Artwork

Sisällön tarjoaa Pam Laricchia. Pam Laricchia tai sen podcast-alustan kumppani lataa ja toimittaa kaiken podcast-sisällön, mukaan lukien jaksot, grafiikat ja podcast-kuvaukset. Jos uskot jonkun käyttävän tekijänoikeudella suojattua teostasi ilman lupaasi, voit seurata tässä https://fi.player.fm/legal kuvattua prosessia.
Player FM - Podcast-sovellus
Siirry offline-tilaan Player FM avulla!

EU360: What’s So Magical About Age 18?

50:50
 
Jaa
 

Manage episode 401060362 series 2364818
Sisällön tarjoaa Pam Laricchia. Pam Laricchia tai sen podcast-alustan kumppani lataa ja toimittaa kaiken podcast-sisällön, mukaan lukien jaksot, grafiikat ja podcast-kuvaukset. Jos uskot jonkun käyttävän tekijänoikeudella suojattua teostasi ilman lupaasi, voit seurata tässä https://fi.player.fm/legal kuvattua prosessia.

What’s so magical about age 18?

Pam, Anna, Erika, and our guest Erin dig into the transition from childhood to adulthood and what it means for our unschooled kids. It’s common for parents to bump up against some cultural beliefs about this phase of life and inadvertently put expectations on young adults. Strangers, friends, and family also all seem to be interested in the choices that our kids are making at this age! When we become aware of all of this messaging and remember that people are all different and unique, we can create a supportive environment for our young adult children to follow their own path.
Erin is an unschooling mom with four children over 18 and member of the Living Joyfully Network. She was previously on the podcast in episode 285, which you can check out if you’d like to hear more about her story. And check out her website, everlearning.ca.

We’re so glad that she was able to join us for this discussion and we hope you find our conversation helpful on your unschooling journey!

THINGS WE MENTION IN THIS EPISODE

The Living Joyfully Shop – books, courses, coaching calls, and more!

The Living Joyfully Network

EU285: Unschooling Stories with Erin

Watch the video of our conversation on YouTube.

Follow @exploringunschooling on Instagram.

Follow @pamlaricchia on Instagram and Facebook.

Follow @helloerikaellis on Instagram.

Check out our website, livingjoyfully.ca for more information about navigating relationships and exploring unschooling.

Sign up to our mailing list to receive The Living Joyfully Dispatch, our biweekly email newsletter, and get a free copy of Pam’s intro to unschooling ebook, What is Unschooling?

We invite you to join us in The Living Joyfully Network, a wonderful online community for parents to connect and engage in candid conversations about living and learning through the lens of unschooling. This month, we’re talking about Building Community. Come and be part of the conversation!

So much of what we talk about on this podcast and in the Living Joyfully Network isn’t actually about unschooling. It’s about life. On The Living Joyfully Podcast, Anna Brown and Pam Laricchia talk about life, relationships, and parenting. You can check out the archive here, or find it in your your favorite podcast player.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

PAM: Hello! I’m Pam Laricchia from Living Joyfully and today I’m joined by my co-hosts, Anna Brown and Erika Ellis and our wonderful guest, Erin. Hello, everyone!

So, Erin has been on the podcast before, back in episode 285, so please check that episode out to hear more details about her unschooling journey. But today, she’s joining us to explore the question, “What’s so magical about age 18?” which I am very excited to dive into.

But before we get started, we just want to encourage you to visit the Living Joyfully Shop. There you’ll find my books, our growing catalog of courses, you can join our online community, and book coaching calls with us. I’m just so excited to build a one-stop shop to support you as you navigate relationships with your loved ones and dive deep into your unschooling journey. So, you can follow the link in the show notes or just go to livingjoyfullyshop.com.

And now, what the heck is up with age 18? And Anna, would you like to get us started?

ANNA: I do want to get us started. Oh my goodness. I’m so glad we’re doing an episode about this age and season of life. I feel like it’s not talked about nearly enough. And there are so many parts at play. Culturally, we have this idea, I think, that once they’re 18, our work is done, but this really isn’t even about unschooling at all and it just couldn’t be further from the truth.

There’s this older labor bureau study from around 2007, 2008, that talked about age 27 being the average age where the majority of kids were living independently, so that’s age 27. And that’s just the majority, so this idea that everyone is on their own at 18 just isn’t true.

And I think letting go of that idea really helps us focus on the individuals in our family and what transitioning into adulthood is going to look like for them, because it’s so unique.

I think actually it’s easier for us in unschooling families to understand this, because our focus is on connection. It’s on relationships. And those relationships and connections last a lifetime. So, for us, the age is maybe a little less relevant, because we’re not product-focused.

But that said, when our kids start moving into adulthood, there’s a lot of messaging. It’s coming at them, it’s coming at us, messages about next steps and, “What do you want to do for the rest of your life?” And it can be this really stressful time.

And I think it can be fraught with triggers for us. I found that time in my own life to be stressful and I had a very conventional upbringing, but it was really important for me to separate my experience from my kids’ experience and I wanted to really protect the space and help quiet the noise as they navigated this time.

And so, I know we have so much to talk about, but those are the things that came to mind first, this cultural expectation and really understanding what’s bubbling up for us, because this is an age we all remember, whereas some of the earlier ages, we may not.

PAM: I remember the interesting piece, too, is, even though we have a different perspective on things because we’ve been unschooling and living unschooling, but there’s also the piece that, for me anyway, I was deep in the moment with them doing the things and everything and the “18” messages started coming more powerfully as my kids got older. So, when they were younger, it was like, I’ll worry about that years from now. And in general it was, I don’t have expectations anymore. But as 16, 17 started coming up and people are now asking different kinds of questions, “What college are they going to? What are they going to be doing?” all these pieces, those expectations started hitting me then.

So, it was another wave where I had to work through it again. What is it? Why are these messages throwing me off kilter? It would just have me wobble a bit and I’d be revisiting all sorts of pieces that brought that lifestyle and perspective into this new season of our lives there.
ERIKA: This is going to be a really interesting conversation for me. So, my kids are 12 and 14 right now, and I’m just thinking that you don’t really know what your vision of “18” really means until you’re confronted with it. And so, I like the idea of thinking about it now and just being more aware that what people are going to be expecting is going to change, and even of what messages my kids have internalized about what it means to turn 18 and what it means to be an adult.
Because I know that they do have some of those stories for themselves of like, when I grow up then this will happen or whatever, but not getting so hooked on that number, that age, because obviously things will change over the years. It’s not going to be that they wake up when they’re 18 and now everything they thought about being an adult is coming true.

ERIN: Yeah. I can relate so much to both of you, Anna and Pam, as far as, you’re humming along and you’ve done some of the work, and then there is this shift. It’s just a really interesting entrance into people’s perceptions of what adulthood should look like.

And so, I think last time we spoke on your podcast, Pam, I was talking about this period of time for several years where I really had this sweet spot, I would say, with our life and doing life without school. And I felt really confident. And as we got closer to “18,” it’s whenever people perceive the high school years as being over, suddenly, it’s a lot of questions is what it is. Because I found through a lot of the homeschool/unschool journey, people didn’t really know what we were doing, so they would ask some questions. It was almost so far from what they were used to that, unless it was good friends of mine or family that I could maybe talk a little bit more specifically with, there was a generality to the questions.

And then I think you come to this space that everybody’s pretty familiar with, right? Whether it’s the world of work or it’s college or university or whatever people are doing, moving out, driver’s licenses, all those kind of older things. Suddenly the conversations were different because they had some familiarity with that stage of life.
One of the things that’s kind of neat about that, too, though, I find is that now that my youngest is 18, I’ve really officially moved out of that zone. There is a little bit more parallel at times in conversation I can have with people, because, as much as we might think that everybody has it all together and their kids’ path to doing whatever, I’m just finding in all kinds of places there is trepidation about what their kids are doing, if their kids are happy, if their kids are safe. And so, there’s some commonality, too, that we can have, which is nice.

ANNA: Yeah, that’s that piece, right? Because I think sometimes when we’re unschooling, we get caught in this belief that this is specific to unschooling, this concern that they’re not going to do this thing or it looks different. And I think you’re right. I think it’s very common. I think it’s really this commonality of everyone moving through it, because it is just such a time of change. And as parents, we’re letting go of pieces and things are happening. And so, I think it just can be really helpful as unschoolers to step out of this idea that it’s specific to that.

