#63 Rachel Rainbolt (Sage Family) | The Art of Parenting and Learning Without a Classroom

FB Rachel Rainbolt

🗓️ Recorded March 21st, 2024. 📍@ The Lovetts, Fresno, California, United States

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About this Episode 

When the world we've carefully crafted for our children comes into full bloom, it's nothing short of magical. 

Rachel Rainbolt joined us to share the rich tapestry of her family's journey through attachment parenting to the liberating philosophy of unschooling. 

Her reflections give us a window into how her children flourished as they pursued their passions, transitioning into traditional education with the resilience and self-reliance that unschooling fostered. 

As the Rainbolts' full-time traveling lifestyle came to a halt due to the pandemic, Rachel shares about the silver linings found in the quiet spaces of change and the anticipation of new beginnings as her children embark on their unique paths.

▬ Connect with Rachel Rainbolt  ▬

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With love


Jesper Conrad 


00:00 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
So today we're together with Rachel Rainbould, and first of all, warm welcome. Thank you for taking the time.

00:07 - Rachel Rainbolt (Guest)
Oh, thank you so much for having me. It's a pleasure to be here, especially while you're on your trip in California. I feel like we can soak up the sunny vibes together on the west coast.

00:18 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Oh yes, it is actually so wonderfully hot that we can sit in the shade right now, which is a nice. Yeah, it's not normal weather for Danes in March. Rachel, I just asked before we recorded about your last name and it still puzzles me Rainbould is there actually, as I'm not a native speaker? Is there a Rainbould in the language or is it just a name Like lightning?

00:47 - Rachel Rainbolt (Guest)
No, it's actually a German name, but in English, yeah, it's just sort of like the compound word of rain and then bolts, like lightning bolts. Put them together and you get Rainbould. But the origin is that it's German. I am not German, but my husband came with that name and it was just. You know, when I met him I was like I'm a feminist, I'm not going to take my partner's name, but his name was so cool and I loved it so much that I had to take it on as my own and claim it.

01:20 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Oh wonderful. Well, the reason we are talking here today is that on the wonderful world of social media, I have seen poster from the Sage family from time to time, and you are the one behind that. So I'm as I haven't read up a lot, because it sometimes makes the dialogue a little weird If I know everything about you upfront, I'm actually just curious who are you, Rachel, and what have happened in your life since you ended up here?

01:52 - Rachel Rainbolt (Guest)
Yes, so I am Rachel Rainbould. I have three kiddos who are presently 18, 15 and 12. And so I got into this whole self-directed education thing with probably like attachment, parenting being sort of the gateway. I had my firstborn child and we were so connected and living this amazing life, and then the social expectation was that I sort of hand them over and that seemed insane to me but I gave it the old college try and enrolled my child in school and that kiddo did kindergarten and first grade and a little bit of second grade and it was awful. Every step along the way she was always being told that you need to sit still, you need to be quiet and all that kind of stuff. And then when I was with her she was alight and on fire with excitement to learn from the world around her and through the things that she was passionate about. So we pulled her from school and started homeschooling and then gradually made that transition over to unschooling. And then my younger two kids were never in school.

Now my oldest, that kiddo, who spent most of her childhood unschooling, is actually a junior at university. She is a criminal justice major in a social work program and she is getting ready to apply to law school. She really wants to be a judge, so I like to, while I don't hold my children up as proof of concept. She is happy for me to share her story and I find that it calms a lot of the fears of other unschooling families out there that if your kid wants to be an organic community farmer awesome, they can do that. Or if they want to be a judge, by way of high powered criminal defense attorney in a big city, they can do that too, sort of whatever they want to do. If they know how to learn and they're confident and empowered in following their passions, then they can do that.

04:22 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yeah, just the G8. No, no, no, it's because I was thinking about the. You mean?

04:30 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
six things at the same time.

04:32 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yeah, it's kind of difficult for my brain. We ourselves are in a kind of transition period because we have been so lucky that we could travel the last six years and it has been wonderful. We have four children and the oldest was have left the nest back when we started traveling. So we knew we had a gap, because there was an age gap between our children where we could kind of go explore the world. But now they're starting to get into that age where we are like, oh yeah, but if they want to go into university then we need to settle down for some time and it's kind of scary. But it's also a wake up call to that. The whole traveling, unschooling thing. It's not about us, because we have this responsibility as parents. So listening to that call these days, I'm walking through a lot of emotions. How is your emotions about having them grow into being young adults?

05:45 - Rachel Rainbolt (Guest)
Yeah, when my so COVID was happening, so we were, you know, sort of we had to stop traveling when COVID hit.

