Wow, it's so cool to "see" you guys and this thread. I haven't been on here much at all in the last few years but WCM's post came to my email inbox (I'm glad they have that function!). I can relate to so much of what has been said in this thread, and I'm grateful for the openness and honesty that you amazing mamas bring to this discussion.
When my kids were little and we began our unschooling journey, I had these dreams of spending endless days with my kids doing super fun stuff, pouring over microscopes together, going on field trips and hanging out with other homeschooling families. Heck, we bought acreage with dreams of farming, our kids spending their days out in nature, growing food and caring for the animals. But it turned out my kids are really not that interested in nature, hate gardening, have little interest in chickens or pigs. And they weren't super social. And I wasn't quite that organized, and life got in the way sometimes. Instead, our life looked a lot more like the lives described here: lots of screen time, lots of home time. That led to occasional bouts of PUPD. Add to that, my kids were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at ages 6 and 9, respectively. The more I learned about structure for kids with autism, the more I worried that I'd failed my kids.
I started out here on MDC pretty rigid in my views on parenting. But after 12 years of parenting I've decided that kids are actually pretty resilient for the most part, and they mostly turn out pretty good when the basics of unconditional love, etc. are there. So I finally told myself that even if I screwed it up a bit, even if maybe I didn't make the *best* choices for them, they really will be okay. In fact, they are actually pretty awesome.
And here's the thing: I sometimes find I have to really LOOK for that awesomeness. I have to ask questions, drop what I'm doing and just hang out with them - and I have to listen to them. And I'm constantly surprised by how cool they are, how kind and loving and sweet and everything I hoped they would be. And when I see that - THEY see that I see that, and it is this wonderful positive cycle. It's not just that looking for the good side helps ME feel better, it actually is good for them too!
The last thing I wanted to say is that not only have I decided that there is no one "right way", I've also decided that what is right can change as they get older and more mature, and that we have to trust our mama instincts that we will know when that time has come. Right now I'm in a place where I feel I've provided them with a good foundation, but it's time for them to go out into the world more. I've also come to the shocking (sarcasm!) realization that perhaps I can't be all things to my children: mother, mentor, therapist, teacher, coach, and pusher of boundaries. I'm not a failure as a homeschooling mom if I bring other people in to do some of the stuff I don't really care for (like dragging my son to classes and field trips when he has a shitty attitude and is likely to have a meltdown that will bring up all kinds of emotional baggage in me!).
My son just started his first ever full-day program, twice a week, at a local learning centre for kids with high-functioning autism. It's a huge step for him and for us, but I'm so psyched and happy about it. And when that little voice in my head says "well, that's not very unschooly of you", I say "he's ready". BECAUSE of unschooling (or maybe despite it), he is ready. Maybe it is not unschooling anymore, maybe it's not even homeschooling (part time homeschooling?), but I no longer care because it feels right and it feels good for us. And I don't even feel guilty that his days at the centre are some of the best days for me and DD. :-)
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Mama to DD14 and DS12, both born on MDC.