PAM: Hi everyone! I’ve really enjoyed putting this compilation episode together for you. This time, the lens is on parenting and the shift away from control as a parenting tool. Often, it’s reasonably easy to understand why you want to stop using control and punishment, but that’s just the first step.
You need to replace it with something different, or else you end up creating a vacuum of nothingness that eventually devolves into chaos. In this episode, I’ve woven together answers from six unschooling parents.
This is a bigger question around shifting our parenting paradigm from having control over our children to being in connection with them, so you’ll notice the clips are longer too. It’s not a quick answer kind of topic but I think you’ll get a lot out of this deep dive.
To get us started, Teresa Graham Brett, unschooling mom and author of Parenting for Social Change, shares her thoughts around this parenting shift.
PAM: You identify a number of tools that parents can use as they shift from controlling parenting to supportive parenting. There are three I thought I’d pick out that I’d love for you to touch on. They are: accepting our feelings, mindfulness, and awareness. I was hoping you could describe what those are and a little bit about how we can shift away from the impulse to control in those areas.
TERESA: Great. I think I’ll start with the feelings, accepting our feelings.
As I really dug in to try to figure out why my first reaction was to control, I really had to look and understand that, in my own childhood, and frankly for most of us. We’re seeing generations now of unschoolers, adults who are now having children or who grew up in that way, but the vast majority of us grew up within controlling systems and family structures and relationships. That’s just the way the world has been.
One of the things that I realized, my struggle to control, when I was in the need to control, underneath it was really a fear and a feeling of not being safe. When things are in control, we feel safe. “Oh, it’s all under control. We’re good. All right. I don’t have to worry about anything.” How many times have I said that to myself? Still say it to myself.
PAM: I know.
TERESA: “Okay. Everything is under control. I can go do this thing.” When I then began to say, “Well, why is it control equals safety?” Then, I began to understand that we learn lots of messages, and I learned them too, in different dynamics in my family. When the adults around me were out of control, like they were yelling and upset, I did not feel safe. Right?
PAM: Yep, yep.
TERESA: When things were volatile or people got mad about the dishes or whatever it was, I was like, “Oh, I’m going to go hide, because that’s easier. It’s safer.” We also get these messages growing up about our emotions. You mentioned this earlier. The emotion that wasn’t allowed in my family, this is where it’s unique to each person, your own family experience. The emotion that wasn’t allowed in my family was anger. I couldn’t express anger.
Even though all the adults around me expressed a whole lot of anger in not very healthy ways, of course, I couldn’t express that same anger, and sadness. Neutral and slightly happy were good. That was the range of acceptable emotions. Not too happy, because then that’s uncomfortable for my parents. It could be in this one range.
What I learned, then, was to push down feelings of sadness and feelings of anger. Because the adults around me, when they expressed anger, it wasn’t safe, it was a volatile situation, what I learned then, is anger results in harm. My own anger became my enemy. When anger would well up in me, I would push it down. Then, if it burst out, at some point, it’s going to burst out, the more you try to control it, it’s going to come out, then my feelings of guilt. I would beat myself up. I would tell myself what a horrible parent or person I was. I punished myself as much as I was punished as a child. I learned to punish myself.
Accepting my feelings, and for each of us, it’ll be different, what those feelings are. Accepting those feelings as part of the human experience and saying, “I feel angry. I’m not a bad person because I feel a feeling. I’m not a bad person because I feel sad, because I want to cry. It is the full range of human experience.” What I learned was, I think you said this about discomfort, about when something is triggering you or making you uncomfortable, that’s the sign for you to go in. I had to learn that accepting anger and moving toward my anger, saying, “I can go and be angry and feel that, and I’m safe and other people will be safe. It’s okay. I can explore where that anger comes from. I can understand anger. Anger can be a friend. Anger can be something that tells me something about myself.”
Accepting those feelings that had been punished when I was a child was such an important part of my own process. For each of us, it’s going to be different what those feelings are, but we deny all of those that we learned were bad in our families or in our schools or whatever it was.
PAM: I was just going to say, it’s such a huge piece of our own growing self-awareness. Nothing triggers us to start developing that as coming to unschooling, right?
TERESA: Yes, yes. I think, then, what the mindfulness piece, all of these things interconnect, because I had to be willing to be present with myself. As you said earlier and as I’ve said, when those uncomfortable feelings hit us, when the discomfort is there, the ability to sit with that and be present with it, is so difficult. That mindfulness, that in the moment now, where am I at and what’s going on for me, but then also mindfulness and presence with the child. That, even, I’m just going to sit right now. Even though I feel a hundred things are pulling on me, I’m going to watch this thing, this video that he wants me to watch and just be there.
PAM: I was just going to say, that’s such a huge piece. For me, anyway. That’s something that I learned through experience, because people would say, “Make that a top priority.” “Okay. I’ll try.” But, it’s like, after a few times, it’s like, “Wow. What I learned in that half hour beats every other choice I could have had.” Right?
TERESA: Yeah, yeah.
PAM: That mindfulness to be with them and that mindfulness with myself to take a beat when some emotion or some feeling was welling up, those were huge tools for me.
TERESA: Yeah, yeah. Even that mindfulness of where my feelings show up, of feeling out of control, unsafe, or angry, it always shows up in my stomach. The place it shows up is I start to feel a little funky in my stomach. Sometimes it shows up as hunger, but it’s not hunger. It’s anger. Sometimes it shows up as nausea, because, “Oh my gosh. Something’s really making me so uncomfortable. I’m starting to feel a little bit nauseous.”
I started paying attention to those early signals. “What’s going on? Oh, wait. Something’s happening in my stomach. All right. Give me a moment, guys. I just got to have a moment.” Ask for that time and for me. “I need a moment. This is really intense.” Sometimes it would be just to close my eyes in the midst of what was going around me for just a moment and say, “I’m feeling something.” Even if I couldn’t name exactly what the feeling was, just say, “Oh, I’ aware.” My mindfulness allows me to tap into. Close my eyes. It’s in my stomach. I’m feeling something. Then, move on. What’s the next thing? You know?
PAM: I know. Sometimes, the physical reaction shows up first.
TERESA: It does. Yeah, yeah.
The mindfulness piece is both with ourselves and then also with the child. I know that if I, when I’m in that angry mode and what I want to do is lash out, if I get down and I really just observe the child, look in their eyes. It’s so easy to dehumanize. I think we dehumanize our children. It’s easy if all we see are the externals: the messy house, the toys poured out on the floor, the mess, whatever, the spill, whatever it is. We look at that rather than the child. In that moment of mindfulness, to just say, “Look. Look at his eyes. Look at him. Notice his nose. Notice the hair. Notice the things you really, really love.”
