One of the commenters on my post about allowances asked this question:
I try to install certain values in them (don´t we all) and I try hard to model what I believe – walk my talk as they say. The problem is, that these issues that I feel strongly about, are all very much in opposition to the world’s usual ways.
This is a very interesting question! And one that I think creates somewhat of a oxymoron – instilling our own values in our children that we figured out on our own, possibly even in rebellion against the things we were “taught” as kids.
So, here’s my ideas about passing down our own values by trusting our kids will come up with their own conclusions about what’s “right” and worthy:
The last thing in the world that I would want is for my children to blindly follow my beliefs, never challenge them and just do what I say, without complaint. That would be the “easiest” way to instill my values onto my kids. But wouldn’t that be just the opposite of the values I want to teach them?
We want to teach our kids to be strong, have their own minds and believe what they do because they know it’s the right thing, in their hearts, to believe. If we ask them to believe what we do without seriously considering the alternatives, when they are out of our grasp, whatever they are exposed to then will take over and they will blindly follow that. In order to have strong convictions about something (without being brainwashed) we have to come to those conclusions through debate, struggling to understand the world and tossing around all the alternatives in our brain, and in practice, first. Allowing our children to want things we don’t like is giving them the freedom to figure out what is right for them and for their world – a world that we will, one day, no longer see.
So, ultimately, to instill the non-mainstream values that I want my chidlren to carry on, I need to give them lots of opportunity and freedom to believe other things, and have their own minds. It seems somewhat counter-intuitive, but I believe it’s the only way it will work. My hope is that they will have gone through all their many struggles, trying on different ideas and pursuing things that I don’t agree with *before* they leave the nest, so when they get into the world, they will be confident in their choices (well, as much as they can in 18 short years), because they had a chance already to play around with lots of different ideas and perspectives. In other words, they won’t be suddenly thrust into a world of new ideas – all those ideas will be old hat for them, and therefore not that tempting.
I also hope that my kids never stop changing. That no matter how old they get, they will be willing to listen to new ideas, willing to change as the world and culture changes, and be adaptable. In order to teach them that, I have to model that behavior, and, let them be that way from the beginning. Which, I believe, is the natural state of things. People are born adaptable. We are trained out of being adaptable by being told, over and over, there is a “right” way to do things. I don’t want to train my kids like that. I want to them to discover their “right” way. If it’s truly the “right” way, then it will be obvious. I won’t have to teach them anything. If it’s not truly the “right” way, I’ll have to force it on them.
So, with homeschooling, or rather, living life without school, my goal is to show them the world – or at least as much of it as I can. And, by showing them the world, I am showing it to myself as well, and going through my own struggles to understand it. I think it’s good for them to see that process, and we can go through it together. And that’s how I’m passing down my non-mainstream values, by trying not to pressure them to think like me.