Saturday, March 8, 2014

Radical Unschooling & Pop-Culture

Tiff and her friend Aliva meeting their idols, "Little Mix"

For years now, we've be part of a sub-culture. I'd even say it is a sub-sub-culture. We gone deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole as the years have rolled on. What happens when a child of "freak" parents wants to pursue learning all about and immersing themselves into pop culture?

Sometimes we first feel our conditioned response of fear, then we relax and embrace. Why is that?

For many coming from a sub-culture perspective, it would be forbidden, shamed and mourned that part of their child's innocence was stolen at the fate of pop-culture. Many naturally minded parents are well-intentioned in attempting to keep their children from the modern world. I have learned, however, that it is through  unconditional acceptance of our children's choices through partnership parenting is walking the sub-sub culture road. To truly connect and continue a strong bond of self-love and trust, we learn to drop pre-conceived ideas and beliefs about everything, including things we may have judged before our children showed an interest in it. We find ways to bring as many resources into our children's lives as possible to learn and grow from based on their interests as the nucleus of their individual learning.

Right now, Tiff is powerfully inspired by the popular band, Little Mix. We found out that they were coming for a Meet and Greet at a mall about two hours away. My friend from New York drove out with her daughter to go with us. Together we brought our daughters to connect with the women whom they love and share their thoughts about how they inspired them. They were nervous about talking with them, knowing that in the moment they may be so nervous that they'd forget what to say. I have the idea to purchase cards and write down how they felt to the band members. The girls loved this idea!
Here we are in line, having a picnic waiting for "Little Mix." 

Here Tiff is giving her card and gift to a Jesy, from "Little Mix."

We waiting six hours and were the first fans there at 10am! You'd think that waiting in line for so long would be torterous, but it was so much fun! I made food to bring with us and we had a picnic and connected with other, "Mixers," (the name of "Little Mix" fans.) It was fun to see the girls connect with other fans and spend hours talking about all that they loved about them.

After meeting the group, Tiff was in tears. She was shaking and so powerfully moved by the experience. She said, "Perrie told me I was 'gorgeous'!" She was soaring!

When I first became a parent, I thought that my role was to keep what I perceived as a negative influence away from my children. I judged those who made choices that I didn't feel were "wholesome" enough. As my children have grown, I have learned that they truly know what is best for them. Many of my past judgements were fear-based. I know that whatever my children are interested in is an extension of themselves and by judging their interests I am judging them. This is not coming from a place of love, but a place of fear. I do not wish this to be part of our relationship.

Radical Unschooling is not neglectful or permissive because we "allow" our children to watch television, play video games or immerse themselves in pop-culture. In fact, it is the greatest example of unconditional love and acceptance that we can have for our children during their teen years.

Thanks for reading! Please share ways in which you have supported your children in their love for something that others, or your past self, has judged as negative.


Melissa Twing said...

When I found out I was having a son, the last thing I envisioned was a "gamer". In fact I never even thought video games would enter the picture at all. And yet here we are and I have learned to embrace it whole heartedly. In fact we will be attending our first gaming convention next month for his 8th birthday. Being the mother to all three of my amazingly individual, unique children has TRULY taught me so much. The most important being, that I don't get to decide who they are or what their interests are. They are who they are...and who they are is AMAZING!

Erin said...

Thank you so much for this! I have been on a parenting journey away from the "natural parenting" crowd which seeks to protect children from unwholesome (great word) influences, and toward what I think of as radical trustful parenting. There are so few people who can relate to this at all... the one thing that almost all parents seem to agree on is that a parent's job is to teach and mold children. So I sometimes get a feeling like I am on a boat sailing away from shore and watching everyone on the beach fade into the distance....

I've been working on starting a school based on the Sudbury model, which is similar to unschooling but in a mixed-age community with democratic government (students & staff being equal). I don't know how many people will actually end up enrolling because parents are SO resistant and sometimes appalled when they stop to really contemplate letting their children being truly free.

R Gifford said...

Hi, Dayna. I love your beautiful thoughts here. I have meditated on the notion of unconditional trust in my child's choices and path many times in recent months as we are figuring out next steps for our soon-to-be five-year-old son. Has has been very happily enrolled in a Reggio Emilia-inspired preschool/pre-K program for three years. As our sensitive, wonderfully quirky kid reaches the age of traditional kindergarten we are offering him choices for what he'd like to do next. As parents mistrustful of educational institutions, we are attracted to home school and love the idea of unschooling. But right now his conscious choice is to go to kindergarten -- at a progressive/alternative school, if possible, but a more traditional program may be all that is available to us. So, if we trust our child with his own freedom and learning path choices, than we have to trust even those that seem less "free" or "natural" to us. Of course this desire to go to school may change over time, and our intention is to be very sensitive to that. But this unusual situation is what trust parenting means to us right now. Thanks again for your blog, Dayna.