PAM: Welcome! I’m Pam Laricchia from livingjoyfully.ca and today I’m here with Iris Chen. Hi, Iris!
IRIS: Hello, Pam. Great to see you.
PAM: It is so lovely to see you. And I’m so happy to have you back on the podcast to catch up with you and chat about your book, Untigering. And I encourage people to go back and listen to our first conversation. I think it was really lovely.
To get us started here, can you share with us a bit about you and your family? And I’d love to know what everybody’s interested in right now.
IRIS: Sure! So, yeah, I think the last time we talked, I was still living in China and just really starting to explore unschooling at that point, maybe a year or two in. And then we moved back to the States two years ago and have continued to unschool here. So, we are a Chinese-American family and recently came back to California from China. So, that’s been a fun transition.
I think in terms of what we’re all into, I love the fact that you asked what our family is into, because just realizing that unschooling is not just about the kids. It’s really for the whole family. It’s just a lifestyle and an attitude of following our passions and knowing ourselves and all that. So, I appreciate your question. But, yeah, for my oldest who is 13 now, he’s into gaming, Minecraft, art, and comic drawing. He’s into MCU and watching YouTube videos, rollerblading. So, just a lot of different things like that.
And my 11-year-old is also into those things. They do a lot of fun projects together and they riff off of each other in terms of their interests. And now, we’ll probably be talking about this more later, but they’re at a self-directed learning center and there’s different offerings there that maybe they weren’t exposed to at home. And so, now, because of that, he’s gotten into chess and he’s gotten into music production. So, that’s fun to see him pursue other interests because of the sparks that have come up from other people.
For me, I would say right now I’m really into K-dramas. I’ve been watching a lot of them on Netflix and just binge-watching them. And my husband is also really into movies and sound systems and has used the pandemic time to set up our whole home theater system. So, those are a few of the things that we’re interested in.
PAM: That’s so fun. K-dramas. I hear that so much, so much. Definitely on my list when I get there.
IRIS: There’s so much out there.
PAM: Yeah. And I love that they’re becoming more and more available. And taking advantage of the pandemic time and setting up the home theater, my husband is very into electronic stuff, setting up that kind of stuff. And it is fun when there’s no judgment on that, when there’s no eye rolling. You just get the sense often that it’s like, “Oh yeah, there’s their little thing,” or whatever. But we get to enjoy so much of what other people are interested in. So, if it’s music or if it’s, like my husband’s got a webcam.
So, we set up a camera outside. We watched a robin’s nest in the spring. And right now, it’s on the bird feeder and we can watch it on the TV, inside the house. And so, all the bird politics has been the topic of the summer. It’s just so fun when there’s no judgment on all these various kinds of interests and just open to how they play out. It’s so fun where they can take us, isn’t it?
IRIS: I love what you said about having no judgment, because I think before, in my tiger-parenting days, and even with my husband, there would be a lot of judgment, because the things that they valued or enjoyed were not the things that I thought were valuable or worthy of spending all our time or money on. So, I think now there’s a lot more acceptance, a lot more celebration of our unique gifts.
So, I’m not going to be hard on my husband because he spends all this money on something that I don’t care that much about, but I can enjoy it with him and celebrate it with him and know that that doesn’t have to be my interest. That doesn’t have to be what I value or spend my money on, but that’s okay. And we can enjoy it together and celebrate it together.
PAM: And sometimes, we’re just enjoying that they’re really enjoying it.
IRIS: I’m not going to play Minecraft. Sorry. But I’m glad that they enjoy it. Yeah. Exactly.
PAM: Definitely. And that is another little piece that I love about this question. I start off with this question with everyone, because the judgment piece is so valuable to think about and to process through, because it can be so ingrained in us. For people to hear from parents and kids, all the different interests, and then how those weave together between adults and children, like how they live together. And, as you were saying, your boys, their interests are weaving together so strongly, and they’re really enjoying that connection right now. That’s another season, too.
