Raising Our Children

topic posted Wed, May 7, 2008 - 2:24 PM by  Fairy
Just to provoke more of the kinds of discussions that have been going on here lately, which I really enjoy, here is a quote from a parent whose opinion I really respect:

"Its about living with our children Right Now. Our children are not unfinished products, future activists or stooges to The Man, our kids are Who They Are right now...If you are thinking in terms of Raising your chilren you aren't looking at the human beings living in your home, you are looking at future adults - and those are pure imagination on your part."

This woman is an amazing advocate for radical unschooling, and while this isn't a radical unschooling forum, I think that her ideas are worth discussing if we want to talk about things like why we say no and how much of the now we are investing in conditioning our children for a future we can't see. I do this myself a lot but am striving toward a life with my son that is more about who he is now rather than about conditioning him to be someone I want him to be in the future.

Anyway, it got me to thinking and perhaps it will do the same for someone else.
posted by:
  • Re: Raising Our Children

    Wed, May 7, 2008 - 6:01 PM
    Thank you very much for this.

    Peaceful regards,
    • Re: Raising Our Children

      Thu, May 8, 2008 - 10:57 AM
      Thank u dear Fairy,

      I am in discussion with various "holistic schools", as ideally i want to manifest/create a school for my child with this as premise, lately and am disappointed that there is always a "curriculum" and goal for the year. Sudbury schools are the closest to what i am seeking. Waldorf inspired schools are always shaping the child to a future goal which i do not like but they seem to take up the majority of holistic style schools. There are not many sudburys. One in AUstralia was just shut down by the gov't apparently. I may just have to settle somewhere where there is an amazing homeschool community, which is usually in cities and my system and constitution can not handle cities, especially american cities... But really i need a school as i must work to make money and options to create time for myself. I want a school with very little hours that is learning for the sake of learning environment with emphasis but not curriculum on the ... TBA son awake
      • Re: Raising Our Children

        Thu, May 8, 2008 - 9:19 PM
        I disagree with this premise. I believe (and have always believed) that my primary mission as a parent it to enable my child to have choices as they grow up- That means having skills, such as self restrain, self direction, manners, a love of learning in all it's forms. These are skills that take time and years to master, they come in stages, they take time. They teach us much, certainly, but as parents we would be remiss if we did not impart our knowledge of how the world works to them, because he truth is they are children now but they will be adults (and responsible for their own choices an actions) for far longer.

        To simply look at the now and forget the future is short sited.
  • Re: Raising Our Children

    Thu, May 8, 2008 - 10:31 PM
    Who your child will be is a direct result of who he is right now. A leopard doesn't change its spots. A parent's job is to guide and teach that child how to be a happy and healthy child and in turn a happy and healthy adult. Of course you don't know what your child will do in the future but a parent has to teach a child certain skills in order for them to be healthy and happy. I do not know what happy looks like for my child in terms of what she will be doing, but I do hope that she has the necessary skills to know where to search for her happiness.
  • Re: Raising Our Children

    Tue, May 13, 2008 - 6:59 AM
    Yes! It is amazing how much of our expectactions we deposit on our kids. Thanks for this post! My baby/toddler is 13 months and I'm thinking on what will be best for his education (homeschooling, alternative school, public school) and today I was thinking about the idea of looking at him for answers on what is best for him and not just do what I think is the best option because there is not one option for everybody.
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    Re: Raising Our Children

    Wed, May 21, 2008 - 5:53 AM
    I have to say that I both agree and disagree with the quote provided. I love my daughters for who they are now. I interact and react to them based on who they are now. But everything the hubby and I invest in teaching them about love, life, and living we are teaching them in preparation (and anticipation) of their future. I don't know about you, but I I have high expectations for my kiddos. And yes, everything I see for them in the future is totally, completely 100% imaginary. But... realistically you can both "raise" your children AND look at the human beings currently living in your home. In my mind the two go hand-in-hand. I see no division, no rift, and honestly believe you can't have/do one without the other.

