PAM: Welcome! I’m Pam Laricchia from livingjoyfully.ca and today I’m here with Anna Brown. Hi, Anna.
ANNA: Hey, Pam.
PAM: So, this month, in the Living Joyfully Network, our theme has been Supporting Our Partners. And we chose “partners” to represent any important adults in our family’s lives who have active relationships with our kids. So, maybe spouse, co-parent, step-parent, significant other, even grandparent. Often, one person takes the lead on bringing unschooling into their family, but it’s so important to intentionally include our partner, as well. Because, unschooling isn’t just for the kids, as you soon find out as you get started. So, let’s dive into this, Anna.
The first topic I wanted to talk about is supporting our partner by strengthening our connection with them.
That is really a great place just to start, is growing our connection a bit more. And, through that, we want them to feel truly seen and heard by us. So, what I thought we could do is dive into some of the tools for doing that. And the first one is really useful. That’s communication skills.
So, we’re talking about listening, validating, not reacting defensively. Because listening well is really about hearing what they’re saying, rather than hearing a sentence or two, going into your head to figure out how you want to respond to that, and then getting back to the conversation to wait for an opening so that you can share what you came up with.
What you want to do is really let them finish their thoughts, and then you’re going to think about how you’d like to respond. There’s no time pressure. There doesn’t need to be time pressure. It’s better when there’s not time pressure, because you want to really take in all that they’re saying and then use that to feed your response.
And the other piece of that is not reacting defensively. Because we can choose to validate their feelings and their thoughts, because what they’re sharing is true for them. And we don’t need to jump to defending ourselves. When we take the time through these conversations to actually get to the root of the issue, and chances are you’re not even going to get to it in one conversation.
You’re going to have a conversation and you’re going to keep coming back to it. But so often, it really isn’t about us. It’s something else. There’s something down there, and that’s what you want to get to. That’s why you want to let them finish their thoughts. That’s why you want to take that all in, validate where they are now, because that’s where they are. Full stop. Right there.
So, when you can hear that and join them there and understand that, that is such a better foundation for actually building connection with them, right?
ANNA: Right. And if we think about it in terms of, these are the very same skills we talk about, week in and week out, with our children, it makes it easier. We’re not learning a new set of skills. It’s the same thing. So, that listening and validation, everybody wants to feel seen and heard, period. But I think it’s especially important for partners that maybe aren’t a part of the day to day, if, for example, they work outside of the home.
And so, taking extra care to see them and hear them, like we were just talking about, understanding their concerns, that just goes so far to helping them stay connected to the family. One hundred percent, a huge part of that is not being defensive. So, that’s the work we can do. We can figure out a way. For me, it’s mantras. Letting that wash over me. So, there’s some intense energy coming at me from someone, I’m just going to let that energy wash over me so that I can hear what they’re saying.
Because if I’m assaulted by that energy, or if I feel like I’m being attacked, then it’s just our human nature to start thinking in our head. “What are we going to say back?” And, “I’m going to defend this.” And, “They’re attacking me.”
But what I know, and especially when it’s coming from our partners, is it’s coming from a place of love. So, just let that intense energy wash over me and think, okay. What can I hear here? What’s below this surface complaint? And again, that’s exactly what we talk about with the kids. Don’t just stay here on the surface. Go underneath of that.
And one of the things I wanted to just touch on, too, related to this is not falling into roles. So again, we talk about this with our children to not cast our children in roles. You’ll hear, “the smart one” or “the athletic one”, or whatever, and it puts them in a box. But I think we can do that with ourselves and partners, too, as we start this journey of parenting and when we cast somebody in a role, we lose sight of who they are. And so, that is so distancing. I think it’s just so easy to fall into that, especially in the early years.
I guess I’m thinking a lot of babies and toddlers and starting out, when kids are a lot younger, because it’s very hands-on. You’re surviving the day and making sure everybody’s fed and clothed and whatever. And so, those roles can seem like shortcuts, like, “I’m the mom and this is the other spouse or the parent or the grandparent or the person that’s in the child’s life,” but who are they? And if we can take time to slow down, keep those lines of communication open, truly see each other, it helps us enjoy those moments along the way. It helps us stay connected. It helps everybody stay invested and engaged and feeling included.