And then when COVID ended, my oldest started college and my second decided to go to high school at the same time as his sister did this program where they were sort of together and there was some grief for me at like the limitations I'm like that was one side of it that we couldn't go anywhere we wanted whenever we wanted.

There was sort of this you know calendar and the schedule that we were limited by. There was also a lot of space that that created and I conceptualized it as sort of an invitation for me to get to grow into some of this new space. Like I got to expand my work and I joined a choir, you know like, okay, so there's, my children are growing into this new social and educational world beyond me and beyond our family and beyond our home and our life, and so that creates a lot of space. So we can either kind of get stuck in the grief of that and the longing and the missing, or we can pick that up as an invitation to continue creating a really awesome life that we love and expanding and growing ourselves.

07:29 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
And what did you do pre COVID? A lot of traveling. How was your life back then?

07:36 - Rachel Rainbolt (Guest)
Yeah, we just did a lot more traveling than we were able to do once they went to school. So we a lot of traveling around the country, a lot of traveling like lots of road tripping. We would fly lots of different places around the US and explore them, and my kids are also competitive sailboat racers and so we would travel a lot with that, which is really fun. You get to go a lot of really beautiful places and hang out on boats and on docks and it's it's a pretty nice spectator sport. I don't mind hanging out on a dock or on a boat somewhere.

08:15 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Yeah, makes sense. Yeah, I was just thinking about that thing you said before about your oldest, you know, and her ambition, and we hear a lot of these stories that our three youngest kids have exactly the same age as your kids. We just also have a 24 year old, so so we're in exactly the same sort of situation. But I sometimes think about when we talk about our lives as unschoolers, and you and I both have raised children who are now entering a more adult life and you know we're at the end of the line, sort of they're not not in school anymore, because were they in school, they would have been done with it at this point, most of them. So what is it now? And then we talk to the younger ones who need their shoulders down.

I totally agree, these great examples are great examples, but somehow I have the fear that some of the unschooled children you know, the ones that become doctors or make these great achievements that look like mainstream, become this standard, like as if that's what we're aiming for. And you know what? If an unschooled child never learns world history, never goes into academics, is just happy with a symbol live serving tables, weight weightering tables at the local, whatever restaurant. Going home watching Netflix. Could we, as unschooling mothers, would we stand up and be proud and make podcasts? I'm not sure. I mean, I rarely hear these stories and I think it's because lots of unschooled kids are very passionate and they find a way that looks more successful. But I'm also a little bit afraid that it becomes the gold standard. Does that make sense?

10:26 - Rachel Rainbolt (Guest)
Absolutely. Yeah. A big part of the D schooling that we do on this unschooling path is recognizing this race up this mountain that everybody is being heard it on to and saying you know, we can actually choose not to participate in that race at all. And we, if we are happy and like that was a key word you use there like if my kid is happy serving tables and watching Netflix, like you know, we, if we are happy hanging out in the meadow over here with our fellow free sheep wandering around and munching on grass and like making each other laugh and laying in the sunshine like awesome.

I think that's sort of the whole point in terms of how I've raised my kids, and I think how a lot of unschoolers raise their kids is that the point is not to meet someone else's standard. The point is to create a fulfilling and meaningful life for yourself, and the definition of that is for you to define. That's the self directed part. Right, you get to decide what a meaningful life is for you and my job as your parent is to love you unconditionally. You know I'm here if you need support. I'm here for you to come to, if you are seeking guidance and something, just because I've been on the planet a little bit longer and may have had a few more experiences, but I trust your knowing of yourself and I'm a resource, not, you know, the director. Like that's you. You're the director. I just get to come alongside you and cheer you on lots of cheerleading these days and that's what I'm finding and just being accessible if my kids need me.

So my first born, like she, has a real justice, sensitivity and a lot of drive and a lot of passion to make a big difference for certain populations that she cares a lot about and I'm not at all surprised like that. This is the path she's gone on and I don't think my other two will walk down a path that looks anything like what their sister's path is and that is 100% okay to. One of my kids talks about buying a boat and chartering people around on trips on a boat trip and that could be a really cool life and that it sounds like absolutely a really cool life. We keep saying I'll be your first customer.

13:04 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
But let us know.

13:06 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
I'd like to go on a boat trip Somehow it would be so easy with if they were like, because then the parents think skills you had with child number one, you just copy pasted to child number two and then you did it good.

13:24 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Yes, yes, they are all so different.