And then when we can let go of that, that’s when we can focus on the individuals. Because, Erin, you have several kids, Pam as well. I have two. And it’s been absolutely unique for each of our children. It has been so different and unique and that’s the cool part about it, too.

ERIN: And I think it gives other people a little bit of space. We’re having conversations and maybe asking each other how our kids are. And you can feel they are feeling that same nervousness that we all feel. And so, I think when we can just really give a lot of space and breadth and encouragement to whatever’s happening for their kids. I think maybe that’s what we can offer in those conversations. We’re not coming with judgment or preconceived ideas and I find that people maybe are feeling a little bit better for having those more open-ended conversations.

PAM: Yeah. And I think that that age comes in there, too. When we can bring the energy of, there isn’t a timetable. We don’t need to have this solved. Or our kids don’t need to have this solved. And I think, for me, the fun thing about those conversations was that piece, was that curiosity, that space you were talking about, Erin, where it can be like, oh yeah, they’re interested in this thing and they’re trying out this thing and they’re doing this thing that they’re enjoying. And it brings a conversation, for me anyway, back from the, “I have an 18-year-old or an almost 18-year-old,” to, look at this amazing person in front of me. When you can bring it back to the individual who’s there and talk about them.

Like you were saying, Anna, the way it unfolds is so unique to each person. And, for me, what helped me when I was starting to wobble was really just steeping again in “unschooling is a lifestyle.” And there doesn’t need to be this timetable, like back when it was about learning to read by a certain age and the idea that there was a timetable. I’ve been through those kinds of messages before, so I could tap back into that. It’s like, oh yeah, you know what? There doesn’t need to be a timetable for this either. I can lean into what they like to do. This is who I want to be as a parent. I still want to maintain a strong and trusting connection with them no matter their age.

Actually, it was reminding myself about all those pieces of the kind of parent I wanted to be that I honed through unschooling, and just realizing, or remembering yet again, that this is a lifestyle. This is what I’ve chosen for my family and for how I want to relate to them really. That, no matter our ages, and right now, my kids are all in their twenties and thirties, it’s still how I want to relate to them. It’s how I want to relate to human beings.

But there was definitely that time where I needed to process and remind myself of that, and then I could bring that easier energy to all those conversations. And yeah, sometimes you could just see them relax. When they’re chatting with me, it’s like all of a sudden they recognize that this isn’t a conversation with someone to whom they need to give the answers about what their child is doing, because those are the questions they’re typically getting, too. So, you could just see them relax a little bit. It’s like, oh yeah, this is the stuff they’re up to. And even just to help them relax a little bit on that, it made the conversations really interesting.
ERIKA: I love that. I can totally picture that and how you’re talking about those earlier conversations, too. Anytime there’s that societal expectation on parents and on kids, everyone around is feeling that pressure. And so, it’s so nice to be able to be the one to help maybe relieve some of that pressure, at least in the conversations with us, because they’re probably just feeling a bit defensive about what their own kid is doing and worrying about being judged for what they are and are not doing yet. And so, yeah, I just love that. I love that we can question it and just be like, there is no one right way and people are different.

ANNA: Right. And that’s my PSA portion of this one is just stop it. We can be the generation that stops those questions at that age. Because when Afton, my oldest, was that age, she was traveling by herself and she was probably 18, 19 and I mean literally strangers on airplanes asking her, what college are you going to? Or, what are you doing now? Like, find other words. Connect with people about, what trip are you going on? What’s happening with you right now? What are you interested in?

And for those teens that are in that stage, what I would tell her is, turn it back around and say, what did you love about college? Are you working in the field that you went to college for? And turn it back to them. Because so often they were like, oh, I hated this. Or, oh no, I’ve done this. Or, oh, I didn’t do this. And it was a much more interesting conversation. And I don’t think there’s any kind of malice with the questions. I think it’s just that we don’t know how to ask questions of kids. What grade are you in? What’s your favorite subject? So, this is just another area to stretch and leave space for us all to be different and for there to be different paths.

ERIN: Yeah. I got thinking about that, Anna, when I was thinking about this topic. People are at a loss for other things to say and other things to ask, because most kids are in school for a good chunk of their day and their week. And so, it’s what people know.

And so, yeah, I agree with you. It’s not said with malice, but I know my kids have found it just really repetitive. Even if it’s something that they want to talk about, even if it’s a passion or an interest or something they’re feeling really comfortable about, it’s just like over and over. What other age is like this?

Can you imagine? Everywhere you go people are asking you like, what are you doing? What are your plans? And then what are you going to do with that? Because it’s not just, what are you doing? We had a line of questioning happening over the holidays and it didn’t stop there. Then it was sort of like, well, do you think that there’s money in that field? Do you think there’s security? It’s a lot of questions!

ANNA: That we would never ask anyone else. We’d never go to the neighbor and ask about their personal finances and have they really planned ahead for what’s going to happen next? We just wouldn’t do that. So, it’s such an interesting thing.
ERIKA: There’s got to be something about the promise or the hopefulness of that age. They’re just starting to be an adult. And at this phase, we know so much about all of the trials and tribulations, all the decisions and all the things we’ve had to do, but looking at that fresh new adult who has all the decision-making in front of them, I think it probably makes people a little bit excited, a little bit concerned. A lot of things are brought up in us just because we remember. We know all that we’ve done from that age until now and I think a lot of people really like to pass along their words of wisdom or share the things that they’ve learned in order to help the next generation. So, I see why people get excited, but it’s so tiring as an 18-year-old to be like, oh my gosh, I have to explain myself to everyone now.

PAM: Yeah. That is such a good point. And I think back to our work as well, a big paradigm shift for me as we dove deeper into unschooling was holding back my two cents. Because it would get in the way of my kids’ exploration. It’s like, “Oh, should I be going in that direction?” It quiets their instincts, their motivation, their inner voice, however you want to phrase it. But if I could not jump in, “Oh yeah, this is really cool if you do it this way,” and learn how they may well do it differently, but I came to realize how much sense it made for them to do it that way.

And yet to recognize and realize that it’s the same. It doesn’t change because now they’re a young adult. Yes, I’ve learned these things. But you know what? It doesn’t mean those particular things would make their path any easier.

There’s that beautiful dance, that beautiful line of supporting them and helping them, and even pointing out things that we feel might be helpful, but again, without that expectation. And often, I found that I needed to give so much more space than I first anticipated to let things unfold, for them to pick up nuances, for them to understand themselves.

Because also, as we were saying earlier, there are so many ways their life is changing as well when they hit these ages, more opportunities are opening up. So, to give them that space to explore them and figure it out for themselves, while also being there to help. It’s not hands off. We’re always talking about that dance and that we’re not always going to get it perfect, but we’re going to get clues. If we jump in and they’re like, what? Or, no thanks, don’t wanna hear that. Or they immediately do something completely different. Not taking those things personally again.

It’s revisiting all these lessons that we’ve learned and recognizing that they apply to our kids as young adults, and then do it again as adult adults, wherever you decide you’re going to draw those lines. So, that is really fascinating to me. And something you always say, Anna, which is that there’s plenty of time. That is always such a great reminder, because if we remind ourselves about the individual in front of us, we can start to recognize how their timeline is unique to them. And it doesn’t need to be a rush. I don’t need to prove to other people. The priority is the child in front of me and their journey and their journey is a lifetime, to just keep reminding myself. We don’t need a deadline. We don’t need a deadline for anything.

So, there’s just so many different circumstances for each person’s life. It’s just so fun to hang out with them and see how it unfolds, even if it’s different, even if it’s like, that would not be a choice I would make or anything like that. It reminds me just to celebrate the person that they are and each time I just learn something more about them and I go, oh, damn. That’s pretty cool.

ANNA: And that it’s not a race and that this is a lifelong journey. And if we’re lucky, it’s pretty long. And so, I was just talking to a friend this morning and saying that disappointment is taking stock too soon. And I think that’s when we put these artificial deadlines that we’re measuring something. And really, it’s just the unfolding. It’s still unfolding for me at 55 years old. If we can embrace that piece.

And I will say, mine are now just turned 24 and 26, that societal pressure does ease. It’s pretty intense. It’s pretty specific to that timeframe of, like you were saying, Erin, 16 to 20, where it’s these milestones that people have in their own mind and then they just kind of are like, oh, they’re living their life doing their thing. It’s not so micromanaged.

