Wednesday, September 19

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm...

It was very easy for Dave and I to see and adjust our thinking in regards to the "educational" aspect of Radical Unschooling (RU). However, the parenting aspect is so much more difficult for us. While many people (it seems, though I haven't taken a poll or done any studies) seem to come to RU from an Attachment Parenting mindset, Dave and I were raised quite the opposite, and from my very first imaginings of having a family, the only thing I was really going to do differently (from how I was raised)was that I wasn't going to spank/paddle/hit my children. Before Wyl was born, I planned on sometimes needing to punish my children, that I would be strict but fair, no kid was going to "walk all over me", homeschooling horrified me, and I hadn't a concept of "organic foods" and never thought there was a choice when it came to vaccinations. We were fairly mainstream. When I was pregnant with Wyl, I studied, I read, I researched and I learned so much. Although I never went "100% crunchy", I am certainly 180 degrees different from what I was before hand-and still learning and growing.

Though the concept of "learning from life" is kind of "out there" for mainstream folks and yet it was an easy grasp for us, I can still understand (to a degree) how parents can find that concept frightening and hard to grasp.

Maybe *because* I come from a "traditional", "mainstream" background, I have serious problems understanding how and when parents go from AP, crunchy parents who trust that their child knows his body enough to know when he's hungry (and thus not have a "feeding schedule"), know when he cries, he instinctively knows he needs something and crying will get the people who love him to come and help him (and thus do not let him "cry it out"), snuggle and love him and wouldn't DREAM of punishing/yelling at him for expressing himself leave that behind as their child gets older.

I'm so baffled by what seems a 180 degree turn from AP, that I don't know if it is a gradual kind of transition or if it is sudden. Does it have anything to do with school age? Where does the thinking come from that says, "Yes, you know when you're hungry, thirsty, need comfort, are cold, but at this point in time, your parents are now going to tell you what to eat, how much, when and you *will* follow what *we* know your body needs (even if your body is telling you differently-you don't know any better, NOW.), then you will be punished."? And, "You will wear a coat because *I* say your body will be cold in this weather without it."? And, "That's a fake cry. I refuse to respond because you are trying to manipulate me."? At what point does it become manipulation? Is it age? Is it maturity? When do parents decide these kinds of things?

Problem is (at least here), we can "see" and understand how much sense trusting one's child(ren) can make and how *respectful parenting* can, really, make a *world* of difference in not only the family relationship, but also in the development of that little *person* into a wonderful adult, but it is such a foreign-or maybe just such a *new* concept that it is difficult to implement. Especially with no examples to go by-just words on Unschooling boards and blogs-which seem more like vague general concepts of the idea rather than "instructions" or something closer to "having lived the experience".

Which makes that AP transition to punishment, distrust and more mainstream relationships all the more mind-boggling to me! How can you *be there* and leave it? Is it a society thing? I can't imagine that could be it-these are the people who defiantly have nurse-ins and tend to make a point of deliberate difference, thrilling in the lifestyle that is so obviously different... How does a mama who is derided for "spoiling her child" by friends and family for picking up the baby when he cries make that change to judging mamas who are working hard at learning to *listen* to a child's self-knowledge as "letting them walk all over" or "manipulating"? How do they go from having that newborn baby (who would *seem* to have no wisdom or knowledge-or *certainly* less than a toddler) "chose" when he is hungry, when he wants to be fed, when he needs cuddling, when he needs to sleep next to his parent(s), to the point where he now has most of his choices revoked? When their paths diverge from other AP-from-birth mamas who continue to trust their child, why is the still-trusting mama said to let their children run wild or letting their kids "walk all over them"?

Along *with* the bafflement over *when* this all takes place, I'm also hard-put to figure out how these choices are dolled out. Why is it okay for a 1 week old to nurse until they are finished/full, but a, say 3 year old, have to finish their carrots or drink at least half of their milk, or not get a cookie if they didn't eat whatever the parent deems "right" or "enough" of a meal? Why does a 1 month old "get" to sleep when he deems he is tired, no matter how much or how little actual time that is, but a, say 4 year old, must have a bedtime and it must be followed without fail? When did this child LOSE the ability to know when he is full? When he is tired/sleepy? I know Wyl has trouble with this because we didn't know about the respectful relationship that *could* be had, but he is learning. Storm KNOWS when he is hungry, what he is hungry *for* and when he is full and has no hesitations about letting us know. He also knows when he is tired, and 90-95% of the time, will take the steps/routine that we have worked out together by trial and error that help him get what he needs-sleep. He has had that trust, that respectful relationship-if not from the *very* beginning, from *very* early on. I can't see finding a time that he is "old enough" to "revoke" his ability to chose-and after all that I've learned, I truly believe I will take away his ability to listen to his body's needs if I try-actually, quite the opposite... I see that finding the peace in my heart to *accept* his ability to know himself and make the right choices for himself and his body will get easier as he gains knowledge and gets older. What I don't understand is this apparent *need* for mainstream-ish parents to find a point where they *remove* that knowledge and ability so that they can *train* the child in the way the *parent* thinks the child "needs" to know their body and themselves....

I know, this probably didn't make a whole lot of sense, but it doesn't make a lot of sense to *me*, so I have a hard time expressing it. Maybe some day I'll be old enough, wise enough, and have enough experience that it *will* finally make sense to me. I wonder if I'd understand it if *I'd* have been respectfully parented and trusted to know myself...?

Off to mull and ponder...

3 comments:

Susan said...

Hi De! I got here from the Always Unschooled list. DH & I are going through the same struggle - knowing instinctively and in our hearts that RU makes sense, but because we come from traditional families who were authoritarian and punitive, it's been challenging to figure out how to make RU work on a day-to-day practical basis. But we're trying!

I also have the same bafflement about parents who left it behind. Maybe it's because we've had to work hard at it, but I just cannot imagine what on earth they are thinking to be there in RU land and somehow depart from it. Maybe they stop thinking and that's the problem. I really do see that it happens about the time their kids reach school age.

Amanda said...

guess I touched a nerve. sorry to upset...

De said...

Hi, Susan, thanks for commenting! Its good to know there are other parents out there traveling the same lane in the same direction as we are ;~)

I do see a *lot* of it happening at school age, but there is also a smaller current of it occuring in 4, 3 and even 2 year olds, sometimes. You may be right-it may have to do with working so hard at it... I hadn't thought of that.

Amanda, my nerves are as yet untouched. ;~) I'm not upset at all, just that your comment got my brain going and there was so much bafflement and confusion stirring around in there, it needed a new post rather than a small reply comment.

It seems that the process of the stirring thoughts flowing out into my fingertips and into solid black-and-white actually help me to clarify my thinking and help the process flow, so as I write, I'm actually learning and making progress. Weird, but then I've known I was weird for YEARS. :~D