom that you can achieve in life comes from knowing who you are, knowing what's in your life, knowing who you are, knowing what's important and being willing to question all of your givens to make sure that they are actually yours and also to rank them, and that sometimes has to be done on a daily basis. What's important today? Because days are not the same. Our lives does not open at 7.45 and back out. Our lives are more fluid. Can I try to finish, even though I know I'm wobbly, but still I think if I should give a good piece of advice for everyone else out there. It is really worth it to do the inner work and find out what are my triggers.
Why am I worried about what the neighbor thinks? It's also an interesting thing why I'm so much more worried about what, yes, but things. Because we've been a couple for so many years. There were dinosaurs around when we met, so he's got my back, even when he finds me really annoying. So why am I worried? Why does this worry me so much more than the neighbors? Maybe I should pay a little bit of attention to the neighbors. I think we have to look at our triggers. I think we have to look at our givens and make sure they're on. I think it's very important that we have some value system, that we know what is in the center of my life, what would I let go of if I had to, and that will gain a lot of emotional freedom, and from there, I think the ball will roll more or less by itself.
1:30:19 - Jesper Conrad
And I have a point to it, which is also the self acceptance, because sometimes I think people on these personal development journeys become too obsessed about needing to change as persons. I know I prefer to be liked when I go into a room, just own it.
And I'm okay with it. I'm actually okay with it. And I also know when I do something for that reason, if I make a stupid joke or whatever it's like to put a light on the mood and stuff like that, and I've at some point I'm like, oh, but should I be more serious? And stuff like that. But you know what, I'm quite happy with the way things are. So I have looked at my as a silly, cold and personal triggers. I have looked at how I react and I've also decided okay, but this part there might be some reason for why I am like this it's not really really important as long as it doesn't cause me trouble. And I think some people forget that when they do their introspective journey. It's like it's okay to be a little weird. It's okay that you have your personality. Would be wild if everybody was the same, yeah.
And how are you?
1:31:45 - Cecilie Conrad
1:31:48 - Jen Keefe
No no it's, I love it. So this is, this is where I've been for the last few years. So listening to all of this is so interesting and also, for me, understanding that everybody else has their own lens that they're perceiving everything through. That's been really freeing for me to understand that actually nothing is actually about me. Actually, what people think of me really has nothing to do with me. Still being aware if I'm making comments that are making people other uncomfortable and I don't realize it, I don't want to make other people uncomfortable, always trying to make myself, you know, whatever the better, whatever the word is, but realizing it very little has anything to do with me. And that has helped.
See, I walk into a room and I know everybody hates me, I'm sure of it, I'm absolutely sure of it, and I know it's for good reason every time. And so, being able to walk into a room and do two things know everybody else is seeing me how they need to see me in that moment and it doesn't have anything to do with me, and that idea of knowing I'm just going to be myself, which is so like put it on a poster from when you were 12 years old, but really that I am just going to be myself, like where I'm going to wear a sweatshirt and I'm going to wear athletic. I mean, not to a wedding, if that's not a problem. Generally, I'm not dressing to impress, I don't wear makeup, I don't color my hair. I'm going to just live in my own honesty and that has been freeing. So when I do walk into a room, I don't really think about what people are thinking about me anymore, which is like a wild gift to myself and new.
1:33:42 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, congratulations, thank you, I got that in baseline.
1:33:47 - Cecilie Conrad
I got into the room and I think about how my kids will handle the situation and, yeah, but I think I'm, I'm nice, I'm not, I'm not walking into a room. And then I start offending everybody's like that. I and I do, I pick up the vibe and I feel the room and but I just don't care too much. I think I grew up with too many people not liking me and the whole school situation thing I just got used to. That's not a factor.
1:34:18 - Jesper Conrad
No, but that's what I tried to say. In your youth. It was more like a shield, where now it has been more intertwined into your personality. It was even a shield.
1:34:28 - Cecilie Conrad
I just grew up being the odd one out and I don't know if it's interesting to talk about my childhood actually, but if it is, there was too much going on in my private life at home that was so complicated that I didn't really care about the social life in the school context.
1:35:03 - Jesper Conrad
Really, there was room for it.