    As a parent, am I supposed to give them ample opportunity to try different things and see where their interests lie? Absolutely. Am I supposed to teach them to live a life without rules, boundaries, or the ability to assimilate? Absolutely not. And in admitting these things, I'm in know way saying that I want my little ones to grow up and follow all rules, live within all boundaries, and constantly blend into the background. What I am saying is that as a parent, I would feel like I kinda failed my job if I *didn't* teach them how to do these things, while constantly teaching and reminding them that it is always THEIR choice to do or not do them in the end. Sometimes it's better to stand out. Other times it's far better to go un-noticed. I can only hope that they learn enough from me & the hubby to make wise choices and decisions on when & where to do what.
  • Re: Raising Our Children

    Wed, May 21, 2008 - 7:00 AM
    i believe, as in everything in life, raising children (and raising ourselves above the fray to set an example) is all about a continual balance of rules and freedom, sugar and vegetables, work and play, reading and tv ... the list goes on ad infinitum. and i believe it's the continuity of our love and strength that helps our children have the peace and confidence to be exactly and uniquely who they are, not who we wish them to be.
    • Re: Raising Our Children

      Wed, May 21, 2008 - 12:32 PM
      For me I like the idea of not having expectations about who my son will be. In that way I feel like he will be free to choose for himself and he is in the process of doing that every day, even at this young age. I don't expect him to go to college, or not to go to college. I hope he is learning the art of being happy and he does seem to be doing that. I can't prepare him for a world I've never seen--I can't read the future so I don't know what it holds for him. I think if I try to define what his future will be, I could seriously limit his possibilities.

      I don't feel like it's my job to prepare him to live in the world at some future time. I feel like it's my job to help him live in the world now and when he gets to that future he will be well prepared for it because he helped shape it, if that makes sense. Really, it's all kind of the same thing, but just for me it helps me to keep my focus on the way we live together right now. It was driven home to me by someone who lost a child to cancer that all the time you spend haggling with a kid to do this or do that so they can achieve some result when they grow up is time you never get back again and may be a total waste. I know that Sam needs a solid foundation, a feeling of confidence, my help in learning to navigate the world. I don't just throw him in and expect him to swim without wearing his floaties for a while, but I trust that he will learn what he needs to know when he needs to know it. I don't feel comfortable insisting that he learn what I think he needs to now when I think he needs to know it (not saying that's what anyone here is doing, just that's the thought that comes to me).

      I will share my experience of the world and what knowledge I have gained, but I don't assume that because I think something is so that I am right. My mother shared with me her knowledge, based on first hand experience, that men were dangerous, violent, and evil, and I believed her. It took me a long time to recover from my mothers good intentions to share her knowledge with me and shape my world view to prepare me for living in the world as she saw it. The world as she saw it was a terrifying place and I carried that burden for a long time. Our children are destined to carry many burdens they inherit from us, that can't be helped, but I'm working at becoming aware enough of my own baggage that the load I hand off to my son will be as light as possible, if that makes sense.

      Sorry for being so wordy. This is something I think about a lot, something I feel passionate about--as do all parents who are actively involved in their children's lives, however that looks in an individual family. I appreciate having a forum to express ideas that are maybe a little farther outside the box than most.
      • Re: Raising Our Children

        Wed, May 21, 2008 - 2:25 PM
        I expect my child to grow up to be a good person- that is to provide for himself, to treat others with respect, to honor his word and be responsible for his choices. I expect him to have good self esteem, to take care of himself and if he chooses Those are choices and i have seen many kids (including some of my childhood friends) make other choices. I have enough dead friends, ruined friends, that I feel lucky that of all the crap my parents laid on me, that the one thing that they gave me that saved my ass time and again was an intrinsic respect for others, and a respect for myself.

