Moms understand how hard it is to run a tight ship in the home. And because Gemma Rawnsley lives in northern England with her eight children – that includes husband Lewis – she decided to let her “feral” kids run wild without any rules. They don’t even have to attend school. Because Gemma thinks she is doing right by her children – Skye, 13; Finlay, 12; Phoenix, 9; Pearl, 8; Hunter, 5; Zephyr, 3; and Woolf, 1 – she doesn’t care one bit if you don’t like how she runs her house.
Gemma, along with her childlike husband Lewis, don’t believe that children should follow the rules created by adults. That’s why they don’t send their kids to school – and they don’t homeschool them either. Instead, they let their “feral” kids do whatever they want. Gemma and Lewis encourage them to make their own decisions, even if it puts them or someone else in danger. Death, disease, and injury are the best teachers, according to the Rawnsleys.
Gemma encourages her kids to dress the way they want. She doesn’t try to limit what they eat – so if they want cake, they get cake. She doesn’t care what activities they do either. And when it comes to bedtime, the kids get to run the show with that as well.
One reason that Gemma, 35, doesn’t want her kids to follow the rules is that she doesn’t want them growing up too fast. In a way, it’s selfishness on her part. If the kids are so ill-equipped to handle adult life when they get older, they’ll need to linger on with mom and dad and live with them. In that way, she can always have kids running around the house, even if they’re thirty or forty – they simply never would have grown up.
Gemma loves encouraging her kids to do “adult” activities. They can get piercings and tattoos and even wield weapons if they want to. In the Rawnsley household, kids are always doing something that most parents would disapprove of.
“I make calculated decisions so if something seems dangerous, I know it has risk attached, but the benefits are that they learn responsibility,” Gemma said.
Although everyone else thinks Gemma runs a “feral” family, she sees it a different way – mostly because she has no other choice. If she faced reality, she’d be terrified.
“It’s about letting them make decisions. It’s not a feckless attitude where we sit back and let it all happen. It looks like we’re feral, but that’s just one side of us. Feral is left to your own devices, but these kids are brought up to the nth degree.”
Gemma grew up in an unstable household, so she wants to pass that uncertainty and zaniness onto her seven kids because it shaped the person she is today.
“I didn’t have a stable upbringing. My mission has been about helping my kids have the most interesting, fun, and happy lives in a house filled with the love I never had.”
Gemma experienced constant violence and hatred in her childhood home. At least her kids don’t get any of that from their parents. Gemma and Lewis are very accommodating to every one of their children’s desires.
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