Alternative Parenting Techniques in the News

Recently many UK media outlets have been focussing on parenting techniques, particularly non-mainstream concepts. While we welcome wider discussion that allows parents to make the best decision for their children, one does wonder if some news outlets are more interested in causing controversy than fulfilling their remit to inform.

Free Range Parenting techniques?

Allen Family

Allen family believe in off grid parenting


Recently many news outlets have covered the story of Adele and Matt Allen and their two children, Ulysses and Ostara, who have been described by those news outlets as “off-grid” parents. According to the parents themselves, they’re practicing a form of free range parenting, a term popularized by Dr Benjamin Spock, usually defined as a parenting technique that encourages children to function independently in proper accordance of their age of development with a reasonable acceptance of realistic personal risks. What must be said immediately is that the philosophy of the Allens does not resemble this accepted definition and their adoption of the “free range” terminology seems to be more focussed on some idea of freedom from the constraints of modern society, namely education and medicine in the case of their parenting techniques.

New Parenting or Clickbait?

The story has gone viral primarily because of a number of key factors that equate to clickbait in the parenting world: A question of medicinal care; A question of breastfeeding; and a question of educational development. It must be said the Allens, intentionally or not, managed to fuel the fires of outrage almost perfectly, claiming to reject all conventional medicine even in the case of terminal illness, breastfeeding both a 2 and a 5 year old (and being photographed doing so with the latter) and insisting on home schooling, despite not placing emphasis on educational landmarks like literacy.

Self Sufficiency

The argument they make is a tendency towards self-sufficiency, albeit with something of an extremist isolationist model, where their ultimate goal is to educate their children in nature and foster a natural inquisitiveness that will allow them to sustainably live off the land, while presumably rejecting all concepts of modernity. Given that their eldest, Ulysses, is 5 years old and does not possess reading skills by design rather than through learning difficulty (Adele dismissing this: “there is no need for him to be able to read and write at this age anyway), the questions must be raised about the choice the children are being given in the matter.

Health and Wellbeing

Not content with driving book lovers into a frenzy, Adele has also ensured the family receive a healthy dose of criticism from the medical profession too, by claiming that “If I had something serious, like Cancer, I would definitely take the natural path” and also “We don’t use sun cream. Not at all on the kids. We don’t believe it protects you from cancer”. I feel this probably doesn’t require further analysis.
The family also believe in Lotus births, where you let the placenta fall off naturally. While this is a lot more common and far less dangerous than ignoring carcinogens, we know it is controversial, based on previous debate that waged war on our facebook page for some time.

Are you kidding me?

So far, so alternative parenting techniques click bait, until we started to suspect the Allen family may be lampooning us all. In a video published all over the internet, Matt specifically talks about how their children don’t wear shoes because it connects them closer to the earth, or some such nonsense. He recounts a story where a concerned passer by highlighted the danger of their daughter being barefoot outside a shop (reasons as long as your arm here folks). He carefully explained how closed minded this person was, all while we are treated to a close up of the barefoot feet of Ulysses/Ostara/Romulus/Dandelion/Marmite in nature being flanked by Matt’s feet CLAD IN SANDALS! Nice heavy sandals that protect your feet from broken glass, dog mess or other germs. Come on!
Debate waged about their parenting technique. Is it abusive? Is it fair on the kids? Are we too bound by society? People took this seriously and got angry with each other.

Then Matt and Adele used their fifteen minutes of fame to set up a page begging for thousands of pounds so they could go and buy a big plot of land in Costa Rica and live self-sufficiently. So it was all a ploy in the first place.

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About Shweta

Shweta runs the data team at EncycloKidia so her brain is a massive repository of all kid's services out there. After some persuasion, we were able to get her to look up from her spreadsheets and share some of her priceless knowledge with us.
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