On Saturday night my 14 year old son and I went out and bought snacks. As we picked out snacks my son chatted about what movie we might watch, picked out raw veggies for a crudités plate, a bag of cheese popcorn, and a dessert.
Cashiers and other shoppers kept catching my eye and smiling. My son is taller than me, has long hair and was dressed kind like a "cool" kid. When he calls me "mom" it has a certain tenderness in the tone—kind of the tone I use when I call one of the boys "honey" or "sweetie." He often calls me Marina. I answer to both, lol.
I realized as we walked home that people thought it is incongruous to see a Teen Boy out with his ma. I think that is in part about unschoolingmash;the affectionate respectful dialogue between parent and child. As we were leaving people were gaping as he sweetly asked me to switch bags with him, so I could carry the lighter one :)
In the past when someone with a younger child in tow has asked for "the secret" to all this respect I seem to receive I notice they can't *hear* the answer. I gave a lot of respect, choices and did a lot of trusting. I didn't ignore him. I was the resource. I listened, advised, and loved and laughed and supported. Unschooling is license, it isn't throwing conventional social rules out the window, but it is about taking a respectful approach to introducing social rules, and information. Its about a dialogue and about working together. You are responsible for the child, but also responsible to the child.