When you’re hear someone say, “Parenting is a Journey,” they’re not kidding!
And when you add in the layer of parenting from an unschooling perspective - wow! You’re going to be on quite an adventure of your own!
We come into unschooling, thinking that it’s the kids that are going to have this rich fabulous experience - but people don’t mention the growth that YOU are going to see in yourself.
And you may think, whoa whoa whoa, THAT is not what I came here for! But it’s part of the Path to Unschooling Success.
When you start parenting, you may have all kinds of ideas about
- ...what your kids are going to be like,
- ...what will happen in your family, etc.
- “When I have kids, they’ll never be like that!”
When you are a little further along on this unschooling-aligned parenting journey, you discover:
- It often works out differently than you expected,
- The ideas you had “pre-kids” don’t hold water,
- So many factors will cross your path that you had no idea were coming!
I bring this up because THINKING about this ahead of time will help you when the time comes. When the story you had in your head begins to fall apart.
And it’s nothing to be sad about! It’s about choosing a new story ...based on more facts.
...Based on the reality you’re living in.
...Based on these children you live with.
It’s like the little animal that outgrows his shell, sheds his skin because it no longer fits. As we learn more, our old ways don’t fit anymore.
How often have we heard people refer to their child as “Mini-Me?” But they’re not you or an extension of you or a small version of you. They have a completely different agenda for their lives. And that’s what we are encouraging, right? Not blind compliance. Although that does seem easier at times - it’s not the best approach!
So as you’re clearing the brush on this parenting path, expect that you’ll trip. Don’t expect perfection. Anticipate that fear - oh that crafty little devil - will show up in some costume and try to get you to stop clearing the brush, stop moving forward into this unknown territory - and run back to safety! That style of parenting may not be your PREFERENCE, but it’s the familiar one. And playing it safe is the only thing that appeases your fear!
Fear is Lurking
So what are some of the ways Fear pops in masquerading as something else?
- When we hear criticism in our head saying “you’re doing it all wrong,” “this is too hard,” or “I knew it wouldn’t work for my kids.” That’s fear.
- Or maybe it sneaks in when we start comparing our kids to other kids their age, and we’ve found some schooly thing they don’t know that the others do. That’s fear again.
- Or it comes in to control the situation and get everyone back on course - whether they like the course or not! Words like “for your own good,” “you’ll thank me later when you’re a grown up,” or “I don’t think you’re trying hard enough” or “living up to your potential” These are some red flags to pay attention to! It’s Fear trying to run the show.
So what do you do?
- You do your own reading about unschooling and deschooling - whatever is your specific tripping point.
- You don’t require that your kids change in an attempt to have them alleviate your anxiety or fear - that’s your job not theirs.
- You talk less. We adults are so sure that if we keep talking, we will find the words to penetrate whatever it is that keeps them from doing it our way! Work on that habit… say less.
- You expose yourself to other parents who are finding their way on this journey too. You listen to the ways they’ve tried, or solutions they’ve discovered. Because we have a LOT of exposure to people who parent in the Authoritarian my-way-or-the-highway style that mainstream society uses. And probably the way we were raised ourselves.
All of this to say, you’re not alone if you feel like this parenting journey is a tough one! It is! You’re stepping away from what’s familiar - because you want better for your kids. And that means learning new ways, reframing, changing mindsets, forming new habits. So when fear pops back up and says, “this is not worth it, it’s too hard” remind yourself that it’s always a choice. You CAN always go back to what’s familiar. But also remind yourself that you can do hard things.
And your family will gain the benefits that will come because of your hard work.
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