"I deserve..."

That's a problem.

Jen Keefe wrote:
I like the idea that the "deserve" becomes irrelevant when a family is unschooling. This has been my experience.

I started out thinking I deserved a lot of thing because I had "sacrificed" my career/life/etc. to be a stay at home parent. I "deserved" the nights when my husband was home "to myself", because I'd been home meeting the needs of my children all day. I "deserved" to sleep in on the weekends because I was not sleeping much during the week with two nursing babies.

Deserve is different than need or want, I think. There were some days when I did need more sleep. There were some days where having time at night to shower and maybe read a book could have been helpful in me being a better mother.

What a different place it feels like though, to think "I would enjoy a shower or to read a book, and I think it might help me to be kinder to my children" than "damn it, I've been with these kids all day and I *deserve* a break", or even "I love my kids, but I *deserve* some time to myself".

Looking back now at the mother I was then, I see that thinking I deserved something in exchange for being the mother of my children created disconnection and an inability to fully be their mother. Plus, what a hurtful message to send to my kids that they are so trying that any sane person deserves a form of payment for parenting them.

One of the things I have found so wonderful about learning about unschooling is that whatever I learn in relation to my family life carries over to the rest of my life. I cannot remember the last time I felt like I "deserved" anything- that is a significant shift in the way I experience life and it has created a different childhood for my children.

I think it's possible for people to think that the only other option to deserve is to acquiesce or something similar like live miserably because you are never getting anything you want. This has not been my experience though.

Jen Keefe

There's a good bit in Hamlet, about what people deserve:
(to FIRST PLAYER) 'Tis well. I'll have thee speak out the rest soon. (to POLONIUS) Good my lord, will you see the players well bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used, for they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time. After your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.

My lord, I will use them according to their desert.

God's bodykins, man, much better. Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping? Use them after your own honor and dignity. The less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty. Take them in.

Act II Scene 2 about 500 lines in or so

Once upon a time on facebook, someone posted on her page just this:
Ahhh apparently I am not good enough to deserve either the truth or an apology.
Without knowing any details, another person responded:
Um no fuck that. Everyone is good enough to deserve that.
If an apology seems due, the offender may or may not have it in him or her to apologize. People don't have objective worth, generally. There are some very bad people in the world, but even they might be kind to an elderly neighbor, or honest on their taxes, or something. Not everyone apologizes well. There are some things for which an apology isn't appropriate.

Few situations are starkly clear, and "deserves" isn't likely to clarify.

Happy and healthy appreciation

If people live wanting what they think they "deserve," they will not be as happy or healthy as if they could live appreciating what they have.

photo by Kelly Halldorson

Two discussion at Radical Unschooling Info (on facebook), November 2016:
"Deserve." I want to talk about perception a bit. It will make me feel better to write this down, and it might help some readers, but it's not much of a beginning unschooling topic, so ignore it any who don't see value.

I saw a post on someone's page yesterday. I don't remember all of it, but it said "I deserve to be prioritized. I deserve a confidant. I deserve to be respected." ...

. . . .

No one "deserves" to be heard or respected. I pay attention to LOTS of people, and some more than others. That's good. Anyone who claims to respect all opinions equally is saying something worthless and untrue. Waste of air, paper, ink or pixels.

—Sandra Dodd
and January 2017 (a follow-up):
There was a discussion here a couple of months ago about the idea of "deserving" something, specifically in the context of "deserving to be heard". I got a lot out of that thread, but I seem to be having trouble with my feelings of NOT deserving something, in the context of the privilege to unschool.

Karen James, from the November discussion, here.
I've been thinking about this for a few days now, because the first thing that came to mind for me was how often I think I don't deserve things. I remember maybe a couple of years back, Sandra shared a page she had made with some of the things I had written on it. My first thought (and I shared that with her) was that I didn't think I deserved a page dedicated to the things I'd written. I felt they weren't worth that much attention. Sandra asked me then what I meant by "deserve?" I didn't know, so I didn't say much. I remember reflecting on that for a few days. What *did* I mean by deserve?

Sandra just wrote above: ***If the person "deserves" it, you haven't really given them a gift.***

As I'm reflecting on my earlier exchange with Sandra, I seem to recall thinking to myself that my comment about not deserving to have my writing saved wasn't very generous of me. Sandra was doing something for people who wanted to learn more about unschooling, and I was making it about me.

The idea of "deserving" can shift the focus in a less constructive direction. It can muddy intention and get in the way of making thoughtful choices. It can devalue true generosity.

I was walking with Ethan on the beach a day or two ago. He'd brought up how incredible he thought it was that bacteria was everywhere. It led to an interesting winding, deep conversation that found me asking him, "Do you ever wonder what the whole purpose is?" He said something like, "Not really. I'm just glad I'm here." I remember feeling wonderful that he can experience the world in such an open-hearted way. There doesn't need to be a reason for him to live his life fully.

Perhaps "deserve" can get in the way of experiencing what we have, what we're given, what we do, and what we give with that kind of openness and appreciation. I'm not sure. Still haven't worked it out, but I've really enjoyed thinking about it."

Karen James

In one of those discussions above I wrote:
What I hope to do here is to help all readers to see and think as clearly as possible about what they can practically and actually do to make their children's lives more peaceful and filled with learning. And if that practice and awareness of seeing more clearly and writing more thoughtfully make the rest of their lives better, it's just another of many larger benefits that success at unschooling can potentially bring, but that no one deserves or earned. A series of good circumstances and choices might create a tenuous but lucky path, for a while.

"Deserve" might be as over-used these days as "struggle."
links added for this page

I'm interested in the idea of "deserves." I've just seen an ad that said "Everyone deserves hip shoes that fit!" Everyone has earned that? Or hip shoes that fit (regardless of price, or whether the person would be willing to be seen in the same room as those shoes) are what each person "deserves"?

So much deprivation.

"Deserve" might be as over-used these days as "struggle."

People would be happier if they weren't struggling with the frustration of not having all those things they are told they deserve. It's the opposite of gratitude and abundance.

me on my own facebook page, March 2019
Though it started about advertising and logic, there are weird and interesting comments there.

I've brought "deserves" examples (not good ones) up at Trivial Curiosities, Rants and Philosophy with Sandra Dodd several times, and that link might to to half a dozen or so of those examples and comments with comments.

How to raise a respected child

Earning points, credibility, "credits"


Serving others as a gift