But something else I wanted to say that’s almost the reverse of this is something that you said earlier, Erika, about how they’re taking in societal pieces and they’re taking in things about it. And so, something that I had to embrace, give some space for, was that they were going to maybe try things from motivations that I didn’t think were great, that were motivations from external pieces, societal pieces.
But it’s like you were saying, Pam, that’s not my journey either. I can’t stop them from doing that, and I can’t guide them around that. They knew they weren’t getting pressure from me in particular and that they had my support and I could be there to facilitate, but I could see them at times making choices. And now looking back, we can have conversations about it and they’ve said like, yeah, I kind of wish I could go back and do some of that again. But we can’t change that for them. So again, I guess it’s the reminder of so much of this is our work to just recognize we can’t control the path.

ERIN: I’ve also been thinking about the idea of how much more space and time I shouldn’t say I’ve had to leave, but in order to have the relationships that I want to have, I’ve had to leave. And it’s not even that they necessarily need all that time, but just having enough margin to be available for some of those conversations. And I know we talk about this with teens for sure, but I think it continues.
I think we were up till about 2:30 the other night, just kind of spontaneously, similar to what you were talking about. My son was just processing different things with his job and his path and management versus going a different route and just really thinking it through financially and all those kinds of things, too.
And some of it was that balance, I guess, if you will, between what externally people are saying he should do, or not him specifically, but people, and then what he enjoys and the quality of life he wants to have. And that’s not a quick conversation apparently. It just went on and on. But he really needed to process that.

And you could see bits of that, being aware of what’s expected. And maybe it’s a little bit tricky when you’ve come up through a childhood where you have a lot of freedom and things aren’t very standard and it’s wonderful in one sense, but you are also very true to yourself when you grow up that way. And so, then there’s a little bit more of a rub between the external expectations. It’s more to sift through.

PAM: Yeah. I love that example, Erin, and that reminded me that something that I’ve picked up is a realization that, oh, this is what relationships are. Because it’s like, okay, they’re 18, even if they’re moving out and they’re doing other things, it’s like, I’m still not “done.” It’s still the processing. Because yes, they’re used to actually processing things as a human being, to not just to do what’s expected of them, but to think about it and consider it, making real choices as to whether it’s something they want to do and then maybe they do try it out and then later on they might change their mind. But that’s a conversation. That’s processing.
Even as adults, how cool is it to be able to process, to continue to really move through your life with intention? Even if it’s like, I don’t have time, I’m just going to do this thing because it seems best to me, or that’s what everybody’s telling me to do, I’m going to try it out. They are just learning so much about themselves and that we have that relationship with them, that when they want to process and when they want to bounce ideas around or any of those pieces, that they trust and know that we will do that with them. So yeah, it was like, oh, adults out of the house. I’m done now with my parenting. And no, no. It’s like, oh these are the relationships that I wanted to have. And it is a lifelong thing. Oh, how interesting.
ERIKA: And just the part about the lessons that we’ve learned and those things that we question now as adults, they might not be in a place to question that yet. And so, it makes sense that they’re going to have their own journey just as we did. Maybe they have a little bit of an advantage for listening to that inner voice, but there will still be a process of critically looking at society’s messages and expectations, listening to their inner voice, figuring out what works for them.

And so, I think it makes sense that young adults, sometimes even unschooling young adults, are like, “I think I’m going to try this thing that everyone else is doing,” and we could be, from our position, like, “But why? You don’t have to. You just don’t have to do that.” But I think it’s wasted energy for us to try to convince them about stuff that it’s taken us this long to come to. They just are going to be on their own journey with it.
ANNA: Yeah. And I think it’s that being available. And Erin, just like your experience and yours, too, Pam, it is a time of intensity. And really, Erika, you’re already seeing it with your early teens, this need to process these big ideas and then go away and be doing things and then all of a sudden, yes, we’re here for the three-hour conversation.

And I think you’re right, Pam. It’s just relationships. When we think about the people we’re closest to that we want to process things with and we want to bounce things off of, how cool is it that we are that person for our adult children, these adults. And I don’t know. I love it and it can be intense at times. And I think partly that intensity for me comes from the triggers. I remember how intense it felt to be on our own now. Like, this is what’s happening. And then we’ve got to make all these decisions that seem really weighty and big.

And so, I do love what I see in them, Erin, like you said, a stronger connection to self. And also just that they are coming to me to talk about it. I didn’t go to my parents to talk about the stress I was under with some of this stuff. I just kind of felt like I had to do it. I just had to figure it out and do it. And so, I love that there’s more space for that collaboration, that community feel of relationships.

ERIN: And I wonder if some of that not going to your parents, because I think a lot of people have that experience, is that maybe we normalized that degree of stress. And it was like, well this is the stage of life I’m in. This is just how it needs to be. So, I don’t know. And there might be some of that, but it’s fun that they can play with that a little bit and think maybe there are some choices within this or some different options.

ANNA: Yeah. It’s cool.

PAM: It’s really cool to see the different kinds of choices that they make over time. And just like when they were younger, you see the learning and the things that they’re figuring out, not just through the processing, but just through the choices they’re making. Oh, we’re going to try this out. Well, something motivated you to try that thing out. And how interesting is that? And yeah, so there’s just so many pieces.

And I love that, for the most part, we remember, or re-remember that breadth of what it means to be a person, that we have revisited over time as we’ve wobbled with unschooling and gone back to looking at our kids and, oh yeah, look, they’re a complete human being. They have interests. They’re learning things all the time. I say learning things all the time, and then I worry, oh, people will look at their kid and think, oh, they’re not digging into this interest or anything like that. Because there are cocooning stages where it doesn’t look like they’re doing much, but oh my gosh, they’re learning so much about themselves just by existing in this season and seeing how things unfold and just getting curious, especially when their choices maybe don’t seem like they will work out the way they hoped they would work out. But how many times over the years, over their lifetime so far has it surprised me? So, like we were saying, I’m not going to jump in and say no, but I can sure be curious as to how it unfolds.
ERIN: I have something that popped up just about choices that they make and so, on the one hand, I think you’d mentioned earlier on Anna, about triggers. This can be a period of time or a stage of life where there are a lot of triggers for us, and I know a lot of it is we want the best for our kids, but some of it is that external opinion of what they’re doing. But to a certain degree, I think we have to just observe how much is our own ego as well. Because you know people have been watching, right? People have been watching the homeschool journey. What is this strange thing that this family’s doing? How will the kids turn out?

And so, yeah, there is a certain amount of pressure on us that’s real and I think to be able to observe that, be aware of it. I’m curious. I’ve never asked my kids. I don’t know how much they feel that or if they even do. But yeah, it’s an odd thing that there’s this low-level observation happening.

ANNA: And it’s real. And I think, that’s why, for me, when I talk about this, because obviously we’ve been talking about it for many, many years now, I really do focus on, it’s about me being the person I want to be.
I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen down the road or whatever. But I truly believe if I’m being the person I want to be, showing up in kindness and compassion and supporting, that that’s the best I can do. So, it’s like, for me, to really pull it away from the outcomes, because that’s their own personal journey.
They’re going to take that journey and have all kinds of things about their childhood and other pieces. I will say, at this stage, I am grateful to have the relationships that I have with them and that we enjoy being with each other so much. But yeah, it’s so tricky.
But the other piece did come back to me, which you touched on it a little bit, Pam, but it’s like, remember the tools, because I think sometimes when we move into this stage, suddenly you’ll see parents maybe double down on the conventional piece. Like, we’ve done all this stuff, now we’re going to college, or now it’s going to look like X, Y, Z.

And even if they go to college, what I love about the mindset we bring with unschooling is the curiosity. And it’s a tool. A college course is a tool. A welding course is a tool. Exploring Europe is a tool. All of it is valid and real and important. And so, I think it does take extra work, like you’re saying, Erin, for us to do that at that time, because the eyes are on us, all the eyes.

But for me it was just like, shut that out and focus on the individual in front of me. What’s making their heart sing? What is helping them move through this stage? Just thinking of our kids, how many do we have with all of us here? Eleven kids between us! So unique and different. Every single one of them is so different and this journey is so different and all just as cool and interesting as the next.
ERIKA: When you said people are looking to see how the kids turn out, that triggers me so much, because I’m just like, what does turning out mean for a human? I’m still changing so much and growing and learning at this age, and so, I think keeping that front and center for me that there’s not a finish line and if there is one, there’s certainly not one at age 23. And so, just remembering that journey, there’s no turning out. And it doesn’t matter if you’re unschooling or if you’re in school or whatever, no matter how you grow, there’s still not a finish line as much as some people think that there is one.

