I saw a quote on my Facebook feed today that said:
“Unschooling does not mean a life without limits. It means a life without arbitrary limits.”.
I’m not going to go into the details of what unschooling means and why we are interested in it but I think if you remove the word “unschooling” it could easily apply to the way the hubs and I want to parent and even in a broader sense, the way I want to live.
Note: I apologize if those of you who follow me on Facebook have been bombarded via all my shared posts since I tend to overshare articles that I find interesting and have become less concerned with posting only what is considered to be politically correct. I’m not trying to be controversial — I honestly find the articles, videos etc. interesting and want to share… plus, it helps that it saves it to my wall so I don’t have to go back and find it later.
The last few years I’ve read countless parenting books, articles, studies and blog posts about various ways to parent. Some talk about what you “should” be doing, thereby making you feel like crap because you haven’t been doing it and now that your kid is 3.5 you wonder if you haven’t completely ruined her… Well, at least I’ve felt that way sometimes. Others (the ones I prefer), are ones that are inspirational and compassionate, and they make you want to go out and be a better parent… hell, a better person! So anyway, what I was trying to get at was that the hubs and I have, over the last few years, been trying (keyword: trying… and still working at it!) to adopt a more respectful and peaceful way to parent our children. There are several movements out there that promote this type of parenting: RIE, Peaceful Parenting, Evolutionary Parenting, Conscious Discipline… the list goes on and on. I don’t think we fall in line with any of these specifically — and what I mean by that is that I can’t say I’m a “RIE” parent or an “EP” parent, but hubby and I are conscious about the way we parent the kids. We try not to say “no” just because you’re supposed to say “no”. We try to explain things to our kids even when the urge is to say “just because” or “because I said so”. We try not to yell … well, hubby hasn’t really had a problem with that since he’s the laid back one in the family, but I have and I fail miserably some days. I am planning to make myself a sign, just like they have on construction sites that lists how many days since the last accident, except it will be how many days since I’ve last lost my temper.
Can you tell this is stream of consciousness writing? I’m going on and on.
Back to the point. And really, who am I to be giving advice, but hey, I thought I’d share some food for thought… As parents, and as human beings in general, shouldn’t we question the limits and rules we set for ourselves and others? Why aren’t more of us challenging societal norms if deep down we feel it isn’t right for us? For me, it’s been because it’s hard, because people challenge my beliefs and sometimes I don’t want to get into my reasons because I know the discussion will become contentious or because my reason is “it doesn’t feel right to me”. For me, it’s sometimes because I’m scared shitless to step outside of the safety bubble of what I know, how I was raised and where I came from. But now that I have kids, I feel like it would be irresponsible of me to just arbitrarily go through the motions without questioning whether they make sense for our family. So I’m not. We’ve made several decisions in the last year that are certainly controversial to most. We bedshare with our youngest. I plan on letting the kids bedshare with each other once Super G is out of a crib. We are planning on homeschooling in the fall and may even take the unschooling route. I am still exclusively nursing my 11 month old and am not pushing solids on her (even though she does nibble on some pasta every so often). I don’t cover up when I nurse. I let my kid have any color sippy cup her heart desires. Even if she changes her mind twice in the process. We are working on eliminating any and ALL forms of punishment. We acknowledge our kids’ feelings. Even the tough ones. Sometimes, just sometimes, I let my kids shove food in their mouths (particularly when it’s something they really like) and I don’t nag them about looking like chipmunks and taking smaller bites (gasp!).
All of this is just to say that I think it’s important to make conscious decisions and that we not just say “it’s how I’ve always done things” or excuse behavior because “it’s how I was raised”.
Just my two cents.