Our unschooling experiment is picking up speed and gaining momentum. The more we think about how we’ve learnt everything that we care about, the more we realise that what matters in life we’ve learnt incidentally to formal structures. Actually, that’s not always true. There have been times when we’ve chosen to receive some form of formal education – either by attending courses or reading relevant material (books, websites and so forth). The point is, though, that what Papa Bear and I do for a living, we weren’t taught. We learnt by doing.
Now we’re encouraging the girls to do the same. Red Riding Hood is leaping into floristry (is that a word? Spell check thinks so!) and choreography as if to the manner born. Goldilocks id designing dolls and learning about plastic injection molding. Both girls are doing more maths and reading than before, and a lot more drawing. So far, I am satisfied, and so is Papa Bear. He is a million times more supportive than I’d ever supposed he would be, and happily spends his evenings auto-didactically acquiring guitar-playing skills (auto-didactic = unschool, just so ya know. I learnt that osmotically this week).
Here’s the thing that really struck me: always assume positive intent from your child.
What I understand by this is that I must always believe that my child intends good, whether it be in asking a thousand questions or leaving a messy trail behind her. Whether it’s demanding my attention at the worst possible moment, or breaking the handle of an otherwise unopenable car door when we’re already late (which happened today). Always assume they mean well.
Now, I know that “there is none righteous, no not one” (Rom. 3:10). And I know that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). But 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that “love … believes all things“. For me, that means that my almost-utterly-innocent ten year old doesn’t intend the inconvenience her growing intellect inadvertently causes. She intends a positive, edifying outcome for all of us – albeit unconsciously so.
This has been liberating for me. I’m not saying that I assume the worst of my children, but now I’m actively, intentionally assuming the very best. And so is Papa Bear, though I don’t know if he fully realises it yet.
Moreover, we’re assuming the best of our own motives, as well. For the first time that I can recall, I find myself feeling rested, rejuvenated and not guilty. I know I’m doing the best I can. I know that always work as hard as humanly possible and do all that I can to keep promises, meet deadlines, achieve goals and improve my clients’ business. I know that my family’s long-term and total well-being is my utmost motivation and the guiding light of every decision I make. I can relax now, knowing that I am reasonably doing all that I can, and not shirking anything.
The interesting thing is that our already happy household is now even more peaceful and relaxed than ever.
What a relief!
PS: I did not tidy my house before I left for work this morning. I did the dishes and put my stuff away, and then I left. I didn’t feel guilty about that. I didn’t feel grumpy about that. I chose, instead, to have an invigorating quiet time, and enjoy my children’s creations. Here’s to a happy weekend!