In my six-plus years of being a mother, I've learned there are basically endless parenting philosophies: attachment, helicopter, silky, permissive, authoritarian, free-range, holistic, and some combination of dozens of others. The possibilities, it seems, are endless. However, these parents defend letting their kids play with axes, shave their heads, and draw on the walls — and I literally have no words.
That's because Gemma and Lewis Rawnsley, who live in West Yorkshire in the United Kingdom, are raising their seven children "off-grid" with essentially no rules, as Us Weekly reported. If you're not familiar with the concept, off-grid parenting is an unconventional philosophy that ditches ideas like bedtimes, discipline, mainstream education and even modern medicine, according to Scary Mommy.
The Rawnsley kiddos — who range in age from 12 months to 13 years — are homeschooled, eat what they want and spend their days passing time in, um, interesting ways. In fact, Us Weekly reported that the only stipulations in their household are to refrain from lying or hurting each other. The end. This quirky family, along with others, will be featured in an upcoming U.K.-based Channel 4 documentary titled, Feral Families, which airs on Oct. 26.
“Right from the off, we felt really strongly that we didn’t want to be the sort of parents you see shouting at their kids in the supermarket,” Gemma explains in the documentary, according the Daily Mail. “We felt that our children needed to be given the power to develop as people, to make their own decisions.”
The mobile hairdresser mama and catering manager are parents to Skye, 13, Finlay, 12, Phoenix, 9, Pearl 7, Hunter, 5, Zephyr, 3 and Woolf, 1, according to the Daily Mail. Years ago, they made the decision to forgo conventional parenting and opt for a "no rules" approach — making their seven children in charge of the house and the parents the "facilitators."
“We are facilitators, so we will lift the mattresses for them. The conventional response would be to say: ‘No, you can’t take the mattresses and make a slide,’ but why not?” Gemma said, according to the Daily Mail. “We put cushions at the bottom. It is safe. And they have the most amazing fun that is wonderful to watch.”
Apparently, things like cursing, twirling flaming batons, playing with knives and wielding an axe are fair game for the children featured in Ferral Families, too. Just looking at the image below, makes me sweat. I'm honestly impressed the kids in this documentary still have all their limbs intact.
Gemma told The Mirror:
People see my son with the pickaxe and will think, "How dangerous." But not if you teach them how to use it. I make calculated decisions so if something seems dangerous I know it has risk attached, but the benefits are that they learn responsibility.
Although reading and writing aren't necessarily a priority, the kiddos do pick up valuable life skills in their "un-learning." "Finlay loves cooking and could put a three-course meal on the table," Lewis told The Mirror. "Homeschooling lets them learn life skills and they can do a lot of things other kids can’t."
See for yourself how the Rawnsley family lives out their daily lives in the snippet, below:
OK, so I have a lot of feelings about off-grid parenting. First and foremost: It's irresponsible not to vaccinate your children, unless they're allergic to a component of a certain vaccine, or have had adverse reactions in the past. Two: Seriously, axes? And razors? And climbing out of windows? Look, I'm not one to sit here and tell anyone how to raise their kids; I'm too busy trying not to screw up my own three children. But it's kind of hard to argue that this isn't extreme, and sort of asking for bodily injuries. (How would that work, if this family is one that shuns modern medicine?) Hmm.
Obviously, off-grid parenting isn't for me. Establishing rules and boundaries are necessities for kids. And among them in my household is a big fat NO on pickaxes.
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