IRIS: Yeah. Coming in with our school-ish mindsets and saying like, “Those don’t really translate into real life skills or a career,” or whatever and really having a lot of anxiety and fear because of that. And I think I’ve had to work through those and acknowledge them, but, again, sort of releasing that school-ishness and embracing more of an unschooling mentality that there is so much learning going on and not to fear a lot of those things, video gaming and screen time and all those things.
I think there’s a lot of fear associated with those, but if we just enter into it with them with that non-judgment piece, we can see all the learning that is happening and all the passions and all the different things that they can pursue because of that interest.
PAM: Yeah. And as you talk about in your book, it’s a journey. So, it’s not, “Hi. I’m new to unschooling. I hear you guys talking about how I shouldn’t judge things and I shouldn’t fear things, so I’m not going to do that anymore.” That might work for a week or two, but you’re going to get overwhelmed with how much you’re trying to stuff down and ignore. “Well, I’m not supposed to fear that,” “Oh, I’m not supposed to judge that.”
But doing the work to ask yourself why, to process why, to learn more about how unschooling works, how learning works. How am I judging learning hierarchically? Are school subjects more important? There is so much beautiful work and processing and questions to ask ourselves to get to the other side. So, I just want to encourage people not to feel overwhelmed when you hear us talking about that and say, “Oh, I shouldn’t be doing that. I’m feeling that.” But to realize that it’s part of the journey. We’ve all been there.
IRIS: I have definitely been there. Especially, I think now that my kids are a little bit older, 11 and 13, I’m feeling that anxiety more, because they’re getting to an age, in comparison to their schooled peers, they don’t have the same skill set necessarily as their schooled peers. And just that comparison thing is really hard and having a lot of doubt and fears and anxiety because of that. So, like you said, even for those of us who believe in unschooling and advocate for and promote it, I definitely still struggle and need to constantly deschool. So, definitely a journey and a process.
PAM: Yeah. There is so much of it upfront, but then again, it doesn’t end. Because your kids hit certain ages, certain circumstances or situations come up in your lives. Mine are all grown and there are still things that come up, because unschooling becomes a lifestyle. It’s a way you’re choosing to live your lives together. So, life always throws you all sorts of things.
When we connected, you had mentioned the idea of “seasons of unschooling” and it’s already bubbling up for me. I love it, because I really thought it was a beautiful description of how unschooling flows over time. So, I was hoping you could share what it means to you right now.
IRIS: Yeah, I think for me, the seasons of unschooling just really expresses how it’s not a fixed state.
It’s not like, oh, I’ve arrived in this unschooling euphoria. But it’s really about every moment, being in connection with our kids and observing and hearing from them and adjusting. And like you said, it’s over time, instead of wanting to get the results that we want in the moment, you just trust that there’s a rhythm to it, that there are seasons of busy-ness, there are seasons of rest. And there are seasons of growth and all of that.
And so, it doesn’t have to be like, “Okay, I’m going to unschool this way. And it always has to look this way.” It’s constantly changing. We’re constantly adjusting based on the development of our kids, their interests, what they want. For me, when I first started unschooling, again, it was in China and my kids were much younger. And so, we just spent a lot of time together at home. We would take trips to the library. We were involved with a homeschool co-op that they had grown up with. So, that was really good.
And then, moving back to the States, I feel like it was really a time of hibernation in some ways, because the pandemic hit, for one, and we were just going through a lot of transition. They had never lived in the States before. They were born overseas. And so, just having that time to connect as a family, to settle in, to deal with all the transitions and all the emotions and grieving of leaving our old life and adjusting to the new one, there was just a lot of time to do that. Because we were unschooling, we didn’t have to be on some sort of schedule or throw them into middle school and into a potentially very stressful environment.
And then, just more recently, my oldest especially was expressing a desire to have more social interaction. He was like, “I want more friends. I want to meet more people.” And so, that’s really what caused us to look at self-directed learning centers, instead of just saying, “Oh no, we’re unschooling,” or, “We’re doing this at home and this is how we’re going to do it forever and ever. Amen.”
