When Matt and Adele started their family, they were sure of their desire to live a life free from societal norms. However, they never could they have imagined the controversy that their shared belief would cause.
Meet Adele and Matt Allen
Matt and Adele were a happily married couple living in the coastal city of Brighton, United Kingdom. The two bonded intensely over shared experiences and values. One in particular deeply influenced the way they raised their children.
"We lost our fathers, both of them to heart attacks from high-stress lifestyles," Adele shared. From that point on, she and Matt knew they didn't want their kids suffering from the pressures and fast-paced lifestyle of society. But how far would they go to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle?
They Wanted Better For Their Children
With the desire to save their children from these stressors, Matt and Adele embarked on their unique parenting journey. And it all started with a simple supplement change. From there, they began to unlearn what they thought they already knew about living a healthy life.
Back in the day, Matt used to work 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." This got him thinking that if his body's needs were different from what he first thought, "what else is different out there?" he asked.
The World of Off-Grid Parenting
As they explored alternative lifestyles, the Allens did their fair share of research to decide if it was best for them and the kids. They finally honed in on the world of "off-grid parenting" and its benefits. "Off-grid is moving towards self-sustainability and being a bit more free-range and less institutionalized," explained the young Mom.
So, they began raising their children with no bedtimes, no routines, and no schooling. And three kids later, word had gotten around surrounding the Allens and their unusual parenting methods. However, their ideologies had a polarizing effect for some.
Lemon Water for Flu and Breast Milk for Eye Infections
When it came to sicknesses, Adele believed that the use of medication was detrimental for her kids. She said, "childhood disease is quite important to experience, to build the child's immunity." Her oldest son, Ulysses, experienced chickenpox and Scarlet fever. "We treated that naturally," she said.
With every sickness that arose, Adele and Matt provided their kids with natural remedies like warm drinks and herbs. "We really believe in supporting the body to self-heal," she said. There were times when the children were terribly ill, and even then, she never considered going to a doctor or taking pills.
Their Children Are not Vaccinated
In Adele's eyes, every cough and tummy ache came for a reason, and medicating the problem away wouldn't do any good. "The fever is there for a purpose, to clean the body out," she said. And this mantra extended to the matter of immunization. It was a firm "no" from the parents.
Many people asked Adele if she felt that she was acting selfishly for not vaccinating her children. "No, I'm very well researched, actually," she responded. "I'm protecting [my children] from the risks that are very real." Adele believed that vaccinations could be extremely harmful to a child and refused to do it to hers.
Breastfeeding Doesn't End Until the Kids Say So
Another choice was to encourage breastfeeding for as long as the kids wanted. For the eldest, Ulysses, it continued way past the toddler years. By the time he was six, the breastfeeding began to spark controversy. "I think it's up to him to decide when he wants to move on from it," the mother responded.
"It's something that's just as natural as a hug is, it's a connection," said Adele. She explained that Ulysses mostly wanted to breastfeed when he was at home. "When he's tired or when he's in need of comfort," Adele elaborated. In addition, breastmilk was rich in the antibodies that her children needed to fight off illness.
No Discipline Is the Right Discipline
The Allen children were raised in a rule-free household. But according to Adele, the kids usually did what was asked of them. "We speak to him respectfully," said Adele of her eldest. "He's an equal human being to us." However, she did admit that he was on the sensitive side.
"He does struggle with getting overwhelmed easily," said Adele. So, she found it even more necessary to not be authoritative and demanding. Matt and Adele didn't practice harsh discipline. And they partially credit Ulysses's cooperative nature to their relaxed approach.
Freedom to Explore All Emotions
And while Ulysses's emotional nature could bring some ups and downs, as far as the parents were concerned, all feelings were welcome in their home. Though some moms and dads encouraged children to focus on the positive, the Allens had a different approach.
"It's not about grasping hold of happiness and saying 'this is happiness,'" Matt reflected. "In fact, you should expose yourself to a whole plethora of emotions." In the Allen household, anger, joy, and everything in between were a part of life that the children would learn to experience.
Schooling vs. Unschooling
Matt and Adele didn't believe in the typical education system either. And not just the daily structure of it, but the curriculum as well. This led them to the discovery of "Unschooling." It involved a free form of learning that allowed the student to explore topics that he/she was interested in.
Speaking about her son's education, Adele said: "Whatever he's interested in, we provide him with the opportunities to learn about it." Educationists have argued that it was unfair of the parents to deny their children the basics, such as reading and writing. However, according to Adele, Ulysses already learned to "count up to 20."
They Are Not Anti-Technology
Adele couldn't comprehend why her approach hit a nerve with so many. She maintained that her children wouldn't respond to something they weren't passionate about. Unschooling provided Ulysses and the second-born, Ostara with the opportunity to exercise and challenge their abilities while doing something that they truly loved.