If I could take that moment in those intense times, that two to six years old, and even now I do it, at nine and fourteen. Breathe and, “Oh my gosh. Look at him.” That moment I need to at least hold back from the lash out. Then, even if there’s a lash out, there’s ways to come back from it. We can talk about that.
Then, the last thing is the awareness piece. For me, the awareness had to do with multiple levels of awareness. Awareness that I was trained to be this way. All of my early training in childhood, the systems, the school systems, my family system. All of those things trained me, trained my brain, right, our neural pathways that are reactivated and reactivated over and over. Those things I was trained to do, so that awareness that I was trained to be in this place, and I can unlearn it. That hope, I can unlearn it. To know that that’s what operates and that gets reinforced, even now in the media, the messages I might get from family, all of those things reinforce that control dynamic.
Then, what are my particular triggers that enter in my own personal awareness? Food was a trigger for a long, long, long time. Sometimes still comes up for me. There are other things that are triggers for me. My awareness of, “This is a soft spot for me. I’m sensitive about this thing.” Knowing that, “Oh, this might come up. Okay. How do I take care of myself? How do I recognize that that’s a place of healing? That that’s a place I need to go deeper in?”
That awareness of my own dynamics, internal dynamics and even the dynamics I may have set up in my relationship with my child. Because we get into patterns with them. Even as we’re undoing what we did before, those patterns come back into play. We can even acknowledge. “Oh, we’re stuck in this pattern.” Sometimes I would even say, if we were in the car and there’s a lot that happens in cars, if people have cars and they travel by car, there’s a lot that happens. I would say, “I’ve got to pull over and just step out. This is not working. I need to step out for a minute and change that energy pattern or change that pattern of interaction.” Or, I can say, “You know what? I’m getting intense. I’m going to step away.” Those things, that awareness at systems and naming my history level, how I’m trained in those way, and then what are my own particular triggers.
Then, the awareness of the child. Each of them are so different. The things that I could say to one, I can’t say to the other. The things that hurt one much, much more are very different from the things that might hurt the other one. The ways in which Martel needs to reconnect after I’ve maybe lashed out or lost it or gotten upset or intense about something are so different from the ways Grayson needs me to reconnect and apologize. That awareness of what do they need from me and did I even hurt them, maybe I didn’t, and it’s just me.
PAM: Exactly. Sometimes so much is caught up in our own history, right? As you said, it’s totally individual with each child, and our children, as they get older, they get to know us too. They’re aware of our triggers or our personality, all those pieces. I think I’ve mentioned before on an episode that my kids know I need a minute to absorb quick changes in plans and stuff like that. I have to process through that. I can’t just really go, “Hey, cool.” They are happy to give me that beat. “Hey, mom. I’m thinking about this. Can you think about it, and I’ll come back in five minutes?” Or, whatever. The same way. That’s all learned empathy and relationship skills because of the way we have treated and supported and respected them too, right?
TERESA: Yeah, yeah.
PAM: I know! It’s a beautiful thing.
PAM: Such great tools Teresa shared for the journey: accepting our feelings, mindfulness, and awareness. They each have so many layers!
Next, let’s hear from Scott Noelle. Scott is an unschooling dad of two, an author, and a life coach dedicated to supporting parents who want to move away from control-based parenting methods. Here’s what he shared about the pull we can feel to use control when we’re uncomfortable with our children’s choices.
PAM: As our children get older, we touched on this a little bit earlier, we can find ourselves uncomfortable with their choices that they’re pursuing and we start feeling that fearfulness and feeling protective of them and that’s when we so easily slip into control because that is what we’ve lived with—that’s our go-to response in our culture. It’s the parent’s job to say, ‘No, sorry you can’t do that.’ And then to impose some consequences like, ‘If I find that you’re doing X, Y and Z, you’re going to lose this privilege if you disobey.’ I just thought we could talk about how that can damage your relationship, that trust, and what we might do instead when we’re starting to feel overly protective.
SCOTT: Wow, that’s really big. I think the word consequences is ripe for deconstruction. It is one of the most disingenuous words in the whole parenting lexicon. People talk about consequences when they’re really talking about a punishment and it’s just a way to control people. I always say the only authentic consequence is love. It’s like, whatever you do, I love you. That’s the consequence and what that means is if you behave in a way that I don’t like then that means we need to tend to the partnership. That’s why I think partnership is the most central concept that I talk about in being with children and unschooling when it really is a kind of partnership education. You’re partnering with a child and their nature.
But in a behavior situation, the old view is the child is supposed to behave a certain way and I have the right to control that. If you’re in a partnership orientation, then we each have equal dignity. Obviously, we’re not equal in every way because I’m older and more experienced and I have more legal rights etc. But as human beings were equal and I have no more right to control my child than my child has a right to control me. We’re not particularly interested in controlling each other, we’re interested in having an enjoyable partnership.
That does mean that we are interacting. It’s not so much controlling each other, it’s doing a dance together. That means we need to be in tune with each other. We need to understand each other’s needs. First and foremost, we need to be committed to being creative because it’s inevitable that there are going to be situations where what I want and what my child wants are not the same things, and it looks like a win-lose situation. When it looks like that, we have the power to choose a different perspective. It doesn’t have to be win-lose, it can be win-win. I like to say it’s a win-win-win because I win, you win, and the partnership wins. The partnership gets stronger.
In order to create those win-win outcomes, you have to be committed to a creative process. Every time we seem to be at odds, it’s an opportunity to be co-creators and to step into a collaborative process. If we can avoid the reactivity and the tendency to move into blame and hold presence long enough to calm ourselves down, then we can actually move into that creative process and really enjoy it.
We can say, ‘Sorry I overreacted, but what I really want understand is what are you needing here and I want you to understand what I’m needing here and let’s assume in this universe of infinite possibilities there is at least one possibility where both of us meet our needs or both of us satisfy our desires.’ Those creative possibilities that you discover can often be better than what you wanted in the first place. Or maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s just different. Or maybe it’s even a little inferior in terms of like what of what would have been perfectly ideal for you but in the bigger picture it’s a better outcome because you have the stronger partnership and that pays off big time in the long term.