13:26 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yeah, that was that. Some time still takes me by surprise, it's like but it, this was so easy with this child and this is so I don't want to do. On your homepage I sneak peek the little and and you have a freebie for people. I think that you go in and download as well. That is called seek it. Maybe I say wrong, but secrets are not how to do, on how to not lose your shit More, less Right. So so can you share some of the secret with us?

14:02 - Rachel Rainbolt (Guest)
Yeah, I think you know a big. When we are walking this unschooling path, it becomes so much more about the relationship than if our kids are in a school classroom all day long. If your kids are in school all day, their teachers are there, you know that like adult figure in their lives, their peers are like their sibling group. So that really distills like the impact, you know, of the family relationships. But when you are unschooling those that those relationships are huge, they're hugely important, they have a lot of power and that's actually a really cool thing because that means that the most important work we do is actually the work that we do on ourselves, like to grow ourselves, to create a peaceful home within our own bodies. And that is really the work. Like if I could choose one thing. You know, when people come to me and say like, oh well, which curriculum do I choose or what like really what matters is the work that you do on yourself. And so that is really like what that freebie is about. And that's really what a lot of the like coaching work I do with families distills down into is say, your child is feeling really big feelings and so that's what you do. Is that your teachers is less what you do, even on the parenting side, and more about what you do internally, on the inside.

And so, for example, recognizing the distinction between you and your child, and unschoolers tend to be really good at this, actually, because many of our children the freedom to be who they are Like there's, there's a real like.

You're not an extension of me, you're not a representation of me. You get to be your own human right, like that's like the self directed education piece and so on the like parenting or emotional side. That means that when they have a big feeling showing up, we can be the lighthouse for them. Right, we, we can be that strong, stable, guiding light that, while they're being kind of tossed and turned out on the ocean, I'm here. I'm here, tell me everything right, like I want to hear all about it. I'm right here and we can be that regulating or regulating for them, that regulating presence that our kids can keep using to come back home to, to get grounded with. So really, I think you know the tips and that freebie are connected to like how to do that, like how to get into that space where you can really be the lighthouse for your child in their emotional storms.

16:50 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yeah, and becoming a teen is just a wild ride. To stand next to.

16:58 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Well said.

17:00 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
And I can't remember it being such a wild ride myself. Sorry, and that might have to do with that, I didn't have the same level of connections with my parents, so I don't think I shared it in the way that we along the journey of seeing that right.

17:24 - Rachel Rainbolt (Guest)
Absolutely. That's a really important thing that you touched on is that a lot of times when I'm talking to unschooling parents, they'll say things like you know, none of my friends, kids who are in school are experimenting with drugs or having sex with their parents or experiencing these same struggles that my kid is experiencing and I will often bring that perspective they are. They're just not including their parents in them. And if my kid stumbles or is experiencing something really hard, they come to me and they talk to me about it and they share it with me and they expect that I can help them hold it and, you know, be that lighthouse for them right, and come alongside them with it, without judgment, like with non judgmental curiosity, and just remind them of how loved they are and who they are. By how I see them, Most teenagers like on the mainstream path, their parents are not invited in. So all of those things are still happening. The parents just really they aren't a part of that story that that season.

18:35 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
And also in a way that, how I see it, tend to be more okay with being who they are and also being more okay with not knowing who they are, or being more okay with having a personal crisis, where I think kids who are under the pressure of the school system and let's just send a lot of love out for them because it's such a pressure they just have to hold themselves together. Yeah, it's like this. I'm imagining what's it called? That thing they wear when they when they go surfing and it's too cold, and wetsuit, wetsuit. Yeah, you know, they have this entire cover to hold it all like an exoskeleton, because they have to, and they learned to have to through the life of, of, of leaving the family every morning and coming back and having most of your life somewhere else. No one loves you unconditionally. No one knows really, and because the teacher yes, but it's not one teachers, several teachers, and it's when you all you know, when you live in a family, you have someone who sees you 85% of the time, so you have this continuum of knowing each other's lives. It goes both ways.

So I think, when it looks sometimes like a worse crisis for the unschooled teenager We've had, we have four. Exactly half of them have had like really was like an explosion, like their head just blew open on one day and we were like, okay, where's that kid I knew yesterday. It was really crazy. Only half of them, some, I can't even say that this is how it goes. Yeah, two of our children it was like that and I think actually, even though it was very hard times to go through when they had this, just not knowing who they were or what was going on, I see the trust deep down in life, in yourself and in your relations, when you can break open like that and such a young age, because you know that life has your back.