1:35:05 - Cecilie Conrad
There was not really space for it. I mean you said that something like I'm exceptional or whatever it wasn't. I mean I had real trouble and that was that was what was the center really when I was a child and also when I was young, how could we cope, me and my siblings, and how did my parents do and how was the whole ship? It was two ships actually, because I grew up in it was an early divorce, so I grew up in two families and the ships were fragile and I think that was the center of my emotional life and that the wounds I got from that and the wounds I tried to mend on my siblings with that was taking my band with. So I wasn't even really hurt by not being part of.
1:36:12 - Jesper Conrad
Again it was social.
1:36:14 - Cecilie Conrad
It wasn't. My social life was unfolding with that one friend I had in each school. And then, when I was a teenager, suddenly, by coincidence, I made a lot of friends outside school and they were all five to eight years older than me and that helped a lot because I had had a lot of responsibility. I grew older than I was and I was also pretty smart, so I was like ahead of the game in school. And then suddenly I made a lot of friends who were just that, you know, I could level with them, we had a lot of fun. And then, I mean, I was not suffering as such and I was not being provocative or not giving a shit, because and it was not a shield, it was just, you know, not that relevant.
The whole thing was that's interesting From the important stuff.
1:37:11 - Jesper Conrad
1:37:12 - Jen Keefe
Yeah, and it wasn't that you didn't, you weren't concerned with what people thought from a, from a level of confidence. It was that there was things going in your light, going on in your life, that were really important and and encompassing, and so it just made other stuff far less important and relevant. Yes, yes, I see.
1:37:33 - Cecilie Conrad
Oh, that's interesting and I apologize, I have any superpower at all. And it was not suffering. Obviously, it would have been nice If everything was nicer on all levels, private as well as in school, but I think I had more suffering at home than I had in school and and that was just more important and it took the center stage and school was just basically a waste of time. That was not what I felt.
1:38:10 - Jen Keefe
If, taking the emotional considerations out of that though we shouldn't, because that is a lot for a young child to endure, but if you take the emotional considerations out of that, isn't it interesting, given the context of what we're talking about, that you had the traditional upbringing in terms of schooling, and school was so unimportant to you and and now, here at least, school is everything, central to everything, and we believe it holds the key to everything. I just feel like that's an interesting Two different paradigms, but that was just to me personally.
1:38:57 - Cecilie Conrad
I think in the culture I was in, school was the key and most kids were in school all day. And then there was this club thing going on all afternoon. So you come home at five, five, 30 and you've done your sports and stuff. But I just went straight home and school for me was I liked. So after I was nine I think there was a real trauma going on just before I started school. So I was in a state of some sort of shock.
I think I couldn't learn anything the first few years, but then it seemed like at some point someone turned on the light inside my head and academia became really interesting and I became very interested in everything that I could actually learn, which was not a lot. It's that, hence the waste of time feeling. But from an academic point of view, I liked school a lot as a social thing. I learned really quickly that there was nothing in it for me. I couldn't relate to the other children and I could definitely not make any friends. They would try to mock me and I would just ignore it and in most cases I would make one friend and that would usually be the other academic. I mean it was the daughter of the priest or whatever, it was always the other odd one out with the brick and that was that until high school.
1:40:42 - Jesper Conrad
I have been sitting considering how did I survive the school system myself and I think I was very passionate at an early age. First I was very happy about being a competition swimmer, used a lot of time on that, so school was not super important. It was I had a big after school life and then I became interested in creating films and movies and made a amateur feature film when I was 16 and stuff. So it was like something I did in my spare time was school, and I think this having a strong, strong passion can as part of what helped me, and then maybe also that I'm a little of an airhead, that I didn't really follow the line. It wasn't so important, I didn't pay attention.
1:41:37 - Cecilie Conrad
I didn't pay attention. I didn't pay attention.
1:41:39 - Jesper Conrad
I didn't look out the window?
1:41:41 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, I have, but didn't your dad always say the same, that he went to school in his spare time?
1:41:45 - Jesper Conrad
I think so maybe.
1:41:46 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, he says the same. Yeah, yeah, he was working. His granddad had the school gardens in Copenhagen and in the center, so school children could have an experience growing food and they would have their own little plot. And then there would be a guy, a gardener, living and working and the last teacher lived working that guy, because the kids wouldn't take care of the garden perfectly. They would come once a week and he would have to, you know.
And that was my granddad, the gardens I don't know the right word and that was your granddad, and your father helped him in the garden and so he just grew up gardening and there was a lot of work to do that the school children couldn't do because they were trapped in the school, and my dad and law always said he went to school in his free time.