        Do i want my kid to go to college? sure... Can I make him? no... Can I make sure that he reaches adulthood with the skills and grades to make that decision for himself? Yes, although sometimes I despair, he always comes through in the end (as in at the very last minute- that apple didnt fall far from the tree anyway).
        • Re: Raising Our Children

          Wed, May 21, 2008 - 10:47 PM
          I don't know whether my child will go to college or not but I think that it would be unfortunate if I didn't give him all the tools he needed to be able to truly make that choice. I have a friend whose parents believed that they should just let him learn whatever he wanted to learn and now as an adult he is pretty pissed off at them for not making sure he had the skills he needed to get into college. He feels that by refusing to prepare him for the future they actually robbed him of a future. He wanted to go to an arts program but wasn't able to meet the academic requirements. He can barely read because when his parents were doing their thing with him and he wasn't into reading they just decided that meant they shouldn't push the matter and he would excel in some other skill. Nice idea in theory but in reality it sucks for him big time. As an adult he has a lot of shame and frustration dealing with the fact that he can't do some things that others consider basic knowledge. He does have some amazing skills and I know that is a direct result of having been able to follow his interests at his in the here and now home schooling. And truly it is sad to see how angry he is towards his parents who love him dearly. I think the fact that they do love him frustrates him even more. If they were abusive asses he could be angry and feel ok about it but their only crime was wanting to let their child be free to make his own choices.
          Still what I see from him is that there has to be some sort of balance. Yes, don't try to mold your child to be something that you want but you do need to teach them. Help them learn so that they can truly make choices and not just live a life of defaulting to whatever they can get. If they are truly happy being a gardner or a truck driver or a squatter in slab city then that is great but why not make sure they end up doing that because they want it?
          • Re: Raising Our Children

            Thu, May 22, 2008 - 6:58 AM
            In my perception, that's the whole point of unschooling, not to just leave my child to his own devices, but to help him discover his passions and figure out what he wants to do with them and help him achieve that goal, WHATEVER it is, and with me as his partner in the process, not the director of his life. It's sad that your friend and his parents weren't able to do that for whatever reason, but it seems like if they were letting him have equal weight in the process he might take some responsibility for his own choices, too. Did they seriously not tell him that if he wanted to get into art school he had to have some basic skills? Did they seriously never have that conversation? That would be sad, but even so you have to giv them some credit for wanting to give him some freedom. Seems like he could waste a lot of time now resenting them, or he could ask them for help now, or he could just go out and get the skills he needs.

            I know a young woman who was unschooled her whole life who is now looking at getting her PhD from Harvard, so there are definitely a variety of outcomes in going this route. The thing for me though, is that I'm not trying to focus on outcome. I am far too anxious and hovery as it is to not be in there always offering and asking about his skills and ideas and whatever. Just because I don't decide for him doesn't mean he'll be left twisting in the wind.

            I think it can be tricky to determine what are all the tools they need to make that choice? As I mentioned, there are many living examples of the fact that graduating from high school is not essential in going to college, even going to a really good university. I know of unschooled teenagers who have learned in two years what others learn throughout their entire public school careers because these teens finally decided on a goal, learned what it would take to get there, and freely chose to go.

            Anyway, I'm derailing the discussion here and veering off on the academic thing, but it all comes back to the same thing--keeping our children involved and empowered in the process of making decisions about their own lives, even down to the mundane things we do every day. I'm sure we are all doing this in our own way. I just like to take any chance I can get to advocate for more freedom for our children, more partnership and connection between parents and children, and more joy in our families as a whole.
            • Re: Raising Our Children

              Thu, May 22, 2008 - 8:10 AM
              The bottom line for me is that I am an adult, my son isnt. he has no clue about what lies ahead for him. I dont know for certain, but I do know what skills he will need- he needs to be able to read (not an issue in his case, the little man taught himself to read at 4), write (not so easy- his brain runs faster than his pencil), do math (which he hates, but learned at our insistence and is actually pretty good at), cook, clean, change a tire, speak clearly and appropriaitely (ie no "yeah" or "nah" in formal settings), make eye contact when speaking to someone, shake hands firmly and cleanly, and speaking of clean let us not speak of teenage boys and personal hygiene. And many other things...