It was just like, okay, he’s expressing a need. He’s expressing a desire. How can we help support that and find ways to meet that need. And so, right now, we are in a season where they are both going to a self-directed learning center part-time.
PAM: Yeah. I love how you talked about it. Really, our seasons are related to our lives and what’s going on in our lives and the individuals, like who we each are, and supporting and just helping each other through. So, as you said, after the move, that’s a big move to upend your life in one place and start in a totally new place, new country, new community, all that kind of stuff. And then throw in the pandemic.
PAM: Exactly. When you’re open and just paying attention, you notice it. Oh, geez. We are staying home, but this is feeling good for us right now. Just that awareness piece. When we bring that awareness piece, even if things are feeling a little bit like things have changed. Maybe even it’s like, “Geez, we seem to be going out a lot.” Or, “We seem to be at home a lot.” “We seem to be having lots of conversations,” or, “We seem to be doing something else.” Just that awareness piece helps us understand and sink into the season.
And I love the idea of “over time”, because we can feel so drawn to setting a timetable for things. Even for deschooling. I enjoy the one month for a year of school as an adult. Yes. Certainly when you start, you want to have some sort of timeline, but what it does is plant the seed that it’s going to take a long time. As a parent, you’ve likely been in school for at least 12 years, so it’s going to take a least a year. So, if people can give and lean into unschooling for a year, I feel like they’re going to have a good sense of how it works and how it works for their kids, et cetera. To have a good sense whether or not it’s something that is going to work for their family.
But I think at that point, even when you lean into it, you’re learning to look at your kids, to really see what they’re doing. You get to that non-judgment piece, but see how it fits with who they are as a person. Like you said, Minecraft, not me. But you can see the joy that your child or your children are both getting out of it and the things that they’re learning from it, whether it’s not actual technical, Minecraft stuff, but they’re learning so much life stuff alongside it, too.
The seasons really just is a beautiful way to describe how things flow and change over time, because we are also learning and growing and changing as people as well. So, something as simple as sleep or the kind of food that we eat, that has seasons and changes and flows over time, to our interests, to our deep interests, a season of a deep-dive into something. It may or may not become something that is a lifelong interest, but definitely we can have seasons where we dive deep into things.
So, understanding that that’s okay, that that’s an expression of who each of us, parents, adults, children, who each of us are, and how we like to engage with things.
IRIS: Yeah. That’s beautiful. That awareness and just that trust, because I think a lot of the fears come from us projecting into the future and it’s like, “Oh my goodness, they’re into this thing. And they’re going to end up being a bum on the couch,” or something like that. We just catastrophize and believe the worst about it, that judgment again. And what if we could just be present with it and enjoy it, instead of assuming that it’s going to take over their lives. And maybe it will take over their lives in a good way, but just to be in the moment, to know that it probably won’t be forever, and just to embrace it.
PAM: Yeah. And I mean, we learn so much about our kids when we embrace it, too, our kids as people. Why they like this thing. And looking back over time, maybe there’s three seasons in a row, like, what the heck? I don’t really know. But then, when you’re looking back, I see the thread that weaves through, that deeper interest that had them checking out this thing for a while, and then checking out this thing for a while.
You find the common thread between them that, in the moment, maybe wasn’t as recognizable. And certainly, you wouldn’t find the thread unless you engaged with them and were seeing what it was that was drawing them to those things, even knowing what they’re drawn to. So yeah, that awareness piece is just super valuable.
Now you had mentioned the self-directed learning center. And I just wanted to dive into that a bit and talk about the unschooling principles. Unschooling is a lifestyle and bringing that into your lives, because you were helping your son. He was looking for more connections, more friends, a wider circle. I think that’s probably a good way to describe it. But I’d love to hear your impression of how that is weaving into your days and weaving in with your unschooling days, because they’re going part time.
So, like we mentioned, unschooling is a lifestyle and it really is about honoring our children and their desire and their passions. And so, I felt like, even though they’re going to a self-directed learning center, I thought it was really consistent with those values of consent and autonomy and listening to our children and what their needs are.
