Are you feeling curious about unschooling and whether it might work for your family?
Wondering how to apply the principles of cooperative parenting with your kids?
I’ve definitely been there! My oldest child is now 18, and we’ve been working toward mutually respectful and cooperative relationships for a long time.
I first learned about gentle parenting in 2002, and we’ve been unschooling since 2004.
My family of seven has experimented with many variations of alternative parenting over the years. We’ve tried so many things, and ultimately, what we’ve arrived at is something I call Relationship-Based Parenting.
For many years, I thought that it was my responsibility, my duty, to deep-dive into the most terrible and baffling things, in some mad hope of understanding them in order to transmute them–to bring about healing.
I thought I had to suffer in order to heal suffering.
Then I realized that was hopelessly arrogant of me.
On sharing space with your parents, as an unschooling parent:
For many years, even into adulthood, I was consumed by the desire to escape, to run away. I didn’t want my kids to have a close relationship with my parents. I didn’t feel like my parents and unschooling “got along” – they valued obedience and control, not freedom.
My dad was “not nice”, while my mom would “nice you to death” in order to make sure you felt pressured enough to follow their lead. They shared their opinions as if they were facts.
I have come to realize that my parents had real trouble seeing and interacting with me, as opposed to the idea of me that they had fabricated in their minds.
When people say they have experienced abuse, I think we think that’s a clear-cut concept, but nothing could be more complex. Did they hit you with solid objects? Abuse. Did they scream at you and shame you and tell you what you were feeling wasn’t true or real? Abuse.
BUT–did they also read you bedtime stories every night, cook you healthy meals, and tuck you in with your favorite blanket, freshly warmed up from the dryer when you were sick?
Did they go out of their way to bring you sour candies and fancy drink parasols from their work lunches? Did they sit down and dig through the Lego box with you, take an interest in your artwork, and remember that your favorite popsicles were the Blue Bell green ones?
Where are the lifelong unschoolers? Why don’t we see more teen unschoolers? What happens to all the unschooling communities, where the groups of little kids far outnumber the lifelong unschoolers in the group? If it works so well, why aren’t more people doing it for longer?
Every fall, it seems that in the whirlwind that is public schooling, a few more brave souls are swept up into it…either because of pressures from concerned (possibly meddling) family and friends, financial stresses, lack of adequate #childcare, or just#overwhelm.
Our tribes are so diffuse, our individual resources are concentrated in ways that do not support us in doing what we believe is best for our individual children. Continue reading →
In loving memory of Emma Louise Davis (Balog) – 9/3/1940 – 1/19/2011
My mama turned 41 the year I was born. I was her only child, and she doted on me better and more than any June Cleaver or Mama Berenstein Bear ever could have.
She was a homebody, and tho she’d never admit to it–she suffered from crippling anxiety and fear about many things.
My mama loved to read books. She researched everything, and she was actually brilliant, yet genuinely humble.
She was a stewardess with Southwest Airlines in the 60’s (when that was a glamourous job), and bought her own house as a single woman in the 70’s.
She travelled around the world before I was ever born, ever the spiritual seeker. My mama only lived to be 69 years old, although she was extremely health-conscious.
I only had 30 years of my life with her…the last of which was very difficult and sad. Two weeks after the birth of my fourth child, my mom fell in her kitchen and broke the head of her femur cleanly off. She was slated for hip replacement surgery and was supposed to be walking again within weeks.
However, during the surgery, she started having a series of strokes that took away most of her movement, including her ability to swallow or speak.
She spent the larger part of her last 14 months in a nursing home, with a feeding tube in her stomach, unable to communicate except with her eyes and one of her hands. In a way, I grieved more in the first few months of her decline than now. We used to talk on the phone for at least an hour several times a week, about nothing much at all. Continue reading →
Gentle discipline. That sounds pretty progressive, right?
Not spanking or hitting children IS still a pretty progressive concept in our society (unfortunately). In my opinion, it’s disheartening that we’re still not collectively as a culture at the place where hitting kids is just accepted as absurd, archaic, and wrong for any reason…
But I digress. This article isn’t about discipline. It’s about the ways in which we are moving forward…slowly.
I’m obviously not the perfect parent (as if there is such a thing)–but I am willing to admit there’s still plenty of room for positive change.
Change is inevitable. However, in my life, I seem to follow a sort of holding pattern for years at a time, and then changes hit fast and furiously, all at once.
I am not sure if I create this pattern through my own subconscious, or…? Regardless, it’s clear that now seems to be the time for one of these change-storms.
I’m on the path (albeit stumbling!) of veganism again, or at the very least, a much healthier diet with fewer processed foods. I’ve made a commitment to putting my family first, and to being a patient, gentle and respectful parent.