I like to say that if your kids are still young and you commit yourself to cultivating a partnership culture in your family, then you have plenty of years to do it and by the time they’re teenagers you don’t have any of the problems or very little of the problems that are typical of teenagers if you’ve made that effort. I’m not saying that we have had no problems but definitely not some of the horror stories that I hear or some of the sad situations that I see where young adults and their parents don’t like each other.
PAM: I think so much of what we’ve been talking about this whole time leads up to this because when you’re feeling the urge to control that’s a great point to try and see that as a clue that it’s time to refocus back on partnership. And that reminds you to look at the situation from their perspective, from their eyes. And not even from what I would do in their situation because I’m not them. It’s to see the whole situation from inside them. From their perspective. Why this is important to them? Because once you have that understanding of where they’re coming from, you can bring that to your whole co-creation conversation. That’s how we can find a path forward as partners where we’re all reasonably satisfied.
Like you said, it may not be the perfect outcome but we can find something where we’re all okay and we say, ‘We can live with that,’ and we can do that and it works. I love that third win because that’s when the partnership becomes more solid, becomes another layer of connected and trusting because you have again found a way of getting through this. I think that’s a beautiful way to think about it as a win-win-win.
SCOTT: Totally, and I would even go a step further for those who are adventurous in the realms of consciousness, I think it’s true to say what would I do and then to remember but I’m not her or him, but on a deeper level you can actually just say, ‘I am her.’ In a more esoteric, new age-y, we’re all one. Cultivate that consciousness of oneness.
It’s a paradox that we are separate and connected but we tend to focus, in our culture more, where we’re separate and not that much in the connectedness. So, you can actually play thought games and decide for the next 20 minutes I’m going to be, I’m going to fully inhabit and wholeheartedly inhabit the perspective of my child. If they love something that I think is meh, then I’m going to love it. Just feel that. And that opens you up to discovering deeper kinds of connection but also just things where, ‘You know what? My opinion about that one thing wasn’t fully informed. Now that I fully stepped into my child’s world, I have a greater appreciation of that.’
PAM: So many times, when I’ve done that—when I felt uncomfortable and then shifted to think of it that way as us being one or putting myself in that spot—so many times I was able to stretch my comfort zone. That’s how I’ve talked about it before, because, all of a sudden, it’s like, ‘Wow.’ Those pieces that I was bringing, my thoughts are stereotypes I picked up or some negative experience that I had, those were clouding my vision and my perspective grew just by taking the time to see it how they see it.
Often, regularly enough, the whole problem dissolved because I realized it was just me stretching a little bit to really see them. That’s cool!
PAM: I love Scott’s win-win-win perspective. And his reminder that it can be fascinating and fun to play thought games like choosing to fully and wholeheartedly inhabit our child’s perspective for a while and see what we discover.
Next up is Jan Fortune. Jan home educated her four now adult children in the UK and wrote many articles and five books on unschooling and consent-based parenting. We talked about how moving away from control isn’t about surrendering to our children, it’s about engaging with them.
PAM: In your book, which I loved, Winning Parent, Winning Child, you make a great point about how consent-based parenting is not a call for parental self-surrender or martyrdom, rather it’s a call for engagement with our children. And that was just a great example of the value we get from engaging with our children, right? You talk about how there may be times when a mutual solution escapes us and we choose to put our children first, but that’s not ideal. So even though sacrifice is often held up as a virtue in our society, why is simply giving in not a good long-term solution either?
JAN: I think it’s important to recognize that sometimes we fail. We don’t always find solutions, where we’re ordinary human beings and those moments are going to happen. And when we do fail, I’d put the child first simply because we have such an enormous responsibility to children. That they’re the people we chose to bring into the world.
There are occasions when that’s going to happen, but I think when we end up finding ourselves self-sacrificing on a regular basis, we really need to stop and check that for lots of reasons. For one thing, self-sacrifice cuts creativity dead. If you’ve spent hours trying to find a solution to no avail and you’re too exhausted to keep going, you sometimes need to cut your losses. But if you cut your losses early in the process just to speed things up, then all you do is kind of cut into that creative energy that you might have found ten minutes down the line you might have come up with a great solution. I think when we kind of get in there too fast and just shrug our shoulders and say, ‘Okay, I give in,’ you’ve short-circuited all that creativity.
I think the other really damaging thing about self-sacrifice is that it builds resentment. A person who is always giving in might seem as though they’re okay about it but over time it eats away. And I think that poisons the atmosphere of being solution-centered and trying to be creative.
And chronic self-sacrificers, if you’ve experienced those in your life, can often become quite passive-aggressive manipulators. The person who always just says, “Oh I don’t mind,” is often saying to the group, “Well I want you to guess what I’d like but I’m not going to put in the energy to tell you.” You have to guess, and you have to get it right. They’re not really being open and honest. I think self-sacrifice when you’ve run out of steam is one thing; I think self-sacrifice, as a pattern tends to have all this kind of other emotional baggage with it.
So certainly, don’t be harsh with yourself when you have moments of failure. They’re going to happen to everybody. But I think if you notice that pattern of self-sacrificing or somebody never stating their needs, it’s really time to dig into that and try and shift it because in the long term it breeds bad feelings and it sabotages our creativity.
PAM: I love that. It’s such a great point. Patterns are the things to watch out for, aren’t they?
When we’re, like you said, talking and trying to figure something out and maybe we lose energy for it and we say “Okay, we’ll try it your way,” because, why not? You haven’t come up with a good enough reason not to. But when there’s that pattern and you give up earlier and earlier with less and less effort not only are you losing your creativity, you’re also losing those moments to learn more about our children and ourselves, aren’t we?
JAN: Yeah. It just kind of eats into all of that really, so yeah; patterns are definitely the thing to look for.
PAM: Yeah, exactly. There’s just so much relationship development that goes in there and your point before about the time that we’re investing—this is what we’re choosing to put our time in when we’re not putting it into school and all of those other things.
We’re choosing to create this kind of learning environment because learning about ourselves and learning about how to connect with others and work through issues with others, these are all valuable and important skills that a lot of kinds that spend all their time in school don’t have a lot of time to develop, do they?
JAN: No, absolutely they’re missing that. And that’s what we’ve set this up for, so you know, use it!
I’d like to dig into this transition to consent-based parenting a little more and in the book, you wrote: “consent works best when everyone in the family, adults and children alike, see themselves as free, respected people who can live the life they prefer within the family group. When this happens, adults and children can all be open to changing their wishes without ever fearing that it will mean doing something they really don’t want to do.”
This releases an enormous flood of innovative thinking for solving problems, like that creative thinking that we were just talking about. But I do think that this can be something that’s just so hard to envision, to believe that it will actually happen until you see it in action.
