Allen family unconventional parenting
Barcroft media/contributor via Getty Images

These Unconventional Parents Are Raising Their Children With No School and No Bedtime

Stories

| LAST UPDATE 08/01/2021

By Damian Schmitt

When it comes to raising your children, it can be very easy to cause a stir with other moms and dads. And that’s exactly what happened when Matt and Adele revealed their unique parenting methods to the world.

Introducing Adele and Matt

Matt and Adele Allen formed a strong relationship around their shared experiences. But it was one thing in particular that united the Brighton-based couple and informed how they wanted to raise their family.

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Facebook via The Unconventional Parent

According to Adele, "We lost our fathers, both of them to heart attacks from high-stress lifestyles." Through those traumatic experiences, the two came to an important conclusion - they didn’t want their kids to go through the same thing. But could they reset their lifestyles completely?

Building a Better Life

Matt and Adele set out on a new adventure to establish a healthier and more eco-friendly way of life for themselves and their children. The first step was pushing the reset button on how they had lived before, and one of the things that helped the most was a new dietary supplement.

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Facebook via Adele Ria

Matt had learned about the supplement during his time working on a cruise ship. "I thought I knew about health, fitness, wellbeing but this new food supplement I tried just changed the whole way I felt within my body." According to him, this spurred further thinking about "what else is different out there.”

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A New Way of Parenting

The young parents followed this train of thought, researching new ways to provide the best upbringing for their little family. Soon enough they found something that sounded ideal - off-grid parenting. According to Adele, "Off-grid is moving towards self-sustainability and being a bit more free-range and less institutionalized."

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Facebook via Adele Ria

But how did the Allens interpret “free-range”? As it turns out, that meant far less restrictive routines for their kids, including no strict routines and no traditional education. News about Matt and Adele’s unconventional child-rearing soon spread, but not everyone accepted their new parenting style.

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Finding Natural Remedies

As their research continued, Adele also began to reject excessive use of medicines in favor of a more natural approach. Their eldest son Ulysses soon came down with chickenpox and Scarlet fever, and they "treated that naturally." "Childhood disease is quite important to experience, to build the child's immunity," she said.

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Instagram via @theunconventionalparent

"We really believe in supporting the body to self-heal," Adele explained further. They continued to treat childhood illnesses with their own homeopathic remedies, or even no treatment at all. They pushed on with this belief even as their children experienced serious illnesses.

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No Vaccinations Either

According to these parents, there was no sense in over-medicating their children, as there was a purpose behind their bouts of illness. They felt the same way about vaccinations, refusing any vaccine treatments for their family. As Adele said, "The fever is there for a purpose, to clean the body out."

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Facebook via Adele Ria

Some concerned onlookers have questioned her refusal to vaccinate her kids, and if it was really the best idea for them. But in her eyes vaccines were the real issue, not the ailments they treated. "I'm very well researched, actually. I'm protecting [my children] from the risks that are very real."

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Breastfeeding is the Child’s Choice

An additional controversial parenting call was how long Adele chose to breastfeed her children. That was because she didn't choose at all - she allowed her eldest son Ulysses to make that decision. "I think it's up to him to decide when he wants to move on from it," she said when talking about her six-year-old son.

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Facebook via Adele Ria

Adele strongly believed that breast milk was an important antibody that kept her children healthy. And as she explained further, it was a natural and loving act that her son turned to "when he's tired or when he's in need of comfort... It's something that's just as natural as a hug is, it's a connection," she said.

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Virtually No Rules

Matt and Adele's off-grid parenting mantra also extended to rules for the kids... or lack thereof. The parents steered away from a strict home. However, they were still well-behaved. How was that possible? As Adele saw it, it was because they approached their kids as "equal human [beings].

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Facebook via The Unconventional Parent

Part of the reason they were so gentle with their eldest child was due to his emotional nature. "He does struggle with getting overwhelmed easily," she explained further. A less strict environment worked best for him and might have been one of the main reasons why he cooperated so easily with his parents.

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Feelings Are Important

Another intentional approach that Matt and Adele took with their kids was to make room for a wide spectrum of emotions. They didn't believe in prioritizing only happiness or positive feelings. This was especially important for their sensitive eldest son.