And another thing I want to talk about, too, is just this piece about how we like to show interest in what they love, because this is what helps me stay connected. So, I guess that’s why I’m thinking of it in terms of this question, because when we can show an interest, just like with our kids, again it’s the same exact tools, it just really helps the person feel seen.
And so, just like with the kids, we don’t have to love the actual thing. It’s not that we have to be jumping in, engaged in the actual thing, but we can love their excitement. We can love their enthusiasm. We can be supportive. I like to figure out ways to be supportive of that interest. And again, that helps somebody feel seen and heard and loved.
So, those are a few things that came to mind. I have another one, but I’ll jump back to you.
PAM: Yeah. I just want to bring it back to, these are ways to help them feel seen and heard. How do you connect with someone? Someone feels connected to you when they feel seen and heard for who they are. So, that’s how the roles can get in the way, because that’s us seeing more on the surface versus seeing them as a person.
Seeing and recognizing and celebrating the things that they’re interested in. Again, that’s a way they can feel seen and heard. “They see that I’m really interested in that and they’re not judging me about it. They just see that that’s part of me, that’s part of who I am,” again, feeling seen and heard.
And then that other piece, I love that you kept emphasizing that, “just like we do with our kids”. Because that can be a little shift that can help us. At first we’re like, “Ugh, we have to do this for another person. They’re an adult. They should not need this.” But this connection is so valuable. This is a relationship that we cherish, that we want to cultivate.
We benefit so much from feeling connected to our partner, as well. So, the emphasis that these are not new skills, it’s just bringing one more person into the fold, into the family, that we didn’t leave them behind there. It’s like, “No, no, come on, come on. We can all do this as a family. This is the way we want to be connected as a family.”
So, I thought those were two really important things. I know you have one more thing.
ANNA: Yeah. So, the one more thing, and I won’t go into this in super detail, but I have really found it helpful for me is understanding love languages. So, we’ll put a link in the show notes about a quiz about it and a little bit more about it, because there’s a book called The 5 Love Languages. But understanding our partner’s love language can really help us be efficient and effective at showing them love. And that’s what we want to do. We want them to feel loved.
And so, understanding how they receive love is so important. And I think it’s interesting, because often we show love in the way we want to receive it, but that might not be the way that they receive love. And so, again, it’s just that deeper level of understanding. Just like we talk about with our kids, it’s helpful to know how someone processes information, how they see the world, if they are introverted or extroverted. All these things are not silos, but they’re all pieces of the puzzle to help us find ways to connect.
And so, I think it’s just a really helpful tool to think about, okay, how can I show this person love in a way that they will feel it and know that they are important to me? And so, I just wanted to mention it in passing and people can look into it.
PAM: Yeah. I like the idea of, how we can work efficiently show our love? Because we can be doing all these things and putting in this time and effort and thought, but we’re thinking in our language. And when the purpose is that we’re wanting to show love to someone else, we want to speak their language so that they feel it. They’re not just like, “Oh, thanks,” and then that’s the end of it.
The next thing I wanted to talk about was ways that we can approach challenging moments or conversations in ways that keep our connection at the forefront.
So, for me, it really helped to consider the context of the challenging situation or conversation that came up with my partner. So, sometimes it was something as seemingly simple, as HALT. So, hungry, angry, lonely, tired, because they can be at play, too. We consider that for our kids, but no matter our age, we can be hungry. We can be tired. All those pieces are part of being human. So, understanding other things that can be at play when our partner is feeling frustrated.
It can also be really helpful to consider what else is going on in their life at this moment. Because one thing that we’ve noticed is that when things are feeling out of control in one aspect of your life, the tendency really is to clamp down and get control in another area, so it doesn’t all feel like chaos. It’s like, “I can’t figure this out here, but I can figure this out and I can figure this out.” So, there can definitely be that aspect at play as well.
Understanding the bigger context of their life at this moment can really help us understand the needs that might be underneath. And we don’t have to stay on that surface. If we get underneath and see that bigger picture that helps us move through our initial feelings of resistance, our need to react versus respond, to feel defensive. That can help us really choose, again, to connect and listen and help them process through those underlying needs.
And you may not even need to address the little A, B, and C niggling things in the end, when you solve the root issue. So, I think that that was a really big shift for me when I wanted to move through those challenging moments. It was just looking at the context of things, because the bigger picture is involved, isn’t it?
