Resentful Unschooling Parents

I think most parents probably struggle sometimes with feeling resentful. There are some good reasons for that.

Most of us didn’t get to have the really wonderful life that we’re giving our children and the child in us can’t help but resent that! So that bubbles up sometimes, especially when we’re tired or hungry or drained and really in need of some parenting/nurturing for ourselves.

Also, there can be a feeling of having waited to be the adult-in-charge for years, putting up with being ordered around, for example, and it is “supposed to be” our turn to be the top dog now, right? Breaking a cycle is like that, you give up your turn to be on top and, again, resentment at the unfairness of it can pop up sometimes.

Sometimes it feels like we give and give and give and don’t get enough back to fill our own needs. There can be times like that and if you don’t think you “should” feel that way, then you have added feelings of guilt on top of it. So – just to let you know, I don’t know any unschooling parents who never feel that way – you’re not alone and there isn’t anything wrong with you for feeling that way sometimes. It isn’t how we feel, but what we do WITH those feelings, that really matters.

And, of course, there is fear that we’re messing up our kids. This comes up because we are doing something that goes so completely against today’s conventional wisdom and, occasionally, we doubt ourselves. We start feeling like maybe we’re being really arrogant to think we know better than most other people and better even than professionals and experts. So we have doubts – especially when things aren’t going smoothly. But things will not always go smoothly – unschooling doesn’t promise that. Kids will fight with siblings, pick at their food, be uncooperative in helping around the house, say things that hurt your feelings, be later readers, break things by being careless, act thoughtlessly and inconvenience others, and on and on. Unschooling kids are still kids – still learning and much of that learning involves making mistakes. If you see these problems as unschooling failures, you’ll fear you are messing up your kids. Try to see them as normal childhood experiences – learning and experimenting and, especially, as developmental. Don’t let normal childhood behavior feed your fear that unschooling isn’t “working.”

Don’t compare your “insides” to other unschoolers’ “outsides.” You weren’t there when I lost my cool and threw a plastic laundry basket against a wall and made a big dent in the wall. We usually don’t talk about these kinds of moments because it doesn’t help people do better – they aren’t inspiring. I usually try to talk about ways I’ve learned to avoid these tough times, not comfort people and say there-there, its okay to have melt-downs and throw things. It is not okay. It wasn’t okay for me and I’m glad to say that those moments were very few and far between, but I don’t want to give the impression that my family life was always one long blissful stream of harmony. Again, it isn’t realistic that we parents would never get angry, resentful, cranky, etc. It is what we do with those feelings that matters and we’re learning along the way.

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