Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dealing with Differences

We are a family outside the box. We have same sex parents, we have mixed race children, we live in a very rural environment, we earn money in non-traditional ways, we live well below the poverty level set by the federal government, our children are unschooled, we are polyamorous & bisexual, we are religiously diverse and dabble in non-traditional religions.

At the same time, we don't really feel too different from any one else. I mean we all have our quirks, right? We also support each other. There are six of us here, and for the most part, we are a cohesive unit. Matter of fact, sometimes it is hard to remember that we are all individuals with some needs that vary from each other!

How do we deal with our differences? It is not always easy. First, we listen. We listen to each other well and try to deal with differences when the first hint that they exist occurs. We brainstorm. We work hard to think outside the box. If someone needs more space, we think: can we use our space differently? Non-traditionally? If someone needs more quiet, we think: when and how can this best occur in the context of our lives. Feeling poor? How can we best use the money we have to meet everyone's needs? How can we work together to earn more?

Sometimes there are roadblocks, but in the end, things always work out. I think people are often too quick to say that things are not possible. I think parents are often too quick to control. I do not like to hear my kids disagreeing, but in reality, they are usually better and quicker at figuring things out, if I do not participate. Matter of fact, when I do try to help, they often all end up laughing at me! (Which I will admit is my "last ditch" effort to relieve the tension of some arguments.)

Thinking outside the box in relation to our relationships with the individuals in our immediate families is one of the things at the foundation of unschooling. At unschooling gatherings that I have attended, there is a huge sense of peace. Parents are not engaging in power struggles with their children. It is funny too because other than the lack of power struggles things are about the same as at any gathering of families. There are not more children running wild. Parents actually seem calmer not more harassed. There is no obvious difference in the interactions at the events than that the parents don't try so hard to control. They listen to their kids and work things out in the same ways that one would work things out with a friend who they might be traveling with. They treat their kids with respect.

It is quite shocking after attending an unschooling event to be at the playground with traditional families and to see them in the store or at the beach. There will be so much screaming and crying, and it is just so unnecessary! Listen, work together. Yes there may be times that solutions are difficult or slow in coming (just like sometimes occurs with adult friends), but a feeling of respect between parents and children can create a foundation of a childhood (teenhood, young adulthood) spent in joyful companionship instead of angry control and resentment.

1 comment:

Kali said...

I love how your family seems to talk things out before it gets to a point of standoff. So often we can eliminate the anger by truly listening to the people around us.