You know that someone will carry you If you can't walk. You know that you might fall, but there is something or someone to catch you. So I think when unschooled parent unschooling parents sometimes say but it doesn't look that crazy for the other kids, maybe I should have put my child in school. Did I break it all? It's one of the big crisis that happens in the unschooling journey that's a teenager. When that arrives, actually it's it's. It's rather a confirmation that you did it right.

21:32 - Rachel Rainbolt (Guest)
Yeah yeah, I completely agree and that's a. That's actually a very normal developmental stage. So, in terms of the lifespan, like two of the thing, to the stages that we can often look at, our adolescents and matresants. So, for a lot of us, when we became mothers or fathers, it was like who? We believed ourselves to be sort of shattered, and we were in pieces on the floor and we had to put ourselves back together and decide okay, I am like reborn anew. Who it? Who am I? Who do I want to be? You know, where do I come from? How does that fit? Where do I fit in the world?

Now, as this new person, and teenagers are supposed to go through an experience of that and my experience is that unschoolers go through it sooner because, like you said, the kids in school, who have always been in school, have a wetsuit or a suit of armor, a mask that they have had to construct in order to be the person that everyone around them wanted them to be, expected them to be told them they needed to be for approval, for good grades, for the teacher to say good boy, you know?

Although, to survive in this system, this is who you needed to be. So their suit of armor is so big and so heavy and so strong, it tends to take longer for it to crack. So they will. They will tend to do that like in college, like a couple. You know, statistically it's like the end of the first year of college, they, a lot of kids, fall apart but naturally, like on the natural human timeline, that happens a lot earlier. It happens earlier and at it like middle age, you know it happens. And so for a lot of unschooling kids we see that that sort of thing happen when they're still with us, like at home, which is nice and how it's supposed to be. Like you don't have to worry about being homeless While you are spending three days in a row crying in a dark room listening to sad music, while I bring you food and love, rub you right.

23:40 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I can occasionally say could we change the music with 10 minutes? Yeah, we love it is really rough times for them to go through. It really is. And and I don't know. My heart just goes out to all the other parents going through this phase because you look at your child and you just want them to thrive and it doesn't look like thriving but it's like if they act out, or they when they are smaller, if they make a lot of noise in the relation, it's a good thing that trying things out with you because they trust you, rather than try things out with strangers or don't try them out at all. So, even though it's painful as a parent to look at it and be part of it and have to do your end of it it really wasn't what it is. Even though it looks like failure, it is success.

24:47 - Rachel Rainbolt (Guest)
Yes, it's an honor to be someone's safe person and in this way of living with children and being in connection with children they're given that respect sort of all the way from the beginning to have their own feelings, to have their own thoughts, to have their own opinions.

And it really does give them a head start, cause when kids are raised in that system of like, the parent is really up here and the kid is down here and there's a power over and the school system reinforces that right. When kids are raised that way we often see like a big rebellion in adolescence where they're resistant to that control and to being told who they are and what they think and how they feel. And so, while living this like peaceful parenting, self-directed education path doesn't mean that your children won't have struggles and big feelings and hard times cause they will. That's part of being human. If you're not having hard times, you're dead. So that can't be the goal. It certainly better prepares them for those inevitable hard times and positions you to be a resource in those hard times as opposed to the source of their oppression in their mind.

26:11 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
But how can I be a resource when I'm still fixing myself sometimes?

26:17 - Rachel Rainbolt (Guest)
Yes, yes, and that I think like that, like honesty, and that vulnerability is part of what makes us such great resources. Because if they have a problem and they come to us and we say, man, you know, I am still trying to figure that shit out Like that is that is like you're probably gonna take your whole life and the moment you die you still won't have it cracked. So just normalizing that, like yeah, like life is full of a lot of confusing and hard stuff. So doing life well and being a healthy, good, successful person does not mean that you don't feel the full rainbow of human emotion and the full spectrum of human experiences. There are ups, there are downs.

27:06 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
That's kind of the point is just experience, like that's what life is, and I'm right on that ride with you and I'm here and we can laugh about it together and cry about it together and hug each other through it and also I think that when we are vulnerable and when we can't fix it and we can't help because I don't know our own personal story or our own patterns, triggers, the relation can still carry it, and even for the children to know that sometimes we need them. Sometimes it goes the other way around in a more standard, mainstream parent child relation, the child is not a necessary part of the puzzle.

It's like you know, and we have to do the chore of looking after them until they grow up. And then, when they grow up, they might contribute. But at this point you know I'm the adult, I've got this and you just have to, you know, empty the dishwasher when I tell you to and do your homework. But I don't really need you with such a love you, but I don't really need you, not needed when.