And I remember that there were a couple of valuable mind shifts that helped me to make this shift to consent-based parenting. One was ensuring that my wishes were not about my children. You know what, that was something that was surprisingly hard to tease out! I kind of had to empty myself out and then start adding my needs and wants back in one at a time, playing with them to see if they were really mine and not, ‘Oh I wish my child would do this,’ or ‘I wish they liked this.’ And the other one was being open to changing my mind, right, or my wishes even. And that was so much work to get deep into my own thoughts and to be okay with not liking what I found at first, because, you know, I’m just thinking.
It was so valuable for me to show by example that our discussion was about the ideas and our needs and to be able to say, “Wow, that’s a great point that I didn’t consider. You know, I’m more open to doing it your way, let’s see.” And then not act like I’ve given in when I’ve changed my mind, you know? There’s a difference because if you act like you’ve given in, then it’s like now they owe you something next time. Like you were talking about that passive aggressive approach to it all. There’s just so much wrapped up in there, isn’t there? (laughter)
I was wondering if you had some tips that you could share about this transition and how it really cracked open that creative problem-solving process.
JAN: Yeah. I mean I think it highlighted those shifts really well.
Changing your mind because you’ve become open is completely different to self-sacrificing that we were just discussing. It’s absolutely crucial that if you see adults as the people with all the answers and children are the ones in training, then doing that is going to feel counter-intuitive. But if you shift your mind-set so you believe we’re all learners, we’ve all got different sorts of experience, we’ve all got different sorts of creativity, fresh thinking, it doesn’t matter whether a solution to a problem happened to be suggested by a two-year-old or a 35-year-old, it’s just a creative solution.
And part of that genuinely flexible open-mindedness has to be that we don’t have preconceived ideas about what we want our children to be or to do. Your needs have to be yours, just as you were saying. And we hold those tentatively and creatively. So my need is for you to clean your room really misses the point! (laughter)
My need to might be to have some clean, calm space—that’s fine, and then I can ask others to help me with that rather than implicating them in what they have to do and what has to happen. Because they may not have any need at all to have a clean room.
If your children don’t feel as if you’ve already made up your mind about what the outcome has to be, if you are genuinely open-minded and you treat them as people who have something to offer, then they’ve got nothing to lose in contributing their creativity. And once they see this creativity is taken seriously, more and more of it is forthcoming.
So I think it’s about that creating of a positive spiral rather than a kind of downward slope. Just getting in there and being really flexible and as you say, owning your needs as yours and then saying how can we help with this? So you’re asking them for help in the same way as they ask you for help. It becomes this community of creative people who are sorting out how they live together.
PAM: Yeah, that’s such a great point because all situations come up for discussion, what the kids want to do and we try to make that happen and what we want to do. That they are all equally valuable and deserving of discussion.
And the other piece, when you were talking about cleaning their room and stuff like that, the other piece about being so open and us changing our minds is showing them that it’s okay to change your mind. Over the years my kids have enjoyed messy rooms and then they’ve gone through times when they really liked keeping it organized. And you don’t want them to think okay, this feeling about needing it, wanting it organized isn’t in reaction—you don’t want them to ignore it because they feel like they’d be finally satisfying your need for a clean room, right?
JAN: Yeah, absolutely.
It’s that kind of emotional baggage again, isn’t it, and if that’s not there than people can freely move positions without that kind of fearfulness or feeling that they’re going to be looked down on because they held a position and now they don’t. We all change all the time.
Another aspect of the transition into consent-based parenting that I wanted to touch on is moving beyond the conventional idea that children will tend towards bad choices if they aren’t controlled, right? As we move to unschooling, we discover that what our children really lack is just experience, especially if we’ve been parenting with rules and control for years, our children would have had little experience with understanding themselves, their needs, how to make reasonable choices, how to move through that process. So at first, they may behave in ways that seem to us at least as irrational, yet that is still not a sufficient justification for falling back on control and compulsion, is it? There is another way that we can look at those kinds of situations.
JAN: Yeah, yeah, that’s exactly right.
If you’ve got years of compulsion to undo then there is going to be some disbelief on the part of those children when you say that it’s gone now and there’s going to be some testing out and that can be very, very hard and that can be very, very scary.
But I think the thing to hold on to is every time you slide back into compulsion, that trust is diminished and so that can create real vicious circles. Once you’ve established that trust, of course you won’t get it right every time, but that trust will see you through, so when situations go wrong still, you can go, “This is what we were really intending. This is what we’re now getting 60 percent of the time, 70 percent of the time, we’re working it, it’s growing.”
And I think just being really open and honest with the children that this is a big change for you as well and you’re going to struggle with it and so we just have to be on side with each other and have to be kind to each other but this is the direction we’re really going in. So, in the transition we need to look at what might be irrational choices as maybe just establishing that trust and then building toward creativity and that does sometimes take a lot of holding your breath or biting your tongue and just kind of seeing where it leads and talking all the time.
I think the big thing is that you’re constantly conversing about this, you constantly reassure and you constantly say, “I got that wrong and how do we go back to the drawing board? I don’t understand your decision there, but it’s your decision and can you tell me more about it?” And just keeping those channels as open as you possibly can.
PAM: I love that. And that’s the hard part, I think, especially at the beginning, right? You’re biting your tongue yet you’re having conversations! It’s a different kind of conversation now, totally different.
JAN: Yeah, it’s not a conversation about judgment anymore.
PAM: Or telling them what to do.
PAM: Yeah, I love that. Because when you’re picking their brains, you’re right, if you do it whether with that passive aggressive approach or that judgment in your voice, they can tell, and like you said, you’re taking a step backwards, you’re losing that piece of ground of trust that you had been gaining. So that is something that you really want to watch out for but when you start asking those questions, your child has probably not been asked those questions before, right?
JAN: They’ve just been told so often.
PAM: Yeah! They’re discovering so much about themselves just by considering the questions, “Oh jeez, I’ve never wondered what I thought about that!” (laughter)
JAN: It opens up a very different space, doesn’t it?
PAM: Yeah, it’s so much learning for everybody, isn’t it?
PAM: Such a rich discussion about the transition away from control to consent!
Next, we hear from Megan Valnes. Megan Valnes is an unschooling mom with six children and we have so much fun diving deep into her deschooling experience, including this about the transition from control to connection.