1:42:34 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, and another wonderful life lesson. Yeah, I think it was just something I did too I needed to do. A wonderful lesson I got from my dad was when I had a mental breakdown when I was like 21. I based on smoking too much weed, so that aside, you know, when I was like, okay, I'm ready to go back into society and back on work and stuff like that, and I talked with my dad and I was like, oh, but that they probably know. And I was very insecure about the whole thing and my dad looked at me and said, yes, you're not that important, they don't they, they are busy. And then he said it they are busy thinking about what other people are thinking about them, and I just love that.
1:43:25 - Jen Keefe
Oh, it's perfect.
1:43:28 - Jesper Conrad
And it took the edge away from me and it's the same. You know we are so. A lot of people are so busy thinking about what other people are thinking about them. We should just relax and be kind.
1:43:43 - Jen Keefe
Do you guys know this? I'm going to say it wrong. I just learned it like four days ago. It's, it's a, it's. I think it's Buddhist. It's called like or or Chiata, or Chi.
It's this idea. I'm I'm not pretending I know how to talk about this, but it just I felt it when you said it. It's this idea of of being at, being who you are, at your core vulnerability maybe, maybe the same as both, but just being totally open, who you are, honest, and how that radiates and calls others in and creates real connection with other people. And I was thinking and I apologize, I've pronounced both of your names wrong. Yes, sir and Cecilia, I read it how I read it for the last months, and so now it's going to take me a minute to say it, right, but yes, for as you were talking about being afraid to re-enter the world after your breakdown, and I was sitting here listening when you, when you even said out loud that you had had a breakdown, I felt that what I think is that or or Chiata, or whatever. It is like that real connection to you, who you are, and the irony of like being who we are.
We're so self-conscious about it. It's the thing that actually connects us to other people really, and this whole thing that we've been talking about from the beginning, of the things we learn to make us, not who we are, and how much distance that puts between all of us. And I don't know about you guys, this is all new for me and I know I don't know what I'm talking about. I own that fully and I am in that space of total openness. Just every single thing is better. I'm not self-conscious, I'm not embarrassed. I don't think that everybody hates me, and even if somebody does hate me, it actually doesn't matter to me. Yeah, it's okay. It's like.
1:45:46 - Cecilie Conrad
I'm in that space of like I don't know and I think it ties back to that part of the conversation where we talked about how can we put some advice out there for those with teens trying to stay in there on school game that if you can become really vulnerable and honest and present as a human being with your teenagers and you've done at least the basic value work, you know what's important, you hold some some ethics and some key values in your life, you know what they are, you can have this kind of honest, open, vulnerable conversation with your children, saying I think I'm right here. I think you might miss out on some parties Would be nice if I could offer you some more great parties with other unschoolers and there are not that many of them available, but I'm willing to drive five hours for one if necessary and I can probably sometimes only feed you rights and tomatoes. You're not going to have your own room, but I think you're better off with this lifestyle. But I also doubt it because I was not on school and I'm just walking thin ice here. I don't know.
You have this honest conversation with your children and you're honest about maybe it scares the hell out of you. Probably it does and you can talk about that. I mean, when they are teenagers, they are not toddlers. So they are at a stage where you hopefully have a very friendly and trusting relation, where the parent also can be vulnerable and have doubts and not really know where the conversation is going. And maybe you need to have that conversation nine times before you figure out how to move it.
And maybe you need to say I have these standard ideas inside my head, stuck from the way I grew up and from the way I see the society around us, and I don't know if they even resonate with you and I don't know if I mean should I unpack them or is it real? All of this is the parenting style that I was actually advised against when I first became a parent that you can't make friends with your children, that you have to be the strong one, you have to look like, you know what you're doing, you have to hold on to your rules and know as you know when. All of this bullshit.
1:48:47 - Jesper Conrad
And just laughing and thinking what a responsibility to put upon an adult. You need to know what you're doing. Hey, come on 23 years old.
1:48:56 - Cecilie Conrad
I don't know what I was doing.
1:48:58 - Jesper Conrad
I still don't know what I'm doing.
1:49:00 - Cecilie Conrad
Exactly, not at this point. I have a great friend and then Mariko says really, all this parenting, it's rehearsal for grandkids, that's the test. The grandkids, that's when you're really, you know all the preparation and then when you're grandkids children you're fully educated. Yeah, yeah.
