The other day, my daughter (11.5 years old) came to me and said: “Mom, I think you are too easy on me”.
(I did not ask what she meant. It was much more valuable to leave it as an all-encompassing statement, not area specific).
I only said: “I sometimes think that, too, but then you come to me, and say something like that, and I just think: Oh my God, this really works! You see, I used to think the same about how I was raising your older brothers, and then I noticed that probably because I trusted them to do the right thing and was not using punishment and discipline, they had to figure out for themselves what was right, what served them well and what didn’t. They were not busy with how unfair I was as the adult in their lives but rather they were experimenting and learning what works. I think they are still learning that in their adult lives now, and it seems to work well for them, even though I’m not around to guide them anymore. There will come a time when you will leave to go live as an adult, and I will still trust you to figure out what is right for you and what works for you”.
In one of the essays he wrote to send with one of his college applications, my older son wrote:
“Perhaps more importantly, however, homeschooling has allowed me to become extremely self-directed and independent. I do not wait for my discipline to come from external sources, because it never has. From an early age I have set my own goals and, to a large extent, met them, without being coerced to do so. I welcome guidance, but I do not expect anyone else to be in charge of my life—a trait which I believe will continue to serve me well in the years ahead”.
I thought he said it very well.
I am so pleased to hear stories like this. I was homeschooled as a teenager (I would have preferred unschooling, but I took what I could get), and I sometimes feel I spend much of my adult life trying to convince adults that they really can trust children. That children are not stupid. That they are just inexperienced. But they’re quickly working things out in their own minds.
I am grateful that there are parents like you out there.
Thank you. Children can really be trusted. Especially when that is what you expect of them; they will prove you right. The same is true when you expect the opposite. If you persist in not trusting them, they will often prove you right about that, too.
Yes, I believe you’re right about that. My parents always trusted my sisters and me, and we were always very careful not to break that trust. But I see so many parents who expect so little of their children, and get so little in return.