home education forcing kids?

I have posted about home education and wanted to highlight a point from the quote at the top of this post on adult children looking back and thanking you.

At one point my youngest was probably 16ish years old and the Explorer Scouts he was a part of were all going to this awards evening with the scouts from all over the county. This was a big deal and a big event. Prior to me getting ready to take him, a evening I did not personally yearn for, I was informed by my wife that he did not want to go. She, as commonly happened, did not want to force him. Now in real terms I did not relish the idea of going - I was going to be driving 20 odd miles and sitting in a car for 90 mins to 2 hours so he could be in the group. Not my idea of fun from my part. However it is important to understand the positive experiences that come from parenting. And those positive experiences are not always your own positive experience. Part of parenting is the enabling of your offspring having positive experiences.

So I got ready as I normally would and arrived downstairs. I wafted into the kitchen handing him the keys saying, I will see you in the car, I need the loo - lets not be late leaving. During this and the interactions in the house and car as we left he did not mention to me that he did not want to go to this event. He had not wanted to talk to me about it, he had wanted his mother to weigh in knowing she would not want him to feel like he had been forced to do anything.

So we did more than half the trip listening to audio books which was normal when at the end of a chapter I paused it and mentioned that mum implied to me you did not want to go tonight.

We spoke about

  • fear
  • positive risks
  • experiences
  • feeling comfortable to say when you do not want to do something
  • thebalance around the discomfort of telling me he did not want to go vrs the discomfort of going
  • the discomfort being really discomfort but anxiety or perhaps even apathy?

On return

A rather interesting thing happened when my son returned to the car. We spoke about the night and he had enjoyed meeting someone new who was in the queue in front of him while they were waiting to go on stage. It was not someone, to my knowledge, he has met since and he certainly did not want to go back to ask for contact details.

Nonetheless he had had an incredibly positive experience as an introvert putting himself in, with anticipation, an uncomfortable situation.

I let him explain the interesting exchange he experienced with this person. Afterwhich I was itching to say "told you so!" yet I managed to subdue some of that mentioning how he felt before going in. He acknowledged this and I thought I will leave that and discuss with his monther and him together. Yet in the last few hundred metres before the house he said - "Dad, I want to say thank you for making me go tonight".

At that I pointed out I did not make him and if at ANY point he had said flatly he did not want to go - I would have never forced him.

On many other occassions, where I wanted to force him to do something for his own good, I had to deal with my own emotion as I respected his refusal. Which leads to a post on liberal parenting and the adult childs response, sometime.


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