Playing the Long Game in your Child’s Upbringing. 118

Playing the Long Game in your Child’s Upbringing. 118

As adults, and as parents in particular, we tend to focus on ‘short-term results’ when it comes to our kids. But what is seldom considered is the longitude of a child’s life and how there is so much more to life besides ‘making it’ in the labor force.

When we as parents look at our children’s future, this is often the primary point of concern, and we more often than not, place it as our ultimate goal to get them into the workforce to become productive members of society. Then we have done everything we could. Then we are satisfied and can exhale in relief, knowing that we have finally earned our stripes as parents.

We are so scared of them not making it, that we forget about supporting our children to become WHOLE human beings.

More and more children suffer from stress and anxiety when it comes to performing well in schools and they get younger and younger. The more tests and exams there is in a school environment, the more stress and anxiety there is.

As adults we know very well how complicated and confusing life as a human being can be. From communication in relationships to managing a budget or a diet, we are constantly faced with choices and challenges that form part of being a member of society – and this is true whether we have made it to become successful members of the working force or not.

In fact, research has found that while being successful and making lots of money makes for a more comfortable life, it doesn’t in itself satisfy us on a deeper level as human beings. What is however satisfying (also known as “what makes you happy”) is to have genuine human connections and to live a life that is meaningful to you and where you have time to pursue the things you are interested in.

Too bad most of us do not find out about this until we are way into our 20’s and 30’s or 50’s and most of our bad habits and dysfunctional patterns have already become ingrown parts of us that often requires years of therapy and major life changing events to decode, let alone reverse.

One of the reasons why I am a supporter of unschooling and the continuum concept is exactly because these educational and child-rearing principles considers the whole child and not only the development of cognitive and motoric abilities with the purpose of creating effective worker-bees.

In unschooling environments for example (at least ideally), there is no fear of the child not making something productive of his or her life if they don’t go to school or take tests or exams – and therefore the child is supported to explore their interests unconditionally. Because the child is supported to explore their interests unconditionally, they are also given a trust that in turn can develop into self-trust.

When the child is respected for all that he or she is, every dimension on the child’s development is taken into consideration, whether this is the development of motoric skills or communication or understanding and being able to direct one’s emotions in a supportive way.

When the whole child is considered, there is also a respect for who the child is in its own right, as an individual being who has its own ambitions and interests that cannot be preconceived or determined by a parent or a teacher, and it is therefore much more the role of the parent or the teacher to help the child discover and develop these potentials rather than predefine them. After all, aren’t we ourselves equally on a search to be and become whole human beings? Aren’t we equally interested in being respected for who we are, as who we are?

An important part of becoming this person in a child’s life, who stands with and by the child in equality and integrity, is for the parent or the adult to embark on this journey of discovery for ourselves. After all, how can we stand with the child through its journey as more experienced life-walkers, if we do not in fact have experience of what it means to become whole human beings?

This means that if we as parents or teachers or adults in general wants to give our children the opportunity to already from the get-go develop their entire register of capabilities that is available to them as a potential, we have to first walk this process ourselves.

The process we need to walk is equally about learning how to communicate in supportive ways in our relationships, discovering what makes us satisfied in life on a deeper level and pursue it without fear, and as we do that we become beacons of inspiration who can stand as living examples for our children of what it means to be whole human beings,
Human beings with sound integrity, human beings with compassion, human beings with generosity and confidence and self-trust – everything that we have ever wanted ourselves to be and become if only we dared to admit it to ourselves.

I will leave you with this message:

I wouldn’t worry too much about my child’s academic results if I were you. In fact, I wouldn’t worry at all, because when you worry about your child’s life, you teach them to worry about their lives too.

So if you are a parent or a teacher and if you find yourself worrying daily about tests and exams and whether your child is going to make it or not – I would suggest to stop up for a moment. Take a deep breath and look around you. Most likely nothing is falling apart. Your child isn’t on a path of self-destruction (hopefully!). In fact, everything is quite fine. (And if it truly isn’t, definitely suggest seeking some help). Most likely, your child is healthy and happy and resilient and there are things it needs so much more in life than being forced into a grueling regime of tests and scores and among these things, are you.

