Now let’s look at the challenge of trying to see things from our child’s perspective. As part of our deschooling journey, we want to see their learning in action, and to see it in everything they do. That will be much more difficult if we aren’t able to see the things they do through their eyes.
This is a rather unconventional approach to our days because typically children are expected to fit into their parents’ lives; it’s the parent’s perspective that is important.
But with unschooling, instead of using the power inherent in being an adult to control our children’s actions, we choose to shift away from power as a tool and support our children’s exploration of the world around them. And in this environment, not only do they learn more about the world, they also see a living example of the ways in which people can work together to reach everyone’s goals.
That’s one of the big paradigm shifts on the deschooling journey: that the goals of every family member are important, and they aren’t in competition. The learning is rampant when everyone works together to find a way to meet everyone’s goals! And not just our children’s learning—ours too. Family relationships feel more like a team where everyone is in support of each other, rather than a group of related people whose goals are met in descending order of the power they hold.
When our children see us sincerely considering their perspective, their goals, and their input, they come to trust us. To trust that we will actively help them. And as they get older, they more naturally come to consider the perspectives of others when situations arise. In considering the needs of others, they are developing compassion and empathy.
Think of the flip side. If the relationship tools they see in action are power-based ones of control, then those are the ones they’ll naturally reach for as they get older—that’s what they know. They will try to exert power over anyone they can: younger, smaller etc.
So conventionally, we treat children one way (subordinate), yet expect them to grow up to behave another (compassionate). But how do we expect them to learn how to treat others with compassion and consideration if they don’t experience it regularly themselves? They need to see it in action to learn how it’s done.
Our society has a deep reverence for adults. And conversely, they underestimate children. I know that replacing the power paradigm of conventional parent-child relationships, can be a big challenge. But it’s definitely worth it!
Children are wonderful—and capable—people.
And unschooling allows them to shine beautifully.
More reading about family relationships …
A Family of Individuals — Let’s look at how, though it may seem counter-intuitive at first, fully supporting and celebrating the individuals in the family better fosters a long-term atmosphere of joy and harmony.
Five Unconventional Ideas About Relationships With Teens — Everyone wins with strong, connected, respectful relationships. Conventionally, relationships with teens are painted as either/or: either you focus on maintaining authority (tough love) or you avoid challenges altogether (let them run wild). Yet unschooling families have found the beauty of living inside the spectrum of those extremes. In this post I look at some of the ways unschooling parents view relationships differently and what that can look like in the teen years.
Exploring Relationships — Relationships are a fundamental piece of the being human puzzle. Conventionally, parents have one way of relating to their friends and colleagues, and another way of relating to their children. The beauty of the relationships developed in unschooling families is that we don’t treat people differently based on their age, so what our children learn about relationships growing up will always be helpful.