              Some of these lessons are easy, some are hard. Some he took to and others took work. When our kids are young it is so much easier- of course they will learn to use a toilet, walk and talk. It is NOT certain that they will learn to read and write, balance a check book, show up to a job interview appropriately dressed, brush their teeth before a date, etc. In his school their are plenty of kids that show up unprepared, unclean, unfed. And it is an academic magnet school, one of the best in the city... When doing medical work for a field trip their was a kid who had a severe food allergy (as in life threatening, carried an epi pen), and her parents said "well sometimes she just eats that stuff because she wants too". I had to take the kid aside and say "look we are over an hour from a hospital, you need to take care of yourself. I have a 160 kids I need to watch out for. You have a serious medical condition that can be avoided by simply doing what you know you should do. I expect you to help out by staying healthy." This kid endangered her life because she wanted something (strawberries) that was bad for her- my son would gladly live on chocolate and ju jus if he could get away with it. Maybe when he turns 18 he will, but that will be his choice. My responsibility is to get him to that point in good health, educated and with a good understanding of the rules of the road of life.
              • Re: Raising Our Children

                Sun, May 25, 2008 - 8:57 AM
                This idea that kids would gladly live on sweets or junk food if they had the choice comes up a lot on an unshooling discussion list I'm on. Interestingly, a lot of mamas on the list have found that when they completely lift the restrictions on food, kids might gorge on their favorites for a little while, and then they're over it. The idea is that children are fully capable of self regulating if given the freedom to do so. If they are never given the freedom, they lose the ability and by the time they reach adulthood have developed an unhealthy relationship to food that includes regular binging on unhealthy stuff. I'm not saying this will happen to your kid or in your situation, just that I've found this insight really helpful to me in my situation.

                My son is only just approaching two but he is free to eat what he wants within the limits of what we bring home or what he comes across out in the world. If he reaches for a cookie before dinner, I let him have it. He'll usually take a nibble and put it down and eat his dinner as usual. Will he always be this way? Only time will tell, but the idea is to take the magic and mystery out of junk food by letting them have the experience. I don't give Sam junky stuff now, of course, but when he's older and he wants to try, he gets to do that. We can talk about how he feels when he eats certain things so that he learns for himself what is good for his body and what isn't. In the case of the girl with the epipen, I suppose that's a whole different ball game.

                Here's a link to a web page called True Tales of Kids Turning Down Sweets:
            • Re: Raising Our Children

              Thu, May 22, 2008 - 2:18 PM
              <<but it seems like if they were letting him have equal weight in the process he might take some responsibility for his own choices,>>

              That hardly seems fair or even realistic to place that kind of burden on a small child.

              <<but even so you have to giv them some credit for wanting to give him some freedom. Seems like he could waste a lot of time now resenting them, or he could ask them for help now, or he could just go out and get the skills he needs. >>

              Don't want to derail this conversation but sorry no, I will not give them credit. They may have loved him but they didn't take responsibility when they should have. Yes, he is an adult now and and must take responsibility for his choices now but it is hardly fair to expect him to be responsible for their choices or lack there of when he was a child. Even mother cats, wolves and apes take the time to train their young for the future, why should he have expected less from his parents?
              It is easy enough to say he is wasting time resenting them but we aren't in his shoes. All of us posting here can obviously write and read quite well. Plus He could very well have something like dyslexia and that would explain why reading is so difficult for him. His parents were so adverse to dealing with anything that was part of the system that it probably never occurred to them that maybe being tested for a learning disability could have helped them to help him. If they wanted him to learn at home then great they could have found out what he needed then helped him themselves, but failing to help him was neglect on their part, IMO. Starting over as an adult isn't that easy especially when all your life you were trained to only do what feels good. That just isn't always possible in life.
              • Re: Raising Our Children

                Sun, May 25, 2008 - 8:37 AM
                Sorry, Why, should not have commented on a situation I don't really know anything about. I think I was motivated by frustration in that it seems like this one example has convinced you that freedom is a bad thing. In your friend's case, I'll risk blundering again and say that I think what he got sounds a lot more like neglect than freedom. I see freedom for my son not as me becoming wrapped up in my own life and telling him to figure it out for himself, but as me always, always being there as support person while he makes this grand adventure of discovering the world in his own way. If he wants to go to art school, I'll know that and I'll make sure he has access to all the resources that could get him there. If he doesn't choose to make use of them, that's his business. I see this as a completely different scenario from what you are describing. But again, I'm just making assumptions there, I have a bad habit that way.

