Chelsea and I were having a giggle on the phone the other morning. We speak most days – treasured times!
We talk about all sorts of things usually starting with current irritations, concerns and recently the bloody weather. And we talk about creative pursuits, finding solutions and sometimes even more philosophical ideas that inspire us; that really make us think.
Sometimes of course we just rant!
This time we were talking about delayed gratification. The skill more usually associated with the development of children but which, we noted, some of the adults around us don’t seem to have matured enough to acquire!
Being able to delay gratification is important. It means, when necessary, we are able to put off immediate rewards for longer term benefits. We need it for saving perhaps – by not spending now we will benefit by being able to afford something later on. Or for health as another example – by resisting too many pieces of cake I’ll benefit health wise in the longer term. Tricky one that!
The need for instant gratification in little people is sometimes desperate. They want it and they want it NOW. And no amount of reasoning will enable them to see otherwise if they are not at a level of maturity to have experienced the gains. And that’s what gradually enables them to practice the skill for themselves; by actually experiencing it. For example, by seeing how resisting frittering away those pounds whenever they’re in the sweet shop, made it possible for them to buy that Game later on which was much more expensive. They need to have benefitted from it to really understand gains.
Each child is different and each child matures at a different rate – so don’t sweat over it!
But it struck me how this applies to us too. That we, as parents, most particularly home educating parents, have to practice letting go of the need for instant gratification where education’s concerned.
To really grit our teeth sometimes, in order to keep faith in our conviction that by risking moving away from the instant reassurance of educating our kids in a proven mainstream way with proven outcomes, we will instead earn later gratification by seeing them enjoy a happier route to education outside of mainstream by a different approach.
Because they all do!
Many home schooled kids who’ve graduated before yours are proof. And if you can delay your need for that familiar mainstream reassurance now, and stick with the approach your gut tells you is right for you and your family, you will be rewarded.
Just like the children, in order to do this you need support, you need to exercise patience and faith, courage and confidence. When you wobble you need distraction or reassurance from those who’ve done it already. As you’d encourage your children to keep their eye on that Game or whatever they’re after, you should keep your focus on your longer term goals. And remind yourselves regularly of the principles behind your choices. Write them down. Post notes round the house if you need. Read what others say about their journeys. And my books may help.
And remember what it feels like when your child wavers from their course of a longer term goal and have a little wobbly, be kind to yourself when you waver too. It’s a natural part of the process!
I watched my little girls, of ‘A Funny Kind of Education’ fame, grow from the need for having it and having it now to the skill of seeing a wider view and manage to practice restraint in order to manifest later rewards. And I have watched them develop away from the need to always do what they want when they want, into intelligent, social, caring and hard working members of society who can make wider contribution beyond themselves.
As no doubt yours will.
And one day you’ll also be getting phone calls that really make you think!