A teen boy out with his mom—what's "the secret"?

Marina DeLuca-Howard, on Always Learning, March 8, 2010

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. It's about a dialogue and about working together. You are responsible for the child, but also responsible to the child.

Marina DeLuca-Howard

"As we get older and our kids grow up, we eventually come to realize that all the big things in our lives are really the direct result of how we've handled all the little things."
—Pam Sorooshian, June 4, 2007