1:49:21 - Jen Keefe
It's a good point and I think, when you can be so honest and, cecilia, one of the things I was thinking about when you were talking about having the honest conversations and saying you don't know, basically you know we're figuring it out but also what you spoke to earlier and I feel like this is an important thing for me to keep in mind you also spoke to you are providing security and stability by saying you can always live where I live and I can always have rice and tomatoes for you. So it's not that idea of like there's still security and stability even within the. You're still the parent.
1:50:04 - Cecilie Conrad
Yes, and I still have the final say we can have this conversation, that's right, and I can say I have doubts, and I can say I might need to work with something and I don't know where to go with it, but I am still the parent and I can still say this I will not support, or I can still say I don't agree with this. I will say, though, now that, especially so we have won this 24, she's obviously making all of her own choices, but with the 15 and the 17 year old, yes, I am the responsible parent, I set the scene, we do it together. No, is sort of game over.
1:50:53 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, good luck.
1:50:54 - Cecilie Conrad
With our second daughter, who's now 15. Since she was born, you cannot. I mean she will set her own agenda and she will work from there. You can reason with her. She's very smart and she will listen to advice, but she will also make her own choice and it could be against my choice and I will have to deal with that, because she just has willpower from I don't know what planet, but I have never heard about it. But it's cool. And also, now that she is 15, it's not. Yes, I'm the responsible parent, but in a way I do respect that. She's at a stage in life where she can make decisions for her own body, for her own health, for her own trajectory. How does she want to spend her time, what is important to her and how will she make sure that happens and what will she participate in and what will she not participate in. I can't say anymore it's mandatory to join this, whatever family party, or come to that museum or watch this document. There's nothing mandatory, it's just game over for them.
1:52:18 - Jesper Conrad
1:52:19 - Cecilie Conrad
yes, it's also with Storm.
1:52:21 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
1:52:22 - Cecilie Conrad
He's just more of a yeah.
1:52:26 - Jesper Conrad
Oh my God. For some reason this talk reminded me on the best service I've ever gotten in a shop. I went into a computer storm and asked the guy behind the counter about something and he looked at me and he said you know what I don't know. Let's figure it out together.
1:52:45 - Jen Keefe
1:52:47 - Jesper Conrad
Oh, blown away by him and it's. I have copied it into my parenting sins. But I felt so secure with him and he actually didn't know shit about what he was selling.
1:52:58 - Jen Keefe
Oh, let's figure it out. You believed him. You believed like, you trusted him.
1:53:05 - Jesper Conrad
And he wanted to help me and sort it out. It's like, let's figure it out, man, okay, and we used 10, 15 minutes on it and he ended up selling me something and I was so grateful for him and because I've yeah, it is.
1:53:19 - Cecilie Conrad
Can I say something we might have to cut out? I have no idea what time it is, oh sorry your time.
1:53:27 - Jen Keefe
Oh, it's one third, that's okay. It's okay, it's one 30. We could have done both, I'm okay. I'm okay. Should we maybe round up?
1:53:36 - Cecilie Conrad
It's like you need to go up to you guys.
1:53:39 - Jen Keefe
I can do a few more minutes if you want, but I know you guys have other stuff too.
1:53:42 - Cecilie Conrad
whatever you want to do, Land it, otherwise we just find a nice place to cut it. I had a fear that the sun has set, because we're using the iPhone for camera and usually I bring my phone in here, but it was wet, so I charged. I'm charging it in another room, okay, okay.
1:54:02 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, and I have a question. We have talked about being teens, we have talked about anxiety and, of course, reflected a lot back and forth on our own experiences, because that is how we understand life, how we have lived them. Which kind of anxiety or are Ogun afraid of becoming older? I know it sounds maybe like a crazy question, but where is he with the whole? Oh, I'm stepping into this part of my youth.
1:54:38 - Jen Keefe
He is more comfortable, and I think what was actually happening is he was ready for some growth. I think he was ready to try something a little more formal, a little. I think he was just ready for a next, more grown up thing, and so it was a very natural progression the way it all worked, because it was just before drivers education started and then he started this sport of rowing, which is a, as I said, a six day. It's taken over a lot of our lives. It's 40 minutes away, it's two hours, five days a week and all day, sundays, from early in the morning till late at night. So a big commitment and it's a lot of responsibility and it's a lot of training and he has had to make a commitment that our family has never had to make. This has been a huge life shift for us and for Ogun it's been a tremendous amount of responsibility coachability he has three coaches. He's being learned how to.
