Thoughts about doing better

If by "change the world" a person means "make the world better," then step #1 must be to decide right then not to make the world worse.

A better world

Some things are better

If someone wants to unschool well, positivity is better than negativity. Gratitude is better than resentment. Optimism is better than pessimism.

photo by Cass Kotrba

Sandra Dodd on Always Learning, in 2016

As it turns out (in retrospect it’s clear, though 20 years ago, it wasn’t foreseen), becoming a better unschooler involves becoming a better person. Becoming a better person (more analytical, compassionate, patient) helps people in areas of life besides unschooling. But that’s all about the parents, and not the children. Parents can’t “teach” a child to be a good person. But they can become good examples, and better guides, partners and advisors, so that over ten or twenty years, the children have access to the parents’ clarity.

Becoming the sort of person you hope your child will be, or that your child will respect, is more valuable than years of therapy. And it’s cheaper. 🙂

(archived backup)

photos are links; credits are there


Some feedback, about what aiming for "better" can do:

I'll be forever grateful for having found you and your work and your list and everything that has put me on this path of gradually becoming a better writer, a better thinker, a better analyzer, a better mom, a better wife, a better person, etc. the list goes on and on. :) Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I just want to say thank you. Thank you for being the kind of leader Holt is talking about here. The kind that has not only helped make me a leader, but made me a better mother to my children and wife to my husband.
Thank you - you help me to choose a better life for myself and my family every day.
Thank you for your dedication to helping people understand unschooling. Your Facebook page, and daily reminders from Just Add Light and Stir, are so valuable to me. I couldn't (and wouldn't want to) imagine my life without having discovered them. I'm a better, nicer person because of unschooling.
THANK YOU!!! For helping me have the courage to make changes in my life that has made my existence on this earth so much bigger, brighter, better than it would have been if we were not an unschooling family.
We were better parents because of your thoughtful advice. [Child] had a happier life because of you.

(from the feedback page)


Bad advice

Sometimes "support" is the same as very bad advice.

For instance... Come on people, we are all doing the best that we can.
You—stressed parent—are doing a great job no matter what, and this is why:

1. No one knows your child better than you
. . . .
You are the perfect parent for your child. You are the expert. Trust yourself.

2. Our kids are going to survive.
. . . .
They are going to be okay—and so are you.

3. We're all supposed to be doing it differently.
That's from a longer blogpost called "3 Things all Parents Need to Hear."

But those things aren't helpful, and they're not true in all cases. Let's not share scare stories, but each of you could think of a scare story —just one, don't inventory all the sad things you know—about a child who didn't survive, about a parent who wasn't ANY kind of expert, who should NOT be trusted.

Anyone who soothes an irresponsible, neglectful, or abusive parent is contributing to that neglect and abuse.

ARE all kids eventually okay? No.
Is it okay to soothe the parents of kids who were neglected and abused?

The author of that blog post thinks so. The 144 people who shared it thought so.

I don't think so.

I'm NOT saying everyone should become unschoolers. Many people should not even consider unschooling. Unschooling's not easy.

What I'm saying is that it's better to encourage other parents to be conscious and careful, patient and kind, than to spread nonsense like everything's the same and no one else can say you could possibly do better.

The writing wasn't considering the kids' point of view. If a child thinks a parent could do better, shouldn't that matter? But this was just parents assuring parents that there is no such thing as half-assed, no such thing as bad parenting. All parenting is equal and all children will survive and be fine.

People who would prefer that message to actual ideas that could help should probably leave this group and find "support" for just whatever, because it is definitely out there.

The last paragraph refers to Radical Unschooling Info, on Facebook.
The original post is from July 4, 2015, at this link. Some (not all) of the responses are below.

Sandra Dodd:
This just makes me shudder: "Come on people, we are all doing the best that we can."

It means "Stop trying. Trying to do better would be stupid."

Sometimes parents encourage other parents NOT to do better. Beware those 'friends.'

Nicole Rod:
I have a story that I should probably not share, due to this being a public group. But it ties in to #2 above, and how people like to spout off that "kids are resilient." I think adults say that to make themselves feel better, and I think it's a mentality that needs to change. We as parents cannot repeatedly subject children to whatever with the belief that "kids are resilient." Bad parenting can cause real psychological damage.

Shannon McClendon:
I have some long-term issues that have to do with how I was raised. I had a counselor who repeatedly said, "your mother was doing the best she could with what she knew." It took me years (and the experience of having my own child) to admit that no, she wasn't doing the best she could. Some of the decisions she made were selfish and did not take me into consideration at all. She was dismissive of my emotions, sometimes cruel, often leaving me to my own devices.

These were things she could have changed, but she believed I was "resilient," and that conveniently gave her a lot of latitude. She loved me, but she also didn't do much to examine her own issues and how they might be affecting me. Loving your children is not enough, knowing your children is not enough.

Yes, I survived. But I want my own child to do more than just survive.

Sandra Dodd:
Beautiful: "I want my own child to do more than just survive."

When Kirby was a baby, I had a rough day, home alone, and when Keith came home I cried. I said I didn't feel like I was doing a good job, and the house was a mess (and all that stuff). He said "Is the baby still alive? Then you did a good job."

It was a nice thought for that one day, but I'm glad I didn't settle for that, with three kids over the next 20+ years.

Ten months later, Shannon returned with brilliant ideas:
Shannon McClendon:

Reading this again and thinking how horrified people would be if these sentiments were about spouses, especially a man talking about wives. We might think to ourselves, "Well, that marriage isn't going to last or be functional! She should get out!"

But children can't negotiate or get a divorce. Parents hold all the cards, and even when kids try to tell us what they need or how hurt they are, or that they are frightened (crying, having a "melt-down," complaining, pestering, and all the other negative words we use to describe child behavior), we dismiss that as them being brats or manipulating us, instead of listening to what their words, emotions, and behaviors are communicating.

Come on guys, we are all doing the best that we can.
You—stressed husband—are doing a great job no matter what, and this is why:
1. No one knows your wife better than you
. . . .
You are the perfect husband for your wife. You are the expert. Trust yourself.

2. Our wives are going to survive.
. . . .
They are going to be okay—and so are you.

3. We're all supposed to be doing it differently.

Sandra Dodd:
I'm so glad someone came and stirred this up again!

I had never thought how that would sound turned to husband/wife. Yikes. You're right.

Some of what's above was put on this page about support: What support is and isn't

Better Answers

Better Choices

Better Partners