                Meanwhile, here is a fabulous interview with John Holt, who has written some wonderful books about how children learn and why forcing our notions about learning on them could be more harmful than helpful:
                • Re: Raising Our Children

                  Sun, May 25, 2008 - 8:43 AM
                  Here's a quote from that interview that I liked:

                  John: The hardest one is learning to trust their children, learning that they don't have to make learning happen. Learning that you don't have to be stimulating them all the time. Parents start teaching their kids because they feel a strong sense of responsibility but they tend to sometimes feel more responsible than they really are. The hardest thing to do is learn to back off. There are surely millions of people in this country who are pretty indifferent to what their kids do, but they're not home schooling. Home-schoolers ask questions like, "How can I be sure I'm giving my child enough?" I have to say, just the world out there as it is has plenty of food for thought. You don't have to make your life one long field trip or turn your home into a miniature of the Smithsonian or the Metropolitan Museum.
                • Re: Raising Our Children

                  Sun, May 25, 2008 - 10:32 AM
                  <<I think I was motivated by frustration in that it seems like this one example has convinced you that freedom is a bad thing.>>

                  I have been convinced of no such thing but I do think there needs to be balance and unfortunately some people get more caught up in the "theory" of what we should do than actually what is right in front of them. Each child is an individual and should be treated as such. Also I have to say that I find it ironic any time anyone thinks I am convinced of any one theory or any other. I have seen kids come out of home schooling or alternative schooling situations that were great successes but their parents didn't decide that is was freedom or bust. In fact I myself graduated from an experimental high school situation that was done through Pacific Oaks College where there were 4 of us in my class all allowed to pursue our own interests and study subjects we were interested in and we only reported to our instructor a couple of times a week. I even worked and helped pay for my own tuition. It was great and I flourished in that environment. I did the first few years in public High School but I did indeed need more freedom later on. Still my mother and my instructor worked together to make sure I wasn't getting less but instead getting more out of the alternative situation.
                  In addition for some of the time when I lived in Mexico as a child I was home schooled by my mom and allowed to work on subjects that were interesting to me. That worked for a while but I really wanted to be in public school at that age because I loved other kids and was very social. By High School it was different and I had so many friends that I didn't feel like I needed to be in school to see them. I am glad my mother let me have a say in what worked for me but I am also glad she didn't let me just do whatever I felt like doing because I'd probably be still be jumping about not completing anything if she had given me complete freedom.

                  So no I am not convinced of anything by any one situation though I find that many people who are proponents of total freedom are convinced that it will work by their one situation of not having had freedom in their own childhoods. The same with people who are convinced that they don't want to send their kids to schools because they didn't enjoy it themselves or have had a bad experience with "the system". It is fine enough to say you can't decide your child's future but really they are making their child's decisions based on their own past. How is that better? Like I said, every child is an individual.
  • Unsu...

    Re: Raising Our Children

    Sun, May 25, 2008 - 12:11 PM
    I have been reading this post for a while and I am confused. I think I need some example of exactly what the difference is between treating my child as a child "in the present" and doing things to help prepare her for the future.

    I hardly see how either one could be a negative thing.

    Does this mean that teaching our children social graces is looking at them as future adults? And this is bad? Because frankly there is nothing that bothers me more (other than lying) than a rude child or adult for that matter.

    Is guiding children to learn better communication skills somehow making them a "stooge to the man." I just don't get it I guess.

    As for the eating thing I am personally glad that my mother taught me good eating habits and encouraged me to be physically active as a youngster. Having developed these good habits, and knowing how good it feels to be healthy and in shape, I am way less likely to allow myself physically or mentally to "let go."

