It seems to me there are two fundamental world views that drive parenting. Depending on which you subscribe to, it says how you are going to make many choices from there.
- Your goal is to prepare your child for a rich and abundant life in the real world.
- Your goal is to let your individual child blossom in her way, in her time, knowing a firm grounding in her family and roots prepares her to find her best path at each step of life.
If you follow the first guideline, then you make preschool decisions that affect college choices, are working hard to make money that supports a rich and abundant life, and want your children to attend the best schools with the best programs. You may not have spent as much of a quantity of time with your children, you focus on quality, and figure that their rich and abundant life that they’ll lead forever is the best thing you can do for them.
Or something like that.
If you follow the second guideline, you treat your children like a slow cooked meal. Each ingredient of their lives is cultivated from the ground, locally and appropriately. You follow the schooling they want, letting them set their own pace and break away slowly from the family constellation at a pace that suits each child. You may work less or for less money or make some other compromise that puts the most amount of time in the hands of your family, aware that the future years are going to be unknown but most likely, they’ll be little stars moving in their orbits by then.
The first guideline is most like the guideline that our society follows. That is, “The norm and the expectation.” Some people follow it by clear choice, others because they haven’t thought of any other way. Following the second guideline is more rare in the US culture, although perhaps a little less so than even a decade ago.
I was contemplating this as I looked at the International Baccalaureate site. I’m clearly in the second guideline camp, but I felt mixed emotions looking at the little baccalaureates from around the world. How happy they look! I be they feel really a part of something! What bright, shiny futures they’ll have!
This emotion has to do a bit of battle with the part of me that knows these children are forming a new constellation with new people precisely because they were forced from their first constellation, their family circle, at an early age. Forced from the breast, from the family bed to the crib, from the crib to their own bedroom, from their bedroom to the nanny, nanny takes them to preschool, preschool starts a bond with same age people that is shattered in college, and after that … well, the real world starts. A real world that is in fact nothing like those first 18 years, except where they repeat family choices with their own future families.
It’s honestly hard not to feel I’m failing in part with my children by not teaching them everything now that they’ll eventually need. Even as I watch their peers in other lifestyles learn so much more at such an earlier age than I ever did. If it weren’t for the pioneering experience of other homeschoolers to bolster me when the cold chill goes down my spine in the night, I don’t know how I’d make it through to the morning.