Brie Jontry is an unschooling mom I’ve connected with a few times over the years because we share the experience of having a child who is living with a chronic illness. At first glance, it might seem like you’d need to drop some unschooling principles when your child’s health is in question, so I was excited to speak with Brie about her experience.
Quote of the Week
“Unfortunately most people are convinced that when control fails, it’s because they didn’t control enough.” ~ Joyce Fetteroll
Questions for Brie
1. Can you share with us a bit about your background and your family?
2. When did Noor develop type 1 diabetes and what did the diagnosis look like?
3. What were some of the advantages of Noor not being in school during this time?
4. One of things that stood out for me was that because we hadn’t been controlling Michael’s eating habits, he was already comfortable listening to his body’s cues, which had some great advantages now that he had to manually manage his insulin levels. Was your experience similar?
5. Once we got a handle on the day-to-day management and it became more routine, I found it really important to shift our focus away from the illness and back onto all of Michael. Did you find yourself making that shift?
6. When we look at how children learn through unschooling, we see that the most effective learning happens when they have choices and control over their actions. That can seem scary when the consequences could be drastic and immediate, but even with health issues I’ve found life and learning flows so much better when I don’t take on the role of gatekeeper or director. Have you found that as well?
7. With unschooling, we talk a lot about building a trusting relationship with our children, free of judgement and shame. Have you still found that to be a valuable foundation for your days when there’s a chronic illness in the mix?
8. Let’s talk about the teen years for a moment. As kids get older, they naturally spend more time away from their parents. If diabetes management has been closely controlled by the parents, which is often the conventional parenting approach, this time out from under their gaze can seem like freedom from all of that. In that situation, I think teens often make choices in reaction to that parental control, rather than in their own best interest. What has your experience been?
9. Also, as they get older and their life expands, new fears crops up, don’t they? Like their first overnights away from home, then their first extended trips, and Michael will be driving on his own in the next couple of months. How do you move through those moments?
Links to more info
Pam’s article: In Control: Helping a child self-manage a chronic disease (published in Natural Life Magazine, Mar/Apr 2010 issue)