Positivity +

How unschooling can change the parents.

Principles of unschooling, once well understood and practiced, can be extended beyond the children.

In a side message someone wrote "It's amazing that the more that I immerse myself in & practice unschooling principles, the more that I'm able to empower myself to move through some rough patches."

That amazed a mom who is fairly new to unschooling, but it doesn't surprise me. I'm used to people finding that if they really can relax into a focus on learning, peace, joy, partnership, and other central principles, their entire life becomes easier.

Unschooling can make life better. Really, fully unschooling becomes more philosophical and spiritual than people expect it to.

Resisting unschooling, resisting partnership, resisting joy, resisting peace, clinging to negativity—I've seen people do that since I began unschooling 24 years ago. I have seen unschooling fail in many families. Almost always, it was because of negativity and adversarial relationships.

I would prefer that no one respond to this post who wants to argue in favor of negativity in any form. Negativity is never more than a click away, on the internet. Encouragement of being positive is much harder to find.

I'm going to add some links to collections of notes and writing about some topics that might help people who aren't used to these ideas yet, who aren't really unschooling, or who (for whatever reasons) have more negativity in their lives than they would like.

The writing above and many of the comments below are from the facebook group Radical Unschooling Info, November 25, 2014. If that's still there, you can go and see who liked what.

Alicia Knight:
Unschooling was transformative not only to my parenting, but also to my life, and to our family life. One thing that really registered was considering family as community. This has stayed with us through the years. Now we are a family of adults living, sharing and enjoying our home together.

Deb Lewis, in 2012:
Someone once suggested that having a joyful life as one of my goals was potentially damaging to my son because he wouldn't have an "authentic" experience (or something like that). I said I was willing to risk those terrible dangers.

My mom and her mom were full of fear. David's mom and her mom, full of anxiety and prone to depression. It seemed to me, if we gave our son those genetics then we owed him a life and environment that didn't help any of that stuff fester or become malignant.
—Deb Lewis
original, on facebook,
Radical Unschooling info,
Feb 2012

(photos are links)

Andrea Quenneville:
Unschooling has made me kinder to and more understanding of other people's children, too.

Hannah Brewin:
Unschooling has definitely changed my life for the better. Our family life is more peaceful and happy. I've stopped trying to control my husband (I had the best intentions at heart) and our marriage is more satisfying, we are much more connected and understanding of each other. I just let him be him and he lets me be me and we both work together for the good of the family.

I feel less stress as a parent because I am able to let go of things that don't matter (eg mess) and just enjoy my son.

So thank you Sandra! And thank you unschooling!

April Smith:
Unschooling has made me more aware of my children as individuals and has taught me to appreciate their abilities. I am able to watch them grown into the people their are meant to be, not what they might be forced to be by public schools.

Alison Day:
We aren't unschooling, yet I've been reading here and elsewhere for six years for exactly this, the focus on peace, joy, partnership, saying yes, and other central principles. These principles add so much to every relationship, and help me to accept life's curveballs.

Colleen Burns:
Unschooling has helped me to love my children better. Showing more love to my children has helped me to love ME better. Being more loving toward myself has helped me to be a much better and more loving partner. It's like a crazy upward spiral! Our marriage has benefitted tremendously!

It has come to be that negativity just doesn't seem to belong within our family culture. When it sneaks in--with my partner and I anyway--we are much more ready to identify it, apologize right away and draw closer instead of letting anything fester or build. It just feels so wrong against the backdrop of peace and love we are creating.

I never realized what marriage could be; our relationship has become so much deeper and more loving. Much of this is because of unschooling.

Sandra Dodd:
Colleen Burns, thank you for writing this: "I never realized what marriage could be; our relationship has become so much deeper and more loving. Much of this is because of unschooling."

Over the years I have seen marriages improve, and have seen marriages fail. I've been criticized by former (sometimes current) unschoolers whose marriages failed and don't want to feel at all guilty or concerned about it.

Improved is better than failed. Solid and long-lasting is better than painful and disrupted.

My middle son, Marty, got married on November 20. The bride's parents are still married and were both there. No step parents. The groom's parents are still married and were both there. I think this is unusual, and that's a shame. I have read that this condition, of having both sets of parents/in-laws still together is correlated with a longer lasting marriage. Likelihood or statistical leaning isn't the same as a guarantee, but it's better than its opposite.

When a family stays together, and when the marriage is improved and solidified, it's not just good for the children. It's good for the grown children, and grandchildren. It's better for holidays and family events, for estate planning and inheritance. It's better for being able to leave photo albums out, and photos of children with their parents still out on the wall, without trying to revise history to keep from offending new wife, new husband, girlfriend, boyfriend. It's better for casual stories like "Remember when we went to White Sands?" It's less likely that a story will need to be abandoned midway or trailed away from because someone who was there, and fun, is now estranged from the family.

I didn't know, 20 years ago, that unschooling could strengthen a marriage. I did know that a good marriage would strengthen unschooling.

Janine Davies, in response to the first quote:
**Unschooling can make life better. Really, fully unschooling becomes more philosophical and spiritual than people expect it to.**

I have acknowledged my experience of this before now when I first really 'got' and fully applied radical unschooling, and now with each day, month, year, this becomes stronger and stronger in my experience.

It's exhilarating to me, the transformative power of unschooling. It is the thing that has finally drained negativity out of my life and pushed me daily further and further away from it, and further and further towards positivity in every area of my life. When it does sneak in again it is more obvious and ugly and I see it for the poison it is. It was ever present through my childhood, my youth, relationships and early parenting.

Now I have this wonderful tool to transform this for the rest of my life, and through being more positive happy and hopeful, and promoting the power of that through attraction - change the outcome for my whole family and hopefully generations to come. Powerful stuff.

Erika Aasen:
What you wrote is so true for me/ us as well! Thanks for sharing your rad. unschooling life on the web. It has been so inspiring for us!

Marta Venturini:
I just wanted to add another link to this amazing set of insightful writings. As I was reading some of the links that you suggested here Sandra, they reminded me of this wonderful article you wrote last year about being a better partner. Thank you so much for writing and sharing it! My marriage is undoubtebly better because of all the wisdom you share so openly and generously with us. 🙂
Becoming a Better Partner
(Marta's photo is there.)

Carefully the first time

The idea of living so that you don't have negative things to journal about is a good tool.
No one is perfect, but without imagining positivity, how could you aim toward it?
Without experiencing positivity, how could you know you wanted to return there?

Help (chat transcript)
photo by Jihong Tang

All of these have links to other things.

Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch.

That's the way to use writings like these to make life more peaceful and productive.

Something about changing, on Joyce Fetteroll's site:
I'm doing the best I can. I'm not perfect.

A list of unschooling principles (a list, not *the* list) by Pam Sorooshian, with notes:
Principles of Unschooling

And I was thinking about the social, safety, coercion parts, in relation to marriage. Partners learn to be closer and stronger and kinder, as they grow and change. Or they don't. But unschooling can help them do it.

Notes from and about spouses Spouses

How to Avoid Trying to Control Husbands, regarding unschooling (by De/Sanguinegirl)

Thoughts on Changing https://sandradodd.com/change/

Long before this page existed, someone in a chat asked what I meant by "Positive." I wrote:
Positive is not being cynical and not being pessimistic and not taking pride in being dark and pissy.
Chats can be blunt. 😊 It was here: Who can Unschool? (and it's still there)

Negativity (which is also about positivity)

Thoughts about doing better

Stories of how Families Changed