I have just had my mom here staying in my home for five weeks (she moved to another continent 15 years ago) and I can tell you that those words of Sandra's are as true as true can be!
Nothing else in 50 years has helped me heal more than unschooling my children. I have tried it all and read it all, and had some therapy (my mom used physical violence too).
I'll be honest, I was slightly dreading her coming, but also mixed in there was excitement of her seeing the peace and joy in my family now. I was secretly hoping that perhaps finally she might praise me, or even notice the difference and chat to me positively about it. That would have been a start.
I prepared myself and the family as best I could. I sent her Pam Laricchia's book and wrote her some info on how we live now (she hadn't been here for three years—which should also tell you how much connection we all have with her….). I felt she needed to know as it is so different from three years ago and she would be staying in our house for five week. She saw it as me worrying and not welcoming her.
What we got was tough, and she hadn't read the book, I had hoped she would as she wrote back to me initially and thanked me for it and said she would really give it a go to understand more what we are doing, I even wrote on here about how happy and hopeful I was with that response, but clearly it was not what she did… and I got no praise or positive words—not any any recognition at all. But what it did show me in spades was how far I have come—how much further toward "better " I have come, and so very, very glad I am that we are living, loving and learning this way.
I still in her presence craved just a little of what I didn't get as a child and that surprised me. I also almost instantly felt the need to retreat from her and protect myself ("five weeks" was all I could think about most of the time!) but what surprised me more, and was stronger and so overrode my personal desire for her approval, was the healing that has happened from unschooling my boys.
It has really touched me deeply and profoundly, and each time she tried to cut me down with a remark or comment (they came thick and fast in the last few weeks), instead of rising to the bait I went to my boys and hugged them or just sat with them, asked them if there was anything I could do for them or bring them. I knew she would be thinking 'Oh she spoils those boys so much.' I could have written the script that will have gone back to home with her word for word, but I don't care! because the gift of her trip (even though it was a test of endurance) is that I have healed, and I have healed from unschooling my boys!
I wavered a bit in the middle for sure—a sensitive perceptive and deep-thinking gal like me would have trouble not—but overall it was an exhilarating experience and compounded so much deeper for me all the reasons for living this wonderful way.
Every time I bought a gift for the boys or sweets or ice cream I could feel the energy from her.
I could feel the healing in me,
with each monkey platter I took to them while they where gaming or watching a film or whatever,
each time I comforted them and made a transition sweeter,
each time I reminded her to be quieter because my eldest was still asleep from late night gaming,
each time they had a choice,
each time we played with the cat in my loft bedroom and we all ended up in the one bed for cuddles and one or both staying/falling asleep there,
every single time I said YES where she said NO to me for years.
I stopped pushing down the hurtful memories. Instead I was reminded of them and healed from them while she was here.
One painful one that sticks out was the dinner table for me—forced to stay for hours till vegegables were eaten, made to sit still and use formal table manners, and if not complied too having hands slapped and being verbally shamed for forgetting to saying please or thank you, I could go on…So imagine how wonderful that area of unschooling was/is for me and to see my boys free to choose where they eat and when, sometimes bouncing joyfully to the table because they want to chat with me and be with me/us, or just wanting to eat their dinner at the table, to be asking them while she was here where they wanted to eat, if they wanted to eat right now, and then either taking it to them or setting them a place at the table at which there is absolutely no shaming or Victorian etiquette!
She will have thought it all utter madness, and I laugh out loud each time I think of that, not out of disrespect or vengeance—I would never raise my kids a certain way to exact revenge on my mum.
Victory is what it feels like—the biggest victory in my life so far. I am my own healer and validator. Unschooling my every thought word and deed is my healer, my boys are the absolute proof of my victory and my healing. I am now a sweeter, kinder person—a less judgemental, critical and negative person. I have found again the joy, curiosity and fun that was squished (and often violently) out of my life so much as a child, and I can't get enough of it! Bring it on! Unschooling heals and rocks!
The general story has been told by others. Healing can come from positive examples or negative. People who reject unschooling might later come around. Or unschooled children might grow to adulthood before their grandparents see the benefits in their lives.
Many, many, though have seen acceptance in a few years. And the book referenced above is Free to Learn, by Pam Laricchia. If the grandmother in the account above had read the book before her five-week visit. It would have made at least four lives better immediately.