Tag Archive | respect

Thought for the New Year

As the old year ends and new one begins I want to say a couple of  things. 20161230_134020

First; I want to say a massive THANK YOU to all those who’ve supported my work during this last year. Without your lovely messages, reviews, encouragement and endorsement I wouldn’t have kept going. No writer can do so without readers.

We’re all like kids really – we all need a little bit of praise and support to spur us on. Thank you for yours. It’s been heartwarming and fuel for my work.

Secondly, as time to take the decs down draws near, I thought I’d leave you an idea to mull over as you launch into your new family year:

Parenting IS Educating. 

And:

Education (in school or out of it) depends on parenting.

Obviously, parenting is not the only influence on your child’s education. But your parenting supports it. Just by loving your children, loving what they do, being engaged in what they do, gently guiding what they do, demonstrating what’s best to do – and to be, you educate.

It may not be evident in tangible ways. But the effect is immeasurable.

Parenting is the most important job you’ll ever do. (See the page)

Finally, do all that you do with your children with respect – there’s no love without it.

Wishing you a loving new year.

You won’t ruin them on your own!

Chelsea’s working so hard at the moment. She’s initiated a new production for the Brighton Fringe

A bold and thought provoking production

this year and is working on it with friends. It’s an impressive undertaking and I so admire her, tinged with concern of course at how busy she is.

I look at our two young adults now and wonder how they got to be the wonderful people they are – it’s something you always worry about as a parent, particularly a home educating parent.

I know all our experiences shape us; from childhood, school, home education, family, work, whatever. And although we can control some of the experiences our youngsters have we’ll never control all of it however much we want to keep them sweet. And we certainly can’t control how they respond to those experiences – that response is inherent in them. We won’t be able to determine that entirely.

For it is never nurture (or nature) in isolation, as the debate leads us to believe, it is the interaction between the two that determines the people our kids become. It is the youngsters’ reaction to their experiences which determine how things turn out. So that is never entirely the parents’ fault. A lot is genetic.

That’s a comforting thought when you’re parenting, particularly if you’re a home schooling parent and worrying you may be ruining the children.

Be reassured; if you are ruining them – you won’t be ruining them on your own!

In fact, I’m sure you won’t be ruining them at all, it’s far more likely that by parenting with care and respect – and I guess you care and respect otherwise you probably wouldn’t be the type of parent visiting here and reading this – you will be developing those qualities in them. And this will in turn nurture caring and respectful responses to the world from them, thereby influencing a little how they respond and what they will become.

But mostly they do it for themselves, even if they make decisions based on our attitudes.

Chelsea is inherently who she is on her own. Maybe with snippets of attitudes she grew up with here in her early years, but mostly she’s chosen what she reckons are the best of what she’s seen for herself. That’s what they’ve been educated to do.

And seeing the choices she is making I can only be proud!

5 elements of parenting (and education) that are important

The two little girls from ‘A Funny Kind of Education’ in a rare academic moment!

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!

Can your kids trust what you say about school?

“You look like you’re in an institution, mum,” she giggled as she snapped this picture on the slant! 010

I wasn’t, we were just sitting next to a beach volleyball court when my daughter took this.

We’d walked along the front together and found a little cafe to have a drink before walking back. It seemed like summer and it was only last week. Now I sit and write this with woollies on and showers lashing the windows.

It was so lovely seeing her again. We manage it every couple of months as she miles away now where her work is, but share daily texts. I get twitchy when we’re not in contact for a few days.

It’s half term and the town is full of parents and kids in proper contact but many seeming not to enjoy it half as much as we do.

We spent almost ten years enjoying being together when we were home educating so you can imagine the distance is taking some getting used to!

People often ask how we managed. Saying how grateful they are that their kids are off their hands all day and what a trial these term breaks are. But the thing about home educating is that we had the opportunity to grow a different kind of being together than when the kids were in school.

I talked about this before in this September post. But what I forgot to mention is the idea of trust.

It must be so hard for kids to really trust their parents when they uphold that school is good, when to some kids it just seems like torture. It must be so hard for kids to trust that their parents know best when those same parents seem to spend an awful lot of time complaining about school. And it must be horrid if the kids get the idea that really mum and dad just want them off their hands.

How do you build a sense of trust, an essential part of respect, in that scenario?

We originally asked our kids to trust what we said about school being right for them. We maintained it was worth a try. We suggested there would be things about it they might really like and enjoy.

When that started to go wrong, when it became apparent that school clearly wasn’t right for them, that they weren’t enjoying it and they’d given it a fair trial but were still unhappy and unwell, we stopped selling it to them. We no longer asked them to trust things we didn’t even believe in ourselves any more. We talked about home educating, about them learning at home, and we watched them explode with delight.

And the delight continued, despite the challenges. But those challenges were overcome by the fact that our relationship was built on that position of trust – the kids trusted that we would not uphold false stories.

I don’t think that would have been the case if we’d left them in a scenario that no one trusted any more. They’d have known it was a lie.

We cannot lie to our kids. Agreed, there’s a few ‘stories’ we occasionally tell them; Father Christmas for one! But kids know the truth, despite what you’re telling them. They have to trust us, trust what we say, how we behave. Once that trust is in place the relationships follows.

And a good relationship with your kids is truly worth putting yourself out for as it pays a lifetime of dividends. As I enjoy now despite the distance!

What defines your parenting style?

Oooo-er! How do you answer that? Where do you start, whatever would you say?

I was spouting gobbledegook when I got asked it a little while ago.

It was a journalist looking for a quick one-line answer as they always do. And I cringed as I always do with journalists and wanted to waffle on – as I always do!

But maybe that’s because I hadn’t ever properly thought this through. It got me thinking –what would be my answer?

In the end I got beyond a one-liner; I got it refined down to one word.

RESPECT

You might have thought I’d say LOVE. But you can’t actually have love without respect. You don’t truly love someone without having respect for who they are. Love and respect are intricately linked. You can’t love someone you have no respect for because it becomes abusive or controlling. Loving is not controlling.

You might have also thought I’d say CARE.  But if you think about it, that’s what respect is really. Care for one another, care in the way you behave towards one another, care for each others’ feelings, in the perspective of your own too and how you interact with others. Care is demonstrated through respect, isn’t it?

Your respectful behaviour towards others demonstrates a kind of care for them. So BEHAVIOUR is another element of respect. And that’s the greatest way of teaching your children about respect too. The way you behave towards them sets them an example. You can’t behave one way and expect your child to do something different. You have to be respectful towards them if you want them to be respectful towards you and others.

And that also extends beyond people to your behaviour towards your home, your environment, the planet, your work, your lifestyle. Respect needs to inform everything you do as a parent. That’s how you raise respectful people. Your RESEPCTFUL, CARING BEHAVIOUR teaches others around you about respect.

Some people cite discipline as a form of respect. They think discipline means respect. In a way it’s part of it – but it’s usually the wrong sort of discipline they’re thinking about. Many parents (and teachers) think kids should have discipline as if it’s something you add on by forcing it into them (not respectful!). But the only form of discipline that works is one that’s initiated in the self and that’s SELF DISCIPLINE. Self discipline is learned from the example of self discipline our kids have demonstrated to them by you. From the example of SELF RESPECT you’re giving.

I looked up ‘respect’ in the dictionary just to check. The meaning relevant to parenting is: ‘due regard for the feelings, wishes and rights of others’.

I would say that is exactly what defines my parenting.

And respect is MUTUAL in this house. Always has been. Always will be.

And even though I’ve waffled on, that is the one word that truly defines my parenting style and through which we’ve always expressed our love for one another:

RESPECT!