The Allens also argued that while they were defying conventional learning, they weren't against all aspects of modern life, like technology. "Ulysses does the iPad," said Adele. "He watches all that stuff, and he navigates his way around that." However, Adele said that if the kids wanted to attend school, they would allow it.
Do the Children Know What They Want?
Although the "unschooling" approach proved to be a positive experience for the children, many argued that Adele and Matt were closing them off to the rest of the world. After all, how was an informed decision possible when the kids never knew anything different? But the Allens saw their little ones as far from sheltered.
"Well, we mix with other homeschooled children," said Adele. "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." Despite the criticisms, the parents were sure of their choices.
A Life Without Routine
Another unconventional approach that many parents found disturbing was the fact that Matt and Adele did not uphold a bedtime with their young kids. While some children grew up around their routines, Ulyssess and Ostara were rather encouraged to listen to their bodies' internal clocks.
Adele and Matt reasoned the choice by the idea that enforcing a bedtime could result in "suffering from insomnia or other things later on in life." So, the kids were told to "listen to their body's cues." While Ulysses only grew tired at around 9 pm, Adele said "he's quite happy to entertain himself, so we do get the time off."
Are Their Children Happy?
During an infamous interview on This Morning show, viewers were blown away by the lifestyle that the Allen family led. Many were curious to know if Matt and Adele felt as though their children were happy or not. Their answer was certainly not what the audience was expecting.
For Adele, living off the grid had less to do with happiness, and more to do with living self-sufficiently. And when speaking about her desires for Ulysses and Ostara, she said: "I'm hoping they'll know who they are because they've been allowed to explore who they are rather than being dictated to."
No Scans, No Ultrasounds, and No Checkups
Matt and Adele couldn't have been happier with their beautiful and healthy children. And they soon got another chance to practice their ideologies. When Adele became pregnant with the third child, she prepared herself for an all-natural birth. And while some women praised her for this, many did not.
Though unmedicated births were common, it was Adele's approach to the earlier months of pregnancy that disturbed some. Adele went through her pregnancy without any checkups from the doctor. She didn't even take a pregnancy test, rather she relied on her bodily intuition.
"We're Not Stupid"
Many experienced mothers warned Adele that she was putting herself and her baby at risk. They worried that, should something have gone wrong during the pregnancy or delivery, Adele would refuse help. The pregnant mom found the assumptions about her utterly ridiculous.
"We had numbers for midwives," said Adele. "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."
A Lotus Birth
So, when Kai was born, Adele had un unassisted delivery at home. She opted for a lotus birth, which involved leaving the umbilical cord attached to the placenta until it fell off naturally. The placenta came out after Kai, and it was then placed in a cooler bag of sorts.
Looking back on this special moment for Adele, she explained the process for the placenta. After washing and drying it, "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."
The Moment That Changed Everything
The Allens became a hot topic of discussion in the parenting world. All of their social media platforms were overflowing with questions and criticisms. So, to set the record straight, the family went for a tell-all interview on This Morning. But let's just say that interview turned out a little differently than expected.
At the time of Adele and Matt's interview explaining their lifestyle, their daughter Ostara was still in diapers. And, in the thick of the interview, viewers noticed that the toddler had left This Morning show's crew a little surprise on the floor. Safe to say their interview became somewhat of a viral sensation.
Taking the Negative Feedback
The fact that Ostara had urinated on the floor drove viewers to believe that Adele was going as far as not putting diapers on her children. Many argued that their "off-grid parenting" was being taken too far, to the extent of shunning conventional products.
And many believed that it was a case of negligence. Not just because of the incident on the show, but also because the children were not vaccinated. This was especially concerning considering the amount of time they spent outside. The public decided these children needed help and took matters into their own hands.
Viewers Worried About Ostara
One day, Adele and Matt received a phone call from Child Protective Services. Ostara's little accident went so viral that the public began voicing their problems with Adele and Matt's parenting, or lack thereof. "Yeah, we got a phone call from the services and a home visit," said Adele.
People were ripping the Allens apart for their viral moment on the show. However, Adele didn't learn about what had happened until the episode aired. She took to Facebook to respond to the very concerned people that were accusing her of depriving her babies of diapers.
She wrote: "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." Many responded to her status saying that her actions were shameful.
Looking back on this bizarre period, Adele said, "Ostara had a habit of tugging on her nappy, so it leaked. I mean, I can totally see why it was funny, I just didn't understand the anger about it." Well, it certainly put this family on the map and changed their lives in quite a big way.
Feeling the Love
The authorities did complete spontaneous home checks at the Allen's and discovered that, although the household was pretty unorthodox, the children seemed very happy and perfectly healthy. The family also gained quite a following from the ordeal. Half of whom disapproved of their parenting, and half of whom were inspired.