So, it’s not like I’m imposing my own values of like, “Okay, you need to be around me 24/7.” Or, “I need to be the primary influence in your life,” or whatever it is. So, we felt really good, because it was something that they were expressing a desire for, initiating, and we were supporting them in that. So, I feel like that in that way, it’s very consistent.
And there are different types of learning centers available around us. And we were really looking for a self-directed one, because we weren’t looking for a homeschool co-op learning center where they would go and take classes, partially because the main reason why we wanted them to go to one was for the social aspect. And so, if you’re just going for the learning, but then the people you meet are different every week or different every class, that wouldn’t create the type of relationship-building that they sought, that they really desired.
And so, we were looking for really a small group of consistent peers for them to interact with on a more regular basis, so that they could develop relationships. So, it was less about the academics or the courses or whatever classes they would take. It was more about creating or having that social environment for them.
So, this self-directed learning center is very unschooly in that they don’t have homework. They don’t have tests. It’s not like standards-driven or anything like that. They really listen to the members and honor them. And so, we were really happy to just find other people that believe in these values, too, and can honor them in that environment.
PAM: Yeah. No, that sounds wonderful. And I love that it grew out of something that they were looking for. I think, at various ages, kids might seek out more connections. Not all kids. I don’t want anyone to feel like, “Oh no! My kid’s not looking for a big circle of friends or more connections.” Again, it’s individual. But that’s the whole point.
Your son was looking for that and you guys were trying to come up with ways to satisfy that. And I noticed when I looked at all my kids, one found a lot of those connections online and through relationships that way and forums and people who shared his interest.
My daughter, when she was looking for more connections, we don’t have learning a lot of learning centers around here. I think there was one that was about an hour away. So, it was always in the back of my mind. So, I knew there was something around. But through Girl Guides, she found a group of people that she would consistently meet with and connect with and then she could connect with them more throughout the week. And my other son through his dojo, we’re just helping them find what they’re looking for.
So, with the dojo, that meant driving there five nights a week, going to tournaments on weekends, going to demonstrations that they did. Depending, it can take a lot of our time as well. But that’s okay. It’s helping them, whether it’s around an interest or something else. And, in this case, the interest was social. It is just about helping our kids find what they think they’re looking for.
Whether he was at the dojo for a few years and then he was moving on to something else, maybe the learning center will fade. Like you said, it’s not about, “I need them to go here to meet my needs.” They’re going there to meet their needs and we’re supporting them and helping them get what they’re looking for. It’s such an important distinction, isn’t it?
IRIS: Yeah, definitely. And because I’m very much a homebody and pretty much during the pandemic, we had just been at home for a year and a half it felt like. So, this sudden change in our rhythm was pretty dramatic for me and I realized, oh my goodness. The first two weeks, I would have to drive in, commute pretty much a total of two hours every day just to get them there and back and pick them up and come back. But again, I knew that that was for two weeks and we would figure out what our schedule was like in the future. Knowing that it’s not just about what’s comfortable for me, either. If it was just based on me and my needs, we might not ever leave the house.
So, I had to really honor that, okay. Even though this is more work for me, it’s a lot more effort, it changes my rhythm. I miss them. I miss being around them. But that’s not their need right now. And so, feeling that it’s the right choice for us to have them have this opportunity to connect with other adults and other children.
PAM: Other people. So, I’m curious.
Do you think bringing the learning center into your lives may have been a different experience if it was earlier in your unschooling journey?
IRIS: I’m sure it would have been really different. And I think because I was still in the deschooling stage early on, I would have been outsourcing a lot of that. I probably wouldn’t have done a lot of the work, my inner work, that I had to do because I had them at home with me. And I really don’t regret it. I don’t. I feel like that was right for me and my family to have them at home, because unschooling is so relational. It’s really about trust and connection, observing our kids. And so, I feel like now we have that foundation of that attachment and that connection. So, we can have these conversations and I can understand them better, know what their needs are, know how to support them.
