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Learning to NOT get disappointed by my kids' choices

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I get upset when my kids don't follow through a project.  I know I shouldn't but I do.  I am not sure how to stop.  I am realizing that it is detrimental for everyone and I need to nip this in the bud as quickly as possible.  What are you thoughts about handling situations where your kids screw up, totally ignore, or do a half-assed job on a project they have asked for and you have worked hard to set up?  I find I get pretty angry. 

 

What do you zen mama's out there do?

post #2 of 6

My girls haven't worked up the attention span for me to put too much energy into projects yet.  More of my time has been dedicated to fairly simple things, so far....

 

I'm also interested in hearing responses from the parents who have BTDT.

post #3 of 6

I think it's a natural feeling. But it's probably a sign that you're doing too much active facilitation at the moment. I realize they're asking for the projects, and you're doing the good-unschooling-mom thing by responding and facilitating. But if you're left feeling you've done most of the work and they don't really care about following through, it's probably a sign that you're facilitating too actively for what they really need just now. Perhaps your active facilitation has turned it into something that in their minds is no longer about their interests but more about you. Even though yes, they asked you to help, now it feels like you own the endeavor, and that has taken the wind out of their sails. Or perhaps they didn't really want to do whatever it was much in the first place: it just sounded kind of neat so they spoke it out loud but really if they'd thought it through they'd have realized they didn't really want to put any energy into it. Or maybe they were enthusiastic, but it took time to procure materials and come up with a plan, and they've moved on: the interest was just a flash in the pan. 

 

I know I was sometimes guilty of fanning a spark of interest too vigorously ... and extinguishing it. When kids are not appreciating the fanning I think it's helpful to just back off and leave a bit more up to them. The longer they want something, the harder they have to work for it, the more they'll be invested in it and more effort they'll put into seeing it through. The worry for the parent, of course, is of missed opportunities. What if that interest in seed germination passes because I didn't jump on it, and a valuable learning opportunity is lost forever? Am I being lazy by not responding, or putting my kid off? And it's true, there will be lots of little interests expressed in passing that will just fizzle out. But really -- that happens, as you're seeing, even when you do jump on interests. And some won't fizzle just because they experience a little benign parental neglect. If the child has to put a little intent and persistence into making them happen, she's far more likely to be invested in her learning. 

 

So if your kids say "We want to grow a herb garden" or something, you might consider saying "Oh, okay. Sounds cool." And just leaving it at that. Two days later you might hear "Mom, I said we wanted to grow herbs!" with a whiny help-me kind of overtone. And then you might ask some guiding questions, but still not step in to plan and organize: "On the kitchen windowsill? Or outside? What kind of herbs do you want to grow, anyway? Have you figured out what you want to use for pots?" Just gently volley the ball back into their court.

 

So unless the project holds intrinsic enjoyment for me, I try to make sure there is some persistent organizational energy coming from my child, and it's not mostly falling to me to prepare and organize. If the project does interest me, I sometimes choose to facilitate it with eagerness -- but only if it's something I know I'll enjoy finishing up on my own. For instance, right now I'm in the middle of a bunch of shibori dyeing. Younger dd had been introduced to shibori in an art class and was interested in doing more of it. I loved the idea and suggested doing a quilt with shibori sampler squares. She was eager, did a bit, then lost interest. But I'm really happy finishing up without her.

 

So yeah. Less active organization, more of a low-key facilitation. Or if you do actively organize, make sure you've made your peace with the possibility of finishing it all up yourself.

 

Miranda

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

I think it's a natural feeling. But it's probably a sign that you're doing too much active facilitation at the moment. I realize they're asking for the projects, and you're doing the good-unschooling-mom thing by responding and facilitating. But if you're left feeling you've done most of the work and they don't really care about following through, it's probably a sign that you're facilitating too actively for what they really need just now. Perhaps your active facilitation has turned it into something that in their minds is no longer about their interests but more about you. Even though yes, they asked you to help, now it feels like you own the endeavor, and that has taken the wind out of their sails. Or perhaps they didn't really want to do whatever it was much in the first place: it just sounded kind of neat so they spoke it out loud but really if they'd thought it through they'd have realized they didn't really want to put any energy into it. Or maybe they were enthusiastic, but it took time to procure materials and come up with a plan, and they've moved on: the interest was just a flash in the pan. 