ANNA: Yeah. One of the things we talked about in the Network this month related to this was, what are some of the things that might be weighing on your partner that maybe you’re not aware of, or you haven’t given attention to? And boy, was it interesting to see all of us dig into that and think about, “Yeah, some of these things I take for granted.” Or, “I know that they’re dealing with this, but maybe I haven’t been giving it attention or I’ve brushed it aside.”
And so, just taking that moment to intentionally look and say, “Yeah, I can see there’s some things weighing,” that helps somebody feel seen and heard. Because they may be carrying a weight that we haven’t acknowledged. And so, I thought that was just a really beautiful thread that we had and I think something we can all do is take that moment to consider their context.
And related to HALT, I wanted to focus just specifically and check in on “lonely” when it comes to our partners. Because I think we can get really excited about this unschooling path and these new, deeper relationships that we’re having with the children. And if we aren’t keeping an eye on our partner, they might be feeling left out, especially if they’re working outside the home.
Here we are, spending our days finding fun and following our passions and doing all these amazing things and we’re finding joy. And what I didn’t want was for my husband to not feel like he was included in that when he was working outside the home.
I wanted to make sure that he was a part of it in any way that I could. And so, that could be updates throughout the day. It could be being very intentional about us reconnecting with him when he comes home. Because sometimes the days are spinning and we’ve been busy and doing, and he comes home and it’s not even an event. And it doesn’t need to be a giant event every day, but just that intentionality of connecting and bringing into the fold, like you said. And so, I thought that was really important.
And facilitating fun for all of us, when we could all be together, or even if we’re doing one-on-one, facilitating fun in that way. And David’s a fun guy. So, he made that part pretty easy, but I know there were times in the early years where he did feel left out and that just doesn’t ever feel good. So, as we’re getting excited about this lifestyle, as we’re developing these deep relationships, again, make sure this very important person or very important people in our lives are included in that journey. And I just wanted to kind of check in on that, because I think that’s a weight that they can carry.
It’s like, “I can maybe be over here supporting pieces of it, but I’m not a part of it.” And no, we want everybody to be a part of it. And keeping our connection strong, it just serves us so well whenever any kind of challenges arise, either from the outside or from a misunderstanding, or a conflict within the family.
And going through a challenge connected versus disconnected, there’s just no comparison. So, it is worth doing this work, which again, I think you’ll see as just an extension of the work you’re already doing to create this climate in your home.
PAM: Yeah. I wanted to just pop back to that loneliness of a partner who’s working outside the home, because not only can they feel left out of the family because they’re not at home for the day, they’re not seeing so much of what’s going on, but they can also be feeling a little lonely at work, too, because their life is different.
So, coworkers may be having the typical conversations, complaining about their kids, and just all those little normal issues that our partners probably don’t have. Or they may feel bad piling into that conversation. So, not only do they feel disconnected from home, they may well be feeling a little lonely and disconnected socially from the people at work as well.
ANNA: Yes. That was definitely the case for David. And it is that “misery loves company,” but he’s like, we’re not miserable. We’re not having bedtime fights. We’re not having these school issues, of, “Oh, they’re not doing their homework.” And so, he was like, I don’t want to be a part of that conversation. And you feel bad, like, well, we’re not having that.
And so, I think it was a little bit of a disconnect with his colleagues, even. And so, that is important to understand. But as long as we were all connected, he felt great about it. But I think when he felt disconnected from that, it is this, “Where am I? I’m stuck between these two worlds.”
PAM: Yeah, exactly. So, as you were saying, being intentional through all the things that we’ve talked about so far, we can actually fill their cup, help them feel buoyed, help them walk into those conversations where they realize, “You know what? I’m choosing not to share,” but they don’t feel that disconnect as much because they’re connected over here. That connection is just night and day.
All right. So, as our connection with our partners strengthens, I think the next step is trust really. Because now that we’ve got connection, the deeper version, the deeper level is trust.
I wanted to look at extending trust to our partner. And one of the examples that comes up to me right away is trust around their relationship with the kids.
And for me, I remember that revelatory moment when I realized that I was holding an expectation as to what my partner’s relationship with the kids would look like. Because I loved it. I wanted him to have that same wonderful relationship. So, I kept trying to encourage or correct or tell him what to do to get that same kind of relationship. “This is what I do. This is what I do.”