I think if it was just sort of like, okay, this is my educational philosophy and here’s this institution or this group here that can implement that, I think it would have been much less relational. Right now, I see the self-directed learning center as something that is supporting our family, not that we are handing our kids over for them to do this. But it’s our family’s belief and lifestyle and it’s just like you would send your child to the dojo or to Girl Guides. That’s how I see the learning center. It’s not the authority. It’s not the one that’s doing it for us. It’s supporting us in our unschooling journey. So, that’s the way I see it.
PAM: Yeah. That’s what I was thinking, because that authority piece takes a while to work through. And certainly, when we’re on the beginning of our journey, maybe a year or two in, we can still be valuing something that looks more like school. So, there’s that extra feeling of, oh, this is better for learning, and feel the need to reinforce that at home. Whereas, after we’ve done a lot of our own work as we come to unschooling, it’s really another option on the platter. It’s just part of our lifestyle. It’s a choice that the whole family is into. And it’s just another thing.
So, there’s no power with it. It truly is relational. I love that piece, how now, your relationships are at a place where you guys can talk freely, where there’s respect and trust and just a deep connection, so that they can share those pieces. They can share if they have an off day without feeling like that’s a bad thing or that their parent is going to try and fix it or try and convince them that, “Oh, it’s not so bad,” because they value that place more than they do home.
So, I just felt like you guys seem to be at a really good place where this was just another wonderful option to meet needs that your kids had. So, again, back to the seasons, when you really have that awareness and that connection and that trust, you really can help them find the things that will help them meet the needs or the things that they’re looking for. Does that make sense?
IRIS: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
So, I’m really grateful that I was in China and I didn’t really have that option. It would have been an easy option to take for me, perhaps, in the beginning, but I’m really thankful that we did it the way we did it because of all the unlearning and the healing that I had to do for myself and in my relationship with my children to get to this place.
And this is a great time to bring up your book. Untigering: Peaceful Parenting for the Deconstructing Tiger Parent. I really enjoyed it! Talking about the relationships, the book is focused on parenting journey rather than unschooling per se. But as we’ve been talking about, those parenting shifts really are integral to unschooling, aren’t they?
IRIS: I feel like finding peaceful parenting really set me up to be an unschooler. I feel like the deeper you dive into peaceful parenting, it’s like, how can you not be an unschooler? It’s about seeing our children as human beings and honoring them about consent and autonomy and respect and relationship and all those things where we value and can support our children in becoming their whole selves. And that includes all of their life, including their education.
And so, I write in the book about bodily autonomy or about adultism and how we assume as adults that we know better, that we are the experts on our children, and that we have the right to impose our own beliefs or our own values on them, instead of, again, seeing them as their own people who want to inhabit their bodies and be in the world in their own way. And so, how can we honor that and make room for that?
And if we think of all the time that children spend in schools, where they don’t get to do that, they don’t get to be their whole selves. And so, how can we push back against that and really empower our children to explore and discover who they really are and be their own experts? I think that’s something that is in the book, The Self-Driven Child, just trusting that our children are their own experts.
PAM: Yeah. I love the word “empower” and giving them agency in their lives, because it’s just amazing. I’m looking for a better word. But it’s amazing just how driven and how capable they are in each moment when they have that space and the time to go at their pace, to learn about themselves, and the space to make choices and see what happens, how capable they are of learning from their experiences when they don’t have that other noise to work through of us telling them what’s better or what they should do. “I think this would be better for you,” et cetera.
Definitely, we have conversations with them, but the conversations really are driven from them. As in, we’re helping them process the things that they’re thinking about. We’re giving feedback and we’re giving information. If we go into the library, a very basic example, giving information about what the expectations are there. But it’s not, “Well, you go wild,” it’s like, “Maybe the library isn’t good for today, because you’re not feeling that.”
