A few months ago, a friend of mine wrote a blog post about unschooling and parenting, and as sometimes happens they received some really negative - even nasty - comments. This is not unusual; I've gotten hate mail plenty of times, especially when I try to tackle the most mainstream parenting topics like spanking and chores. I have no problem with debate per se, but my blog is about my opinions, beliefs, and values. I don't see the point in arguing or debating about values, to be honest. I have been a parent who uses physical intimidation, yelling, coercion, and a host of other methods which now repulse me because I believe they are unfair and damaging to my children. I researched and made conscious changes to become the parent I am - not perfect, but gentle and thoughtful. That works for me, my partner, and my kids. And so I write about it. You can change my mind or my thinking about politics, religion, and a host of other things - but I know what kind of parent I am, what kind I want to be, and why. No one is likely to change my mind about that, so what's to argue about? My beliefs are mine; if you don't like them, don't read them. The internet is filled with people expressing their opinions, and when I encounter people expressing opinions that make me upset or angry, I close the page and move onto something more joyful.
When my friend got those nasty comments, I happened to be reading an amazing book by Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas called "Of Men and Mountains." Douglas was raised in the mountains of central Washington, and was able to stay connected to nature throughout the remainder of his life. One particular passage struck me, especially in light of people who seem to seek situations that make them angry or frustrated.
"The events of the winter had made me wonder at times, "Whither man?" I recalled an evening's conversation with a group of young folks. They deplored the fact that man was being more and more regarded only as a biological -or economic - being. He was put into tables and polls and considered as fungible as wheat or corn. One of them made the point that there was a diminishing recognition of the spiritual qualities of the importance of quickening man's conscience and asking him to search his soul as well as his mind for answers to the perplexing problems of the day. Perhaps man was losing his freedom in a subtle manner. He was becoming more and more dependent on other men. Part of that dependency was necessary, since man had to look to others for his food and fuel and essential services.
"But he had also become dependent on others for his entertainment and for his ideas. He looked to people rather than to himself and to the earth for his salvation. He fixed his expectations on the frowns or smiles or words of men, not on the strength of his own soul, or the sunrise, or the warming south wind, or the song of the warbler. Once man leaned that heavily on people he was not wholly free to live. Then he became moody rather than self-reliant. He was filled with tensions and doubts. He walked in an unreal world, for he did not know the earth from which he came and to which he would return. He became a captive of civilization rather than an adventurer who topped each hill ahead for the thrill of discovering a new world. He lost the feel of his own strength, the power of his own soul to master any adversity."
So, what does that all mean, especially in relation to this blog?
Well, it's pretty simple, really. This is a blog, only a blog, and it's MY blog. I am not an expert at much of anything, let alone parenting. But I do have my opinions based on experiences that involved a tremendous amount of introspection, trial, and tears. Read if you want, think if you want, change if you want . . . or do none of those, if you want. It's only opinion, not gospel, and as such is best taken in small doses over time for you to enjoy or spit out at your whim.
The biggest message I could ever possibly deliver is this: Life is short, and it's best that we all get on with the process of living it as wide open and joyfully as possible. If what I write moves you, great. If it doesn't, well then simply move along to real things that bring you joy. You likely only get one chance at this life; don't waste it by fixing your "expectations on the frowns or smiles or words of men, not on the strength of (your) own soul, or the sunrise, or the warming south wind, or the song of the warbler."
Other than that, enjoy!