How to move beyond parenting with control?

Updated: Sep 7, 2019

Becoming a parent has changed me in ways I hadn’t expected.

Raising and homeschooling my son has opened my eyes to some things that are not working in the world.

Coercion. Manipulation. Control over. Power over.

Those are big scary words and big scary concepts. Many of you may stop reading here.

I’m learning through my relationship with my son how few skills I have for expressing what I need or think is best for him without some form of manipulation, passive aggressiveness or stuffing those feelings down and giving into what he wants. I’ve looked around and I’m certain I’m not alone in this parenting and relationship challenge. How is it, though, that there are people who seem to intuitively know how to set clear boundaries and boldly ask for what they want? I wonder, why do some of us have this skill and others don't?

I have come to believe, that allowing all of us, adults & children, sovereignty over our choices is one of the most important paths to a more peaceful, vibrant world. The challenge that faces us is to learn the skills to do this with grace; and without injury to others.

...sovereignty over our choices is one of the most important paths to a more peaceful, vibrant world.

I think it’s possible we can do this through examined parenthood.

Perhaps, like me, the parents most ready and willing to learn how to do this might be those with kids who are by nature less compliant in some way. The kids who are brave enough (or desperate enough) to stand up and tell their adults that manipulation and coercion doesn’t feel good, that it sucks, are paving the way for us grownups to learn a new way.

My own child opened my eyes to this, and I can’t help but feel that I have a duty to at least attempt to share this information with others. 

But oh how inept I feel to spread this message. I sometimes yell. 😞 Argh. I threaten to take away his electronics out of fear. Gah. I hear him repeat back to me what I’ve said to him in a tone that feels awful and I ache that I’ve made him feel that way.  I feel very incompetent at learning a new way.

I want so badly to know how to live out this lesson, to give autonomy to him and others while still standing up for myself. And to do it peacefully. I also want him to feel safe and not overwhelmed by decision, as the research on attachment parenting suggests. To allow him the freedom to self-direct his learning because I have seen it’s power and believe in the ideology; but also protect him from becoming addicted to screens and retreating from life into a world of entertainment and apathy. I want it all for him, and despite some 9 years of practicing I’m not yet entirely sure how to do it.

But I’m getting better, and I’m practicing everyday.

For him. And for me.

And hopefully to do my part to build a more peace-filled, creative, loving and safe world where we can follow our passions, pursue our interests and express ourselves. 

This is my mission. I think.

And it’s okay that I don’t know. Because I want it to be okay that you don’t know.

I don’t want to spread more “should". You should unschool. You should not use threats and punishments. You should, you should, you should.

I want to share what I’m learning, what is inspiring me and the hope I have for the world.

The rest is up to you. Because I believe in autonomy and personal freedom.