(I originally posted this on my blog here, and thought it's an important message: http://www.raisingmiro.com/2013/02/20/unschooling-is-not-unparenting/)
…and Involved Parenting does not mean CONTROLLING
The idea of “unparenting” has come up every time I read a critical article about the unschooling movement. It’s difficult for many conventional thinkers to comprehend the engaged, hands on approach that is needed to create a loving and learning environment for a child. The unschooling paradigm does not start and stop with the intentional act of learning, it’s a complete concept defining the parent / child relationship. As an unschooling parent, I take my role as Miro’s learning facilitator seriously, and have never opted out of being engaged in his learning or life.
Unschooling is NOT unparenting.
“Unschooling is not unparenting; freedom to learn is not license to do whatever you want. People find different ways and means to get comfortable with John Holt’s ideas about children and learning and no one style of unschooling or parenting defines unschooling.”
Before we began on our travels, I was working 60+ hours a week running my boutique branding agency, managing clients and accounts, the creative team and campaigns and taking care of administrative and marketing tasks. I took care of everything that needed to be taken care of and kept to a schedule which was the only way I could juggle all the responsibility in my life. I thought I was a good provider and I perceived my role as a parent as being successful.
My day started early, as I got Miro off to school at 7:30 in the morning. Miro was one of lucky kids who was accepted to a state funded afterschool program, where he was able to work on his homework or read until I picked him up at 5:30 each day. (That was a long day for anyone, especially for a child under 10).
At that point, I was not involved in his education nor did I believe it was my role to interfere in the state provided methods, as I just believed, they did what was best for the children of California. Sadly, I was I truly uninvolved in his life. We were tasked, scheduled, productive and disconnected. For the first 10 years of Miro’s life, I was an uninvolved parent. I would have never admitted it then because I was achieving a respectable level of success and we were highly functioning within the system and that was what we were supposed to do. But an involved parent in Miro’s life? I know now, that was a superficial illusion.
But now I am a highly involved parent.
But there is a huge difference between highly involved and controlling. In fact, I’d say my involvement is completely and totally uncontroling How could those two concepts work?
Unschooling is not unparenting, in fact it is highly involved parenting. But it si parenting without having to control the situation, parenting through involvement and presence, something I talk about as being the key to making all of this work. But by not being controlling, I am not being neglectful.
Unschooling, is not unparenting, it an attached and highly involved form of parenting. Some would characterize it as a state of permissive parenting, but others might object to the use of that word. At the root of the relationship though is a sense of trust. The underlying belief through the unschooling approach is that when a parent is highly involved in supporting their child’s learning processes, control is not necessary.
Because I allow my son to make his own choices about his focus of study, his time, his hygiene, his life, I am not unparenting him. I am actually empowering his to make choices, and through not controlling his time or choices, life learning happens. Accountability. He’s accountable for his choices now, and that is a lesson that he will carry through the rest of his life.