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Instagram via @theunconventionalparent

For the Allen family, it was equally important to understand sadness, euphoria, frustration, and all other human emotions. As Matt pointed out, "It's not about grasping hold of happiness and saying 'this is happiness.' In fact, you should expose yourself to a whole plethora of emotions."

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Discovering “Unschooling”

When the time came to begin considering options for their children's schooling, Matt and Adele decided to continue on with their off-grid approach. Instead, they opted for "unschooling," a teaching method that allowed children to be more intuitive with their learning.

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Facebook via The Unconventional Parent

"Whatever he's interested in, we provide him with the opportunities to learn about it," Adele said of Ulysses, the first of their children to try out this new way of learning. Many have disagreed with her choice to forego traditional schooling, but Adele insisted that it works.

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They Still Embrace Technology

For Adele and Matt, the backlash against their unconventional child-rearing was unwarranted. After all, both Ulysses and Ostara, their second-oldest, had taken well to their unschooling "classes." The parents insisted that they wouldn't be doing it if it didn’t work for the kids.

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Facebook via Adele Ria

Adele also made it clear that her children weren't Luddites, and they didn’t shun every part of twenty-first-century life. For instance, their son still had some of the same creature comforts as his peers. "Ulysses does the iPad," Adele said. "He watches all that stuff, and he navigates his way around that."

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What About the Kids' Desires?

The Allen children seem to be doing well with their "unschooling" journey, though many are skeptical of how it has affected them. Adele said that if their children wanted to enter the traditional school system, they were open to that. But they weren't isolated from other "normal" children their age, despite what people thought.

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Facebook via Adele Ria

"We mix with other homeschooled children," the mom explained. "We do go to kids clubs occasionally, we have our own allotment and a vast area. There are places we go and things we do to be exposed to the real world, rather than just being confined to a classroom." And that seemed to be enough, for now.

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No Schedule, No Problem

As we’ve mentioned already, the Allen family didn't enforce strict bedtimes, which some people found concerning. Instead, their children Ulysses and Ostara were able to choose their bedtimes. Their parents believed they should pay attention to their own circadian rhythm.

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Facebook via Adele Ria

Why did this work? Well, Adele and Matt both thought that being too strict with schedules and routines, particularly where sleep was concerned might cause their children to suffer “from insomnia or other things later on in life." Instead, they encouraged their little ones to "listen to their body's cues."

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Think of the Children

At one point the Allen’s were invited onto the This Morning show to talk about their way of life. The audience and at-home viewers alike were fascinated by their unusual household, but there was another question on many people's lips: What about the children? Were they happy living this way?

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Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Adele certainly caused a stir with her response. Their off-grid lifestyle wasn’t about cultivating happiness, but they focused on self-sufficient living instead. When it came to her two children, she hoped that “they'll know who they are because they've been allowed to explore who they are rather than being dictated to."

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It’s All Intuition

The two loving parents adored their kids and were over the moon when Adele discovered that she was pregnant with their third Allen child. They quickly began making plans for a natural, at-home birth, completely without anesthetic or the supervision of a doctor.

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Facebook via Adele Ria

While some commended Adele on her strength, some did express shock that Adele and Matt chose to undergo the course of the pregnancy without consulting a doctor once. No checkups, and no pregnancy test either. In their eyes, intuition was all they needed.

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They Know What They’re Doing

After being exposed to the public, the Allen’s were bombarded with advice from strangers, particularly for the pregnant Adele. Many people were concerned about the safety of her pregnancy, but she didn't much attention. And before long, Adele decided to put an end to the narrative that she was acting out of ignorance.

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Facebook via Unconventional Parent

"We had numbers for midwives," she said. "We called the midwives the same day she was born. So, we're not stupid. We know how to call on people when we need them. It's just about listening in and tuning into your own body. I'm not saying NO MEDICATION, I'm saying it's the last resort."

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A Safe Delivery

In the end, Adele had a safe birth, bringing her third child into the world unassisted by medicine or a medical professional. It was also a “lotus” birth, meaning that the umbilical cord was left to naturally detach from the placenta after Kai was born.