    On the other hand, while my parents encouraged me to get good grades, they were very lenient about the whole thing and as a result I developed over the years bad study habits that have been very to difficult (though not impossible) to overcome in my adult life.

    • Re: Raising Our Children

      Mon, May 26, 2008 - 1:14 PM
      The thing is I totally agree that every child is unique and should be parented according to who they are--that we should parent to the children we have, not the children we were. For me, that translates into allowing them the freedom to be a part of deciding their own futures precisely because they are all so different. I think everyone here is saying that they want that for their children, we just maybe have different ideas about how much we should be shaping those futures.

      I didn't mean to suggest that helping our children prepare for their futures is a bad thing, just that we can get lost in working toward a nebulous future and forget to be present in the present. For instance, I have a friend with a 4 year old daughter. They are white and live in a black neighborhood. My friend believes that black families place a lot of emphasis on table manners so she wants her daughter to have good table manners so she can easily socialize with the neighbor kids. She also has very strong opinions about what foods and how much of them a child should eat. She is not yet socializing with any of these families, but every meal they go through a lot of bickering, whining, wheedling, commanding ,etc. This is frustrating for both of them and for anyone sitting with them.

      I guess I find myself wondering how much time and energy and misery my friend is putting into something that is purely guesswork and speculation on her part. I mean, will her daughter really make friends with kids whose parents won’t want her around if she doesn’t learn to eat a certain way? Maybe. But if she does, really, table manners aren’t rocket science and I think that if she were ready and wanting to, she could learn what she needs to know in an afternoon. Meanwhile, what’s the harm in letting her actually enjoy her meals? She does know what her mother would like her to do and it’s entirely possible that if left alone she might just start doing it willingly.

      But of course I’m not there yet, so I’m just thinking about things that are really none of my business. I love my friend and I know she’s a dedicated and wonderful mom. We have a lot of these conversations together and I think it’s helped us both to clarify and shape our own ideas.

      All I meant to convey is that in my thinking we can and should be a part of helping our children prepare for their futures but not at the expense of living joyfully with them now. And I think we can do this without directing or controlling, but rather by acting as partners in the process. I think they need our help to find access to the resources they’ll need, they need our support, they need our unwavering faith in their essential goodness and ability to live well without being micromanaged.

      I guess that’s what I’m getting at, is micromanagement. So far I don’t think that’s what anybody on this thread is saying is the way to go but I seem to be pushing buttons because when I advocate freedom it translates as pulling all the supports out from under my kid and throwing him to the wolves. That isn’t how I see our lives together. I actually see myself as far too hovery and over protective as it is, so I’m just working at learning how to let my son grow into the man he truly wants to be rather than the man I think he should be.
      • Re: Raising Our Children

        Fri, May 30, 2008 - 3:56 PM
        I agree that it does sound like everyone in this thread wants their child to be their own person and decide their own future and I also agree we don't all need to follow the same path in parenting to help our children to decide their paths. The initial post sort (especially with that comment about stooges to the man) sort of gave the impression that by doing anything to "raise" our children we are somehow doing some sort of negative action and imposing ourselves upon our children which I definitely do not agree with.

