• Lara

What Failing as a Parent Actually Looks Like.

Updated: Feb 24

The other day it was brought to my attention that it appears I don't actually teach my children anything. Was I failing as a parent? I had to pause and ask myself when was the last time we actually sat down at the table with a textbook to do anything that resembled school at home. Nothing came to mind. The truth is, despite holding the title of "Home Schooling Mom", I don't teach my kids anything.... Anything they don't want to know that is. I believe internal motivation is the best teacher of all and one that does not result in a dictatorship type of relationship with children. As an alpha female this is a trait that I strive hard to keep in check.

This, I suppose is why I consider our manner of education to be "child led learning. This method is also known to some as Unschooling. It is difficult to pin point exactly when my children have learned certain things. But, I see their developments in a gradual progression that began when my daughter began crawling at 4 months of age and my son was toilet trained night and day at 8 months old (Really!). My children have proven time and time again they don't need me to be their teacher. I simply consider myself to be a facilitator of their various interests. I happen to be able to drive a car to take them where their interests lead them and I observe them and have conversations occasionally when I see they need guidance. Here is an example.

Last summer, my daughter (age 3 at the time), openly expressed her chocolate addiction. She comes from a long line of chocoholics and I knew it was just a matter of time before she realized she too had the same weakness. It probably didn't help things that we moved a block away from Charlie's Chocolate Factory. She was determined to buy chocolate, and I was determined to not go bankrupt funding her addiction. So, we had a conversation around earning her own money. Yes, I know she was just 3, but hear me out. We talked about having a business and selling things that would give her money and allow her to buy all the chocolate she could possibly want (insert motivation here). She was hooked on the idea and we sat down together looking up ideas for young children. She decided on toilet paper cars. She is naturally very artistic and her skills surpassed my expectations.

Trying to keep her start up expenses low, I bought some paint at Walmart. The toilet paper rolls were already in the house and I purchased some push pins for her off Amazon. And so the project began. She worked diligently painting the rolls and as soon as the paint was dry she marched over to knock on the doors of three of our neighbours and sold each of her cars for a dollar. Her big brother standing by her side in case she got nervous. I stayed home and let them figure it out.

Now she had the first taste of the benefits of entrepreneurship. She was hooked. She promptly insisted we make the trip to the chocolate shop with her little purse where she bought two pieces of candy. One for her brother and one for herself. She no longer asks me to buy her things, she asks me for toilet paper rolls so she can earn her own money.

So, what did she learn?

If you can't already tell, the list is endless. She learned about the patience and work involved in starting a small business, sourcing products and waiting for the paint to dry. She learned about public speaking skills, self confidence, valuation of her worth and work. She, at age 3, and now 4 is learning she is the captain of her financial ship and she can steer it whichever way she chooses. She is learning financial independence from others, budgeting and how easy it is to spend all the money you just worked so hard to make. She is learning how to share with others that don't have what she can afford. She learned about the joy that comes with having a dream and achieving it by yourself. She didn't learn any of this in a book or at a desk.

Best of all, I didn't teach her any of that.

She continues, a year later, to get excited about seeing a toilet paper roll and is able to make these art forms mostly independently. She even teaches her friends how to make them too. I love listening to her explaining why she makes them. These skills will so easily be transposed to other areas of her life. She is basically acquiring a business degree in her toddler years. I'll have to write again about my son's interest based skills.

I guess, perhaps when it comes to the conventional view of what a home schooling parent is for a child, I'm not the ideal. Perhaps I'm too hands off. Perhaps I don't "teach" enough. But, I know when my children are ready to take flight from under my roof, their wings will be large and very strong and they will soar knowing how to get what they want out of life. They will not play the role of victim in their circumstances. If that makes me a failure, I can live with that.

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