My kids are smart. They’re pretty reasonable most of the time, too.
Still, my desire to manage them is louder than the sound of their tickle-fight screams.
Here’s what I notice about that need to control:
When I expend my energy creating school materials, lesson plans, and goals my kids don’t want to pursue, I have less energy to support their self-led exploration.
Their learning becomes about my need to perform and perfect.
That looks like me barking orders and using phrases I grew up hating, like “you have to do it because I said so” and “in the real world, you have to do things you don’t want to do” and “if you don’t say yes ma’am and do it now, <insert threat I have no desire to execute>.”
Here’s what I’m learning about unschooling:
It’s letting go.
That looks like me pursuing my interests and nurturing my love of learning among my children (natural masters of these practices).
It looks like me respecting their organic questions instead of implanting my contrived questions into their naturally-and-no-intervention-needed-to-be inquisitive minds.
It looks like me saying “yes” when they ask to take out the art and chemistry kit because I have the mental and emotional capacity to hold messiness (since I haven’t depleted myself chasing control).
It looks like me minding my business instead of turning every one of their conflicts, mistakes, and wins into a teachable moment.
When I let go, they catch what’s needed in their competent hands and (wisely) drop the rest.
When I let go, I open my hands to whatever new things they want to show me.
I don’t feel like I have permission to let go most of the time. That’s probably because I’ve grown up in a world that wants to control me. Wouldn’t it be nice if my kids could grow up in a home that doesn’t replicate that compulsion?
What does “letting go” look like for you? Whether it’s with your kids, partners, friends, careers, or whatever, tell me in the comments.