I think he was ready for that, and so I think all of the things I was saying about you'll always have a place to live with us. Let's look at why you're worried about this. Let's look at if that's true. Is it true that you, if you, want to go to one of these colleges, you can't go because of the way we've done things.
I think gathering all that data was helpful, but I think really what he was looking for is he was ready for something like what he's doing now, and I think I'm not giving it. Probably would have happened anyway, but I think what's beautiful is it was the first of all all the freedom he's been given to try things and quit. I think it's all the freedom he's been given to say no to a million things that we've suggested to him in that time, when we thought he was looking for something else. That landed him in exactly the place he was meant to be. At this point in his life and he is absolutely thriving. He is so happy, he is so full of energy, he is lit up every minute of every day and he is not concerned any longer. I think he was just needing something else and it took us a little time to find it, which is what it is.
1:57:07 - Cecilie Conrad
I think maybe that could be like our final great little roundup piece of advice because it resonates totally with our actually all three teenage experiences. Our 24 year old is not teenager anymore, but she used to be, and the two others we have had phases where they clearly didn't thrive where it was difficult to a state where I understand why many unschooled parents they think it's the unschooling they give up and they think the child and a childhood.
And if you push through those phases and you stick with the unschooling, it's okay to say no, it's okay to try something and find out that's not for me and then try something else and go through all of your own triggers. What is it that's going on inside me, because that has probably nothing to do with the child and what's going on for the child and really allow to explore. Is it rowing? Is it a leg of friends? Is it a vitre? Is it? It could be lots of things with one child. I don't know if I can sum it up really quickly, but I think I remember with our first teenager it happened sort of twice. First she needed to eat chocolate and watch Dr who for about six months and then she got a job as a barista and then barista education. Everything went smooth until another bump and she needed to get into that education. Then she became a writer and it's all flying again. Second child happened in the reverse order, but I think Stone, he was just so ready for a structured education.
1:59:10 - Jen Keefe
I'm listening. I'm just my batteries about to die, so my husband just brought my charger.
1:59:18 - Cecilie Conrad
The last one. Really, it was friends. We just needed to gather 15 more friends that you can text with and talk to and freak out with and have fun with, and they didn't have to be all teenagers. But when we explored a lot of different zones in her life, that could be the reason she was not thriving, and we did it with her. By coincidence, our traveling life put us with a huge amount of unschoolers at some point and she just absorbed this relational thing that seems to have put her back on her trajectory where she's happy.
What I'm just saying is it's looked very different for our different children when they have been teenagers, plus not thriving, which I think we all experienced, and I think also all families with teenagers in school experiences. And the solution is not to give up the unschooling. It could be experimenting with school if that's what the child really, really, really wants, but I think it's worth it. As you said before, who's the parent? We're the parents. We believe in this philosophy, so maybe we give the child five or eight other options before we try the school thing, because we know what it is and they actually don't.
2:00:41 - Jen Keefe
And Owen actually had toyed with the idea of because we were coming up so short. He started bringing up school purely for it's the default.
2:00:51 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, of course it's the default.
2:00:53 - Jen Keefe
It must be the reason.
2:00:54 - Cecilie Conrad
You have to go be creative and come up with other things that could fill that void.
2:00:59 - Jesper Conrad
That can happen for teenagers who are unschooled, but also just a return now to the thing we talked about about. It actually never really stops, but sometimes we have adults, things that our life is in a set way, and now we have everything figured out and our life is just like 30, 40 years of doing more or less the same Right. I have just gotten like a rejuvenation inside the last three or four months because I have found some new passions.
2:01:36 - Cecilie Conrad
We realized about six months ago it was not like this. It's been like the fog clearing. We need new dreams. We had some great dreams, but they are fulfilled. We need Wow. Yeah, I mean, we can't speak to the audience.
2:01:52 - Jesper Conrad
It's not really. There was actually a little, not sadness, but there was in a period of our life where I think was a little like I don't know what it is. I wasn't happy, I wasn't driven by a force inside of me, which is when that happens. I'm just like so super thrilled because that feeling is wonderful and I think sometimes that we as adults forget it.
