Sunday, May 22, 2011
Not with the whole family!
We all want our kids to get along; to really like one another. When you unschool, it’s a given that you see more of the family. This is great for learning how to get along, resolve problems and creating strong bonds between all the members of the family. But there are times when a kid just needs a little more space and time alone.
This post is in defense of the kid having his or her own friends and interests and not having to have the whole family tag along all the time.
I write this because I’ve noticed that sometimes when I’ve put an age limit to an event I am organizing, or if I have invited a youth over to work on something with my kid (age 12), the mother will say, “No! Not without the whole family.”
I am the first to say that learning is a family adventure. Heaven knows as a family we are all forced to learn about things from individual members by virtue of living in the family. I know for a fact I would never have taken a second look at say- Manga graphic art or Dogs and their behavior or America’s Next Top Model or canoing with Bill Manson.
But there comes a time in a child’s life when he or she wants to get serious about something-really dig into something and does not want brothers and sisters and mother trailing along.
Sometimes, the kid would simply like to hang out with friends her age or not her age-doesn’t matter but just away; but mom expects her to include the siblings.
Other times the kid’s friend is over and mom wants them (kid and friend) to include the siblings as well. In my case, I am guilty of doing the reverse where I will urge my other daughters to join the pair; “Come on. Get off the computer and hang out with them too.”
In both situations, I don’t think we as parents are showing respect towards the youth who might be wanting time away from the family-to stretch their wings and not feel obligated by expectations of ‘family togetherness.”
It comes down to a question of balance as usual. When is too much.. too much?
As my girls get older, I recognize their desire to be less around the family. We can not expect to be their 'one and all.' I encourage them to talk and meet with other families, adults and peers who have so much to offer.
I try to make sure though, that opportunities to strengthen family ties are present. We have our common area which is the dining room where we often work on the computers do home work, chat, eat and hang out. This is probably the most important place for us to enhance our bonds.
I wonder how other families play out the balance between ‘with the family’ and ‘without the family’? Tell us about it.