But the aha moment was when I thought, oh, he can have his own relationship with the kids. It doesn’t need to look like mine. He is not me. That was a big piece, remembering that he loves the kids as much as I do. Our partners love their kids. They care about their kids. But it’s okay if it looks different.
So, when things are off in that department, it is really helpful to assume positive intent and not feel defensive. They’re just asking questions. They’re just trying to meet their underlying needs, like we’ve been talking about. Maybe it’s to know that their kids are safe. Or to know that they’ll have the skills they need. Or to get through this moment with them.
Trust doesn’t mean pulling back, like they’re going to have their own relationship. I’m just going to go over here now, but we can meet them. We meet our partner and the kids, again, where they are and validate those underlying needs so that they feel seen and heard. Because if they don’t feel heard, of course, they’re going to keep pushing harder. Or they’re going to keep talking louder. It’s human nature. We see it with our kids, because it’s human nature.
So, it is just so valuable to be there with them, to be a witness so that you can have conversations later, witnessing in the moment, being supportive in the moment. And this is where we talk about the dance of relationships, right? Where can I step in and help where it doesn’t feel like a judgment to someone else? Where can I maybe distract and help out parallel over here?
So, it is again about the context, about the people that are involved, where they are in the moment. That is part of the fun of the puzzle of the day, the puzzle of relationships.
ANNA: I think trust has so many facets here and we chose these partners in our lives for a reason. And so, trusting that they love us, trusting that they love the kids, that is back to assume positive intent and their relationships are going to look different because they’re different people. Of course!
But I was right there with you, wanting to control and manage and all the things. But then it’s like, oh my gosh, he and I are so different. And he brings this fun energy and this different energy than I bring. And so, I didn’t want to short circuit that and I realized my control could do that and end up really, I think, negatively impacting that relationship.
And so, it’s just a really important thing to look at. And in our Not Back to School podcast, this is going back to last September, we talked about revisiting our why, and I think it applies in relationships, too. You have this person in your life for a reason and revisiting all the things you love about this person can really change the energy.
Something I’ve talked about before is the joy writing, taking those few moments to write down, what do you love about this person? What do you love about them being in your life? And again, this can be spouse, partner, co-parent, grandparent, whatever. What is it that you love about this person and love about them being in your life?
And so, again, we’re talking about using the same tools to strengthen our connections that we talk about with our children, with all these other important people in our life. And taking that time helps us see them, helps us feel connected, and helps them feel that love from us. And, just like you said, I did want to say also about the pulling back, because it doesn’t mean that. But it does mean not trying to control. And so, that was the nuance for me.
PAM: That’s the dance.
ANNA: Exactly. And so, we want to listen. Sometimes we want to be a bridge when we’re needed. We want to help people understand where they are, listen, and validate. All of those things give us important insights into the relationship and into the people around us. And that’s important, but it is that dance. It is that understanding of how do we stay involved but not control?
And what I’ve seen is, as our partners feel our trust in them, just like with our kids, they will start to feel more capable. And as the kids sense that, then that helps too. Then everybody’s feeling more capable and that just helps everyone so much.
And some of this hearkens back to when they were little, but that could be things like, so maybe you’re nursing or the mom has this really intense role with a younger child and a spouse can feel left out of that. And how does that work and how does that feel? But again, as we start trusting in them, as we start trusting in their capability, then everybody’s buoyed by that. Everybody’s brought up by that. And so, I really think it’s so important.
PAM: I love the way you phrased that: capability over control, instead of control.
When their capability rises, then they don’t feel they need to control. And then there’s less of an agenda motivation behind their actions, which the kids pick up. You can feel that energy, even if it’s not out and out control, you can feel if there’s an agenda behind. So, when they feel more capable in being in the moment with them, that agenda fades. And then the kids are more open to connection yet again, because now they know it’s just a free choice. There’s no expectation or agenda behind it. I can say yes. I can say no. And then they’re capable of figuring out the relationship together as to the things they like to do together.
ANNA: And they’re seeing that person for a whole person, not just the role of someone that’s controlling or has an agenda or is trying to direct them, but as this whole person that has things to share and gets excited about things, just like they do. And when you get to that point, that’s where the magic is, you know?
