Friday, August 10, 2012

Leadership vs. Partnership

There are so many yeses built into our lives now, that I've started using them to justify a lack of partnership with my kids in daily interactions.  Food and sleep and tv and all of those things that seem to be the major hang ups for some people in the journey to radical unschooling, are just foregone conclusions now in the big picture, with only minor details to work out based on day to day factors.  Situations that arise on a regular basis are also yeses built into our lives- yes you can play in the sprinklers, yes you can take a bath, yes you can play with board games.....

It's when new situations arise, and a few do every day, where I just haven't seemed to have the mental and emotional energy to think through working together.  Or when I have THE PLAN, and want to stick to THE PLAN.  I'm busy and I'm tired and I just want to not be inconvenienced and be able to do things my way, dang it!

And therein lies the trouble. 
I'm really lacking unschooling support where I live now.  I only have one friend who would maybe lean unschoolish for academics if there weren't extenuating circumstances making a more structured approach her best option.  Everyone else in the homeschool community who I've met so far, are not unschoolers and certainly not radical unschoolers.  I haven't even breathed the phrase for the last year and a half lest I chase them all away.

On top of that, D is doing wildland firefighting again this summer, and has been gone for over a month.  So I'm solo parenting for now. 

Because of all of this, I've been falling more into my natural tendency to state things directly.

"Today we're going to the store and then the park."
"Get your shoes on, let's go."
"Let's do a little clean up and then we'll watch a movie or read some books and
go to bed."  

I posted that on Always Learning and tried to explain how this was leading to some fuzzy thoughts about leadership and asked for their thoughts.  The idea was bouncing in my head, though never holding still long enough for me to examine, that part of being a parent is just leading and expecting them to follow.  I told myself that I'm always open to discussion or objections if they present them, but that it just made more sense to do it my way as long as they were coming along without too much fuss.  

They said I sounded bossy.  I didn't want to admit it, but it's probably true.  

There was a time when I was using much better phrasing, much more often.  Where I was much more concerned with taking everyone's needs into account.  Not just assuming that I knew their needs and taking them into account when I made my decision, but actually asking them and working with them.  I've been failing at that more often than not recently.

I've justified it with my observation that my kids are generally happy.  In a way, what I've been doing IS working for us.  I think the lack of arbitrary rules and restrictions overall makes for a happier home even when I'm being bossy or self centered about certain things.

However, there is something lacking in a focus on leadership that is present when the focus is on partnership.  It's the connection.  It's seeing them as whole people.  It's them knowing that I understand their perspective and care about their desires.   Even with all the yeses built into the system, focusing on leadership turns me into a manager of the system and turns them into cogs in the wheel.  Focusing on partnership makes it all about the relationships. 

So I'm committing to getting back to focusing on partnership.  I'm calling up all the resources I've used before, but with little homeschooling community and no unschooling community here, and with D gone for possibly a few more months, I'm going to need to find some new inspiration, new tools, and new ideas.

And the journey continues....  



  1. I know how she feels. I am radically unschooling and have almost no support even with a husband at home. It's a hard concept to hold onto sometimes but it also feels so right.

  2. Good thing we have the internet for support!