PAM: Another important aspect of this deschooling process evolves around parenting and it lines up a lot with what you were talking about with your son. It turns out that helping our children’s learning thrive, and just helping them thrive as individuals, means shifting our parenting paradigm from having control over our children—even if it’s just wishing that they would get up and play and do all these wonderful things that we can now do because he is home—to being in connection with our children. To starting to understand their perspective. And that huge piece that you talked about, judging ourselves or seeing ourselves from what our children are choosing to do. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what that shift has looked like for you?
MEGAN: Yes. So, that piece about the reflection of our children or our children being a reflection of us it’s so cultural. That is something in our paradigm that is one of those things I did not even realize I was doing. I was working overtime on that one.
Before unschooling, that was just a completely foreign thought to me, I think. I never really thought about it. I grew up with parents that loved me very much but did not really play with me. It was never expected that they would play with me. That just was not their role, you know?
I grew up thinking being a good parent meant you kept your kids clean and like nice-looking, you educated them and they had manners and you really did not need to play with them. With my oldest I did not play—it sounds so regretful to think about it now you know but, I did not really play with him when he was little. One of my biggest regrets is I sleep-trained him.
I was twenty-two years old when I had my oldest son—I was kind of a baby. Now that I’m older I am like, ‘oh my god, I really was young and I never thought about it.’ I never even thought about the fact that I was young to have a baby. For me, I had always wanted children, and I wanted children young, and the women in my family tended to have children young. To me, that was just normal.
So, I was twenty-two years old when I had him and I just really wanted to do everything right. I truly believed what I was doing was the best thing for him. And my husband hated that I sleep-trained him and would always just want to bring him in with us. He was probably twelve weeks old when I did that and so I still nursed him for a long time, but that right there disconnected me from my son.
Putting him in a crib and letting him cry to sleep was a huge disconnection for us. I never did it again with any of my other children because I new innately it was wrong in my gut, but at the time, at that age, I was not really able to even be connected to myself and my own intuition and my mother’s intuition. I did not trust myself enough to connect with myself and therefore how could I connect with my children on that level.
Which is another huge part of the trust component in unschooling. John Holt says, “We are raised our whole lives as children believing we cannot be trusted so it’s no wonder we turn into adults that do not trust ourselves and then again do not trust our children.” And then it’s just this revolving cycle. It has to stop somewhere, right? We have got to change it.
Being disconnected was what was normal for me. When I came to unschooling and was starting to let go of all those controls, that led me to start learning more about myself and why I had those control issues over my children and what did that mean for me. How did I need to connect back into myself and connect with them and really making the effort to play with them, to watch TV with them, to sit on the couch and watch my son’s shows with him. To play their computer games, to really get into their world, helped me heal and helped me learn, I think, what a true connection means.
So, that was just part of the work and the process of putting down all those thoughts and ideas and opinions that I thought were so right. Shifting my perspective and trying something new because playing with my kids was really foreign to me. At the same time, Pam, I was only this kind of person parenting. I have always been fun and little bit crazy and a little bit wild and wanting to do things and I just have kind of a vivacious personality, it’s who I am. But when it came to parenting, I would turn into this different sort of person, like I thought I had to put on this persona. I sort of turned into what I thought was right, and it was not right.
PAM: That is such a great point though, because it’s our chance to be “good.” Like we said, we are seeing our value or our worth as a parent reflected through our children, so that drives us to control them to be perfect so that we can look perfect because, this is our shot. Because we know what a good parent looks like, right? Conventionally. Especially when you have bought in to that whole paradigm, you are just really pulled to accomplish it. I know what you mean.
MEGAN: Yeah and I was always so worried about how other people are judging the situation. For myself, I never really cared what people thought about me but, all of sudden, when I had kids it was like, ‘these kids need to be perfect and people need to think that I am doing a great job and know that I am a fit parent.’
PAM: That’s why, when you are shifting away from that control, you are like, ‘oh now what?’ Like you said, you have to learn so much about yourself. So that you can even connect to somebody because it’s very hard to see from somebody else’s perspective until—you’ve got to start somewhere. You’ve got to start with your own.
MEGAN: Right, exactly. Sometimes it’s fake it until you make it. Because, in the beginning, I did not really understand what I was doing but I did it anyway. I just kind of went through the steps. First off it was just opening my mind to the fact that what my kids were watching on TV was really great and was it funny and can I get into with them, and I could. Even if in my head I was thinking, ‘oh my god, I cannot believe I am watching this Barbie movie,’ or whatever I was thinking in my head. I did not say it out loud. It was also learning to control my mouth.
PAM: It’s like a million and one little shifts, at first. Every day.
MEGAN: I think as parents we feel like it’s our right to just unload our opinion on our kids. With conventional parenting—did you notice that—you’ll tell your kids: you’ll be like, “Oh my god. your hair is a wreck, your breath stinks, go brush your teeth.” You would never say that to anyone else. And somehow that’s okay to say to your children. It’s more conventional, so you hear it all around you. So, becoming more mindful also is a huge part in connecting. Being more mindful of what you say and how you say it. How are you treating these people that happen to be your children. Who, by the way, did not ask to be born, you brought them into this world.
PAM: All that ties together so nicely because it’s all about being able to stop for that moment and just contemplate. Not just react, not just say, “Oh, your hair!” or whatever. So, whether it’s ‘ooh your hair,’ or ‘ooh this TV show,’ or whatever, takes us back to what we were talking about before about just being open.
Just being open to those moments just kind of passing by and just contemplating them for a little bit and just doing that shift over again. ‘But we are having fun. We’re watching this TV show for the hundredth time, but we are having fun, we’re laughing.’ It’s this whole conversation that goes on in your head, isn’t it?
MEGAN: Yes, right, exactly. And that’s better, to learn that sometimes we just need to keep it in our head. Or talk to our friends about it. But we don’t have to unload it on our kids. Let them have their own experience.
PAM: Exactly. Then that is part of the just staying back and observing a little bit. You are with them and connecting but you do not have to verbalize everything, right?
PAM: To see how they take it in. I learned so much because they see things differently. That was all part of my deschooling to realize that the way that they see things is just as valid.
MEGAN: It’s almost even more valid because it’s coming from a more pure perspective, I think. It does not come with all our baggage. In the beginning, I had a lot of opinions that were just weighed down by all this baggage in my own experience and how I was really projecting this now onto my kids. Or onto their experience and not letting them just be an individual in the world just doing something and having their unique experience with it. And that is even hard to understand but it’s to allow them to be their own person, separate from us. Does that make sense? It’s huge.