So, I wanted to just talk a little bit about how we can support our partner during this time, as they’re feeling more capable and moving away from control and I don’t think you’re really having that particular conversation with them. Like, “Let’s make you more capable.”
ANNA: No. It’s trusting in that. It’s knowing that about them.
PAM: Yeah. So, at least for me, I know it was about being really open to those validating and nonjudgmental conversations with my partner. So, after they’ve tried something and maybe they come back and say, “Oh, I asked them to go for a bike ride and they didn’t want to do this. And they didn’t want to go throw the ball around,” you can validate their disappointment in that, and you can share suggestions. Again, the energy that you’re sharing is truly to help them, to help them with what they want. They’re looking to connect and engage more with their kids, as an example. It’s a pretty common one.
So, we can, without expectations, share things like, “Well, you know what? Those are things that you like to do. If you really want to connect with them, maybe you can try connecting with them over the things that they like to do for now,” because that’s part of your kids sensing an agenda. Like, “You want me to do this because this is something you want to do, not because you know me.”
So, you’re helping your partner see and hear your children and then you can be having those conversations with your kids, too. Because often, they may come up and say, “Oh, dad asked me to do this,” or mom or whomever. And they’ll feel defensive. “I didn’t want to do that.” They try to convince me. So, you can validate that for them. “That might be frustrating.” And you can share, “Oh, that’s something they used to really love to do as a kid. So, they were just excited to share that with you. What’s something that you might like to do with them?”
And then you could go back and tell them, “Oh, I was talking to so-and-so and they would really like to do this with you when you have a chance. If you want to bring that up, that might be an idea.” So, that’s what I’m talking about — supporting and helping them connect and engage and deepen their relationship without actually telling them what to do.
For me, that was just using my understanding of all the parties involved to help them find things to connect over. And so, it also meant giving them space to explore that together. So, that’s that dance. So again, not hands off, but not controlling. And so, it’s a nuance, but it’s important, because yes, I do have an understanding of what the kids have been involved in that day. And I can know things that they’ve stumbled across that would be of interest to my partner.
And so, then I can just go, “Oh my gosh, you wouldn’t believe this little rabbit hole we went down. It’s about this thing that you love.” And then that gets the conversation started and then I can step away so that they can enjoy this connection over whatever this thing is that we maybe already had spent some time on that day.
So, it’s using that understanding of everybody to not control, but to just share and to just facilitate conversations. Because again, we have more time, perhaps. And so, we might be looking at a smaller amount of time that they have. And so, it’s efficiency, because I’m kind of about efficiency a lot of times. That helps, but it’s being aware of, am I trying to control? Do I have an agenda? Or am I really just helping them communicate better? And that, I think, is so important.
And I think everybody senses it, because we’re having fun. We’re sharing things that we enjoy and that makes all the difference. And trusting them in their capability and in their love, people feel it when we trust them. And I think that goes a long way into supporting. So, that’s part of what our role is in supporting is just really trusting in that capability and just seeing them with those eyes, just like we talked about seeing our children with those eyes.
And I think when we’re talking about trust, it’s helpful to remember that it’s a process. You can’t just say, “Okay, today I’m going to start trusting you and you should know that I trust you.” I can’t just say, “I trust you,” and we’re all good. It’s really a process. Joseph and I were talking about last week that trust isn’t something that you can demand or ask or say. It is something that you develop over time, because actions speak louder than words when it comes to trust.
So, I found it really useful to pay attention, certainly that first little while, that I may be saying things and I needed to make sure that my actions also said the same thing. So, maybe I can be talking to my partner and encouraging them to develop their own relationship with their child. But then, when push comes to shove, in a challenging moment, maybe I jump in and try to direct things when they get a little tense, just so that it gets resolved faster. So, that’s a moment when you say, “Oh, what I did there didn’t support what I said earlier.”
So, trust is going to take a knock in that situation. So, really just paying attention to my actions, that they meant more than what I was saying. We’re having these conversations, but also when the rubber hits the road with my partner, I need to mean what I said.
ANNA: And they’ll feel it.
And we’re all going to stumble across this. There are always going to be issues and challenges, especially when there’s a heated issue and we want to jump in and figure it out, but there are repairs that can be made. And so, that intentionality, that understanding these principles and what we’re talking about, once you have that in the mix, you’ll recognize it, just like you did. Just like you were saying, I maybe jumped in there. I didn’t give anybody space for this. That was about me. That was not about you. You can make a repair and that can help so that the trust doesn’t take such a huge ding.