        As for your friend dealing with black families. I would wonder why she is so ready to decide what all black families expect from their children. How strange. Certainly my black family isn't so strict about manners. Some segments of my family may be but others aren't. Black families are as diverse as any other people so perhaps she should be thinking about making friends with the ones she and her child have things in common with just like she would if she was dealing with white people.
        As for manners. I don't think it is a bad thing to learn them but drilling them into a young child seems silly and slightly Pavlovian to me. In that you can certainly get a small child to say please and thank you on command but do you really want to treat them like a trained seal? In the Pre-School class I was teaching in a while ago there was a mother (a white mother) who was so insistent that her barely three year old daughter say please and thank you during snack times. The way I set up snack it was just out on a child sized table and the children could just go and help themselves. Her child was so trained that she would never just help herself and when she would say something like "I want that" and I would ask her what she meant (to make sure I was passing the right thing) she would correct herself and say "please" because she assumed that I was correcting her even though I never would. It made me sad that she was so ready to be corrected over something she didn't even fully understand.
        I don't think it makes much sense for a small child to say words that they probably don't have a full understanding of. For the same reason I don't ask kids to say sorry to one another. They can if they want to but it always bothers me when I see adults forcing kids to say please and thank you and sorry when they are an age where the meaning of the words is beyond them.
        I do think learning manners is not a bad thing and as my son grows I will show him by having good manners with my partner and by telling him that is grandmother really likes hearing that he appreciated the gift she gave him but I expect to have those types of conversations when he is old enough to comprehend and even then what I hope is that he will learn by our example and because it feels right to him and not by being preached to.

        As for knowing how to catch water and grow food over knowing academics. Why would it need it need to be one or the other? You can still learn those things and retain academic knowledge. And to assume that those things are needed for the way the world is shaping up is pretty much just as much pure imagination (if not more so ) as imagining our children's future lives. Certainly there is nothing wrong with learning those things (I love that I have a great garden and compost) and preparing for that if you think the world is shaping up that way but then again I would wonder if we do think the world is shaping up that way why would we not also want to prepare our child for that future? Besides I am hard pressed to believe that if you are working and living in a major metropolitan area that your degree is not helping you in some way especially if you have a job that involves the written word and or computers.

        Everyone's future is different. Not every person wants to learn one path, some want a variety of paths. Personally I have a degree in Child Development and one in Psycho biology and I have used them both but for several years I worked in film/TV and even though some would think those degrees would not have helped they did. What is more they even helped when I worked in a fish hatchery restocking the ocean with endangered sea bass and when I had a job cleaning boat bottoms and when I taught Ski School. The main thing is I had choices and I loved having them. Not everyone is as transient as I was in my younger years but I am so glad that I did have a variety of academic, physical and social skills so that I could make the choices I wanted to make and in my case I know for sure that if I had not had the solid learning foundation I started with I probably never would have even discovered some of the other things I became interested in along my personal journey.
  • Re: Raising Our Children

    Mon, May 26, 2008 - 1:31 PM
    i don't know what skills will be important in the future. i was very academic and went to college and even a bit of grad school, but the way the world's shaping up, it seems to me i'd be much better off if i knew how to catch water and grow food than if i knew russian literature. and it seems to me the money spent on my education (most of which i spent myself in paying back loans) would have been better spent on a big old piece of land. but what do i know?

    on the other hand, i had parents that really -- for one reason or another -- did not seem to have any clue about what needed to happen in order for me to grow up. they didn't help me learn to drive. didn't notice that everyone around me was having a bat mitzvah at twelve. my mother was taken aback when she saw me applying to colleges -- she didn't know it was that time already. they never spoke to me about weddings. never prepare financially for any of the major milestones as define by the culture in which i grew up (bat mitzvah, braces, college, study abroad, wedding/marriage). and perhaps because they did not help me find direction, i wound up trying to do my best to keep up with the other kids in my community.

    that there was something more meaningful in my heart -- i always ALWAYS wanted to drop out of this society (computer be damned) and live off grid -- i believe at some level did register for them.

    now i did not need them to help me along with the dominant paradigm in which we were living -- college, job, marriage-oriented dating and all that crap. that paradigm got in through my pores. and i was competent, more or less, to make my way within it.

    i wonder, though, had they been more involved, if they might have helped me along bit by bit with my more oddball yearnings. perhaps i would have become a writer much younger, had they helped facilitate that. perhaps it would have been less of a leap to begin moving toward living off grid, outside the fold.

    my point is, if you stick yourself in the right neighborhood, your kids are probably going to be smart enough to understand the benefits of higher education. and if you stick yourself solidly behind them as facilitator in their more heartfelt and personal yearnings, well perhaps you really can help them to be more effective at being themselves to the fullest.

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