In my last post, I wrote about how unschooling really doesn't have anything to do with school. I would like to give unschooling a different title, but I haven't come up with one yet. It really is a way of life rather than just an alternative to school. I wanted to start with that definition so that the rest of my post makes sense.
Unschooling teaches kids how to give from the heart. Here is an example: My husband and I do not force our children to do chores, to say please and thank you, to clean their rooms, or any other arbitrary thing that we have decided they must be taught. We don't teach them any of these things, yet they choose to do them when they feel the need, or when they know that it would really help someone out. They are empathic children. They are sensitive to the needs of others, and they are authentic and honest. I am not saying these things to sound as though I am bragging about my children. I am hoping that by saying these things, it will encourage people to consider another way to relate to children.
Living this life has made me see that when a child is forced to say please and thank, forced to clean their room, forced to do things that don't resonate with them, they learn that doing things for other people is really not that enjoyable. They don't learn what it feels like to really want to do these things. They learn that other people get to decide for them what they should do. Doing these things does not come from the heart. This is one way that a child learns to disconnect from their inner guidance. When I ask my children to do something, they can say no, and I am okay with that. I want them to recognize when something doesn't feel good to them. I don't want them to think, “well, gee, I guess I should do that because the other person thinks I should,” and then do it out of guilt.
Parenting this way does not make children selfish. They learn empathy by watching others be empathic, but most importantly, they learn empathy when adults treat them with respect and empathy. When someone treats me with kindness, I learn to be kind. It is the same with kids. If someone is constantly forcing them to do things against their will, they learn to be resentful, and to be anxious to get away, so that they can have freedom.
Some people might be saying things like, "but how do they learn responsibility, how do they learn that certain things need to be done, etc., etc.". Trust. Trust that our children want to be helpful; they want to be kind to people. The reason some kids don't act with kindness is because they have never been trusted to try. It is an expectation that children will not want to help, will not learn manners without being taught, etc. They have been told what to do, when to do it, and that they are not being nice if they don't do it. So, they start doing things just to make others happy, and overlooking their own happiness. They learn that the world is not the greatest place, and that adults can force them to do things. They grow up and expect to do the same things with their kids. Until the cycle is broken. I want to scream it from mountain tops-there is a more gentle, more rewarding, more connecting, healthier way to be with children! So, I continue to write and hope and be an advocate.
As always, I believe that world peace begins with the treatment of our children. When children get a healthy, respectful start, they will treat others in the same healthy, respectful way.
I write about my experiences with unschooling, personal growth, mindful parenting, meditation, my journey through depression and more on my website www.benurtured.com. I hope you will visit me.