Much more than necessarily needing to learn the square root of 3 at the age of 11, your child needs to form a meaningful connection with you as a parent, to see adults who communicate in a sound way, to see and be with animals and nature and all kinds of things this world has to offer, to learn to want to learn on their own and have confidence in their own learning ability. Your child needs to learn how to take care of their own body, and to stand with integrity in their relationship with their body and to be able to sense what foods or substances supports them or not. This will prepare them for life. Learning the square root of 3 will not. I am not saying it isn’t important – but it certainly isn’t the most important thing in a child’s life, not if the goal is to support your child to become a whole human being who can effectively direct and decide over their life.

In the next post I will go deeper into the process of deschooling, the process that I would claim is the key to saving the world. Stay tuned…



  1. I’m interested on your thoughts on this. I took my 8yo son out of school last year and we’ve been deschooling for about 9 months. We’ve just moved to a smaller town with one school with a roll of 30. He’s chosen to go to school and had a trial day last week and loved it. He’s an only child and just wants other kids to play with. Since this is his choice, I’m going with it.

    • Hi Maria.

      Thanks for your comment.
      Look, all children are different and some simply enjoy school and can handle the environment and even thrive from it. So while I understand your concern, I wouldn’t worry about it, if you see that your child is thriving and happy.

      From my experience, small schools are definitely the best option if one is to opt for school.

      What you can then do as a parent is to offer ‘deschooling/unschooling’ at home, from the perspective of sharing principles with your son and supporting him to also pursue his interests outside of school.

  2. Prior to your next post, would it be possible to get some context for your last sentence? ” I will go deeper into the process of deschooling, the process that I would claim is the key to saving the world.” I am extremely interested in this perspective as I am in a heated debate with myself to open an unschooling center for young people similar to North Star

    • Hi Tim. Sounds interesting. Looking at more global solutions/paradigm changes when it comes to education, I have seen two scenarios that may coincide: one being a scenario where education is almost fully in the hands of parents and another where education centers is created based on unschooling principles (similar to Sudbury schools, I don’t know North Star, but I’ll investigate it).

      In a nutshell: the world is the way it is today because of how we were all brought up/schooled – in which we were taught to live in the ways that are now causing mass destruction and conflict on all levels of human existence and the world as a whole. So therefore, the solution to reversing this process and eventually creating a life on earth that is sustainable AND expansive in supportive ways, is to unlearn everything that makes us who we are that are causing us to be destructive and conflictual – on personal as well as global levels. This is a mistake often made when people try to change the world or implement new solutions – that they forget the step about first deleting the old programs that inadvertently will interfere with any new progress.

      I will go deeper into this in the blog.

      Thanks for the comment and if you’d like to spare more on your vision/idea, I’d be happy to talk more.

  3. Thank you. I share these perspectives and ways of life. I “earned” a Ph.D. in education at the age of 27 and now (6 years later) have just come out of an incredible experience of pain and joy as I had to unlearn and recover from my education. As a mother of 2, unschooling is the only way toward a future worth sustaining. I am currently curious of the implications of being an educated American and the idea of “American Refugees” as more of us wake up and seek to be whole human beings. When you speak of “productive members of society”, I assume you are referring to American society? Obviously, these social norms are not isolated to the geographic space of the U.S.A. (i.e. globalization) and how are other societies creating solutions? An ethnography of unschooling perhaps? Thank you, again, for your blogs. I look forward to continued reading and inspiration.

    • Hi Jessi. Thanks for your comment – appreciate it.

      I remember way back when, I deliberately avoided going to university because I was so scared of the brainwashing I knew I would be exposed to there. I had met a lot of university students who were just so full of themselves and who were difficult to communicate with because they were so knowledge-based (and lacked real experience). Little did I realize at the time that I had obviously been through a massive brainwashing scheme through my years at school.

      To answer your question:

      I am Danish myself, have lived in South Africa and live in Sweden now, and I have never seen myself as belonging to a certain nationality, but more experience myself as part of the world. Also, most of my educational references are international, so when I refer to “productive members of society” I usually mean a general western society. I do sometimes write about a specific cultural context like the American or Scandinavian, but then I mention it directly. But yes, I agree with you that there is also a global ‘U.S.A culture’ that spreads via media and entertainment for example.

      An ethnography of unschooling sounds really cool – I’d like to contribute or participate in such a project. I know that Peter Gray has interviewed a lot of unschooling families, but I’m quite sure it was only from the U.S. Here in Northern Europe education is strictly regulated so unschooling is virtually impossible – which is a challenge on its own.

      Thanks again for the comment!


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