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
Andrea Kim says
I am thoroughly loving every episode of this podcast! Thank you so much!
Pam Laricchia says
Yay!! Glad you’re enjoying them, Andrea! 🙂
Jazzy Jack says
Sooo impressed that you both just did it again. It sounded very fresh 🙂
Some great thoughts here, and I’ve already been aware of the 90 sec rule.
Will work on the hot spots and mantras too.
Great advice and also helped me see this work and life in a more spiritual way ( if that makes sense).
Pam Laricchia says
Thanks, Jazzy Jack!
And the spiritual connection totally makes sense. 🙂
Cindy Gaddis says
Lots of good stuff in this one! (I can’t believe how grown your children are, Anna! Has it been that long?) I have a few thoughts to add to a few of the ideas.
For the idea of children (people) are doing the best they can with where they are at, I would add: They are doing the best they can with the body they have been given, the strengths/weaknesses that are uniquely theirs, their emotions, their tools, and their progress. I like to add this as a reminder because sometimes “the best we can do” isn’t that great, depending on where we are on our journey. To me, it helps remind me to continue to give support and guidance as my children progress with emotional intelligence, and simply dealing with their own personal stuff in their particular body/emotion make-up. With raising six high needs boys, this emotional intelligence development was one of the most crucial things I did between 5-10 years old.
To add to the 90 second idea, and you mentioned this at one point, Anna, is there is a difference based on if you are left-brained or right-brained dominant. You mentioned your being more left-brained, Anna, and your process in working through a feeling that you experience is much like mine. I’m an analyzer. I can step back and think, “hhmmm, interesting feeling…let me think on that.” And then come up with some concrete ideas that work easily for me (all in all). I was blessed to raise seven right-brained children (and live with a right-brained husband) whose experience with emotions is very different from mine. It has been a huge learning journey for me to understand their experiences and learn how to empathize (or probably sympathize) and support their process. Right-brained people are typically highly emotive, which is great for the expression of their creativity. But a bit more difficult in thei r relationships. My children/husband have explained to me that when their “emotion house” is triggered, even if after that 90 seconds they can access their logic/brain to help themselves put it into perspective, these logic/brain thoughts/ideas do not impact their emotion house to stabilize. It simply takes time for these emotions to lessen. Space is important at that point to them. In other words, different types of processors do different strategies to deal with the aftermath of an emotional experience, from my experience and learning from me and my children.
For me, I will definitely be thinking about the hot spots. There’s one in particular that I knew about with me, but I hadn’t verbalized it as clearly as I was able to until you talked about that aspect. Thank you!
Pam Laricchia says
Glad you enjoyed the episode, Cindy!
Yes, “doing the best they can” encompasses the uniqueness of the individual, their mindset in the moment, and how that meshes with the circumstances they are facing. I love how unschooling children develop a solid sense of self-awareness over the years. It’s something we work on over our lifetime—I know I continue to learn and grow. 🙂
Great episode. What is Anna’s website? The link isn’t right. Thanks!
Pam Laricchia says
Hi Rachel, yes her website went down for a bit, but it should be back up soon! Thanks for asking. 🙂
Just wanted to say I’m enjoying this podcast in 2018 and sharing with other parents. Thanks for the podcast and for keeping it online! The knowledge and perspectives you both share here are inspiring.