On the American Revolutionary War lines, at the Saratoga Battlefield, September 2016.
When we began our unschooling journey, our children were 7 and 4 years old. I was raised in a family that was at best authoritarian, and at worst emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive. Needless to say, our decision to partner with our children, and to stop enforcing arbitrary rules and punishments, was neither popular nor understood by my relatives.
“Children should be afraid of adults,” declared my father.
“All teenagers rebel, even if only a little,” wrote my sister.
When kids fear adults, it limits what they feel safe saying or doing where that adult is concerned. If they fear all adults, they can’t come to them in trust. Fear and trust are antithetical. If my children and others know they can trust me, they can come to me with big issues, mistakes, and their fears, knowing I’ll do what I can to help them.
Many people see teens as “rebellious” by nature, but I don’t agree that all teens rebel. I’ve known dozens, and am parenting one, who do not.
When there are too many constraints on a young adult – because that’s what adolescents are – they can't do the essential work of becoming independent, and they have little choice but to rebel. When parents instead assist their fledgling adults in gaining that independence, building a strong foundation throughout childhood – there’s nothing there to resist!
For us, with a fifteen year old son, and a daughter nearing her thirteenth birthday, artificial boundaries only inhibit our children’s ability to grow into strong, capable, self-possessed adults.
Did you have artificial boundaries imposed on you, as a child? Did you rebel against them, even a little? Have you imposed boundaries with your own children?Are they working out, or adding stress? Is there a restriction you could lift or ease?