Thursday, August 02, 2007

Un Parenting

There's been some talk on this lately in my circles.
Well, not really talk so much as accusation.

Unschoolers (specifically those living an ru lifestyle - and by that I mean trying to live consensually, respectfully, mindfully, thoughtfully, and lovingly) being accused of being Un Parents.

I was instantly offended.
Living RU (or for those that prefer a different term Whole Life Unschoolers) is hard work! It means not butting in sometimes and letting your children work out a difference - coming to compromises by using their communication skills. It means fortifying them (by honest example)with that wisdom and desire in the first place.
It means not just saying "Give that back!" or "Oh, for Heaven's sake, just Let Her Have It!" in a moment of sheer frustration and chaos. (Anything to resume the peace and quiet - if only for four lovely seconds.)
It's living conscientiously in any given moment. Striving to live it in every given moment.
I speak for myself, of course.

When I hear Un Parenting, I think Un Caring. And I feel angry over it. I would like to say it makes me angry, but as I am striving to take full responsibility for my emotions and reactions, I am choosing my words carefully.

Maybe it has to do with personal philosophy, as I've recently said.
I don't believe in a condemning and judging God.
I believe that we are free - Really Free - to live as we choose.
That there are no recriminations. That there are no right and wrong answers.
I shall save the spiritual whys and wherefores for another time, as this post is really is about parenting.

So back to the subject - I want to raise my children with freedom. There is no place for policy or politics here, there is only a soft nest under them - one that isn't so fluffy that it enables one to fall for miles and miles, never knowing when the bottom is finally coming at one's back, but one that supports personal truth and the callings of the spirit. Whatever that may be.
Really - What Ever That May Be.
I read tonight on Ren's main webpage a really simple sentence - she said "Unschooling means that each of us learn in our own way and time, the things that we love."
Well, yeah. I've been saying it for years! Well, almost years, one plus, anyway. Could be a few days shy of a plural.
But somehow this really stood out to me tonight.
There is a profound amount of love and freedom in that summary.
And there is no room for judgment in it.

Many of my posts lately have been about judgment.
It's telling, to be sure.
That I judge, and don't want to.
That I often feel judged, and don't like it.
That I sometimes run my own agenda in the midst of what could be a really fabulous and magical learning/unschooling moment.
For instance, Evie wrote today about how her brilliant boys created a zipline.
What a marvelous idea!
With the current set of my mind, I am ashamed to say that I would have been trying to sneak in opportunities for learning. I honestly don't know why. I'm not in a panicking sort of state, lately. But I am in a judging sort of state.
So while I would have basked in my children's ingenuity and shininess, I can see myself saying "Hey, let's get out the measuring tape, and see which toy/item launches the furthest from the ejection point at the bottom of the line!, want to?"
And, chances are, I would have just sucked the joy out of the fun.
Not that it wouldn't have been a really great and fun thing to do in another context!
But because I was on An Agenda ' "Let's make this even bigger and better!", I would have totally spoiled the magic, and therefore gone away feeling disappointed instead of living and basking in the joy.

It seems that I have made a confession and gotten off topic...
Oh, yes, judging.
Not so far off, after all.

Un Parenting.
The word/s to me imply "hands off". Which means to me, mind and heart off.
(shakes head)
Sometimes we involve our heads and hearts so deeply into an idea, that it becomes our life and breath, and we don't see that it's strange or unusual to another. That it's not commonplace... even though it seems so to us.

I've already said early on what living this r.u. life (call it whatever you wish) means to me.
Growing, loving, embracing, not judging, being open-minded and open hearted.

So I am thinking that it may appear to some that while I am sitting on the sidelines - perhaps to another 'Doing Nothing', it may very well be different in my head.
That a lot of things could be going on.
That I am giving my child a moment to search his mind to find a solution.
That I am giving her the freedom of her emotions.
That I am allowing for opportunities for growth.
That I am exercising patience and faith in another's ability to live his life as he needs to do.

I'm not speaking of license, and of allowing another rightful dominion, of course.

But I can't help but think that the way I want to raise my children - with unconditional love and acceptance - is the way that God treats me.
This isn't a matter of "if you're a serial killer then that's fine with me... ", though spiritually I would try to accept it, but a matter of "how would I like to be treated, ultimately?"
With love.
With acceptance.
With a lot of room for errors.
With a smile of fondness.
With the comfort that whatever I choose as the right thing for me, if I say it is, is Perfectly All Right.

(shrug.) Some would say it's hedonistic (a person whose life is devoted to the pursuit of pleasure and self-gratification.)
But I don't think that's the case for most of us, do you?
I think that if given the liberty to pursue all of one's truths - and not just a small "gratifying" part of them, then one is bound to expand and venture well past what is convenient and comfortable.
I certainly do.
I certainly don't find spilling my heart to the (virtual) world for all to judge and find lacking a very "comfortable" feeling.
But I seek growth, and it is what I must do.

My point is, that just because it looks to another as Un Parenting, doesn't mean that it is.
On the other hand, if what you mean by parenting is "Judging particular things to be worthy or not, and passing that judgment on to your children as to its validity, or right to exist", then I'd probably have to say "Yeah". That's what I try do do. Be an UnParent. I don't believe it is my right to pass on my judgments (and I have loads of them) and prejudices (I have a few of those, as well - though they probably look very different from most) to my child.

I see that as my parental contribution to making this world a better place.

If my children love and and communicate and express and celebrate and hug and live! more freely and openly and honestly than I, then I have done my part to contribute to the joyousness of this world.

For myself - if I can Judge Not, then I have succeeded.


whimsigal said...

Wow, Steph. That was an amazing post! Really, really awe-inspiring.

Thank you so much for sharing that.

Laura said...

People are pushing your buttons for a reason, I'm thinkin'... especially after reading the other post first, about the neighbors... the universe is bringing this to your attention for some reason, and you're doing a lot of ruminating on the subject. And you write beautiful things as you sculpt your unschooling muscles...

I've got an almost-15 yr old who's been "un-parented" (if they insist) for almost 9 years now, and not to brag (or maybe to...) but I'd bet those same critical folks'd give their left arms to have the kind of relationship we have. The proof is in the pudding. I've met lots of unschooled kids - and they are all amazing.