Saturday, March 21, 2009

It's okay to love your children and homeschool!

Bob Collier sends me a wonderful e-newsletter - Parental Intelligence - every month or so, full of inspiring articles that both reassure and challenge me.

In the March 2009 issue he links to an article called "Banished! Are parents who follow their hearts left out in the cold?" by Robin Grille, an Australian psychologist and psychotherapist with over fifteen years of experience working with families. The article was included in Jan Hunt's excellent web site, The Natural Child.

The article points out that all too often parents who chose to nurture their children in very hands-on way are "are denounced, dissuaded or even shamed". I was accused of being an 'over-protective' parent or 'molly-coddling' my children. I was told they would grow up dependent and clingy, unable to socialise as children or adults. Guilt, insecurity and lack of confidence plagued me for years. Fortunately I'm a stubborn person and learned early to trust my heart, not listen to the thoughts and judgments of others. Over time my children showed me the truth: their behaviour slowly reinforced my belief that nurturing them as I myself would want to be nurtured as a child was (and is) the best policy.

This 'natural' style of parenting is still rubbished by many, especially when it is expressed by parents who opt to home educate their children. Among 'natural learners' I find many families who find it difficult to socialise with 'normal' families. It is true, my children did it find it difficult to play with children who were overly competitive, followed fads without thinking, disobeyed their parents, bullied each other and who needed to change the game every thirty minutes. Used to enjoying the company of their siblings they found it hard to hang out with children who told them it was uncool to be friends with one's brother or sister. And it is also true for parents. It can be hard to not say something when one's friend always wants to go to fast food restaurants for family outings, or who verbally abuses his child for not 'winning' on the sports field. Eventually, we just stopped socialising with people whose values didn't match our own.

Which left us a little bit isolated for a long while. Fortunately the internet came along for our family at just the right time. We connect with many families via the internet, especially via my Yahoo group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/learningnaturally/. It only one of many networks for families like ours on the internet. Even though sometimes it is hard to organise physical play dates for our families, talking about how we experience the world, our parenting worries and joys, helps us feel less isolated.

Every week more people join my yahoo group and ask about how to make the switch to a more child and human friendly parenting style. I take comfort that little by little the world is changing to a more caring, responsive place.

© Beverley Paine

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