I think, when we go deep into the relation and also are honest when we come short or we just can't take it anymore or we need a hug, our children understand that they are a central part of the whole idea of the family, that we're all playing an equally important role and they grow into. I mean, I wouldn't demand my kids to comfort me too much when they are three months old, but as they grow older they really can help. I can ask one of them would you go for a walk with me? I'm a little sad. Maybe we could just go for a little walk and then I come back and I'm happier and they know that they are part of my life balance. I think that's an important part of being on school that you get to be someone who is necessary, someone that we couldn't live without and someone who can contribute, even though well, even though you're not an adult. But that's weird. It's just ageism talking through my mouth and I don't like it.

29:28 - Rachel Rainbolt (Guest)
Yes, no, you're right that when that relational dynamic has the parent up really high and the kid down low, and the parent views their role as to just pour into the child, that's really just one way, and one of the messages within the foundation of that dynamic is that you don't matter, like you don't have anything meaningful to contribute.

You are an object that I act upon and that is your job to sit on the shelf and make me look good, and then I'll pull you off the shelf and program some instructions in when I want you to do something. And really this is a relationship, it's a human connection from one person to another and both people matter, and so for kids to know that like deep in their bones from the beginning, that who I am matters and this is a relationship, a connection from one human being to another. That is a real departure from the mainstream approach, sadly, because it seems so basic. And definitely there's a line at which, like it's not your child's responsibility to meet your needs, in the sense that there is a difference because we chose to bring them into the world. However, we are two human beings walking a journey together and your words matter just as much as my words and your behaviors matter just as much as my behaviors, because we are just humans in connection here.

31:06 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Yeah, and so in reality in the entirety of lifespan. There is a point where you know it reverses. So now, my parents are dead.

So this comes out wrong. I should take care of my parents, but I can't. But I'm at a point in life where my mother would be someone I take care of more than she would take care of me. So it's. I mean, of course, small children shouldn't be. They should be a part of the community, and so I think that's the priority of the solution for parents emotional needs. What I'm saying is just that they can be part of it and and they should know that they can be part of it and at some point they will grow into being the caregiver more than the caretaker.

31:55 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
No, that's what you mean.

31:57 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Yeah, it's not my language. I'm sorry, I'm, I'm sorry, no, but I think that just that perspective, that the relation really is the core and and the child is a real person in that relation, a real person whose opinion matters, who emotions matter, who can contribute with a good vibe or a bad vibe, and who can help. I think also for children looking at their parents. If parents suffer and they just are helpless, they can't do anything, and that's a very desperate emotion to have towards someone that you love. So giving them the opportunity of contributing to your wellbeing is it's just more fair.

32:43 - Rachel Rainbolt (Guest)
Yeah, yeah, and how we treat our children when they are dependent on us is reflected back to us Once they are no longer dependent on us. So if we really show up for them when they actually need us, with empathy and respect, you know, the idea is that then that gets reflected back to us Like once they're they don't need us anymore, they still want us, right, they still want to be in connection with us, because this is a healthy human to human connection, whereas if we are just dominating and controlling, you know, as soon as they don't need us anymore, there's no motivation for them to stay out.

33:30 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
We love unschooling and self-directed learning, and sometimes we talk almost too much about it, because what I see is that so many of the things that we have learned from living so closely knit together with our children and for the last six years both of us parents had been at home with them Me often behind the computer but making some dollars but still all those things we have learned I'm like the world should know about this. I want to shout it out also to the people who could never see themselves unschooling or homeschooling a child, and so I can be afraid sometimes that talking unschooling will keep some people from learning from the tools and knowledge that have arisen in this world. What are your thoughts about that?

34:31 - Rachel Rainbolt (Guest)
Yeah, I think in the unschooling community particularly, I will say there is a risk of getting very dogmatic, like that is something that does turn people off sometimes. But when we talk about hey, this isn't actually so much about unschooling. This is just about living a meaningful life and being in connection with other humans peacefully. It's like peaceful human connection, meaningful life building, and unschooling is sort of like a byproduct of that. You know, it's like if you're living these values, then we do tend to find ourselves gentle parenting or peaceful parenting, and we do tend to find ourselves unschooling and support self-directed education.

So when I try and think of it in that way, I find that I attract a lot more people to the message that I'm sending. Like it's not like if you use a curriculum with your child, you can't be in my club. It's more like hey, listening to your children and valuing what they have to offer and respecting them as human beings and giving your own inner child, all of those things as well and growing together and living lives that are actually fulfilling, not lives that you think you're supposed to live, but like what actually makes you happy, what actually fills you with wonder, what sparks your interest, and do you follow them, like doing that for yourself, doing that in connection with your children, supporting your children and doing that. That's what this is about, and I find that when my message is framed in that way, it removes a lot of the resistance that can show up in people.

