Being a traditional authoritarian parent is exhausting.
I know this because I used to be one.
I’m lying in bed with my daughter asleep beside me and the kids asleep in another bed.
I was quietly reflecting on the day just past and it occurred to me how harmonious my life has become, since I stopped being my children’s boss.
I didn’t realise how exhausting it was trying to get my kids to do the things I wanted them to do.
It takes so much emotional energy to be the “one in charge” every day, because being in charge requires you to take away the other person’s freedom.
We don’t question it, or even think if it’s right or wrong. It’s what our parents did, and it’s what we do too.
Kids NEED to be told what to do… don’t they?
Children are not capable of choosing wisely for themselves… are they?
Given half the chance, kids would eat chocolate all day… wouldn’t they?
Actually no, not in my experience.
Given the freedom to choose for themselves, children make healthy choices, based on what their body or mind needs at any given moment.
They haven’t developed external rules about what’s good and bad.
They have an instinctive trust in their bodies.
A trust that is slowly stripped away, layer by layer, by the message of the well-intended (but mis-guided) adults in their lives.
A message that tells them that they are here to be controlled and that they cannot be trusted to make good choices.
Sadly, what the parent usually means is “You cannot be trusted to make the choices that I need you to make to make me feel okay”.
Next time you feel the urge to control your child, I encourage you to stop and think for a minute.
I encourage you to think about whether you are controlling out of a genuine danger to the child, or just to make yourself feel better.
As usual, would love to hear your thoughts. Why do you control? Is it possible to be your child’s boss AND friend?
Please leave a comment.
I had been working yesterday afternoon on some new Internet projects and hadn’t seen the kids much (they were with the girls who help me at home).
I’d missed them.
So when I arrived home I bounced in the door and got them all excited to go to the pool for a swim. I quickly grabbed their pyjamas and snacks, and bundled them all in the car.
On my way Ryan called me, and I enrolled him into meeting us there too.
We try to swim at least twice a week and it’s one of their favourite activities. Having daddy there made it extra special.
After we’d had leisurely showers, snacks and giggles we piled into the car again and drove to the local chip shop for tea.
As I sat there munching my chips with my car full of happy little people, it hit me how astoundingly easy-going my life is.
It was 7.30pm and I hadn’t one single thought about making lunches for the morning or getting the kids home to bed for fear that they would be tired in the morning.
There were no negative feelings about how child tiredness would make the morning routine harder if they didn’t get enough sleep.
There was no reason why we couldn’t sit there outside the chip shop, for as long as we wanted. We had no one to answer to, no school to get up for and no bedtime routine.
There was only pure, unadulterated freedom.
Every day I let go just a little bit more.
Free from the constraints of my own fear induced control patterns, I find myself relaxing into my new life.
My heart is lighter, my tone more loving, my nature more forgiving and my patience longer.
I am grateful that I finally had the courage to go after what I believed was right.
And I am grateful to all of you, who share in my journey.
Unschooler or not, what are your most grateful moments? Please share in the comments below.