"Although I speak from my own experience, I feel that no one has the right to impose his or her beliefs on another person. I will not propose to you that my way is best. The decision is up to you. If you find some point which may be suitable for you, then you can carry out experiments for yourself. If you find that it is off no use, then you can discard it." Dalai Lama...

Monday, 28 January 2008

Commitment to freedom?

Laura from Wistful Wanderlust commented on the pictures of Emily baking whist on the counter and commended my commitment to freedom.

I have been questioning my commitment to allowing Emily freedom.

I have always allowed her to sit on the counters and climb an the table(it has been a ship, a carriage,a comfy place for her whilst playing board games)she never went to anybody else's house or a restaurant and sat on tables she knew without words not to do that.Emily has always wanted to do things differently,I always let her dip her hands in the paint pots at play group and home and smear it on the paper rather than do the picture with brushes if that was what she wanted.She liked to press the playdough into her face and feel it on her feet.If she wanted to move from the table after she had eaten and before others had finished she could go and play,(she would find it virtually impossible to sit still and wait for others),she has always had the choice of what to wear and if that involved wellies in the sun or carrying her umbrella when it wasn't raining then so be it.She still has a dummy at nearly nine.The dummy gives her comfort, she has never taken to sucking her thumb, I couldn't think of taking away something that gives her so much joy.

Now why am I questioning my commitment?

I have not always done these things with confidence,sitting on the table etc is fine as the people who come in to my home are people I know(although a lot of family members were not impressed)and I did not get too anxious about it.

At playgroups etc when she didn't want to do the lovely neat pictures that the other kids did,I let her dip and smear, this is what she wanted to do and for her it was a much more pleasurable experience than using a brush but I did get embarrassed and wanted to get it over with as soon as possible.

Eating at others houses(especially if other children were at the table and expected to sit till the end) was always difficult for me, I always wished she could just do as the other kids did.

The clothes I never really had a problem with cos little kids look cute don't they and people kind of accept it.But now she is nearly nine and wanting to wear odd things and not brush her hair, will my commitment to freedom last? Well the clothing I can accept but not brushing her hair is something that I can't pass on,If I could afford it I would pay to have it braided but can't imagine just letting her not brush it and turn into dreads which is what she would do because she hates having it brushed so much.This is not because I have a problem with dreads but it would be more about other peoples views and judgements about my parenting.

Oh the dummy??? This has given me the biggest dilemma ever.She has it and I can feel how much it means to her, but I limit the places she can be seen using it because of the judgements of others and how I feel it reflects on me as a mum.

So am I actually committed to Emily's freedoms? I am allowing her some freedoms in her life because they are things that make her who she is regardless of how they make me feel but there are areas I can't go because of my own hangups.

Main Entry: com·mit·ment
Function: noun
Pronunciation: k&-'mit-m&nt
1 a : an act of committing to a charge or trust: as (1) : a consignment to a penal or mental institution (2) : an act of referring a matter to a legislative committee b : MITTIMUS
2 a : an agreement or pledge to do something in the future ; especially : an engagement to assume a financial obligation at a future date b : something pledged c : the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled

I feel obliged and emotionaly impelled to the cause,I want Emily to grow up with a strong sense of self.I want her to live her life as free as possible of other peoples constraints.So I can talk the talk but will I be able to walk the walk?

I feel I have some work to do before the dreads are an option!!!!I have not had a discussion with Al yet about this as he is at work but it would be my guess that he would find it easier to allow the dreads and not care how others veiwed him as a parent.
But not so long ago we had a lot of work to do before we took her out of school, I was the one who was sure of that as the way forward Al had a lot more concerns than I did.
Who knows where my limitations are and how this will affect Emily's freedom.My understanding if I have it correct is that in the purest sense unschooling/autonomy is about freedom to be who you are to have the right to act independantly without being told what to do . I can't have a halfway house where I allow some things and then control others.It is such a big step and I just can't get there yet!!!!


piscesgrrl said...

I have a child who lives outside every box ever created too. In fact, I just lamented to my mother yesterday that it's difficult for me when we're out and about because I see the reactions and body language of other (more authoritarian) parents who wonder why I don't discipline him harshly. I know it's the trust and freedom that is making my son whole, but it's still difficult to stand apart from others. He has a very strong need for autonomy. (School would have destroyed him, I'm sure of it.)

I find ways to give my son information. If I think something is going to be unacceptable to others, phrases like, "Just so you know, so-and-so might be uncomfortable with that" are offered so he can make more informed decisions about social situations. That also prevents any surprise confrontations. I find my son is pretty good about respecting the wishes of others when possible.