ANNA: Oh my gosh. I would not want someone to think my journey ended at 23, even though it looked pretty conventional up till that point. Yuck. Oh my gosh, so much has happened since then and so much growth and that’s happening with each and every one of our children and all of the people out there.

PAM: That’s true. I just turn it back to myself each time. It’s like, oh yeah. I have changed so much in that time. I need to give everybody the grace to have their own journey.

ERIN: Yeah. Just one more thing on that, which is what I started to notice is it wasn’t even just the 18, it’s like people started to prepare for the 18 sometimes at 13, 14. And so, a lot of the people that we would have been together in the past, these memories of the kids on the hiking trails and the all the different things and just having a lot of fun together. And I really started to notice for quite a few people that joy just got swept right away in the teen years. They’d had all these wonderful years, some were traditionally homeschooling, some were unschooling, it didn’t really matter. They were all kind of finding their own joyful way of doing things. And then there was this period of time where suddenly the teens didn’t have time to get together.

Whether it was, I don’t know, just getting into a lot of structured courses or work or whatever and not that those are bad things and they can be what kids want to do and they can be really helpful. But I think it depends on the mindset. If it’s coming from that mindset of fear, “We need to prepare for 18,” it just felt a little bit sad to me to see some of that energy change.

ERIKA: That reminds me of the energy that changed when my kids were turning three and four. It’s these milestone places along the way. I remember my own mind going there. And it didn’t stay there for long, because it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. But I had thoughts of like, well, Oliver’s turning three, so things are going to have to get more serious around here. He’s really going to have to start learning.

And so, I think that high school thing is the same. It’s like, okay, they’re entering the high school years. Things have to get more serious. They have to start making decisions. And so, it’s just noticing when those more cultural things are popping up in my mind.

PAM: Because societally, when the goal is, more conventionally, college or university, high school is when you’ve got to start prepping for that, right? You’ve got to get the grades throughout your high school career to get into the school that you want. So, you can pretty easily see how that unfolds, why that starts bubbling up then. And when it bubbles up for us, I think it really is just noticing expectations and the fear that’s behind those expectations, as you were mentioning, Erin, that maybe when they were younger, we didn’t realize that we held, because there was no reason to think about it. It’s just so fascinating to me. We can think, oh yeah, college, they can choose whether or not they go. Yep. Done with that. Yet when the age starts, all of a sudden it’s like, oh, well, maybe just in case, maybe we should, all those pieces.
So, I think it comes up in maybe how we talk with them. It comes up in our conversations outside our family. It comes up in the conversations they’re having with other people.

So, yeah, it is really worth the effort, I think, to just peel back the layers for ourselves when we just start to feel some shoulds and, “We have to do this,” when we feel those, it’s just such a great clue to dive in and just ask, “Do we have to? Why should we do that?”

Because even if we come to the point where, for us, yes, this feels like something I really want to happen, at least now we have the language and the understanding about ourselves and the self-awareness to be able to share at least, “I’m feeling,” to bring that to the conversation.

A conversation that starts with, “I’m kind of feeling this,” versus, “I think you should do this,” it’s a 180 degree difference as conversation starters, just to start feeling it with them and seeing what they’re feeling. And maybe we’re commiserating and maybe we’re coming up with some new ideas.

Maybe they’re thinking about things that we didn’t know about yet, and it’s like, oh, well that’s so much cooler. Because that is something else I realized. My plans, which were coming from expectations and, “This is how life should unfold,” just were never as creative and interesting as so many of the plans that they chose for themselves, because then all of a sudden it’s like, oh my gosh, that makes so much sense for you.

ERIN: Well, and naturally, often teens do become more serious and focused on something in particular or maybe just generally. So, I think, it isn’t to say that they don’t drive some of that focus, because they do. They get passionate about things and they want to learn, and I think they are interested in their future. And so, they will find steps that might make sense or pieces that they might be interested in.
But I think it’s that idea of, what’s driving it? Is it external? Is it this fear that we are saying, okay. It’s time for things to get unpleasant.
ANNA: Right. And I think that “there’s plenty of time” piece is a really good place to start, because even if we can let go of the artificial timelines of it, just because they choose not to go to college at 18 doesn’t mean they won’t at 22 or 28. So, if we can let go of the rigid timeline, just even that alone provides a little breathing room to learn more about ourselves, to make sure someone’s ready for that step. Make sure someone’s ready to do whatever the next thing is. And so, even that’s a piece of work we can catch in ourselves and go, okay, right. We don’t have to buy into artificial timelines.

Again, I think the piece is tuning into the individual who’s in front of you, what do they need, what makes sense for them? And really just being there and creating that space. I think that’s a great place to start with all of this.
PAM: What bubbled up for me there, Anna, is just the reminder, not only tune into the individual and the things they’re interested in, but their personality and who they are in the world, how they like to engage with the world, to remember not only just introvert, extrovert, because we can be like, okay, now you should be doing this. We can start to see them as, “They’re adults now.” Group things. But introvert, extrovert. I was just reminded very strongly there of Michael’s more multi-passionate way of going, because he had applied and been accepted to college and had this job and was thinking about doing this thing and this thing. And it’s important for me not to get fixated on any one of those paths, because he’s just got so many possibilities that he loves. And again, just be curious to see how things unfold when these decision points come for now. For now. They can come again and again. But right now, oh, you know what? This is the path that he’s going to choose.

So, understanding that, for him, having so many different interests and paths and possibilities is just how he works and how he thrives. So, supporting that versus another child who’s just deeply into their passion and just diving into that deeper and deeper and deeper over the years. That is really cool, too. But to expect that out of another because their personality is so different, it just doesn’t work.
Knowing the individual and their unique interests and everything, but again, the root is that people are different and their personalities and the way they approach their life is just another great thing to keep mind, I think. Any last words before we go? I think we’ve hit everything.

ANNA: I think we’ve definitely covered a lot. I think there’s just lots to think about with this one.

PAM: So much. Yeah. I love this age, because I feel like it’s another one of the big seasons. The toddlers into choosing unschooling and then the teen years and I think it’s just another season where there are so many expectations that we have absorbed growing up, and that society is bringing in on us. It’s just another time when I found I needed to just get more purposeful and ground back in my why and ground back in remembering who we are and who I wanted to be as a parent, but in relationship with the people in my family, regardless of their ages. So, yeah, I’m glad we’re exploring this.

ERIN: Sorry, one more. Something came to my mind. I was thinking that it was kind of funny timing that I think when I joined two or three online groups within a season and I think my youngest was 15 at the time and my oldest was 21 or something like that.

And it’s such a funny time to start like diving into these, but it’s been so helpful and it continues to be helpful. So, I don’t know, I guess I would just like to put that in as a word of encouragement that, I think I’ll be curious to see as time goes on, but I feel like more and more people are doing that.

I’m noticing there are a few of us who still are wanting to talk about these things and sort these things out, because it’s the same principles but new life stage. There’s still a lot to think through and work through in ourselves. So yeah, just wanted to put that out there that I found that really useful.

ANNA: I love it, because I mean, when we started the Network, both of our kids, Pam, were grown whatever, but it’s like, right, because it’s so much about the journey. For me, it’s so much about learning how I want to show up in all my relationships, including the ones with my adult kids. So, yeah, it’s really a very cool time.

PAM: And it’s just very inspirational. It just reminds me, again, like are you making choices in the direction of the person that you want to be, regardless of life stages? I just learned that these questions are just so valuable for me and the reminder to live intentionally, don’t just get on this path even though you chose this path and do the things, just get your little to-do list, but moving through my life with intention and just hanging out with people who are doing the same thing is just very inspiring. Day in and day out.

All right. Well, thank you so much. This has been a lot of fun and I hope everyone listening has found this conversation helpful on their unschooling journey. And yes, you can come leave comments on social, on the post on the website. We would love to hear what’s sparked for you about this idea of, oh my gosh, my kids are going to become adults, this magical age of 18, where it’s like, okay, I’m done. Y’all take care of yourself now.

But if you are looking for some individualized support, whether it is about unschooling, whether it’s about your relationships, your life with your kids, work, etc., we would invite you to check out our coaching options at livingjoyfullyshop.com.