PAM: It’s huge. It’s so valuable for us to see it, too. So many things on my unschooling journey for myself have been because I saw them in my children.
MEGAN: Right, yes, exactly.
PAM: ‘This is okay. Oh, so what do I really think about this?’
MEGAN: Right. I am learning from my kids all the time and now with my two older ones are eleven and thirteen—you know, my thirteen year old is smarter than I am. It’s just so amazing and I love hearing about his perspective and I thank God that I found it at the time I did. Eight years old—that is not early in the game when we are talking about children.
I am just so happy I found it when I did because now our relationship is so amazing. We are so connected. I do not have to control him anymore. I really can say that I trust him in what he is doing and that is a long time coming. I mean that’s probably been in the past year that I felt that way.
That is not saying everything is perfect. Being in connection with your children and your family is not saying that you never have an argument or get upset or have just issues. It’s not always hunky dory. But it means that we can really discuss issues when they happen.
PAM: Exactly. I mean, when you say it’s amazing—and it’s—and you are so well connected. You worry that people think, ‘oh it’s all candy, lollipops.’
MEGAN: It’s all rainbows and unicorns.
PAM: There you go that’s the phrase I was looking for! But no, it’s that connection that helps you. Even when there are issues and problems and people are worried and upset and everything, that connection is still there, so it seems like you are working together.
MEGAN: And it’s so important.
PAM: Right. It’s like you are working together.
MEGAN: Exactly and the connection is so important in those vulnerable times because to be able to connect into our children when they are not feeling their best—even coming down to my three-year-old.
When she is throwing a tantrum or screaming and crying because her toy does not look the way she wants it to, I do not have to get upset and control her and make her feel good again. I can just be there with her. Let her be upset and help her as much as I can. Maybe with the three-year-old, luckily, we can kind of guide their attention elsewhere to something that maybe will make them happy. A lollipop.
You know with my thirteen-year-old when he is upset, I can be there with him too. It even comes down to controlling their feelings, because before when maybe my kids would get upset, we’re just used to saying, “It’s okay, you’re fine. You’re fine, don’t cry.” We even want to control feelings. So now, with my thirteen-year-old, even if he is angry, if he’s mad at me, I can let him have his anger and be mad and I am still connected to him. And it’s even growing stronger in those moments because then I can just be there for him as a support and he knows that. I think he knows I am there you know and that is huge.
PAM: It’s, it’s huge. And yes, it’s wonderful and it’s so different and it’s okay. It’s part of the detangling yourself from them. They are individuals with their own valid, feelings, reactions, everything. It’s such a fine line, isn’t it? You say you let them have it and if they are upset and they are upset with me, that’s okay. Then you think, ‘Do people think then it’s just hands off? I just leave them alone and that is that?’ No. There is so much.
MEGAN: No, no. That is the thing about unschooling, it’s definitely not hands off. It’s learning what that means because when you are in that traditional paradigm it’s kind of like all or nothing. I think in our head everything is just black and white in the traditional paradigm of parenting and when you get into unschooling you realize that it’s mostly a big huge spectrum of grey. I think there is very little black and white and that was really hard for me because I like things to be black and white.
I have to tell you, my natural personality is more of a black and white personality because it helps me. I mean, human beings, we like patterns, right? We like symmetry and things to fit correctly. So, when things do not, it gets a little tricky. Learning that grey spectrum of, ‘yes, I am going to let him be angry at me but no, it’s not hands off in anyway.’
PAM: Yes, you have to support them.
MEGAN: Exactly. Which is tricky because sometimes he tells me, ‘go away,’ so I have to go away. But he still knows I love him. I tell him, ‘okay, I am going to leave you alone, but I love you,’ and not taking it personally.
PAM: Exactly because that is that connection and that trust underneath, and the time aspect comes in there too, that this does not need to be solved right this instant. You know that advice to ‘never go to bed angry,’ it has always struck me a little off because sometimes we need our feelings and we need to process them in whatever time that it takes us, but to know that the other people are there for us when we’re ready to reach out.
Then that is what we learn too—even if it’s just body language to know that they are ready for us to come closer.
MEGAN: Right, exactly. And he knows I am there. I don’t know if when I was thirteen years old I was allowed to angry at my parents or yell at them without there being some kind of repercussion; some sort of consequence to whatever behavior. My son and all my kids know they can be angry and they can be upset and that does not mean they are going to get in trouble later for it or I am going to punish them for their feelings. They still know I am there.
Now, some things are unacceptable, obviously if my kid came up and hit me or hit another one of my kids, that is unacceptable. Even with that, it’s still not I am going to punish you for that.
PAM: Yes, because you know when they are upset, angry anything, that is not fun for them.
PAM: They are not doing it to piss you off or something. They are where they are. They are doing the best they can in that moment. You are going to have opportunities to talk about that. Most likely not in the moment you are supporting them and just helping them get through the upset in the moment.
After, you can talk about how they got there, what was going on. You can help them because they do not want that to happen again and again and again. You know so you are still supporting them and helping them figure out ways for next time.
MEGAN: Absolutely. It’s important to feel. I think for kids it’s really natural because you have to learn how to handle the bit emotions. So, to really be able to do it in a safe space. You know, to go through that little roller coaster ride and then it’s okay and you can talk about it afterwards and grow from it and learn from it. That alone is going to set you up I think pretty well.
PAM: It’s huge, yes. Because to even know—to be able to see the other side of it. To see that you can get through it, that there is another side, that you can you know make changes and just the whole experience of being able to go through it rather than it being the end of the world.
MEGAN: Or it meaning something more than it is. Like when my son was in school, they wanted to say he had, it’s called ODD. What is it?
PAM: Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Yes, I know that one. (laughs)
MEGAN: Really? Who came up with that? When they told me that, that was one thing that I never agreed with. They told me that, I laughed in their face. I was like, so my son wants to say no, what does that mean? Your kid can get upset, it does not mean they are ODD. They can hop from subject to subject it does not have to mean something. It can just be what it is in that moment, and it means they are human.
PAM: Exactly and to be able to help them understand themselves, right? Isn’t that just a gift that keeps on giving. That no matter what their personality is and who they want to be and all that kind of stuff, to be able to see them for who they are and love them is so good for them.
MEGAN: It’s such a gift.
PAM: Thank you, Megan!!
Now let’s hear from Teresa Hess. Teresa is an unschooling mom with three kids and I love the name of her blog: Sparkle and Zest. So cool! She posted a wonderful manifesto about unschooling and partnership parenting and here’s what she shared when I asked her about it.
