One of the biggest changes wrapped up in our journey into homeschooling hasn’t had anything to do with school per se.
A lot of the biggest differences in our life now come in how we interact as a family. In so many ways, we were heading toward what I consider a pretty rock-bottom experience in an awful lot of ways.
Yelling, screaming, crying… sometimes even from Sarah! 😉
A big change for me has been in my parenting approach. Through the years, we’ve adapted several different strategies, and none of them were getting us where we needed to be.
When I read about the idea of gentle parenting, parenting with grace, peaceful parenting, whatever you want to call it, I thought: “Maybe this is the change we need.”
It’s not easy. And I won’t say any of us are adjusting perfectly. But we’re adapting ideas that work, and one of them is Saying Yes.
I’m trying to say yes as often as I can. That’s in terms of Sarah’s requests, but also my husband’s and mother’s, and even my own preferences.
No one in our family is a doormat, but we’re also not tyrants – any of us. So while we all eat dinner together as a family, and we all have a say in menu-planning, if I choose something that I know my husband or daughter really doesn’t want to eat… it’s no longer a big deal. They’re glad to make something else themselves, we still eat together, and everyone enjoys the food.
That’s a simple example, but I’m finding that this “yes” business gets real complicated real quick.
Saying yes to a cell phone
This was our big leap-of-faith YES this week.
Sarah, who’s about 12 and a half, went from having no cell phone to having what I consider a pretty top-of-the-line smartphone with few, if any, restrictions on it.
This is incredibly scary for me. I’m not naive – and I have major worries about the content of text messages that are out there, the types of apps that are available, the drama that comes from the perceived slights among how fast someone does or does not text you back.
I’m trying to trust – and I’m counting on Sarah to keep that trust.
It’s not perfect, for sure. We’ve already talked about some general etiquette do-and-don’t situations (including, probably the hardest one for her, not bombarding her public-school friends with messages during the day, which truly didn’t even occur to her until one of them got mad!)
We’ve also made it clear, even before the phone, that you don’t do anything on email, chat or now text that wouldn’t want broadcast in front of your parents and your pastor. (Now, if only I would extend that rule into my own sometimes-too-snarky text messages…)
The up-side to saying yes to this?
- Sarah’s learned how to use Instagram, and is happily documenting her life in photos and improving her photography skills.
- She’s downloaded the NASA app and is on there pretty much daily, checking out space photos and their captions and seeing how the Mars Rover is doing.
- Her first-ever text message was sent to me, saying, “Mom, I really appreciate my new phone and I love you and you’re my best mom ever, thank you!”
- She’s beat all the levels of the free Rush Hour logic game app.
Other ways we’re “yessing”
The phone has been the biggest “yes” this month, but we’ve had others, many more than I can list. A few off the top of my head:
- TAKING the phone places. Yes, you can take it to the fair. (I may have been biting my nails the whole time about this one, but we – and it – survived.)
- EATING something different than what’s on the menu plan for dinner. And, as I mentioned earlier, this extends to the whole family, not just Sarah!
- MODELING in a fashion show with my mom! This was a “yes” I probably wouldn’t have done before, but it was an enjoyable way to spend the day and to do something together!
- WEARING mismatched socks. This is a huge fashion trend among the middle-school set in this area, and Sarah has picked up on it. I kind of like it, but I do admit, we get some looks (including from some of my friends). If Sarah’s comfortable, no one is going to be hurt by her sock choices, so I say go for it, kiddo!
Have you said “YES” lately? Doesn’t matter if you’re an unschooler or not, a homeschooler or not, or even a parent or not! I truly believe saying yes can change all of your relationships when it’s done intentionally and with love.