If you’re thinking of trying out unschooling for any of the following reasons, STOP right where you are and read this first. The worst reasons to try unschooling are as follows:
- Because you saw someone you admire doing it and it seems like a perfect lifestyle.
- Because it’s the only good way to raise children.
- Because any other choice would be akin to destroying your child’s life and throwing their soul in the trash.
Hold up! If these kinds of things factor in to your decision, it’s time to take a BIIIIG step back and look at the bigger picture first. You still might decide to try unschooling, but I hope if you do, it’s for the best reasons, and not the worst ones.
Here’s what I mean: when people treat any philosophy like it’s a religious principle, there is always a danger that people will prioritize a principle or an ideology above the actual human beings around them. It’s always important to remind ourselves that our goal in parenting is to raise whole-hearted people. Whole-hearted is the word I chose, you may choose a different one. I’m sure the general idea is in the same ballpark.
It’s great to use outside ideas, philosophies, or ideologies to guide our decisions in parenting, but the first principle should always remain at the top of mind. Over time, as we become more mature and more experienced, we want to take actions that line up with our real, big values more and more often.
Sometimes I see people making choices because they think “this is what a good parent would do”, or “this is what a proper unschooling life would look like”. I believe there is an easy trap in these lines of thinking that can lead to making choices that don’t line up with your personal integrity, don’t serve the actual people in your actual family, and that feel oppressive.
I believe that women and mothers in our society are very prone to these lines of thought, because we are socialized to compare ourselves to other people, to think very little of ourselves, and to prioritize other people over ourselves. It’s no wonder that when we value “selflessness” in women, some of us try to diminish ourselves in an attempt to be “good women”.
I want to remind everyone who reads this that good ideologies and good ideas should serve you and your family, and not the other way around.
In our family, the unschooling lifestyle served our overarching goal very well for years and years. I feel proud that I made a choice that was kind of scary and unfamiliar because I felt it lined up with how I wanted my kids’ lives to be. I feel proud that in their early years I gave them space and safety to develop and learn without outside coercion. I think unschooling is one great way to raise a family.
I don’t think it’s the only good way, and I think any lifestyle choice should ideally be made to fit in with our overarching parenting and life goals. One of the reasons I chose to send my kids to public school this year was because I began to observe myself thinking along those dangerous lines, and trying to push myself to stick with unschooling because of those really crappy reasons.
I said to myself, “Wait up! Take a step back, look at the big goals, the big picture, and find out what path will serve you and your family best, Amy. Don’t get yourself mired in all those ‘shoulds’ and misguided perfectionism.”
Don’t get stuck in a mind trap of trying to live up to an ideology that doesn’t serve your goals. People come first, way before ideologies. Moms and dads are people, and they come first before ideologies. Kids are people and they come first before ideologies.
What do you think? Have you ever found yourself making well-intentioned choices, but for the wrong reasons? What are some good and bad reasons to choose unschooling in your opinion? Leave me a comment!