It’s about sharing information, because they want to explore their world and they want to have the information so that they can make real choices. Because if we’re not sharing the information about the places we’re going and who’s going to be there and the time constraints that we have, without all that information, it’s harder for them to make a good choice. And when things come up and surprise them. “Oh, we’ve got to leave in the next five minutes.” Oh, they didn’t know that, so maybe they’re in the middle of something.
So, just sharing all those pieces, they are so capable of taking those pieces in and making a choice. And maybe the choice is, let’s not do that, because there’s too many things that are going to affect it. I’d rather go and do the thing at a different time when it’s more open-ended for me. But how much learning about themselves is in there, knowing themselves that well to know that that might not be a good fit for them in the moment? They’re just so capable, aren’t they?
IRIS: That sharing, because as adults, we likely have more experience and more exposure to things. So, just that sharing of the information piece, where we are not trying to manipulate them to make a certain choice, it’s just like, “Here are all the cards on the table. You think through things and we can talk about it together, problem solve together. And we make the choice together.”
For example, my kids are going to the self-directed learning center and they’re taking the Metro now. And, at first, to me, the LA Metro isn’t the safest thing. They’re 11 and 13 and not super street-smart. We haven’t been exposed to a lot. And so, I was worried about them taking the Metro, but because we would talk through the different scenarios, we talked about what they needed to do, who they could go with, the other students or other members of the self-directed learning center that they could travel with.
And because they expressed a desire to do it, I was like, okay, well, how can we make this work? And again, supporting them. So, not just making my own decisions based on what I think is best, but really listening to them, giving them all the pieces and all the information so that we can make those decisions wisely together.
PAM: Yeah, that’s beautiful. And I really loved reading your book and just walking through those steps, because it is a huge shift in a lot of parenting paradigms, isn’t it? It’s a lot of work to see kids as human beings, as full human beings as they are, not as adults in training. You want them to have the best day or be the best them that they want to be now, not the expectation that they’re behaving like little adults. They are super capable and super capable of being who they are.
They’re going to have childlike wonder and childlike ideas, but you know what, so often those ideas still work out. That’s what encouraged me to revisit my wonder and excitement in just waking up and having a day. What might seem ordinary, I came to really embrace so much more of the everyday-ness, just because they saw and were having so much fun with the everyday-ness. It was just my jadedness that had taken that away. The everyday hadn’t changed.
IRIS: Right. And that idea of productivity and needing to produce something or prove to somebody that we’ve been working. And then, at the end of the day, if you don’t feel like you’ve produced anything, you feel guilty and you feel bad about yourself. Where children, if we don’t place that on them, they don’t feel that. They’re just enjoying, they’re playing, and enjoying the things that they’re enjoying. And so, that’s been a lesson for me, too, to not get sucked up into, oh, what have I done today? How have I proved my worth in producing something?
Because a lot of it is just the everyday-ness of living and being in relationship and enjoying the small things around us, it doesn’t have to be our accomplishments or achievements or all those things.
PAM: Yeah. You do find so much beauty and joy and enoughness in the relationships. We just learned so much from our kids, from watching them in action. The question of productivity. Is it okay to just be? Is it okay to just hang out? And we learn so much about ourselves just by watching them.
They were always good guides for me as to if something was rubbing, it’s like, oh, maybe it’s time to ask myself some questions around that, basically to better my awareness of what I’m bringing to the table, because so often it’s just those unconscious biases, unconscious things that we’re bringing, because we’ve just grown up steeped in those things. To actually just pull them out and look at them and just see, is that what I think now? Is that what I really think? Where did I pick that up? All those little pieces, just to become more aware of it and they haven’t changed. I haven’t changed.
But, all of a sudden, the rub that was there when they do a certain thing often just melted away, because I realized that was just something I was holding onto that I had picked up somewhere else and I didn’t really see it that way, but I had to take the time to dive into it a bit to deconstruct it.