I give lots and lots of information. There is no running allowed at our homeschool group's gathering place, so we try to vent energy beforehand and talk about why that is (and why it's aggravating). Anything to pave the way to make the social situation more smooth.

You might try that?

Lynn said...

I think you may just become my gaurdian angel... thank you for caring and commenting. I will try those things , you are right it is about communication with her and I really need to get stronger and grow a thicker skin....

Michelle said...

Clo has the right to make her own decisions but then she has to accept the consequences. So if she will not have her hair brushed (which is virtually every day) then she has to accept that I will make a sighing comment about the being pulled through a hedge backwards look she evidently prefers.

At the end of the day she likes it when we are all happy with each other and I'm happier if she looks halfway presentable.

She sucked her thumbs. Both of them. So much that they cracked and hurt so she was motivated to stop. We applied sticky plasters and that reminded her not to suck. It only took a week, but she was highly motivated as the pleasurable habit was not pleasurable any more.

Her friend (will be 8 in July)still has a baby bottle for her morning milk.

Lynn said...

Thanks Michelle,
I accept her differences(they are the things that make her the adorable bundle she is) and they are a big part of the reason school just didn't work for her. I have thought a lot about this and I think my problem is my own confidence (lack of) and that then makes it difficult for me to step outside the box and back Emily up in the different choices she makes.
Your point is very valid , we do all have to live happily together and perhaps my focus has been much more on Emily's choices and feeling that in some way I am being too controlling in things, perhaps neglecting the fact I too have a voice.
I am in a real growth period personaly and I think my own memories of being very controled as a child are creeping in and overshadowing things,I did not feel I had any way to express myself, so I am finding it difficult for rational thinking about personal freedoms and how far to go.
I appreciate your comment and it helps.I have very good friends who I know would listen and help but I find it hard to reach out about things that are so personal and blogging has made it easier to open up.Strange as it seems!!!
I think that the cyber friendships could prove to be very healing for me and consequently beneficial to Emily.
I have read your blog for ages and have said before I saw similarities between the girls , it seems they have more than I first thought.Having a strong will and individual tendancies are good things but make for interesting days!!!!xxx

Michelle said...

It took me ages before I found the blogring and I so wish I'd known about it earlier as it was such a friendly place and would have reassured me a lot in the early days of HE when we were finding our feet.

We have lots of interesting days as all 3 of us here have strong wills :-)

Wish you lived nearer . . .

Michelle said...

Oh and been meaning to say how much I love the beach picture. xx

Emma said...

Hi Lynn

It is hard to know what to do. Ellie also hates having her hair brushed but she is only 5 so it is a lot easier to get her to let me brush it but I am dreading it. We use a detangling spray stuff that my mum got us from Tesco that helps a little. We spray tons of it on and then brush with a wide toothed comb. We had her hair cut last year as she hated having it brushed but it didn't make a great deal of difference. I tend to leave the bigger knots in her hair for when she has just had her hair washed as the comb goes through a lot easier.

I know it is harder though when they get to 8 or 9 and they really don't want to sit there and brush it. I 'm sorry I haven't got much in the way of advice for you but just want you to know that you are not alone in these battles of the brushes.

Take care

Lynn said...

Hi Emma, when I found your blog last night by trawling through the unschooling blog ring I did wonder if it had been you that had visited(Emily and I always get excited when we see a new flag appear on the traffic feed)yesterday.Pleased to meet you!!Thanks for your comment,I appreciate your empathy in the Hair battles, they do seem to be fairly common don't they?
The hair issue has been ongoing for years and we have tried everything going and have threatened to get it cut off in very bad moments.
The hair issue is one of the triggers that gets me thinking about personal freedoms and choice and whether as her parent I should continue to make her have it brushed or should I actually let her choose how to wear her hair. it is a question I can't answer and yet my husband would not have a problem letting her wear dreads.I will continue on with the daily battles (or every couple of days if we are staying at home) and perhaps in the future as we carry on, my expectation for her to look good so others will not judge me, will fade and what she looks like will be less of an issue to me.
Looking forward to folowing your storyXX

Gill said...

We've always had the hair problem, though it's got easier as they've got older. As for 100% freedom, well I've always tried my best to provide that but yes there have been times when I've said: "Look, we either have to conform to what's happening here [wherever we were visiting] or go elsewhere."

Michelle said...

Look what I found on the Summerhill website!

"We believe in freedom but not licence. This means that you are free to do as you like -
but you must not interfere with somebody else's freedom. You are free to go to lessons,
or stay away, because that is your own personal business, but you cannot play your
drum kit at four in the morning because it would keep other people awake."

Lynn said...

Hi Michelle, This is very useful,
thanks for thinking of me and my freedom dilemmas!!