And as we mentioned, we would love for you to join us in the Living Joyfully Network. You will find links to that in the show notes, and we wish you all a wonderful week and we’ll see you next time. Bye! Thanks, Erin!

  continue reading

321 jaksoa

Artwork
iconJaa
 
Manage episode 401060362 series 2364818
Sisällön tarjoaa Pam Laricchia. Pam Laricchia tai sen podcast-alustan kumppani lataa ja toimittaa kaiken podcast-sisällön, mukaan lukien jaksot, grafiikat ja podcast-kuvaukset. Jos uskot jonkun käyttävän tekijänoikeudella suojattua teostasi ilman lupaasi, voit seurata tässä https://fi.player.fm/legal kuvattua prosessia.

What’s so magical about age 18?

Pam, Anna, Erika, and our guest Erin dig into the transition from childhood to adulthood and what it means for our unschooled kids. It’s common for parents to bump up against some cultural beliefs about this phase of life and inadvertently put expectations on young adults. Strangers, friends, and family also all seem to be interested in the choices that our kids are making at this age! When we become aware of all of this messaging and remember that people are all different and unique, we can create a supportive environment for our young adult children to follow their own path.
Erin is an unschooling mom with four children over 18 and member of the Living Joyfully Network. She was previously on the podcast in episode 285, which you can check out if you’d like to hear more about her story. And check out her website, everlearning.ca.

We’re so glad that she was able to join us for this discussion and we hope you find our conversation helpful on your unschooling journey!

THINGS WE MENTION IN THIS EPISODE

The Living Joyfully Shop – books, courses, coaching calls, and more!

The Living Joyfully Network

EU285: Unschooling Stories with Erin

Watch the video of our conversation on YouTube.

Follow @exploringunschooling on Instagram.

Follow @pamlaricchia on Instagram and Facebook.

Follow @helloerikaellis on Instagram.

Check out our website, livingjoyfully.ca for more information about navigating relationships and exploring unschooling.

Sign up to our mailing list to receive The Living Joyfully Dispatch, our biweekly email newsletter, and get a free copy of Pam’s intro to unschooling ebook, What is Unschooling?

We invite you to join us in The Living Joyfully Network, a wonderful online community for parents to connect and engage in candid conversations about living and learning through the lens of unschooling. This month, we’re talking about Building Community. Come and be part of the conversation!

So much of what we talk about on this podcast and in the Living Joyfully Network isn’t actually about unschooling. It’s about life. On The Living Joyfully Podcast, Anna Brown and Pam Laricchia talk about life, relationships, and parenting. You can check out the archive here, or find it in your your favorite podcast player.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

PAM: Hello! I’m Pam Laricchia from Living Joyfully and today I’m joined by my co-hosts, Anna Brown and Erika Ellis and our wonderful guest, Erin. Hello, everyone!

So, Erin has been on the podcast before, back in episode 285, so please check that episode out to hear more details about her unschooling journey. But today, she’s joining us to explore the question, “What’s so magical about age 18?” which I am very excited to dive into.

But before we get started, we just want to encourage you to visit the Living Joyfully Shop. There you’ll find my books, our growing catalog of courses, you can join our online community, and book coaching calls with us. I’m just so excited to build a one-stop shop to support you as you navigate relationships with your loved ones and dive deep into your unschooling journey. So, you can follow the link in the show notes or just go to livingjoyfullyshop.com.

And now, what the heck is up with age 18? And Anna, would you like to get us started?

ANNA: I do want to get us started. Oh my goodness. I’m so glad we’re doing an episode about this age and season of life. I feel like it’s not talked about nearly enough. And there are so many parts at play. Culturally, we have this idea, I think, that once they’re 18, our work is done, but this really isn’t even about unschooling at all and it just couldn’t be further from the truth.

There’s this older labor bureau study from around 2007, 2008, that talked about age 27 being the average age where the majority of kids were living independently, so that’s age 27. And that’s just the majority, so this idea that everyone is on their own at 18 just isn’t true.

And I think letting go of that idea really helps us focus on the individuals in our family and what transitioning into adulthood is going to look like for them, because it’s so unique.

I think actually it’s easier for us in unschooling families to understand this, because our focus is on connection. It’s on relationships. And those relationships and connections last a lifetime. So, for us, the age is maybe a little less relevant, because we’re not product-focused.

But that said, when our kids start moving into adulthood, there’s a lot of messaging. It’s coming at them, it’s coming at us, messages about next steps and, “What do you want to do for the rest of your life?” And it can be this really stressful time.

And I think it can be fraught with triggers for us. I found that time in my own life to be stressful and I had a very conventional upbringing, but it was really important for me to separate my experience from my kids’ experience and I wanted to really protect the space and help quiet the noise as they navigated this time.

And so, I know we have so much to talk about, but those are the things that came to mind first, this cultural expectation and really understanding what’s bubbling up for us, because this is an age we all remember, whereas some of the earlier ages, we may not.

PAM: I remember the interesting piece, too, is, even though we have a different perspective on things because we’ve been unschooling and living unschooling, but there’s also the piece that, for me anyway, I was deep in the moment with them doing the things and everything and the “18” messages started coming more powerfully as my kids got older. So, when they were younger, it was like, I’ll worry about that years from now. And in general it was, I don’t have expectations anymore. But as 16, 17 started coming up and people are now asking different kinds of questions, “What college are they going to? What are they going to be doing?” all these pieces, those expectations started hitting me then.

So, it was another wave where I had to work through it again. What is it? Why are these messages throwing me off kilter? It would just have me wobble a bit and I’d be revisiting all sorts of pieces that brought that lifestyle and perspective into this new season of our lives there.
ERIKA: This is going to be a really interesting conversation for me. So, my kids are 12 and 14 right now, and I’m just thinking that you don’t really know what your vision of “18” really means until you’re confronted with it. And so, I like the idea of thinking about it now and just being more aware that what people are going to be expecting is going to change, and even of what messages my kids have internalized about what it means to turn 18 and what it means to be an adult.
Because I know that they do have some of those stories for themselves of like, when I grow up then this will happen or whatever, but not getting so hooked on that number, that age, because obviously things will change over the years. It’s not going to be that they wake up when they’re 18 and now everything they thought about being an adult is coming true.

ERIN: Yeah. I can relate so much to both of you, Anna and Pam, as far as, you’re humming along and you’ve done some of the work, and then there is this shift. It’s just a really interesting entrance into people’s perceptions of what adulthood should look like.

And so, I think last time we spoke on your podcast, Pam, I was talking about this period of time for several years where I really had this sweet spot, I would say, with our life and doing life without school. And I felt really confident. And as we got closer to “18,” it’s whenever people perceive the high school years as being over, suddenly, it’s a lot of questions is what it is. Because I found through a lot of the homeschool/unschool journey, people didn’t really know what we were doing, so they would ask some questions. It was almost so far from what they were used to that, unless it was good friends of mine or family that I could maybe talk a little bit more specifically with, there was a generality to the questions.

And then I think you come to this space that everybody’s pretty familiar with, right? Whether it’s the world of work or it’s college or university or whatever people are doing, moving out, driver’s licenses, all those kind of older things. Suddenly the conversations were different because they had some familiarity with that stage of life.
One of the things that’s kind of neat about that, too, though, I find is that now that my youngest is 18, I’ve really officially moved out of that zone. There is a little bit more parallel at times in conversation I can have with people, because, as much as we might think that everybody has it all together and their kids’ path to doing whatever, I’m just finding in all kinds of places there is trepidation about what their kids are doing, if their kids are happy, if their kids are safe. And so, there’s some commonality, too, that we can have, which is nice.

ANNA: Yeah, that’s that piece, right? Because I think sometimes when we’re unschooling, we get caught in this belief that this is specific to unschooling, this concern that they’re not going to do this thing or it looks different. And I think you’re right. I think it’s very common. I think it’s really this commonality of everyone moving through it, because it is just such a time of change. And as parents, we’re letting go of pieces and things are happening. And so, I think it just can be really helpful as unschoolers to step out of this idea that it’s specific to that.

And then when we can let go of that, that’s when we can focus on the individuals. Because, Erin, you have several kids, Pam as well. I have two. And it’s been absolutely unique for each of our children. It has been so different and unique and that’s the cool part about it, too.

ERIN: And I think it gives other people a little bit of space. We’re having conversations and maybe asking each other how our kids are. And you can feel they are feeling that same nervousness that we all feel. And so, I think when we can just really give a lot of space and breadth and encouragement to whatever’s happening for their kids. I think maybe that’s what we can offer in those conversations. We’re not coming with judgment or preconceived ideas and I find that people maybe are feeling a little bit better for having those more open-ended conversations.