36:22 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I often get the question if you can unschool in the summer break and the weekends, and we have to break that down to education-wise. No, you cannot, because the child has to be set completely free education-wise in order to be completely free, and hence the whole story. You know it and I know it. But philosophically and relation-wise you can get very far. It's not about whether the child is in school or not, it's about how you handle it, it's about your relation to that choice.

Some families, if you in all honesty can tell your child there is no way around school in our family life, there is no way I can. I don't know, I can't handle it. I'd be too fearful. We both have to work, so you need to be somewhere. School is the only option, whatever it is.

But you know, just go do your best, have some fun. I will never look at your grades. I will never join the school meetings and listen to all that. You just do you and see you in the afternoon because I have to go out. You know if that's the number really, and as soon as you're old enough to stay home alone, you can do that. I'll support you in whatever choices With that. It needs a little more elaboration to be complete. But you can get very far in having that real relation with your child. You can get very far in something that looks very much like the gentle parenting, the unschooling, the wholehearted, close-knit family, even if you're not actually unschooling. Yeah, but we have to draw that line between the education part and the relation part, and maybe the relation part is the most important.

38:32 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
It is the most important. What I'm thinking about is how will you have the time if you're not home educating your children and some sort having them on to all those talks you take?

38:44 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)

38:45 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
The amount of hours we talk with our children is crazy, and that is part of the connection. But I very much believe that there's a lot of parenting knowledge that has maybe been hidden under the unschooling brand and therefore not being shared well enough, and I'm on a track to figure out what it is. Maybe it needs its own brand name or whatever people call these things like. But there is something, because I think there is so much wisdom in having lived with these children for so long and I also love that, among all the unschoolers we have talked with, this will be our 61st episode we have done so. Many of the people we have talked with have used the amount of hours they have used on thinking about parenting. It is crazy, I mean, it's just yeah.

We should make a university.

39:52 - Rachel Rainbolt (Guest)
Yes, agreed. Yeah, I think like we can sometimes get stuck in the weeds of labels, like, for example, my oldest is in college and she still attends Blake bulls unschooling camp in Oregon and she, like, she still identifies as an unschooler because in her mind she chooses to engage with this educational system and her family supports her freedom to choose whatever path feels right for her. I think sometimes we can. So my second is technically attends the high school right now and we can negotiate and collaborate when we bump up against that things within the system that go against our values. So, for example, my son, from my perspective, is free to attend school whenever he wants or do something different whenever he wants. The school has certain rules around that. At what point do their rules bump up against our freedoms? So at a certain when he hits a certain number of absences, we would get family protective services called on us. They report us to the police for educational neglect, so we had to have a conversation with him. Here's that number. If we get to that number, we have to disenroll you because we can't risk losing custody of you. You know these are the rules within that system, you know. So, like there are like and like do you agree with that or we can pull you and you can do something different? Like these are just the rules of that system that you're choosing to engage with, and there's full collaboration and full consent, like in full agreement, around all of that.

So I think I get less concerned about like at what point is it unspooling and at what point is it not? And I'm more in the camp of like you're talking about. It's just about what is your relationship with your kid and what is the life that you build around that relationship. Like, my kid knows that he is doing this because he is choosing to do it and he has some very specific reasons for doing it. For him, he wants to compete on the sale racing team for the school and to do that he has to attend a certain number of things. Like it makes sense to him and so I'm in full support of it.

And I'm not so much concerned about the labels. I'm more concerned with like am I showing up in alignment with my values? Is he able to be fully himself? Does he feel supported in being himself and in creating the life that is the most meaningful for him right now? And the answer to those things is yes, though you do make a point that now that my kids are older, it's it's it's more natural for them to spend more time away from me. But when they were younger, if they were in school all day long, we would not have the relationship that we have. There's just not enough. Like I said, there's not enough time. Like the influence is just too diluted if they spend more waking hours in this other system than they do in our family system. Like we can't compete with that. So to your point, like I do agree with that, there is definitely a point at which you just can't quite access the full benefits of it.

43:08 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I would also say I usually say that voluntary is the key word. Yeah, it's not about whether the child is in a school system or not, it's whether it's voluntary or not. But then there is this mark somewhere on the age line, where a seven year old voluntarily choosing to go to school how?

43:31 - Rachel Rainbolt (Guest)
does that? Is it an informed choice? I think is the question.