PAM: A couple months ago you posted a wonderful manifesto on your blog that explains that you’re a radical unschooling family and listing some of the things that you believe that led you to that choice. And I’ll put links in the show notes for people because I urge you to go read it and you talk about how you came to this and you mentioned this earlier through parenting. I ended up on Jan Hunt’s site too. One of my first websites and I was coming from the school perspective because my kids were in school and you landed there from the parenting and then we both found unschooling. Anyway, I thought that was really cool.
So, I was just wondering if you wanted to share a little bit more about what that process looked like and how you came to really feeling solid now in those beliefs that have led you to this lifestyle?
TERESA: Right. Well it’s funny I wrote that blog post, several months before I posted it. I was sort of scared to post it for a while.
PAM: I know that feeling.
TERESA: I wrote it at a time I was sort of feeling doubtful about some choices that we were making and I needed to remember why I was doing what I was doing. So, I think I needed to sort of talk myself back to what the core of this is for me because you know like I say in the beginning I was looking into schools and alternative schools because I was really longing for community. Community is such a big thing for me. It always has been whether it was like community at the Monastery of like-minded people getting together and focusing on something or in high school and college I was involved in theatre and I just love being with the people and creating something together. So partly what’s been so hard for me with unschooling has been the fact that no one around me in my daily life is living the type of unschooling lifestyle we are living. And that’s why it’s so nice to talk to you today.
So, that blog post came out like I just needed to say it again, even if it was to myself on my blog like a journal entry and I think just the act of writing that really helped. I’m sure there’ll be more but at that time some layers of doubt I was having just dissolve off of me because it took me just one step more into voicing and owning what I care about without feeling a little bit ashamed or a little bit like we’re making these choices that are sort of unusual but I’ll try to hide it a little bit to keep other people more comfortable or essentially to try to keep myself more comfortable while being worried about other people’s judgments.
I think I wrote that post when I felt like I had been judged by a neighbour, an acquaintance. Just being around moms who are always sort of monitoring what their kids are doing or eating or watching or saying or playing. It can seep in sometimes and make me feel like, “Are they right?” There’s something different here. And I think it’s radical and necessary what we’re doing. I can start to forget. So, that blog post was just a way for me to remember and step into my own voice and knowing more. And now I can’t even remember what exactly the question was. I think it was about… Go ahead.
PAM: I was going to say that part of the question I think you answered earlier when you talked about how you came from the parenting perspective when you talked about the move to unschooling. So, I thought that was really cool.
But I really loved where you took the question just now because this is hard and it can be challenging and there are ups and downs to it. And I know, for me, everybody is going to discover what works well for them and those moments. For me, writing is what helps me process and figure out what I’m thinking. Finding my clarity is pages and pages. I wrote 10 pages in my journal yesterday. I was trying to make sense of something. It was an idea that I knew I agreed with but I had to find all the different aspects. I had to find the thread for me, that worked out for me. Which is what it sounds like you were doing. Which is why the manifesto is so awesome to read because it’s so clear. In the end, you found that thread that led you back. These are all the things that that make sense to me. And then they added up or they threaded in to unschooling, into radical unschooling. So, it was moments I did that many times over the years. When something’s feeling off, when we’ve had an encounter, when you’re feeling judged like any of those moments that can knock us off. It’s okay.
That’s going to happen, that doesn’t mean you’re a bad unschoolers just because you know you get knocked off centre for a little bit but finding these ways that help us recenter, that help us, that remind us of those fundamental motivations and reasons why we’ve made this choice in the first place can be so valuable.
TERESA: Yes, and shout it from the rooftops, even if no one’s reading it! But then I was going to say another piece that I come to with that is that I circle around and I’m almost grateful for these people that maybe were naysaying or judging or that was my interpretation of what they were saying because that gave me the opportunity to step more fully into my own knowing, my own confidence.
Rather than, “Well if only they were doing what I was doing then I’d feel better about what I was doing.” I don’t have to put the responsibility on anyone else. There really is this well within me that knows that feels this on a guttural instinctual, resounding level. Thank you for reminding me that I’m still wavering and I don’t need to. I can step with both feet on what I know again and remind myself. So, that sometimes, I really get tears in my eyes. Thank you for that thing that really hurt my feelings because it helped me with my own development and my own knowing. And so, not seeing anyone as the enemy. Like this was bad or if only they did what I was doing. No, none of that. All that falls away, it really is all about me and my own journey with knowing what I’m doing is right for us. And that’s awesome too.
PAM: I love the way you put that! I have goosebumps because that ended up being, when I wrote the unschooling journey, that ended up being one of my favourite chapters. It was about that step where at first, we can we can quickly jump to blame other people for where we’re uncomfortable. When they’ve said something that touched a nerve. It’s touched a nerve in me for some reason that I don’t know yet. And our first reaction so often is to blame them, it’s their problem. But oh my gosh, when we take that moment to just instead go to ourselves, we learn so much more by digging deeper into whatever that issue. “So, why did that touch a nerve? What was I feeling uncomfortable about?” It was something right? And it’s always been better for me when that happened. So, I was just laughing here because that has been my experience as well. So often, when I get upset with something someone else has said or done. It’s really about me.
TERESA: I know! Yes.
PAM: And that’s why I can either choose to get mad at them about it, I can choose to talk behind their back, I can choose to cut them off, I can make all these choices that blame them for my reaction to whatever it is they said. But like you said what they’re saying is what’s true for them in that moment on their journey because their journey has nothing to do with me. So, my reaction has to do with me and my journey. And if I take that step, I learn so much more about myself rather than staying stuck in defensive mode.
TERESA: Yes, that’s awesome!
PAM: I love that. I love when I was writing that, all of a sudden I could see so many times when that happens. Oh, that’s so true.
TERESA: Right. Right. Yeah.
PAM: Finding clarity, over and over, and re-centering ourselves are valuable tools for the parenting journey! It’s such a great reminder.
And our last clip is from Liza Swale. Liza is an unschooling mom with two kids and we dive deep into the value of connected relationships. Here’s what she shared when I asked her about ways to nurture our connections with our children:
PAM: Okay. So, that’s what I want to talk about next: strong connected relationships with our kids that are so valuable for unschooling to flow like we were just talking about. So, I guess that’s one way. The question was, can you share some ways to nurture those connections? And saying, yes, being available when they’re excited to share something with you is definitely one of those. I was wondering if you had just some other, I guess, tips, but ways that you find helpful to nurture your connection with them.