PAM: Yeah. And I think that that age comes in there, too. When we can bring the energy of, there isn’t a timetable. We don’t need to have this solved. Or our kids don’t need to have this solved. And I think, for me, the fun thing about those conversations was that piece, was that curiosity, that space you were talking about, Erin, where it can be like, oh yeah, they’re interested in this thing and they’re trying out this thing and they’re doing this thing that they’re enjoying. And it brings a conversation, for me anyway, back from the, “I have an 18-year-old or an almost 18-year-old,” to, look at this amazing person in front of me. When you can bring it back to the individual who’s there and talk about them.

Like you were saying, Anna, the way it unfolds is so unique to each person. And, for me, what helped me when I was starting to wobble was really just steeping again in “unschooling is a lifestyle.” And there doesn’t need to be this timetable, like back when it was about learning to read by a certain age and the idea that there was a timetable. I’ve been through those kinds of messages before, so I could tap back into that. It’s like, oh yeah, you know what? There doesn’t need to be a timetable for this either. I can lean into what they like to do. This is who I want to be as a parent. I still want to maintain a strong and trusting connection with them no matter their age.

Actually, it was reminding myself about all those pieces of the kind of parent I wanted to be that I honed through unschooling, and just realizing, or remembering yet again, that this is a lifestyle. This is what I’ve chosen for my family and for how I want to relate to them really. That, no matter our ages, and right now, my kids are all in their twenties and thirties, it’s still how I want to relate to them. It’s how I want to relate to human beings.

But there was definitely that time where I needed to process and remind myself of that, and then I could bring that easier energy to all those conversations. And yeah, sometimes you could just see them relax. When they’re chatting with me, it’s like all of a sudden they recognize that this isn’t a conversation with someone to whom they need to give the answers about what their child is doing, because those are the questions they’re typically getting, too. So, you could just see them relax a little bit. It’s like, oh yeah, this is the stuff they’re up to. And even just to help them relax a little bit on that, it made the conversations really interesting.
ERIKA: I love that. I can totally picture that and how you’re talking about those earlier conversations, too. Anytime there’s that societal expectation on parents and on kids, everyone around is feeling that pressure. And so, it’s so nice to be able to be the one to help maybe relieve some of that pressure, at least in the conversations with us, because they’re probably just feeling a bit defensive about what their own kid is doing and worrying about being judged for what they are and are not doing yet. And so, yeah, I just love that. I love that we can question it and just be like, there is no one right way and people are different.

ANNA: Right. And that’s my PSA portion of this one is just stop it. We can be the generation that stops those questions at that age. Because when Afton, my oldest, was that age, she was traveling by herself and she was probably 18, 19 and I mean literally strangers on airplanes asking her, what college are you going to? Or, what are you doing now? Like, find other words. Connect with people about, what trip are you going on? What’s happening with you right now? What are you interested in?

And for those teens that are in that stage, what I would tell her is, turn it back around and say, what did you love about college? Are you working in the field that you went to college for? And turn it back to them. Because so often they were like, oh, I hated this. Or, oh no, I’ve done this. Or, oh, I didn’t do this. And it was a much more interesting conversation. And I don’t think there’s any kind of malice with the questions. I think it’s just that we don’t know how to ask questions of kids. What grade are you in? What’s your favorite subject? So, this is just another area to stretch and leave space for us all to be different and for there to be different paths.

ERIN: Yeah. I got thinking about that, Anna, when I was thinking about this topic. People are at a loss for other things to say and other things to ask, because most kids are in school for a good chunk of their day and their week. And so, it’s what people know.

And so, yeah, I agree with you. It’s not said with malice, but I know my kids have found it just really repetitive. Even if it’s something that they want to talk about, even if it’s a passion or an interest or something they’re feeling really comfortable about, it’s just like over and over. What other age is like this?

Can you imagine? Everywhere you go people are asking you like, what are you doing? What are your plans? And then what are you going to do with that? Because it’s not just, what are you doing? We had a line of questioning happening over the holidays and it didn’t stop there. Then it was sort of like, well, do you think that there’s money in that field? Do you think there’s security? It’s a lot of questions!

ANNA: That we would never ask anyone else. We’d never go to the neighbor and ask about their personal finances and have they really planned ahead for what’s going to happen next? We just wouldn’t do that. So, it’s such an interesting thing.
ERIKA: There’s got to be something about the promise or the hopefulness of that age. They’re just starting to be an adult. And at this phase, we know so much about all of the trials and tribulations, all the decisions and all the things we’ve had to do, but looking at that fresh new adult who has all the decision-making in front of them, I think it probably makes people a little bit excited, a little bit concerned. A lot of things are brought up in us just because we remember. We know all that we’ve done from that age until now and I think a lot of people really like to pass along their words of wisdom or share the things that they’ve learned in order to help the next generation. So, I see why people get excited, but it’s so tiring as an 18-year-old to be like, oh my gosh, I have to explain myself to everyone now.

PAM: Yeah. That is such a good point. And I think back to our work as well, a big paradigm shift for me as we dove deeper into unschooling was holding back my two cents. Because it would get in the way of my kids’ exploration. It’s like, “Oh, should I be going in that direction?” It quiets their instincts, their motivation, their inner voice, however you want to phrase it. But if I could not jump in, “Oh yeah, this is really cool if you do it this way,” and learn how they may well do it differently, but I came to realize how much sense it made for them to do it that way.

And yet to recognize and realize that it’s the same. It doesn’t change because now they’re a young adult. Yes, I’ve learned these things. But you know what? It doesn’t mean those particular things would make their path any easier.

There’s that beautiful dance, that beautiful line of supporting them and helping them, and even pointing out things that we feel might be helpful, but again, without that expectation. And often, I found that I needed to give so much more space than I first anticipated to let things unfold, for them to pick up nuances, for them to understand themselves.

Because also, as we were saying earlier, there are so many ways their life is changing as well when they hit these ages, more opportunities are opening up. So, to give them that space to explore them and figure it out for themselves, while also being there to help. It’s not hands off. We’re always talking about that dance and that we’re not always going to get it perfect, but we’re going to get clues. If we jump in and they’re like, what? Or, no thanks, don’t wanna hear that. Or they immediately do something completely different. Not taking those things personally again.

It’s revisiting all these lessons that we’ve learned and recognizing that they apply to our kids as young adults, and then do it again as adult adults, wherever you decide you’re going to draw those lines. So, that is really fascinating to me. And something you always say, Anna, which is that there’s plenty of time. That is always such a great reminder, because if we remind ourselves about the individual in front of us, we can start to recognize how their timeline is unique to them. And it doesn’t need to be a rush. I don’t need to prove to other people. The priority is the child in front of me and their journey and their journey is a lifetime, to just keep reminding myself. We don’t need a deadline. We don’t need a deadline for anything.

So, there’s just so many different circumstances for each person’s life. It’s just so fun to hang out with them and see how it unfolds, even if it’s different, even if it’s like, that would not be a choice I would make or anything like that. It reminds me just to celebrate the person that they are and each time I just learn something more about them and I go, oh, damn. That’s pretty cool.

ANNA: And that it’s not a race and that this is a lifelong journey. And if we’re lucky, it’s pretty long. And so, I was just talking to a friend this morning and saying that disappointment is taking stock too soon. And I think that’s when we put these artificial deadlines that we’re measuring something. And really, it’s just the unfolding. It’s still unfolding for me at 55 years old. If we can embrace that piece.

And I will say, mine are now just turned 24 and 26, that societal pressure does ease. It’s pretty intense. It’s pretty specific to that timeframe of, like you were saying, Erin, 16 to 20, where it’s these milestones that people have in their own mind and then they just kind of are like, oh, they’re living their life doing their thing. It’s not so micromanaged.

But something else I wanted to say that’s almost the reverse of this is something that you said earlier, Erika, about how they’re taking in societal pieces and they’re taking in things about it. And so, something that I had to embrace, give some space for, was that they were going to maybe try things from motivations that I didn’t think were great, that were motivations from external pieces, societal pieces.
But it’s like you were saying, Pam, that’s not my journey either. I can’t stop them from doing that, and I can’t guide them around that. They knew they weren’t getting pressure from me in particular and that they had my support and I could be there to facilitate, but I could see them at times making choices. And now looking back, we can have conversations about it and they’ve said like, yeah, I kind of wish I could go back and do some of that again. But we can’t change that for them. So again, I guess it’s the reminder of so much of this is our work to just recognize we can’t control the path.

