My children have rarely expressed any desire to be away from home without at least one of their parents, and it would go completely against my parenting style to push them away when they are clearly not ready. Dependence is the natural precursor to independence, just as winter in the natural precursor to spring. You can’t rush spring and you can’t rush independence.
Their independence has come about so naturally without any push from outside sources. My daughters (ages 8, 6, and 4yrs) play independently virtually all day, rarely needing my help to solve a problem. They choose to meet many of their own physical needs, too, rather than ask for help. I respect their choices and admire the way they take care of each other and themselves.
Desire to Learn
Unschooling was my natural next step in attachment parenting. I have trusted my kids to show me what they needed since birth, and they continue to show me what levels of social interaction, intellectual stimulation and access to new resources they require in order to feel safe, happy, fulfilled, challenged and respected. Their level of contentment stems directly from how I honour their needs by trusting them to show me what they need.
My trust in them is fostered by my belief that children are not ‘blank slates’ waiting for knowledge to be taught to them. What I believe is that they are born already wired to seek out information and opportunities. Their brains require that they are constantly seeking knowledge, so who am I to decide what knowledge they should seek? They already know what their brains need to develop optimally, and I just provide the space and love to let it happen.
I really enjoy being around my children. They are really super-cool individuals!! I love waiting for the ways they surprise me everyday. The other day Jasmine spontaneously wrote the names of all of her siblings: What a cause for celebration!! And they are so funny!!–watching Anna try to put ponytails in Holly’s hair had me guffawing into my oatmeal!!
If being in the constant company of your children makes you feel exhausted, overwhelmed and frustrated, then this is not the life for you. Perhaps some digging deep into the reasons why you love your children while not enjoying them very much could help you to find freedom from your limiting beliefs. For me, the little moments of joy that happen all day long refresh and renew my love for my children. I would miss them so much if they went away everyday and they would miss out on so much joy with each other.
Julian, at 23 months, has such a close and significant relationship with his sisters. He already knows so much more about family dynamics and social cues than Anna (my oldest) did at the same age. He is delighted by having his sisters to entertain him, and learns so much from them, and they from him!! I am humbled by how thoughtful and gentle Anna and Holly and Jasmine are with regards to Julian’s needs. They are able to put their own needs or wants aside when it is clear that he needs my immediate attention. So many days I give them long hugs and thank them for being so kind and patient with their baby brother. Fostering this connection is a big part of why I unschool.
Real Life Experience
Finally, I unschool because I really believe that children need to experience life first hand in our home and community. They need to play, but they also need to bake and garden and buy groceries and put away laundry. They need to make messes and figure out ways to clean them up. They need to talk to the neighbours we meet on the sidewalk and they need to watch the garbage truck lift and dump our bins. They learn by doing, watching, listening and touching all day long. And at the end of each day their little brains have done what they were wired to do: learn.
How precious is this time when they are learning every minute. And how exciting.