I often think back to our Home educating days when the children were younger and things seemed a little simpler.
Yea – I know it’s hard to believe it’s simple right now if you’ve got a complex life with younger ones. And maybe those former days weren’t simpler as I imagine – they were just different!
Anyway, instead of the parent/child relationships we had then we now have parent/adult relationships, with best friend thrown in too.
These adult relationships, with those little girls featured in ‘A Funny Kind of Education’, are something I truly treasure. We love spending time together, we have a giggle together, they still share, and trust my support and – dare I say – wisdom! And I theirs; they teach me a lot too!
Recently someone sent me a lovely comment and expressed the hope that their own relationship with their little ones would turn into the adult ones we have now.
It made me wonder what it was that got us to this point, whether there were particular elements of parenting that aid the process.
I would say the answer lies in the elements of any relationships and is not necessarily to do with children; there’s not one rule for kids and another for grown-ups, as some seem to think. It’s just about being together and caring for one another in respectful ways.
So I came up with what I considered to be the five most important elements of our parenting, and home educating, in fact, of any relationship:
Respect – Children learn this by demonstration, by your respectful behaviour. They need to be shown the same respect as you expect from them, as you’d wish them to show to others, as you show to others. It’s derived from listening, responding, care, compromise, tolerance, talking, give and take and understanding on a mutual basis. Also from self-respect. And it has to be consistent.
Honesty – Children know when we are not honest. They learn their honesty from us. They need to be able to trust us. You have to be brave to be honest, find ways to explain even if it’s difficult. We are all human; make mistakes, get it wrong. We can admit it. Apologies work wonders. But you always have to be fair even when it’s hard. This will earn their respect too.
Communication – Always communicate, share, explain, inquire, request, listen. All relationships are based on communication whoever they’re between. Even the tiniest moments of communication can have enormous impacts. They also show you care for and respect them.
Space – It’s okay to have space from the children, as we would want space from any family members! It is not a reflection of how much we love our kids if we want to have some time away from them, just as it’s not a reflection of love for a partner if we want time apart! Space from each other helps each identify who they are.
Balance – I don’t think extremes in any aspect of life are healthy. Rules are sometimes helpful, sometimes not. Everything we do with our children – or with any relationship – should always be up for scrutiny, review and refreshment within the perspective of what we learn as we all grow together. We need to balance things like saying no with saying yes, being firm when it’s important with being able to compromise, being a playmate, being a protector. You balance many hats as a parent, the way you behave as you do so can make or break your relationship with your children and the adults they’ll become.
And of course everything here is based in LOVE. I took it for granted that element would be there anyway!