ERIN: I’ve also been thinking about the idea of how much more space and time I shouldn’t say I’ve had to leave, but in order to have the relationships that I want to have, I’ve had to leave. And it’s not even that they necessarily need all that time, but just having enough margin to be available for some of those conversations. And I know we talk about this with teens for sure, but I think it continues.
I think we were up till about 2:30 the other night, just kind of spontaneously, similar to what you were talking about. My son was just processing different things with his job and his path and management versus going a different route and just really thinking it through financially and all those kinds of things, too.
And some of it was that balance, I guess, if you will, between what externally people are saying he should do, or not him specifically, but people, and then what he enjoys and the quality of life he wants to have. And that’s not a quick conversation apparently. It just went on and on. But he really needed to process that.

And you could see bits of that, being aware of what’s expected. And maybe it’s a little bit tricky when you’ve come up through a childhood where you have a lot of freedom and things aren’t very standard and it’s wonderful in one sense, but you are also very true to yourself when you grow up that way. And so, then there’s a little bit more of a rub between the external expectations. It’s more to sift through.

PAM: Yeah. I love that example, Erin, and that reminded me that something that I’ve picked up is a realization that, oh, this is what relationships are. Because it’s like, okay, they’re 18, even if they’re moving out and they’re doing other things, it’s like, I’m still not “done.” It’s still the processing. Because yes, they’re used to actually processing things as a human being, to not just to do what’s expected of them, but to think about it and consider it, making real choices as to whether it’s something they want to do and then maybe they do try it out and then later on they might change their mind. But that’s a conversation. That’s processing.
Even as adults, how cool is it to be able to process, to continue to really move through your life with intention? Even if it’s like, I don’t have time, I’m just going to do this thing because it seems best to me, or that’s what everybody’s telling me to do, I’m going to try it out. They are just learning so much about themselves and that we have that relationship with them, that when they want to process and when they want to bounce ideas around or any of those pieces, that they trust and know that we will do that with them. So yeah, it was like, oh, adults out of the house. I’m done now with my parenting. And no, no. It’s like, oh these are the relationships that I wanted to have. And it is a lifelong thing. Oh, how interesting.
ERIKA: And just the part about the lessons that we’ve learned and those things that we question now as adults, they might not be in a place to question that yet. And so, it makes sense that they’re going to have their own journey just as we did. Maybe they have a little bit of an advantage for listening to that inner voice, but there will still be a process of critically looking at society’s messages and expectations, listening to their inner voice, figuring out what works for them.

And so, I think it makes sense that young adults, sometimes even unschooling young adults, are like, “I think I’m going to try this thing that everyone else is doing,” and we could be, from our position, like, “But why? You don’t have to. You just don’t have to do that.” But I think it’s wasted energy for us to try to convince them about stuff that it’s taken us this long to come to. They just are going to be on their own journey with it.
ANNA: Yeah. And I think it’s that being available. And Erin, just like your experience and yours, too, Pam, it is a time of intensity. And really, Erika, you’re already seeing it with your early teens, this need to process these big ideas and then go away and be doing things and then all of a sudden, yes, we’re here for the three-hour conversation.

And I think you’re right, Pam. It’s just relationships. When we think about the people we’re closest to that we want to process things with and we want to bounce things off of, how cool is it that we are that person for our adult children, these adults. And I don’t know. I love it and it can be intense at times. And I think partly that intensity for me comes from the triggers. I remember how intense it felt to be on our own now. Like, this is what’s happening. And then we’ve got to make all these decisions that seem really weighty and big.

And so, I do love what I see in them, Erin, like you said, a stronger connection to self. And also just that they are coming to me to talk about it. I didn’t go to my parents to talk about the stress I was under with some of this stuff. I just kind of felt like I had to do it. I just had to figure it out and do it. And so, I love that there’s more space for that collaboration, that community feel of relationships.

ERIN: And I wonder if some of that not going to your parents, because I think a lot of people have that experience, is that maybe we normalized that degree of stress. And it was like, well this is the stage of life I’m in. This is just how it needs to be. So, I don’t know. And there might be some of that, but it’s fun that they can play with that a little bit and think maybe there are some choices within this or some different options.

ANNA: Yeah. It’s cool.

PAM: It’s really cool to see the different kinds of choices that they make over time. And just like when they were younger, you see the learning and the things that they’re figuring out, not just through the processing, but just through the choices they’re making. Oh, we’re going to try this out. Well, something motivated you to try that thing out. And how interesting is that? And yeah, so there’s just so many pieces.

And I love that, for the most part, we remember, or re-remember that breadth of what it means to be a person, that we have revisited over time as we’ve wobbled with unschooling and gone back to looking at our kids and, oh yeah, look, they’re a complete human being. They have interests. They’re learning things all the time. I say learning things all the time, and then I worry, oh, people will look at their kid and think, oh, they’re not digging into this interest or anything like that. Because there are cocooning stages where it doesn’t look like they’re doing much, but oh my gosh, they’re learning so much about themselves just by existing in this season and seeing how things unfold and just getting curious, especially when their choices maybe don’t seem like they will work out the way they hoped they would work out. But how many times over the years, over their lifetime so far has it surprised me? So, like we were saying, I’m not going to jump in and say no, but I can sure be curious as to how it unfolds.
ERIN: I have something that popped up just about choices that they make and so, on the one hand, I think you’d mentioned earlier on Anna, about triggers. This can be a period of time or a stage of life where there are a lot of triggers for us, and I know a lot of it is we want the best for our kids, but some of it is that external opinion of what they’re doing. But to a certain degree, I think we have to just observe how much is our own ego as well. Because you know people have been watching, right? People have been watching the homeschool journey. What is this strange thing that this family’s doing? How will the kids turn out?

And so, yeah, there is a certain amount of pressure on us that’s real and I think to be able to observe that, be aware of it. I’m curious. I’ve never asked my kids. I don’t know how much they feel that or if they even do. But yeah, it’s an odd thing that there’s this low-level observation happening.

ANNA: And it’s real. And I think, that’s why, for me, when I talk about this, because obviously we’ve been talking about it for many, many years now, I really do focus on, it’s about me being the person I want to be.
I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen down the road or whatever. But I truly believe if I’m being the person I want to be, showing up in kindness and compassion and supporting, that that’s the best I can do. So, it’s like, for me, to really pull it away from the outcomes, because that’s their own personal journey.
They’re going to take that journey and have all kinds of things about their childhood and other pieces. I will say, at this stage, I am grateful to have the relationships that I have with them and that we enjoy being with each other so much. But yeah, it’s so tricky.
But the other piece did come back to me, which you touched on it a little bit, Pam, but it’s like, remember the tools, because I think sometimes when we move into this stage, suddenly you’ll see parents maybe double down on the conventional piece. Like, we’ve done all this stuff, now we’re going to college, or now it’s going to look like X, Y, Z.

And even if they go to college, what I love about the mindset we bring with unschooling is the curiosity. And it’s a tool. A college course is a tool. A welding course is a tool. Exploring Europe is a tool. All of it is valid and real and important. And so, I think it does take extra work, like you’re saying, Erin, for us to do that at that time, because the eyes are on us, all the eyes.

But for me it was just like, shut that out and focus on the individual in front of me. What’s making their heart sing? What is helping them move through this stage? Just thinking of our kids, how many do we have with all of us here? Eleven kids between us! So unique and different. Every single one of them is so different and this journey is so different and all just as cool and interesting as the next.
ERIKA: When you said people are looking to see how the kids turn out, that triggers me so much, because I’m just like, what does turning out mean for a human? I’m still changing so much and growing and learning at this age, and so, I think keeping that front and center for me that there’s not a finish line and if there is one, there’s certainly not one at age 23. And so, just remembering that journey, there’s no turning out. And it doesn’t matter if you’re unschooling or if you’re in school or whatever, no matter how you grow, there’s still not a finish line as much as some people think that there is one.

ANNA: Oh my gosh. I would not want someone to think my journey ended at 23, even though it looked pretty conventional up till that point. Yuck. Oh my gosh, so much has happened since then and so much growth and that’s happening with each and every one of our children and all of the people out there.

PAM: That’s true. I just turn it back to myself each time. It’s like, oh yeah. I have changed so much in that time. I need to give everybody the grace to have their own journey.