IRIS: Yeah. So, I love what you said about just becoming more aware, because when we’re triggered, when we have these fears or anxieties, or a desire to control our kids, instead of just reacting to it and yelling at them or trying to impose a punishment or something, I think what I heard you do, what was like, you became curious. You asked yourself questions. You stopped and you reflected. And I think the invitation for us as parents is, when these feelings come up for us, instead of reacting, to reflect and to ask ourselves questions and to do that work, that inner work of processing. Where is this coming from?
Why am I so upset over the spilled milk or whatever it is? And to even talk with our children about it and process it together, so that they know that my reaction wasn’t about them. “I’m working through something and I’m trying to figure out what that is and our relationship is safe and I love you. And I’m sorry that I did that.” So that our children can see our humanity and our desire for growth. And we can talk about it together with them.
PAM: Yeah, I love that piece, too, because it is really important that they know that it’s not about them. Because even if you’re not reacting, sometimes, depending on how long it goes on, you’re holding back. And they can feel that energy, too.
Even now, I do that now that they’re all adults. I can go up to them after and say, “Hey, I know I was kind of quiet then. It was because I was thinking about this and this was feeling off to me,” et cetera. And then they can understand that it wasn’t about them. It was about me. And now, they know a little bit about what I was thinking. So, they know me a little bit better.
And then also, I found even at the younger ages, they could begin to point those things out to me before they’ve clicked in my mind that, oh, this is uncomfortable. They can feel the energy. They can sense our reactions, too. And they can say, “Hey, is that something?” or, “Do you want to go get a cup of tea?” or, “Do you want to go to bed now?”
IRIS: Yeah. I love when we model it enough for them where they notice it and they can call us out on things and they can have empathy for us as well. So, that’s beautiful.
PAM: Yeah. It’s something we all bring together. Okay.
So, I’m very curious to know what has surprised you most about how unschooling, with all its different seasons, has unfolded for your family so far?
IRIS: I think for me, what has surprised me the most is how much it’s changed me, how much it has brought a lot of healing for me in terms of unschooling and deschooling and healing from messages that I received throughout my childhood about my worth, about productivity, about giving my power and agency over to somebody else and not knowing what to do with it once I had some power and autonomy, where I felt really disconnected from myself.
It was always about meeting other people’s expectations, doing what other people thought was good or right. And so, I think in this season of life for me, and with the unschooling process for me, is really learning to connect with myself as I do that in partnership with my children. Watching them do it, watching them have the freedom to pursue things that I felt like I would have never had the opportunity to do can be triggering, but also really an invitation for me to ask myself, who am I? What life do I want to have? What ways do I want to contribute to the world? What are my passions?
And so, what started out as, how am I going to school my kids? How am I going to educate my kids? has really turned into a healing process for me. So, that’s been surprising for me.
PAM: I love that so much. We really learn about ourselves in the end.
IRIS: Yeah. So much.
PAM: What stood out when you were talking there is, it’s been funny for me, along those lines, how seeing my kids doing things almost gave me permission to do that. It felt like, oh, that’s okay to do as a person. I can do that, too. And then I would laugh at, I needed permission from my kids actually do something that any human can choose to do. I can choose to stay up later. I can choose to dive into this interest, even if it’s not productive, even if I’m not going to turn it into something that makes money, that looks good to other people. Peeling back all those layers, like you said, there’s just so much learning about ourselves wrapped up in supporting our kids in this lifestyle.
IRIS: Yeah. That’s so powerful. As we’re parenting our children in a way that maybe we didn’t grow up with, I think we’re re-parenting our inner child, as well. That’s what I have found, for sure.
PAM: Yeah. That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me, Iris. It was so much fun.
IRIS: Yeah! It was so great to connect. Thank you for having me.
PAM: Oh, so fun, so fun. Before we go, where can people connect with you online?
IRIS: So, I have a website untigering.com and you can also find me on social media on Facebook and IG at Untigering.
PAM: Perfect. I will have the links to all that in the show notes, too, so people can go there if they don’t want to have to type it all in. Thank you so much, Iris, and have a wonderful day.
IRIS: You, too. Bye. Thank you.