Anna Brown joins Pam to answer listener questions. This month we dive into questions around managing the environment when a parent works at home, when we’re not a “perfect mom,” helping our kids learn about diversity, when you’re not into your child’s passion, and helping your children process their emotions without taking them on yourself.
Click here to submit your own question to the Q&A Round Table!
Anonymous Question [TIME: 6:00]
Hi. We are a South African unschooling family. We have two sons, 10 and 8, and a daughter who is 4 years old. My two sons attended preschool, but when my eldest was supposed to go to grade one, we took them out of school and started homeschooling them. I started on a very rigid program but started relaxing more and more as I realized that my eldest was very unhappy with sitting still and doing book work for hours. In the beginning of 2017 I made a new friend who happened to be an unschooler. She encouraged me to listen to some of the livingjoyfully podcasts. I listened to one and it was as if I have found something that I was looking for all my life, without knowing that I was looking for it. It was absolutely wonderful. It took some time to convince my husband, but he was willing to be convinced. We then jumped in completely!
My question has to do with our home situation. We live in a very small house, and my husband tutors online. There can’t be noise when he is working, so I have to silence the kids all day long. My children are very active and loud and beautifully dramatic all the time :). It is very difficult for them to be quiet and I usually end up getting frustrated and taking my frustration out on them. I try to take them on outings all the time, but I want my children to love their home. They don’t want to be at home at all anymore. I do wonder sometimes if unschooling like this is really conducive to their happiness and well being, or am I pursuing a dream that does not fit in with our current situation or lives. I know that there is no advice that can change my circumstances at home. What I am really looking for is ideas to make home more inviting and fun for them, without spending too much, as our budget is very tight. Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. Regards.
Alexandra’s Question (from France) [TIME: 15:30]
Hello, thank you for your podcasts and your help to all parents!
I was wondering whether you can help me… I have been living with the unschooling philosophy for almost 1.5 years. I do my very best but sometimes I do not do everything perfectly. I am not as good to my kids as I would like to : I can get annoyed by them when they scream without a reason, when they do not behave well, etc. And then I feel guilty. And this feeling makes me very sad and unhappy. Especially when it happens during the day when I am at work and cannot see my children for hours. I really try hard but I am not a perfect mom 100% of time and then I feel so powerless that it happened again and I was not as good as I would love to my children. Do you have any advices to such moms as me? Thank you very much!!!
Joan’s Question (from Rhode Island, US) [TIME: 23:00]
Love unschooling and wondering… kids schooled and unschooled learn about race, gender, and class constantly through everyday interactions in the world. To me, this is something that needs to be actively untaught/retaught because most grown ups have it all wrong! From my perspective, it’s a topic children like to avoid because they can sense the weight and discomfort of it from grownups. I’m wondering how you teach about race, gender, and class in an unschooling format? How can we decolonialize our children’s understanding of the world and still let them be self-directed? Thank you!
Suparna’s Question (from Vancouver Island, Canada) [TIME: 31:35]
Hi there, I just found your blog and podcast. Thank you for your clarity, gentleness and mindfulness. This is exactly the approach to learning I have been searching for, for my now 12-year-old son. Our schooling journey has been rocky and we have finally given it up. We were fooled into thinking that enrolling in a DL school was the same as homeschooling, only just found out we were still in the same bucket. Hadn’t moved an inch!
Anyway, long story short, here I am devouring your webpage and podcasts. I love the “love what they are doing” approach but my question is what do you do if their interests/passions bore you to tears? My son is mechanically inclined, he is super passionate about remote control cars/vehicles and will sit at the computer surfing for hours, pondering and poring over makes, models, whachamacallits and whosits and dodads. I have tried really hard to be interested but it’s all mind numbing to me. I am happy to encourage and provide him with whatever he needs to fulfil his passions but there is a limit to how far I can go with his interests. I am a more artistic, fluid, organic person.
So, how do you fully help your child develop his interests if you can just barely understand what he is doing? Thank you for reading!
Candace’s Question (from Pennsylvania, US) [TIME: 39:05]
Hi Pam, Anne, and Anna! First, I need to say how grateful I am for your podcast, especially the Q & A episodes. The discussions feed my soul and ground me.
On to my question: I am very empathetic. I have been told more than once that I am an empath. I’m not sure if I am totally comfortable with that label, but I do know that I notice, feel, and experience other peoples’ emotions without them actually telling me how they feel. For example, I teach yoga and often people come to class to release their own emotional weight. I have left from teaching feeling very sad, only to find out that one of my student’s dog died the day before.
My 5-year-old son has anxiety issues and is not comfortable in crowds. I believe that my 6 (almost 7) year old daughter is very much like me. She loves being around other people and kids, but it also exhausts her emotionally. She will also go through days of feeling sad and not knowing why, or being angry at the world, her family, life. I was very much like that as a child and my parents tried hard to shame it out of me, telling me that my emotions were hurting other people and ruining our family time. It took me most of my adult life to make peace with the sadness within myself, and I wish to impart this peace onto my children. Their unique way of experiencing the world led us out of public schools to homeschooling, and ultimately to unschooling. I am so very sure that unschooling is the right choice for our family. My son is relaxing into himself and actually finding the words to let other people know when he needs a break, and my daughter is learning so much in ways that I never could have imagined.
However, since moving away from conventional parenting styles (such as seeing my kids’ “negative” emotions as something to fix) toward a deeper, more honest and level connection with my kids (seeing my kids as they are without needing to be “fixed”), I have begun to “take on” their emotions. When I was less connected with them and they were sad, I could separate myself from their emotions. Now, I get stuck in their head space. How can I continue to connect with them without carrying that weight with me? Right now, they are going through this amazing emotional journey, finding language for feelings, coping skills, and ways find comfort when it is needed. But, all of this emotional openness has left me feeling raw, weepy and exhausted. Is this the way is just has to be because of my empathic side, or is there a better way for me to connect without falling into their struggles? Any insight is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Links to things mentioned in the show
podcast episode #97, Unschooling and Diversity with Erika Davis-Pitre
Anne’s article, Validating Our Children
podcast episode #112, Q&A Round Table
Anna’s website: choosingconnection.com