But that’s us owning our stuff. That’s us owning when we make mistakes and when we maybe are trying to control. And what I’ve seen is when I’ve been able to admit that I’m doing something from a position of trying to control, that helps the people around me relax a little bit. Like, okay, she’s seen it. It’s not just us. And then we can laugh about it and then we can have a more open conversation. And so, it’s that transparency. It’s that keeping an open and curious mindset again.
PAM: Yeah. Yeah. That’s so important, too. Because to put that perfection on ourselves, we talk about that so much. It’s not about being perfect in the moment. It’s not about making right choices. Again, we make our best choices that we can in the moment, but recognizing and moving to that repair and sharing those aspects is huge. It goes such a long way. Because it helps other people understand us better, too. And it helps them see that it’s okay to make mistakes.
ANNA: Well, that’s what I was going to say.
It provides a template for, we’re all going to make mistakes. How can we make the repair? Because sometimes, depending on families and where you’ve come from and how you dealt with conflict in the past, these can be very new skills. So, as you’re learning it together and everyone’s seeing that everyone’s making mistakes, and here’s how we can repair, and here’s how we can turn around from that, and not weigh it down. And we’ve talked about this before that the children often lead the way with that, but we as adults can learn from that, share with each other, talk about our real feelings and experiences about it, and then that helps us move forward.
PAM: Yeah. Yeah, that’s awesome. Okay.
So, the last thing I wanted to chat about was ways that we can support our partner as they learn more about unschooling.
So, we’ve been focusing on the relationship. We’ve been focusing on connection, growing that into trust. For me, I had a lot of mindset shifts here. I came into this family very conventional, but stepping away from trying to convince my partner that unschooling was great and then toward helping him learn more about unschooling. I mean, maybe that seems like semantics, but again, we’re talking about the motivation and the energy behind it.
It’s like night and day. When I’m not feeling defensive, not trying to convince him that this is great and awesome, but instead meeting him where he is and talking to him about what was bothering him, what his questions were. So, really it was all about me asking myself questions at this point.
So, what was my partner interested in learning about at this moment? Was it something particular about unschooling? Or is there a particular issue or question that they have right now related to something going on in our lives? Another important question was, how do they like to learn?
As we talked about earlier with love languages, how do they like to learn? If I like to learn through reading and I am sending books and articles and blog posts and all these things to my partner, who does not like to read about things, you’re not only saying, “I don’t see you as you are,” but that stuff’s just not going to be read. And each one is just like, “Oh, another thing I need to ignore,” not intentionally, but because it just doesn’t speak their language. So, that was so, so important.
The other piece, if there isn’t a particular question or something going on right now, I found it was still super useful to focus on sharing what’s going on in our days, as we were talking about before, so that they can feel connected and engaged with our life. They don’t feel like an outsider. It’s an easier transition if they’re working outside the home and they come in. Or if they’re working at home, easier transition when they come out of their office.
So, it might not be a specific unschooling question, but when they could see what was going on in our lives, they were implicitly learning about how unschooling works. We are showing them, instead of telling them how it’s happening, how it’s unfolding in our lives, in our days, the value of the relationships, of understanding each other to a deep level. We can show them how our kids are learning and growing and thriving and changing through just sharing glimpses and stories from our days.
ANNA: Yeah. And I loved what you said. I think when there is an area of concern, really listening, hearing it, and whittling that down to, what’s the most important issue to you right now? Let’s talk about that. Let’s see. Because sometimes we can get the long list and the litany of things and that feels overwhelming, but it’s like, “Okay. So, tell me what’s concerning you right now. What’s the really pinched issue?”
And so, that can be really helpful. Because again, it’s that conversation. And they feel heard. “Okay, this person’s hearing me. They understand that I’m concerned and they want to talk about it.” So, that just feels really good.
And I love what you said about how they take in information, because you and I are the same in that we like to read the words, but that is not the case with David at all.
PAM: Or Rocco.
