Saturday, January 10, 2009

What is a peaceful parent?

A few months ago I heard about something called "unschooling" and in intrigued me. It also (not always) goes along with something they call "peaceful parenting" or "radical unschooling" Which also intrigued me. The basis of this is to allow children the freedom to learn from their surroundings and be taught natural consequences for their actions with very little intervention from their parents. There are no "rules", no "permission" ...... just a life of freedom.

I spent a lot of time reading and evaluating my own parenting practices and allowing my heart to lead the way. We've been homeschooling the oldest two for a couple of months now (big news on that in a bit!) and I've come to some conclusions.

I am already a peaceful parent. My children are not hit, demeaned, or belittled. My children do however have rules, limitations, schedules, and chores. They have discipline and expectations and routine. I don't set boundaries as a means of control, I set them as a means of keeping my children safe and teaching them the things they need to know. I don't have any desire whatsoever to wait until my child is good and ready to learn to respect others or get to bed at a decent hour so he's not a bear the next day. I also have no desire to make excuses for a 9 year old who can't read because she's not interested in doing so.

It is my job to teach them to be civil people with a sense of responsibility from an early age. To instill the basics while they are young and guide them through the rest of their childhood in implementing the lessons I've taught.

But children learn differently and at different ages they say. Sure, I'll agree with that. But there are just some things in life that I'm not comfortable allowing my children to learn and implement when they are good and ready. I'm not comfortable with my children being allowed to run amok nilly willy just because they are children.

Why? Because the world doesn't work like that. It may be a great pipe dream to wish it did, but it doesn't. When I (and everyone else I know) go to work in the morning we are expected to be to work on time, do our job, and do it well in the time frame we are given. We aren't allowed to stay in bed til noon on Tuesday because we feel like it and we aren't allowed punch out when we feel we would rather do something else. If we don't do follow the rules set out for us there are consequences laid out by those in charge of guiding our work.

Children need to be prepared for THIS world we live in. Not the world we WISH we lived in. They need to learn from an early age that respect is not negotiable. They need to learn at an early age to read and write and speak properly to set the building blocks for future learning. They need that learning to get a decent job. This is how it is. They also need, at an early age to co-exist with their peers and learn to form friendships and learn how to interact with people who are different than them, whether or not they "want to".

Because I'd hate to see my children passed by for things they desire in life because I never found it a priority to teach them what they needed to know. And I'd hate for my children to be stuck in jobs they are unhappy with because they never got around to learning the skills they needed to know to be productive. I think allowing children to run the show is giving them a lot of responsibility they aren't equipped to handle. Allowing a 5 year old to make choices completely on his own that will directly impact his entire life makes me downright sad. Humans aren't wired to take that on at such an early age.

Parenting is hard. It's so very difficult to know if what you are doing will help or hinder them.

So, I'm a peaceful parent with limits, boundaries, and consequences.

And Hailey starts back to public school on Monday. I could teach her what she needs to know from a book. But I cannot give her cheerleading and track and cross country and giggly teenage girls in the hallway. I cannot give her a best friend and prom night and boyfriends. Things that she really does need, and I can only hope she is ready for.

Austin will remain at home.

1 comment:

Lyndsay said...

Hear, Hear!!! I've been reading the updated version of Dare to Discipline and Dr Dobson brings up this sort of schooling style. They tried it back in the 70's and it failed horribly and the children suffered so much when they went to a regular high school (the test school only went through middle school). The kids were so behind other kids there age and some even committed suicide because of the vast difference between them and their peers. It's sad to think that some people think we should just hand things over to kids who are definitely too young to be making those decisions.