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Facebook via The Unconventional Parent

The placenta then underwent a unique process that Adele was quite excited about, and happily shared. "You cure it in a salt and herb mixture. Then place it in a cooler bag and wait for the cord to dry up. For Kai, it took three days." This was all done after washing the placenta and leaving it to dry.

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One Viral Moment

At this point, Adele, Matt, and their children had become something of a sensation online, particularly amongst other parents. And the buzz only grew after their revealing interview with This Morning. But it wasn't the conversation that went viral, but an on-set surprise...

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This Morning via itv 40

During the interview, as her parents were discussing the ins and outs of daily life, little Ostara was wandering around the set. That’s when some took notice of an unexpected "accident" the child left behind. Within a few days, the video had spread across the internet.

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Criticism Rolls In

As is often the case with the internet, criticism of the Allen family soon poured in. Some assumed that Adele did not let her children wear diapers, which would explain why Ostara happened to urinate on the set of the show. In the eyes of many viewers, Adele and Matt’s unusual parenting style was a step too far.

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Facebook via The Unconventional Parent

In some circles, people even wondered if their off-grid parenting could be classified as a form of neglect. At this point, Allen’s refusal to let their children be vaccinated was also called into question. And what happened next shocked the unsuspecting parents.

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A Call From CPS

Not long after their appearance on This Morning, Adele and Matt's family phone began to ring. They answered, only to find that Child Protective Services were on the other end. "Yeah, we got a phone call from the services and a home visit," Adele shared. Apparently, one viewer was concerned enough to call the authorities.

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Facebook via The Unconventional Parent

It was all deeply confusing for Adele and Matt, who hadn't yet seen the episode they appeared on and weren't aware of their daughter's "viral" incident. When they realized what had happened, Adele took to social media to clear the air and try to pre-empt any further online criticisms.

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Fighting The Trolls

Adele posted a short rejoinder to her newfound critics on Facebook, saying, "Well done to Ulysses and poor Ostara for putting up with the media chaos today... and Ostara did have a nappy on today but, shock, horror: sometimes they leak!! #herecomethetrolls."

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Facebook via The Unconventional Parent

But some were still outraged, and Adele wasn't sure what to think. "Ostara had a habit of tugging on her nappy, so it leaked." She explained. "I mean, I can totally see why it was funny, I just didn't understand the anger about it." What's even stranger is that such a harmless accident changed their world irrevocably.

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Feeling The Support

As a follow-up to the Child Protective Services phone call, some CPS officers did drop in to check on Allen and their children. And what did they find? Three happy, healthy, and (mostly) ordinary kids. Though not everyone was pleased with that outcome, Matt and Adele realized they had supporters as well.

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Facebook via The Unconventional Parent

During the viral stint following their This Morning episode, the Allens attracted a lot of attention - and not all of it was negative. Many strangers around the world admired their parenting style and considered the family courageous. The Instagram and Facebook followers began flooding in, and the couple had a brilliant idea.

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Living The Dream?

For some time, Adele and Matt had cultivated a dream of leaving the city and pursuing a completely self-sustainable life elsewhere. "Our ultimate aim is to get out to Costa Rica," Adele said. But for the longest time, neither of them had full-time jobs, so the dream was out of reach.

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Facebook via The Unconventional Parent

That's where their newfound internet fame came in. The couple appealed to their followers for help, creating a post on FundMyTravel.com that said: "We are inspired… to create a business, home, and lifestyle, which can show people that they don't have to comply with the constraints of 'the system.'"

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The Plan Backfires

With their FundMyTravel post, they hoped to raise enough to relocate to Costa Rica, and they estimated they would need around $173,000 to do so. Unfortunately, their page was eventually removed from the site because they couldn’t properly identify how the money would be used.

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Youtube via This Morning

Some were upset by their social media fundraising. "Why don't you get a job and stop hugging trees?" one user asked. But others hit closer to home. "My mother has always been very supportive of us, helping us out over the years, but lately, we have agreed to disagree over the way we are bringing up our children," Adele said.

