I want to talk about trust… and how that not only relates to parenting but how the two are interdependent. This is a big topic, there’s a lot of ground to cover and ideas to share and a lot of learning how to be present with the process of de-parenting oneself.
There is a lot to talk about here, and I hope to spark a long, thoughtful conversation.
I say de-parenting like unschoolers talk of de-schooling. We have these ideas stuck in our heads of how things should be… how learning should look, for instance. My real life experience has shown me that learning looks more like life and love and a love for living than textbooks and No.2 pencils… but it took me some time to shake loose the last vestiges of self-doubt telling me I was screwing it all up. I needed to de-school.
And de-schooling was a process… I didn’t just wake up one day fully confident in my decision to trust my children to seek out their own learning opportunities.
And just as we learned to trust our children and honor their journey by aiding their exploration and helping them discover answers to their inquisitiveness, by extension it only made sense that we also trust them to navigate the other aspects of their lives. Part of trusting means teaching… And “spotting” them as they practice. It starts with that wobbly-legged infant taking his first shaky steps toward toddling…and we’re holding their hands, providing a cushion if they fall.
We’re by their side.
That doesn’t change, we are still holding their hand, it’s just metaphorical. We are still right there by their side, as they learn, and practice, and discover new skills.
There was a fair amount of de-parenting that needed to take place for me. I was not taught to view parenting this way, this was not my lived experience.
This was a story that spoke to my heart. The story of a tribe of humans striving to live peacefully, co-creating an existence together.
I was not taught to trust children, but I have learned to trust myself; so I went in search of ways to create a family culture that meshed with my vision.
And I think we are really doing it- we are really living it.
All of our beautiful, messy, imperfect souls occupying this space together; striving to respect one another’s thoughts and feelings while honoring ourselves and our lived experience… Inspiring each other to get better at life, and love, and this being human thing.
We call it “leveling up”, and we all just want to see each other get to that next level… Reach that next set of life goals; travel through space/time with a bit more ease and ability.
We want to feed the spark that ignites the soul. We’re not trying to crush dreams. And if you’re little 4 year old self is dreaming about an ice cream cone for dinner, once in awhile, you will eat ice cream for dinner (likely with a short but memorable message about healthy food choices and everything being ok in moderation).
And it is my hopes, that in a few year’s time, you will be developing some body awareness and amassing a store of information on health and wellness and you will be able to decide for yourself when to have ice cream for dinner.
Striving to be a better parent is so so so so hard, because it means being a better person. I’ve got to be the person I want them to grow up to be. These little people are going to grow up and help shape the world; they are going to grow up and raise my grandchildren. They are going to grow up and move out of my house and I want to be damn sure I’ve prepared them, to the best of my abilities, for the work that lies ahead.
In order to best prepare them, I keep coming back to trust. It’s that simple.
I need to trust them as they gain their footing, support them as they learn from their falls, and give them the space to practice human-ing.
I’m not trying to be their backseat driver to life… I don’t need to tell them how to live. I need to show them. I need to show up to my own life and live it well. They need to see me trying, and failing and making amends to myself and others when I make mistakes. They need to see that I’m human, that most of the time I navigate troubles with grace but sometimes even I get overwhelmed and raise my voice or throw some sort of grown up version of a tantrum. Sometimes I screw up, and that’s ok if I can let those moments teach me what I need to know about myself… Where my boundaries are, what I need to work on, and how to do better next time.
And if we live this in front of them, they notice; they see things even when we think they’re not paying attention. We are teaching them to be human with how we choose to handle our own affairs. That being said, learning is not very valuable cut off from practical application. We have to trust them with the freedom to try, the freedom to make mistakes, and the freedom to succeed.