Anna Brown is a long-time unschooling mom to two lovely daughters, ages 16 and 18. I met her online years ago through the Shine with Unschooling email list and have loved connecting with her more deeply over the years. She gave a talk a couple of years ago at an unschooling conference that I loved and I was very excited to dive into it again with her.
In this episode, Anna talks about parenting ideas that she found helpful in her family’s unschooling lives.
Quote of the Week
“We don’t yet know, above all, what the world might be like if children were to grow up without being subjected to humiliation, if parents would respect them and take them seriously as people.” ~ Alice Miller, For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence
Questions for Anna
1. The first question I’d like to ask from your talk is about finding the underlying needs when a conflict arises. We’ve probably all experienced times when just asking hasn’t worked—often even adults aren’t good at verbalizing what real needs they are trying to meet by engaging in a conflict. How do you go about discovering the underlying needs at play in a conflict?
2. When your child’s upset about something, it’s not very hard to feel sympathetic, to acknowledge their feelings. But often we jump from there to trying to fix things, and then we wonder why they stay stuck in the upset. As part of my book research, I’ve been reading more about empathy. Empathy is about feeling with a person—acknowledging their emotion, and then connecting with the person on that level, helping them feel heard and understood where they are. It reminds me of how in unschooling circles we talk about validation, that step of acknowledging a child’s feelings as real and valid, connecting with the child where they are, and then moving forward when they are ready. How do you see the process of validation playing out?
3. What is the 90 second rule?
4. Another thing you mentioned in your talk really stood out for me because I also found it to be such a helpful way to approach things. It was to recognize that everyone is doing their best in this moment. Can you talk about that?
5. When you and your child are at odds, it can be tempting to try to maneuver things to get to the outcome we think is best. Even if we don’t come right out and say it, kids can often sense our agenda, can’t they? Yet that can get in the way of their learning and undermine the trust in your relationship. So how else can we approach those moments?
6. One of the most empowering ideas on my unschooling journey has been the realization that everything is a choice. Really, everything. Was that a big one for you as well?
7. An important part of deschooling is developing trust: in the process of unschooling, in our children, in ourselves. Why is that so valuable?
8. Sometimes we are reminded that we’re doing something very unconventional and find ourselves feeling anxious and unsure. What helps you move through those moments?
9. We all have hot buttons, things we react to almost unconsciously before we even realize what’s happening. Yet on our unschooling journey, as we gain more self-awareness, it’s pretty common to begin to see those automatic reactions as over-reactions to the actual situation at hand. And we don’t want to do that to our family. How can we change things up?
Links to things mentioned in the show
Anna’s website: choosingconnection.com