I know that sometimes when I was in a job, my big shift in happiness was when I was fired and got a new job and could go all in on that job and like figure everything out, and then it got all normal and boring. I was fired a lot in my career because I got really bored Bored after. And so the reality is that's what I think ignited my flame back when I was working. Nine to five was when I changed job. I had the time of my life, I learned so many new things, it was so fun and exciting, and then when it became like every day it got boring and I became a less good colleague and I needed to find new places to go. And it's just important to remember, I believe. And now I think we will hopefully start to be more chicken more often with ourselves like hey, are we still on track with are we, are we happy with our hobbies, with the projects we are doing, or do we need something new?
2:03:25 - Cecilie Conrad
And our dreams still relevant.
2:03:27 - Jesper Conrad
2:03:28 - Jen Keefe
And that made me. I know we're trying to wrap this up, but I really feel like I have to say this thing Do it. That made me think of it can be when our kids listening to you with your career. Yes, forget thinking about our kids when they're in that period of not thriving. That's really tiring for us because we're worried about them. Our doubts come up. Are we doing the right thing? What more can we offer them? What is it that I used to say? Like Owen's got an itch that we can't figure out how to scratch, like that's.
That's exhausting, and so I think, bringing it back to the very beginning of the conversation, another reason this fall has felt so fantastic for me is just you use the expression I've used it before in my life, but it fits here now is I went all in with my kids again this fall. I think I was tired. I think I was tired of trying to. I hadn't quit, I haven't given up, but I think I which is OK, I'm human, like it was, my kid was turning 16 and one was 13. There's a lot going on in their lives and we're very connected. But going all in again this fall with them, yeah, everything's good.
2:04:43 - Jesper Conrad
2:04:43 - Jen Keefe
Yeah, it's great.
2:04:45 - Cecilie Conrad
And it's also OK. We have to remember that, as on school parents, it has it's up and down. It's not applying high, amazing life every day, just like. That's right. People who choose school sometimes have boring phases, obstacles, situations. So do we. We don't have to have the 10 out of 10 life all the time we would like to like it, but sometimes it's complicated and and that's OK, it's just part of the game.
2:05:25 - Jesper Conrad
Now I will be the one saying it, I will be the adult now, yeah.
2:05:31 - Cecilie Conrad
I know you have something you need to do, I don't know what it's, but yeah, it's OK, it's OK.
2:05:35 - Jen Keefe
I've been texting just a few more minutes, just a few more minutes.
2:05:38 - Jesper Conrad
I will be the one saying it. Yeah, we are. Let's be all adult together and in this episode, but let's promise each other we it's so fun talking to.
2:05:48 - Cecilie Conrad
Let's just do a third.
2:05:49 - Jesper Conrad
Let's do a third one and find time for it. So we will connect about that and also maybe just figure out what we should talk about. But for now, for today.
2:06:01 - Cecilie Conrad
Thank you very much.
2:06:02 - Jesper Conrad
Thank you very much and also thank you for being a good listener. It is fantastic and I just love our dialogue.
2:06:11 - Cecilie Conrad
It's very interesting conversations we have with you. I really appreciate it.
2:06:15 - Jen Keefe
I'm so grateful for it. It's so we don't have a lot of really any unschoolers around us, and so these conversations with you two are so helpful to keep me grounded and and remind me of what we're doing, and I'm so appreciative and I am so looking forward to speaking with you, cecilia, about a lot, of, a lot of things. And, jesper, I love getting to hear your, your story and hearing how that all All all created where you both are today. That is really inspiring and exciting and real. I love it.
2:06:57 - Jesper Conrad
2:06:58 - Jen Keefe
2:06:59 - Jesper Conrad
Let's do another one where we once again is vulnerable and have fun.
2:07:04 - Jen Keefe
All right, you too.
2:07:07 - Jesper Conrad
Thank you for listening. We hope you enjoyed today's episode and if you liked them, then please share it with all your friends and family. We would also love it if you gave our podcast a review. Thanks, and if you want to support our podcast and work, then you can find us on patreoncom slash the Conrad family. We will continue to travel full time and if you want to tag along, then please follow us on Facebook and Instagram at the Conrad family, and you can also read more than 100 blog posts on our website. The Conrad family. Until next time, make a wonderful day, thank you.
WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED THIS EPISODE
Self Directed Podcast
Listen to the latest episodes, see shownotes and find the episode links.
Where are we now?
Want to stay up to date with our travels and podcast? Then sign up for our weekly newsletter