43:35 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
It's even possible for a seven year old to be informed enough to make that choice. I, I'm not sure. Yeah, whereas a 1415 year old choosing to engage with the education system, that's different. So I'm not trying to. I respect younger children very much and they're feeling for what they need and what's right for them, but at the same time they all live in this society where school is the gold standard. It's the only thing, it's an axiom. No one can think around it. It's you know. And when they are five, everyone, and even in the bus, will start. You know how old are you? I'm five. Oh, then you'll go to school soon. What that fun. You know you have that whole thing going on. So how can they sift through that? That's hard when you're younger. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Can we have a mix of unschooling and school when they're younger? I wouldn't recommend it.

44:43 - Rachel Rainbolt (Guest)
Yeah, when parents come to me and say, like my kid wants to go to school, like and I do get a lot of families who come to me and say that, for all the reasons you described, it's the societal norm. Everyone who lives on their block is doing it, all the characters in their favorite TV shows are doing it. So my kids joked that because they entered the high school at the same time together, they wanted to sort of have this adventure together and check out this experience and they humorously thought it would be like high school musical, like this, the Disney Channel show. Right, they knew rationally it wouldn't be, but that was like secretly, sort of their expectation. And so as they started experiencing it, they're like it's nothing like high school musical. There's no singing, there's no dancing, which was sort of a joke between us because they knew rationally that was not what it was like. And yet that's what they had grown up seeing portrayed in all of their favorite TV shows. It was like where kids get superpowers and there's a lot of dancing and singing, right.

So there's definitely when parents come to me and say my kid says they want to go to school, the first thing I ask is, what need are they having that they think school will meet, and is there another way for us to meet that need? Yeah, so a lot of times it's really because they want to spend more time with other kids. Like, okay, cool, how else can we meet that need outside of the school system? Maybe it's that they see on TV or there?

I had one client whose kid all their friends had pencil boxes with colored pencils and art supplies and so they wanted to get to carry around art supplies. So, okay, we can get you art supplies. We can even sign you up for an art class where you can go twice a week and do art with other kids. Awesome, like we can meet that need in other ways. So for kids, whenever they have a need that they are feeling is not being met, society tells them the solution is school. But we know that that is rarely the solution. So we can brainstorm other ways and offer other ways and try other ways to meet that need.

46:58 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yeah, I'm thinking about sometimes, cecilia, and I talk about the connection when you put a child to school. It's kind of get broken while they're in school and then people can experience, if they have their child in a kindergarten or in school, that the kids come home or feels very needy and almost annoying. But that's that need for reconnection and I'm thinking back on my own childhood and my mom. Maybe she just did it naturally. When I came home from school, we sat on outside the house with a cup of tea and chatted for some time. Yeah, it was a really, really good thing, but that was that connection rebuilding every day after school and we have a great relationship today. So that's one of the things I believe that parents out there who chooses or which life circumstances makes it needed that they cannot have their children at home always to remember, how do I reconnect after the break, during the day?

48:09 - Rachel Rainbolt (Guest)
Yes, and we have something called post restraint collapse. I'm a therapist, so in the therapy world what we often see is kids will. When they get home from school they will fall, apart from having to spend all day stuffing everything down, like sit still, be quiet, don't move, don't say how you really feel, don't have any feelings. And then when they get home it will like the kids will sort of go crazy and be crying over nothing and screaming and tantruming, even in teenagers, like sometimes we'll see this. And so just to frame that as like yeah, they've been having to hold it together all day and what an honor to be their safe person, and so expect that and hold the space for that, be outside with a cup of tea and invite them to just be outside with you for a bit and listen to the birds and sip on tea. And you know, even if you're not talking, maybe they've had to like be doing a lot of like sort of fake conversing throughout the day, like we can just sit in silence, you can cry, you can laugh, we can say nothing, you can tell me everything. Like just sort of holding that space for them to try to get back connected to themselves and connected to us. So that connection piece is sort of twofold like reconnect with themselves, because in school they often have to disconnect from themselves and their needs.

My kid, who's in the high school, his biggest complaint is that they try to tell him that he can't pee when he has to pee and he's like no, I'm going to pee when I have to pee. Like you do what you want with that, so like you know to be able to like. So when he's home he's just like it makes a big funny joke of it, like I feel like peeing right now and I'm going to pee. Like whatever it is you need to do to reclaim your sense of independence and reconnect with your needs. Like awesome, do it.

