I’ve been an unshooling parent now for almost three years. Recently I have found myself reflecting on the role I play in contributing to my son’s education. I do recognize that ‘participating’ means being hands off in terms of teaching, but it’s really ‘all hands on deck’ in terms of showing up. I have discovered that as an unschooling parent, I am accountable for being who I am and contributing a ‘whole self’ to the learning experience. So this is my responsibility, to be emotionally healthy, to be happy, to be present and to be engaged in the world around me. This is who I bring to my son and I realize my role as the unschooling parent is not to teach, it is to show up for him as such.
The World Teaches
Combine traveling and unschooling and you’ve created a natural learning environment. This lifestyle provides the utmost of freedom. We are always stimulated with the newness of our surroundings. We always manage to find something to inspire us. And there are always new things to do, new experiences to embark on, new adventures to take. The world is literally transformed into our classroom. It’s pretty natural from the standpoint of being an unschooling parent, allowing the environment to guide our learning experiences. Yes, as a ‘parent and child’ share the world, I have become an unschooled-learner too. But I have made pretty keen observation recently: Teaching a child happens without the formality of “teaching”, whether a family is unschooling or not. What I mean is that a child develops his (or her) inner-most-core through example, experience and the observations of their parent(s). Miro and I are very similar in so many ways. Well that’s no real surprise…
But through observing and reflecting on our experience with other children, we’ve learned so much about becoming intentional people. Miro and I have shared with each other through our conversations, the little things we’ve noticed about some of the kids and parents we’ve met in on our travels. These observations are in no way meant to be an exercise in judgment, rather the opportunity to learn more about humanity and ourselves through others. As a result, through my role of an unschooling parent, I am really beginning to understand my holistic responsibility as an intentional parent.
The things we focus on, our children focus on. The things we fear, our children fear. The good parts of our personalities, hopefully our children will inherent. The unhealthy parts of our person, our children too, will pick up on. As an example, we’ve come across families on our travels that are fearful, or actually terrified of falling victim to crime. Guess what? In most cases, they already have. And the people we’ve met , that without hesitation, boast about the horrible things that have happened to them. Each of their stories seem designed to justify their state of mind. I want to ask them which came first, the fear or the manifestation of the experience to be fearful? And then I consider one more thing… if the parent is fearful, terrified or untrusting, isn’t’ it likely that the child will grow up to be fearful, terrified or untrusting too? We’ve met kids that were always dirty, simply did not value personal hygiene and smelled pretty bad. Guess what? We’ve observed the similar qualities in their parents too. (Though in this case, to a slightly lesser degree..) We’ve met kids that are disrespectful towards other kids, and guess what? We’ve observed the parents that are disrespectful in their interactions with their own children (IE: barking orders, calling names, not listening to their children). We’ve seen kids talk back to their parents, reply with disrespect and sometimes sarcasm. We’ve also observed their parents being generally snarky and sarcastic. But through all these observations, we’ve been given a gift, the ability to reflect inward. In all of these real cases (which Miro and I have discussed together,) we’ve been able to create a positive appreciation for other’s differences and understand just a little more, what it’s like to be human. We ALL are who we are. Sometimes deliberately. Sometimes unconsciously. Regardless, we are (always) developing human beings. But as I take these observations and reflections inward, I remind myself that I am responsible for my own emotional health and mental clarity. I choose to no longer be distracted with the daily grind.
We do not live in the future, we do not dwell in the past and make it our spiritual practice to live in the present.
I choose to lead by example. I am a whole person, happy, healthy, present and joyful. Because of that state of being I do not have to teach any of those things to my son. But you know what? He’s learned those lessons in a very profound way through his experience.