ERIN: Yeah. Just one more thing on that, which is what I started to notice is it wasn’t even just the 18, it’s like people started to prepare for the 18 sometimes at 13, 14. And so, a lot of the people that we would have been together in the past, these memories of the kids on the hiking trails and the all the different things and just having a lot of fun together. And I really started to notice for quite a few people that joy just got swept right away in the teen years. They’d had all these wonderful years, some were traditionally homeschooling, some were unschooling, it didn’t really matter. They were all kind of finding their own joyful way of doing things. And then there was this period of time where suddenly the teens didn’t have time to get together.

Whether it was, I don’t know, just getting into a lot of structured courses or work or whatever and not that those are bad things and they can be what kids want to do and they can be really helpful. But I think it depends on the mindset. If it’s coming from that mindset of fear, “We need to prepare for 18,” it just felt a little bit sad to me to see some of that energy change.

ERIKA: That reminds me of the energy that changed when my kids were turning three and four. It’s these milestone places along the way. I remember my own mind going there. And it didn’t stay there for long, because it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. But I had thoughts of like, well, Oliver’s turning three, so things are going to have to get more serious around here. He’s really going to have to start learning.

And so, I think that high school thing is the same. It’s like, okay, they’re entering the high school years. Things have to get more serious. They have to start making decisions. And so, it’s just noticing when those more cultural things are popping up in my mind.

PAM: Because societally, when the goal is, more conventionally, college or university, high school is when you’ve got to start prepping for that, right? You’ve got to get the grades throughout your high school career to get into the school that you want. So, you can pretty easily see how that unfolds, why that starts bubbling up then. And when it bubbles up for us, I think it really is just noticing expectations and the fear that’s behind those expectations, as you were mentioning, Erin, that maybe when they were younger, we didn’t realize that we held, because there was no reason to think about it. It’s just so fascinating to me. We can think, oh yeah, college, they can choose whether or not they go. Yep. Done with that. Yet when the age starts, all of a sudden it’s like, oh, well, maybe just in case, maybe we should, all those pieces.
So, I think it comes up in maybe how we talk with them. It comes up in our conversations outside our family. It comes up in the conversations they’re having with other people.

So, yeah, it is really worth the effort, I think, to just peel back the layers for ourselves when we just start to feel some shoulds and, “We have to do this,” when we feel those, it’s just such a great clue to dive in and just ask, “Do we have to? Why should we do that?”

Because even if we come to the point where, for us, yes, this feels like something I really want to happen, at least now we have the language and the understanding about ourselves and the self-awareness to be able to share at least, “I’m feeling,” to bring that to the conversation.

A conversation that starts with, “I’m kind of feeling this,” versus, “I think you should do this,” it’s a 180 degree difference as conversation starters, just to start feeling it with them and seeing what they’re feeling. And maybe we’re commiserating and maybe we’re coming up with some new ideas.

Maybe they’re thinking about things that we didn’t know about yet, and it’s like, oh, well that’s so much cooler. Because that is something else I realized. My plans, which were coming from expectations and, “This is how life should unfold,” just were never as creative and interesting as so many of the plans that they chose for themselves, because then all of a sudden it’s like, oh my gosh, that makes so much sense for you.

ERIN: Well, and naturally, often teens do become more serious and focused on something in particular or maybe just generally. So, I think, it isn’t to say that they don’t drive some of that focus, because they do. They get passionate about things and they want to learn, and I think they are interested in their future. And so, they will find steps that might make sense or pieces that they might be interested in.
But I think it’s that idea of, what’s driving it? Is it external? Is it this fear that we are saying, okay. It’s time for things to get unpleasant.
ANNA: Right. And I think that “there’s plenty of time” piece is a really good place to start, because even if we can let go of the artificial timelines of it, just because they choose not to go to college at 18 doesn’t mean they won’t at 22 or 28. So, if we can let go of the rigid timeline, just even that alone provides a little breathing room to learn more about ourselves, to make sure someone’s ready for that step. Make sure someone’s ready to do whatever the next thing is. And so, even that’s a piece of work we can catch in ourselves and go, okay, right. We don’t have to buy into artificial timelines.

Again, I think the piece is tuning into the individual who’s in front of you, what do they need, what makes sense for them? And really just being there and creating that space. I think that’s a great place to start with all of this.
PAM: What bubbled up for me there, Anna, is just the reminder, not only tune into the individual and the things they’re interested in, but their personality and who they are in the world, how they like to engage with the world, to remember not only just introvert, extrovert, because we can be like, okay, now you should be doing this. We can start to see them as, “They’re adults now.” Group things. But introvert, extrovert. I was just reminded very strongly there of Michael’s more multi-passionate way of going, because he had applied and been accepted to college and had this job and was thinking about doing this thing and this thing. And it’s important for me not to get fixated on any one of those paths, because he’s just got so many possibilities that he loves. And again, just be curious to see how things unfold when these decision points come for now. For now. They can come again and again. But right now, oh, you know what? This is the path that he’s going to choose.

So, understanding that, for him, having so many different interests and paths and possibilities is just how he works and how he thrives. So, supporting that versus another child who’s just deeply into their passion and just diving into that deeper and deeper and deeper over the years. That is really cool, too. But to expect that out of another because their personality is so different, it just doesn’t work.
Knowing the individual and their unique interests and everything, but again, the root is that people are different and their personalities and the way they approach their life is just another great thing to keep mind, I think. Any last words before we go? I think we’ve hit everything.

ANNA: I think we’ve definitely covered a lot. I think there’s just lots to think about with this one.

PAM: So much. Yeah. I love this age, because I feel like it’s another one of the big seasons. The toddlers into choosing unschooling and then the teen years and I think it’s just another season where there are so many expectations that we have absorbed growing up, and that society is bringing in on us. It’s just another time when I found I needed to just get more purposeful and ground back in my why and ground back in remembering who we are and who I wanted to be as a parent, but in relationship with the people in my family, regardless of their ages. So, yeah, I’m glad we’re exploring this.

ERIN: Sorry, one more. Something came to my mind. I was thinking that it was kind of funny timing that I think when I joined two or three online groups within a season and I think my youngest was 15 at the time and my oldest was 21 or something like that.

And it’s such a funny time to start like diving into these, but it’s been so helpful and it continues to be helpful. So, I don’t know, I guess I would just like to put that in as a word of encouragement that, I think I’ll be curious to see as time goes on, but I feel like more and more people are doing that.

I’m noticing there are a few of us who still are wanting to talk about these things and sort these things out, because it’s the same principles but new life stage. There’s still a lot to think through and work through in ourselves. So yeah, just wanted to put that out there that I found that really useful.

ANNA: I love it, because I mean, when we started the Network, both of our kids, Pam, were grown whatever, but it’s like, right, because it’s so much about the journey. For me, it’s so much about learning how I want to show up in all my relationships, including the ones with my adult kids. So, yeah, it’s really a very cool time.

PAM: And it’s just very inspirational. It just reminds me, again, like are you making choices in the direction of the person that you want to be, regardless of life stages? I just learned that these questions are just so valuable for me and the reminder to live intentionally, don’t just get on this path even though you chose this path and do the things, just get your little to-do list, but moving through my life with intention and just hanging out with people who are doing the same thing is just very inspiring. Day in and day out.

All right. Well, thank you so much. This has been a lot of fun and I hope everyone listening has found this conversation helpful on their unschooling journey. And yes, you can come leave comments on social, on the post on the website. We would love to hear what’s sparked for you about this idea of, oh my gosh, my kids are going to become adults, this magical age of 18, where it’s like, okay, I’m done. Y’all take care of yourself now.

But if you are looking for some individualized support, whether it is about unschooling, whether it’s about your relationships, your life with your kids, work, etc., we would invite you to check out our coaching options at livingjoyfullyshop.com.

And as we mentioned, we would love for you to join us in the Living Joyfully Network. You will find links to that in the show notes, and we wish you all a wonderful week and we’ll see you next time. Bye! Thanks, Erin!

  continue reading

321 jaksoa

Kaikki jaksot

×
 
Loading …

Tervetuloa Player FM:n!

Player FM skannaa verkkoa löytääkseen korkealaatuisia podcasteja, joista voit nauttia juuri nyt. Se on paras podcast-sovellus ja toimii Androidilla, iPhonela, ja verkossa. Rekisteröidy sykronoidaksesi tilaukset laitteiden välillä.

 

Pikakäyttöopas