Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Brilliant Words of Ren Allen!

The following is from the AlwaysUnschooled yahoo group. Ren so eloquently stated what I often try to get across about limits, balance and freedom--I am never this clear! She graciously gave permission for it to be posted here, please visit her website for even more amazing insights.

"I believe you are saying many people are bragging that 'I quit
restricting "evil" action A, B, or C and now my child/ren is doing
what they are "supposed to" ("good" action instead, eating
vegetables, reading books, imagninative play, playing outdoors,
etc.). People are *judging* the outcome based upon what they desire
for their child to DO, rather than what their child prefers to do."


I tried to post about this last night, but everything was coming out
all muddled so I gave up. We'll see if I can get this down the way I
feel about it....

Not setting arbitrary limits allows my children to find their OWN
balance, not necessarily what *I* think is best. Part of not setting
those false limits is about viewing their activities differently. It's
about valuing THEIR own internal guidance above my own definitions of
what is "balanced" for my life.

Their balance is going to be different than my own.
If my own ideas were more important, then we'd all be vegetarians!:)
My children don't happen to share my passion for not eating dead
things at this point, so not setting arbitrary limits has certainly
not brought about some "desirable" outcome according to MY ideals.

The truly desirable outcome in my mind, is children that know
themselves. It's about my children having the freedom to choose their
own lives regardless of whether I think the outcome is ideal.

Trevor spends 10-12 hours per day on the computer. That would NOT be
an ideal balance for my life. It IS for him right now. I trust fully
that he will continue to learn and grow and develop to find his own
balance and passionate life.

When we talk about kids that choose many, many activities because they
are not limited, that is just ONE of the outcomes of giving them
freedom. Some choose to focus on one or two actitivies for longer
periods of time. The ideal is for the parents to honor whatever form
that freedom takes for each child. We aren't trying for some ideal
outcome other than children that have the ability to choose, the
ability to feel a sense of autonomy and a sense of self and community.

Not setting arbitrary limits is not about achieving some utopia where
the children do things the way we want. That's the antithesis of
unschooling. We're giving them freedom because it makes sense. We're
guiding them through this life with their sense of self intact because
it's the right thing to do. We're acting as facilitators because it works.

The learning that *I* had to do in order to extend the same freedoms
to my children that I expected for myself, was HUGE. The biggest part
of all this is the parents having to re-adjust their ideals! WE have
to view their activities as valuable in order for it to work.
So if you're extending freedoms to them in hopes that they will quit
doing the activities, there's a LOT more shifting to be done.

When folks post about "I let go of limits and my child played video
games constantly, but now he's starting to not be as interested,
YIPEEEE" that's a huge red flag for me.
When parents are waiting for their child to stop doing certain
activities, the freedom is all for the wrong reasons.

Once you "get" the whole RU thing deep inside your being, you don't
WANT anything other than a child that can find their own balance and
joy. If that is in video gaming, that's a good thing. If it's in
movies or hiking or chocolate or decorating or theatre or ANYTHING,
we're thrilled because it makes THEM happy.

For me, the whole "no arbitrary limits" thing is ALL about what my
child prefers. It's all about honoring what they prefer and not
letting my preferences rule the day.


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