50:16 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
When I work with parents, one thing I often find is that, on top of the whole school thing, it seems like there's this gold standard of parenting that that takes up. And then, let's say, you come back and the kids have been in school and now you're home and there's a tantrum of some sort and you know, there's some tension, everybody's tired, and and then the parents think there are all these things they have to do. They have to be the policeman for the school, they have to make the healthy meal and put it on the table in a nice way, and no one can eat before that because that would, you know, ruin your appetite. There rules for screen time, there would be chores, all of these structures and systems to uphold the gold standard of how family life should look like. Yeah, it really ruins it. It's just setting the fire on fire. The tantrum will be bigger, the stress will be worse, the disconnection enlarged, everybody and and everybody is set up to fail. I mean, it's just set up to fail in school and the parents are set up to fail this gold standard of parenting, and it's. It's actually I can't even begin to describe the loss, the loss of moments of love, the loss of moments of being present. Randomly.

I read a cookbook once something 15 years ago of a cook. We have a Danish cook and she had this advice on children and feeding children, teaching them to, to eat healthily and real eating, real food. She said, when kids come home, they're hungry. They're hungry emotionally, they're hungry in their blood sugars hungry, and you have this gold standard idea that they have to wait two and a half hours until you've made the perfect meal and then they can eat. So what you really do is you, you set them up on the kitchen table as short a distance as you can from the fridge and then you just pull out whatever and you feed them and you talk to them.

That's parent and I just love that idea because at the same time she's this real food, you know, homemade kind of homesteading woman, and at the same time she was like just get real around this, don't know. Yes, great picture on the food and reality. Yes, do that. But also do it emotionally, do it around the laundry, do it around everything, just whatever. Make it work. That gold standard. You know, just set that on fire, that's better.

53:07 - Rachel Rainbolt (Guest)
Yes, I think most the school system like creeps into the home and family when people are engaged with it, and even if your kids are not in school because society is so school minded, it's easy for all of that to creep into your home and your family. So I think it's really important for everyone listening to just be fully empowered in the knowledge that everything is a choice. Everything is a choice. You can choose like unschoolers are great at this like we can choose to give the middle finger to bed times or to meal times or to like any of those mainstream structures. We can just say no, thank you, and do our own thing. And I think that's a really empowering thing to remember.

If you were just fully centering your value of like connection and joy and honoring needs and freedom, like whatever your values are, if you're fully centering them, like, what does your evening look like? You know, like what would an evening look like that did not care about anything else except those values you know really like let everything else go. You're in a blank white void. Nothing exists. What would you add in? Oh well, I would add in my kids, okay, awesome. What else? Oh well, I like nature. So let's add in some trees? Okay, let's do it, you know?

Oh well, food, I love to just like be able to snack when I'm hungry. Awesome, let's just have snacks spread out all the time. What else you know? So we can like work at it from that direction of like, let all of that bullshit go that doesn't matter and didn't come from you and isn't in the best interest of human beings anyway. Like we have evidence that shows us all this stuff is bad for us. So, okay, let all that go. Now, what does your day look like? What does your morning look like? What does your evening look like? Like, you can make it whatever you want. It's a really empowering thing for parents to realize, and a lot of parents don't realize that.

55:02 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
I think this is a good place. Yeah. I could and we could talk, we could talk for hours. We should talk some more at some point.

55:09 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
We could talk for hours. I will say this we could talk for hours about the inner journey that you'll have to do as a person to get from where you probably are To actually feeling good about that clean slate. You know, just let's just give the middle finger to all of these structures and start over. That's actually not as easy as it sounds.

55:30 - Rachel Rainbolt (Guest)
We should all agree.

55:33 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
But there is some.

55:35 - Rachel Rainbolt (Guest)
Your said been done.

55:39 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
But now it's, time.

55:40 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
But said and that's good, yeah, I think it's time to. Yeah, I agree we could round it up, we could talk again.

55:47 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yeah, Rachel, if people want to learn more about you the people who don't know you already so where should they go? And I already mentioned the freebie, they should go download that. But if you could plug your website and a little more so people can follow along.

56:03 - Rachel Rainbolt (Guest)
Yes, you can find me at sagefamilycom. I'm sagefamily on Instagram. Reach out and connect. I mean, I have a large body of work. I have my sage family podcast where I talk to people about all this kind of stuff. I have the sage homeschooling book. I do coaching, I do therapy, so I'm kind of everywhere. But sagefamilycom is really my hub and anyone who's listening to your podcast is certainly my people. So reach out, let's be friends.

56:35 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
All right Thank you.

56:36 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
It was a big conversation.

56:38 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
It was fun. Bye guys, thank you.


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