Everyone knows we need loads of trust to unschool. But how do we get it? Where does it come from? Trust isn’t something you can buy. It’s not something you can apply your will to: I want to trust therefore I trust. It’s something some people seem to have in abundance and others have great difficulty acquiring.
So where does trust come from?
I could tell you that all we need to do is observe the fruits of trusting. But not everyone has grown up unschooled children. Not everyone can say, “I was right to trust. Look at my kids! They did okay.”
I could tell you to look at other people’s grown up unschooled children. But you might think, “But they’re not my kids. All children are different. What if mine don’t turn out so well?”
I could tell you to read as much as you can about unschooling so you understand the principles. And this might be good except reading and real life could be two different things.
So what would I say? I’d say if you know, without a doubt, you are doing the right thing, then trust won’t be an issue.
I don’t think we actually have to make a decision to unschool. We don’t have to ‘give unschooling a go’ to see if it works for us. All we have to do is stop doing all the things that aren’t working for our families.
Yes, I was often unkind to my children, but I felt my unkindness was justified. It was my children’s fault I acted without gentleness. If only they’d do what they were told. It was my duty as a mother to persist pushing them, even when I didn’t like what was happening to our relationships. I had to be tough and teach them what was right.
But then one day, I’d had enough. I decided that unkindness is never justified. The problem wasn’t with my kids. And it wasn’t with me either. (Things wouldn’t be fixed if I smiled gently and refused to get upset when my kids protested.) I realised we just weren’t living life the way it is meant to be lived. I should have been listening to my kids, and not to all those outside voices that bombarded me each and every day. So I changed things. I stopped making my kids do all those things other people told me were important. The conflict dissolved away. And without me realising we became unschoolers.
Now some people might think I gave in. Could it be my kids rule the house? Perhaps they don’t do anything now I’m not pushing them. I might be a lazy mother who’s avoiding the sometimes disagreeable job of disciplining her kids. But none of that’s true. I could write a lot about how unschooled children work hard and are considerate and helpful. Those stories would back up my claim. But I won’t. All I have to say is this: If I were avoiding my duty and my kids were out of control, I would feel guilty. I wouldn’t feel at peace. There would be no joy in our lives. And we have loads of love and peace and joy. Things feel right. I know this is the way we should be living.
So I trust because I’m not willing to not unschool. I am not willing to give up the joy, love and peace we have. I am not going back to a life where I found myself being unkind so often because there was so much conflict within my family.
Where does trust come from? How do we get it? We consider the option of not trusting and choose to live the life that brings us peace.
So if someone said to me, “How will I ever trust enough?”, this is what I’d suggest:
Throw out all the things that are coming between you and your children, one by one. And when you reach that peaceful state where joy and love reign, you’ll never want to go back. You’ll know what you’re doing is right. And trust won’t be an issue. You’ll have it by the bucketful!
PS: When I talk about peace, joy and love, I’m not implying an unschooling life is a perfectly happy life. Oh no! Sometimes life is tough and full of suffering. Unexpected things happen. But when relationships are strong, we can pull together, encouraging and supporting and loving each other through the difficult times.