 

I know I was sometimes guilty of fanning a spark of interest too vigorously ... and extinguishing it. When kids are not appreciating the fanning I think it's helpful to just back off and leave a bit more up to them. The longer they want something, the harder they have to work for it, the more they'll be invested in it and more effort they'll put into seeing it through. The worry for the parent, of course, is of missed opportunities. What if that interest in seed germination passes because I didn't jump on it, and a valuable learning opportunity is lost forever? Am I being lazy by not responding, or putting my kid off? And it's true, there will be lots of little interests expressed in passing that will just fizzle out. But really -- that happens, as you're seeing, even when you do jump on interests. And some won't fizzle just because they experience a little benign parental neglect. If the child has to put a little intent and persistence into making them happen, she's far more likely to be invested in her learning. 

 

So if your kids say "We want to grow a herb garden" or something, you might consider saying "Oh, okay. Sounds cool." And just leaving it at that. Two days later you might hear "Mom, I said we wanted to grow herbs!" with a whiny help-me kind of overtone. And then you might ask some guiding questions, but still not step in to plan and organize: "On the kitchen windowsill? Or outside? What kind of herbs do you want to grow, anyway? Have you figured out what you want to use for pots?" Just gently volley the ball back into their court.

 

So unless the project holds intrinsic enjoyment for me, I try to make sure there is some persistent organizational energy coming from my child, and it's not mostly falling to me to prepare and organize. If the project does interest me, I sometimes choose to facilitate it with eagerness -- but only if it's something I know I'll enjoy finishing up on my own. For instance, right now I'm in the middle of a bunch of shibori dyeing. Younger dd had been introduced to shibori in an art class and was interested in doing more of it. I loved the idea and suggested doing a quilt with shibori sampler squares. She was eager, did a bit, then lost interest. But I'm really happy finishing up without her.

 

So yeah. Less active organization, more of a low-key facilitation. Or if you do actively organize, make sure you've made your peace with the possibility of finishing it all up yourself.

 

Miranda

 

Wow, Miranda, thank you for this long, helpful answer.  You def. hit it on the nail when you suggested my active facilitation may have turned some of the projects into mine instead of theirs and about me instead of them.  I get invested in too much and then I run farther than they could ever catch up which discourages them and eventually turns them off completely.  Sigh.  So, I am gonna practice what you suggested and make sure that they do the majority of the wanting and organizing....  

 

I have been surprised at how much it upsets me.  I am going to have to do a LOT of work on myself, if we are going to succeed on this path.  Thank you for your support :) 

post #5 of 6

Great question, and I loved Miranda's answer.  I know it's been said before, but I often feel like Miranda is an unofficial guru around here, haha. om.gif  Your years of experience, insights, and articulation are so helpful, especially to those starting out.

 

Really, Miranda's response reminded me of our journey with EC.  "Backing off" is a panacea for all sorts of EC trials and tribulations, but especially when one gets too invested in outcome (i.e. too tied up in achieving/maintaining success rates, instead of the focus being on communication - right now, this also sets me up for toddler power struggles - I have to back off and let him do his thing himself...or not).  So, similar themes...backing off, letting kids take charge and lead, make it their own.  

 

It is funny how easy it is to agree with the theory of EC or unschooling - to trust your child to communicate his needs and then (increasingly) meet them himself - but how hard it can be to let go in practice.  I've yet to encounter this on the unschooling front, but I can't tell you how many times I've felt just as frustrated as you are with EC misses, when I've spent time and energy over his life gently guiding him with cues, helping him understand his body, helping him learn to use the potty himself - but then, after all that, he decides he only wants to go on the floor.  duh.gif So, I feel ya on the whole personal growth aspect.  Must be more Zen... hippie.gif

post #6 of 6

Sunday we were driving to the 4-H meeting.  We crossed a large creek that ran under the road.  "I want to go there!" said dd1.  Months ago, when this kind of request started, I would have said, "Well, when we get home let's plan that into our day etc. etc. etc. plan what to bring blah blah blah."  This time I simply said that we didn't plan enough time and we needed to go straight to the meeting.  DD2 said "We can do it on the way back."  I resisted in my head until I remembered a recent visit to a new bridge in town and realized she just wanted to look.  So I said yes.

 

On the way home we pulled over, we peeked, we decided to make some time later to come back to it.  That's all she wanted right then--to pull over get out and peek.  And while we did decide it was worth spending some time with next time, it reminded me that I'm thinking of things on a much larger of a scale than they are.

 

Mostly.  The girls have been enjoying origami, and dd2 was obsessed with going through every project in the book--some 50 projects-- she was really persistent and it was hard to turn her down, even when I was up to my ears in dinner prep etc.  She's been doing a lot of her own, invented origami that doesn't require my assistance.  In general, though, this has been a project that I have really enjoyed for myself.  Except the elephant.  I have been humbled by the elephant!

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