There were many people that saw the bravery and uniqueness in unconventional parenting and wanted to learn more from the Allens. So, Adele created a Facebook and Instagram page to keep their fans updated, and educate them on different approaches to parenting. The love and support they received led them to a unique idea.
Their Short-Lived Dream
The Allens had a dream: They wanted to live life barefoot and be free of the city's burdens. "Our ultimate aim is to get out to Costa Rica" in the name of eco-friendliness, insisted Adele. However, since neither of them maintained steady work, this goal was more far-fetched than they had first considered
They decided to turn to their online community for assistance. "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,'" the couple posted on FundMyTravel.com.
Then Came the Backlash
The family was asking for donations of about $173,000, which would be used to uproot their family to Costa Rica. While they dreamed of living self-sufficiently, the couple failed at outlining how they would achieve it. And it wasn't long before their FundMyTravel page got taken down.
"Why don't you get a job and stop hugging trees?" wrote a follower. The pair further shared that criticism came from their families as well. "My mother has always been very supportive of us as a couple, helping us out over the years, but lately we have agreed to disagree over the way we are bringing up our children," said Adele.
They Rely on Benefits
In another interview, Matt was asked how he provided for a full-time mom and three children. Apparently, they relied mostly on their benefits. "But we claim the very bottom line," said Matt. "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."
"In regards to social systems, schools, and the NHS, we save money on that. Adele didn't have births at the hospital so we saved money on that," said Matt. "So in our own unique weird wonderful way, we balance the book. I'm not saying it's justified they pay the rent... It is what it is."
They Encourage Their Children to Fast
For Matt, it was more important to spend time with family than to work. "I have no intention of spending 45 to 50 hours a week working, it is not in my psyche," Matt shared. His main focus was to be a hands-on father, so he remained involved in all aspects of the kids' lives: Their education, their hobbies, and their diets.
And in his book, fasting was a welcomed practice. If his kids didn't feel like eating for a day, Matt wouldn't force them. "I'm a big fan of fasting, even the dog does it sometimes," he said. The kids were also encouraged to walk around barefoot. "The shoes actually make the foot softer, it's no good," said Adele.
Quarantine Hit a Nerve
During the quarantine period, the couple was under scrutiny again because of some controversial statements. Describing lockdown as "like The Hunger Games," Adele said on her Instagram page: "We are so fortunate to be blessed with a lovely garden where we can create our own play park."
"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!" She also regularly shared articles that called for the end of lockdown. Adele believed that the bacteria were healthy.
Adele also shared a post about an experience she had at the beach during the Covid outbreak. "Recently I was out and about chatting to a woman with her small child," she explained. "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."
"She seemed to express more concern over her child growing up in a society where human contact was a dirty word. While I respect others' rights to follow social distancing, I do not believe in it as a healthy or effective way to live in our society. I refuse to raise my children as nothing more than a potential biohazard."
Sticking to her Beliefs
As mentioned, the Allens were against immunization long before the Coronavirus spread globally. But the latest pandemic tested the couple's commitment to raising their children according to their own values, and no one else's. But by then, Adele became familiar with sharing her beliefs on social media.
Despite the majority-held support of the vaccine rollout, Adele remained steadfast. Rather she used her platform to share her own messages. Her profile pictures were decorated with stickers echoing her cause. "I do not consent to a health passport, keep our freedom" and "not had my covid vaccine," were some of the statements.
Catching Up With the Children
The public remained interested in their story and continued to follow the couple on social media. In doing so, they learned more about the Allen family. For example, many people assumed that their children would turn out wild and mischievous. However, their follow-up interview on This Morning proved everyone wrong.
"They're terribly well behaved," said the talk show host. Ulysses and Ostara quietly sat on the couch, while little Kai slept in her mother's arms. According to Matt, Ulysses grew to be quite introverted and curious. Whereas Ostara was constantly moving, running, and learning how to listen to her body.
A Growing Family
The family of five remained in Brighton, living healthy lives. However, they have not given up on their dream of living off the land somewhere in Costa Rica. Adele has since dedicated her time to raising awareness about the dangerous side effects of vaccines.
The recent addition to the family, Kai, has provided more opportunities for unconventional parenting. As she learned to crawl, Adele shared a video of the toddler, as she made her way up a flight of stairs unassisted. In her eyes, safety devices encouraged kids to "become complacent and unaware of their surroundings."
Where Are They Now?
While the Allens, and Adele specifically, enjoyed sharing their story on traditional social media platforms, the mother has since made some big changes. She shared a message to her followers about her change of heart, and urged others to follow in suit and "step out of the matrix"
"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," the concerned mother wrote. Adele transitioned to less-restricting platforms to share the story of her unconventional family.