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Proud Beneficiaries

After the bids for donations, some questioned how they provided for their family: They did so primarily through government benefits. "But we claim the very bottom line," Matt asserted. "Do we feel as if we're abusing the system? I really don't think we are, because we have a minimalist impact on society in many respects."

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Facebook via The Unconventional Parent

"In regards to social systems, schools, and the NHS, we save money on that," he continued. Adele also didn't give birth at the hospital, which saved lots of money. "So in our own unique, weird, wonderful way, we balance the book. I'm not saying it's justified that they pay the rent… It is what it is."

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More Time With Their Family

And for him, there was no shame in that. "I have no intention of spending 45 to 50 hours a week working, it is not in my psyche," Matt said. Quality time with his kids was more important, and living on the benefits meant he could spend his time cultivating their interests and education.

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Facebook via Adele Ria

That went for their diet as well. For Matt and Adele, even routine meals were not a given. "I'm a big fan of fasting, even the dog does it sometimes," he said. They also didn't make their children wear shoes, believing that "shoes actually make the foot softer, it's no good."

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Quarantine Controversy

How did the family adjust to Covid-19 lockdowns? It seemed that things were fine, though Adele found herself in hot water after comparing quarantine to The Hunger Games. She took to Instagram to tell her followers, "We are so fortunate to be blessed with a lovely garden where we can create our own play park."

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Facebook via Adele Ria

She pressed on, writing, "As for all public parks being closed, the council can expect my council tax contribution to be reduced accordingly whilst this episode of the Hunger Games continues. Enjoy the sunshine everyone!" It might not surprise you to learn that Adele was also vehemently against lockdown restrictions.

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Saying No To Social-Distancing

She also rallied against the idea of social distancing, even during the pandemic. "Recently I was out and about chatting to a woman with her small child," she shared. "He was curious to come close to us and reach out to touch my hand. After checking in with the mother, I asked whether she minded, and she didn't."

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Facebook via Adele Ria

As Adele put it, "She seemed to express more concern over her child growing up in a society where human contact was a dirty word." She explained that while she respected others' opinions, she "refused to raise her children as nothing more than a potential biohazard."

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Holding on to Their Ideals

This was all in keeping with Allen’s values, as they had always been against vaccinations and being told how to raise their children. The Covid pandemic only strengthened those beliefs, and Adele felt the need to spread her ideas on her social media platforms.

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Facebook via The Unconventional Parent

She rejected the call to get vaccinated and made it clear that neither she, her husband Matt, or her two children would be receiving Covid vaccine injections. Adele began sharing posts on her profiles, with phrases such as "I do not consent to a health passport, keep our freedom" and "not had my covid vaccine."

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Ulysses and Ostara

Of course, all of these posts kept the Allen family in the partial limelight, especially where social media was concerned. Interested followers soon discovered more and more about the quirky family. In a second interview on This Morning, viewers saw that Ulysses and Ostara weren’t the wild and unruly children they expected.

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Youtube via This Morning

The host of the show even commented on how docile the two eldest children were, saying, "They're terribly well behaved." Kai was also there, fast asleep while her older siblings sat quietly. Matt informed the host that both children were well-behaved, though Ulysses was introverted, where Ostara was more active and outgoing.

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The Newest Member

To this day, Adele and Matt still want to relocate to Costa Rica, where they can practice their own form of eco-friendly subsistence living. For now, though, they’re comfortable and happy in Brighton. Adele has even found a new passion for informing people about the side effects of the Covid vaccines.

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Facebook via The Unconventional Parent

And with the fifth member of their family growing older, they're constantly looking for new ways to advance their parenting philosophies. They buy no safety devices or installations for little Kai, as they believe their children will "become complacent and unaware of their surroundings" otherwise.

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The Allens Today

Though Adele and Matt have enjoyed their time accruing followers and sharing their opinions online, they have recently taken a step back from certain social media sites. Adele, in particular, encouraged fans to "step out of the matrix" and spend less time on these platforms.

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Facebook via Adele Ria

"The time has come for our family to move away from the platforms which are violating the human right of freedom of speech. These platforms include Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram for us," she continued. These days you can find her sharing her family journey on less restrictive sites.

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