ANNA: He’s an action guy. And so, he’s more hands on and it was helpful for him to see other families sometimes, and also really to just observe our kids, for me to just help create that environment, getting excited about the things that they were doing and sharing, and some of the fun stuff that might have gotten brushed over during the day. And what I found is that, as kids get older, it’s easier to see that growth and learning, because you’re having conversations and they’re sharing their passions and you’re listening to their amazing thoughts and ideas and perspectives on the world.
And so, that’s the environment I wanted in our family was just where we were together, having conversations and talking about things, because that’s what shows you, this is amazing. This is where you get that perspective of, this is such an amazing life that we’re even having these conversations, that we even have the time to have the conversations, so, all of those pieces.
But one thing I wanted to say here, too, and it speaks back to what you said in the beginning of this question was about the need to convince. And so, I think that’s really common. We’re so excited about this idea. Like, “This is so great! I’ve read all the things and it’s amazing. And I want you to know, and I want you to understand it.”
I was just talking to someone recently on the Network about how sometimes you can even just set aside the word unschooling. Just set aside all of that need to convince about the theoretical aspects of it and dive back into that moment, just live it. Because this particular person I was talking to had a younger child, so not even school age, but she was really excited about convincing her husband that this was the way. And it felt very big for him. Like, “What? I don’t understand. Education is important,” and all of these pieces, and of course it is.
But he’s also super connected to their child. And so, I’m like, let that unfold. You don’t need to convince him about all the things. Unschooling is in the living. It’s in where the path takes us and all these different exploration pieces. And so, I just don’t get caught in that need to convince, just bring that world alive. So, I just wanted to throw that out there, because for some people that might be where they need to start and be at first.
PAM: Yeah. So, first off, I really love that piece. Again, it’s kind of a theme. Actions speak louder than words.
PAM: So, this need to convince really can get in the way. We can live it and let them absorb it. Trust them to realize what’s happening. And things will bubble up in conversation where you can share little snippets. And if you’re super excited about unschooling and you want to talk all about it, find other people. Your partner does not need to be the one that meets your need to chat about unschooling and all this stuff, because they’re in a different place.
So, find other people that you can do that with. That’s supporting yourself, as well, and understanding that one person doesn’t need to meet all your needs.
The other piece I just wanted to jump back to was that long list of things. And you mentioned, which one is the most important to you right now? And I think that is such a valuable step, because that helps you find the lens that they’re thinking about the most right now. That’s where learning is going to happen. That’s why we follow our interests. That’s the point. Where we are most open to learning is whatever’s top of mind for us.
So, you’re finding that lens through which things are going to make the most sense and the most connections for the person, because that’s where they’re thinking right now. And so often, when you can dive into the foundations, because we talk about finding the underlying needs, those underlying needs are foundational, so often.
And what I found happened was that when you went through the whole process through one lens and hit the underlying need, and they understood what was going on there, so many of the other things on the list just disappeared, because all of a sudden, there were so many other connections that were made by finding the one lens that was really important to them in the moment. So, I just wanted to bring that out, because that is so helpful.
ANNA: So important.
And again, like you said, when we can dig into that underlying need, see the lens where they’re coming from, then they’re feeling heard and seen, and all the things we’ve talked about in this episode today, when all those things come together, all the niggling things fall away. And so, you’ve addressed these foundational issues and you’re staying connected and that just makes all the difference.
So, that surface level of, “They aren’t liking unschooling. I love unschooling! What’s happening?” just really falls away when we start to see the person in front of us and keep our connection strong.
PAM: Yeah. Beautiful. You said it perfectly. That is really the foundation of the relationship, the connection, and the trust. And like you said, it’s night and day when things bubble up and how you can approach them while still feeling seen and heard. And what happens is, when they’re feeling seen and heard, when they’re feeling loved, when they’re feeling connected and engaged, at their speed, the way they want to, the energy they bring in just exponentially grows within the family as well.
So, it’s an amazing thing to watch in action. And, like you were saying earlier, these aren’t new skills. It’s bringing a new person into our fold. Because, so often, in our excitement, we’re focusing and we’re learning and we’re figuring this out with our kids, which makes total sense. And so, again, no judgment on finding yourself in this situation, because a lot of us do, but to realize, you know what? I can bring another person, whether it’s the spouse partner, grandparent, whoever is in your lives. It’s just a beautiful thing, because growing our relationships, it helps everybody.
Thank you so much, Anna. It was so fun to chat with you about this topic. Have a wonderful day, everybody.