LIZA: Yeah. Well, I think what’s important to note for us too, my work has been down to part time for the past four, almost five years. So, we’ve actually transitioned out of that and we’re completely on the farm sustaining our life. Which is great but what it means is that our life and work and everything is, there’s no line between the two. And we love it. We love it. We love that because it’s all about the journey for us and it’s all about living and learning day by day, not only the kids, Luke and I, all of us together, all of these things. So, for us, connection is just unbelievably important. It really is. And it’s not only for us and the kids, it’s for Luke and I. It’s for all of us as a family in order to keep the flow going.
We actually do make a point of it and we make a point with a few ways. Forrest is our shadow. So, she’s always with us doing something, either myself or with Luke. She loves interactions.
And for us, we just have always embraced this idea of inspiring the kids through our actions. And so, for us, it’s always inviting. We’re always inviting them to come along.
What are we doing? Come. You want to come? Come with us. Let’s do this. And we’re excited about it because we’re learning and applying things and they’re excited about it because we ask for their opinions and observations. And through that, they either like it or they don’t. Finn is not interested in that whatsoever. His enjoyment and love and passion very much involves his space in his game room.
And so, for us to maintain connections with him, it’s a conscious effort on all of us, to say we need this connection. He comes out probably 20 times a day for random hugs. That’s his thing. He just loves to just come and just get a hug and then he goes back or randomly come out and tell us things. Or I’ll go in there and connect. But for us, it’s very much making that effort with him and vice versa.
And that’s something we’ve talked about as a family about this need for all of us to embrace him. But we also need to keep this connection so we can feel we’re part of that world and vice versa. With Forrest it’s a little easier because she is always there. And the opportunity is always there.
The other thing we’re conscious of as a family. And it’s funny because we live together, work together, we do everything together. And this idea of, “Oh, my goodness, you still need to connect?” We do, we really do. And every year we travel. We make an effort to because we’re so grounded and connected to the land here. We need to be free. We need to go release ourselves.
If it’s three weeks, great. If it’s a week, it’s whatever we need to get away. And that’s really where our family connects. But on a whole different level. And we’re recharged. And when you live this life, it’s really just living. When you’re connecting constantly and you’re connecting through life and living, you take it for granted in some ways. Which is great because you’re in the moment in the flow. It’s wonderful in your all connecting and acknowledging each other’s needs and working through things. It’s not always a wonderful journey. You get into this rhythm of taking it for granted in certain ways. So, when we shift it up and say instead of Christmas present, instead of all this, we’re going to put that into going away. And that’s going to be our memory of the holidays. We’re going to get off the farm. We’re going to not worry about it and not worry about that. And we’re just going to be and that has been a huge, huge gift to us, when your daily life is all about connection.
PAM: That’s a really great point in that there is something about, number one, you paying attention just to see, like it’s when you’re living together all the time just to notice, like if the connection has become a bit more rote or routine, so that everybody’s kind of doing the things. But you can sometimes notice that you’re not getting a little bit deeper because everybody’s doing their thing, and that’s not necessarily bad—everybody’s got their flow and everybody’s flowing easily. And then at some point, it’s like, you know, haven’t heard anything particularly new or whatever for a while. That’s all part of the flow and the self awareness.
There is just something so fun about changing up environments for a bit. It really gives you another opportunity to take that connection to a new place. And then it’s just takes on a bit of a new life for awhile, doesn’t it? You’ve got new things to be talking about, to be working through, to be experiencing together. You guys are still together but it’s in this fresh, maybe that’s the word, it just refreshes it for a bit doesn’t it?
LIZA: Yeah. Well it’s experiences together too. It’s the idea of living and laughing and embracing joy and doing all of these things that we’ve done. But we also are very seasonal in our existence. We have just come off summer. Summer is wonderful, Forrest attends every farmer’s market. She can and has since she’s been able to vocalize it. She just loves it. It feeds her soul and she has a whole little world around that. And there’s lots of connection there. But it’s busy. It’s a busy time. And to be able to kind of disconnect interestingly from that and make a conscious effort to say, “Okay, now we’re just going to BE, together, exploring, adventuring.” Which is very much Luke and my route. That’s how we met. We are gypsies at heart in that way. So, for us, it’s very important to show the kids that and yet fresh, absolutely fresh connection on different levels. And it just kind of renews or recharges. Yeah. Where you’re just living, which is great.
PAM: I love that piece too, because for a second I’d forgotten there. I didn’t make the connection, that you and Luke met through travel and travel is something that is interesting and exciting for you guys. And to be able to bring that aspect with you to the family and bring that to the family is awesome. And for some people who maybe aren’t as interested in travel, etc., you can still bring fresh environments and takes, you may just choose to do them in different ways. I know when the kids were young, we did little vacation weekends and into Toronto, into the city. You’d just go, stay one night at a hotel and we’d just go visit and walk around harbour front. Because this was different for them, from where we were living.
It’s fun to think about bringing freshness to your days. When you’re feeling a need for that, I just want to mention that, in case people are thinking that freshness meant, having to make big changes. But there’s so many ways to bring that in. If that’s something that you’re feeling even. I just really liked that aspect of seeing your connections in new ways.
LIZA: Absolutely. Absolutely. This summer we went to visit my parents and instead of driving, we took a train just because it was fun and we could and it was just something different instead of being on the road in the car. And it was fun. My kids don’t get on the train often. So, the whole time it was a wonderful experience, and adventure, which meant nothing but just a different way of transport.
PAM: Oh, yeah. See!? Brilliant. That’s a great example because we can get in our little ruts for lack of a better word, just the way we always do things. You know, we always go to this library and we always go to this grocery store. We always drive to go visit our grandparents. There are always ways to shake things up a little bit. If that would be fun. And so often it is just fresh. Go back to fresh. It brings a fresh aspect to the day. It’s like, oh, look, I have to go find this somewhere different. Everybody’s just got kind of new eyes on what could be a more mundane experience, right?
PAM: Thanks, Liza! I love that perspective, always inviting the kids to come along. And how amazing and connecting travel has been for them—I’ve vicariously enjoyed peeking in on a couple of their family vacations through social media and it looked like a lot of fun!
I hope you enjoyed this deeper dive into the transition from control-based parenting tools to focusing on connection and consent. It really is a life-changing paradigm shift for the whole family.
And then the fun really begins! This is where so much fun and learning bubbles up naturally. Focus on your relationships with your children and the learning follows.
If you’re curious about that, check out episode 148: The Value of Relationships for Learning.
And have fun!