Homefires - The Journal of Homeschooling OnlineHomefires - The Journal of Homeschooling Online

Grandparents' Perspective
Parenting & Homeschooling: We Can Do It!

By Win and Bill Sweet

America is a superpower in the world and yet a great majority of parents in our country feel burdened, impotent, and helpless. "I don't know what to do with a baby, wailed a young, frightened woman, pregnant with her first child. A man with three children shared with us that he was completely at sea about "this parenting business." He said, "I don't know how I'm going to survive, let alone get the kids into adulthood okay. A couple was enthusiastic about the idea of homeschooling, yet seriously doubtful. The mother said, "I don't think I could do it. I wouldn't know how." The dad chimed in, "It would be a crushing responsibility; I couldn't handle it." What is going on here? Parenting is one of the most natural functions in our lives. The other mammals don't seem to be worried about it. Why are we? Why is it so foreign and so scary? We feel this phenomenon is one of the causes of troubled and stressed families.

What has happened to take away access to the natural intuitive awareness, guidance, and confidence that should be the birthright of every parent? Perhaps it would be helpful to go back to the beginning of parenting: pregnancy and birth. Pregnancy has generally been categorized as an illness, birth as a hazard. In our culture most pregnant parents are conditioned to completely turn over managing the pregnancy and the birth to a professional, having been given the impression that they, themselves, are not competent enough to participate in choices and decisions. They often don't even know there are choices, taking, without question, the traditional pathway in the culture. These parents become disenfranchised without realizing it, and this loss can influence their entire parenting experience.

When our children were born, dads were completely excluded from the birth event and most mothers didn't understand the birthing process, they just expected to scream. Unless a woman was fortunate enough to participate in a Natural Childbirth program, she usually didn't know what was happening to her body or have real confidence that her body naturally knows how to be pregnant and give birth -- and the baby naturally knows how to develop in the womb and be born.

Things are somewhat better now, but only marginally. Most parents still do not feel "in charge," or that they have real birth and parenting choices. It is no wonder, then, to discover a lack of confidence and independence extending on and on into the parenting experience.

As a culture we need to give pregnancy, the birthing process, and parenting back to the parents ­ and children to govern and to experience as they were intended to do: "We're in charge. We can do this." As this realization spreads into our society, an immense freedom and joy will begin to take place. The emotional pain and helplessness associated with parenting, which is so pervasive and which expresses itself in so many tragic ways, will ease and disappear. We will reclaim the birthright of choice, peace, and genuine fulfillment.

If you ever feel overwhelmed with parenting, frustrated, powerless, and sometimes frightened, reclaim the dominion that you may have lost during the pregnancy and birthing of your children. Just as you could have done it back then, you can be an effective parent now with confidence and trust in your intuition and capabilities. Just as your baby knew how to be born, even if that autonomy was wrested from her or him, your child still knows how to be a confident, cheerful, and cooperative member of a family.

As parents who have chosen the home-based education lifestyle, you have already begun this process of reclaiming the heritage intended in the universe for you as a parent and for your family as a whole. Declare with confidence, "We can do it! We can have a joyful, harmonious family life." Build a structure of irrefutable principles that you come to trust will help you guide your family well. At the same time discard emotionally based cultural traditions and expectations. Create space as a family to be, and to enjoy who you are and what you can do together. This nourishment and awareness will envelop all of you with confidence, personal power, and joy that is not given to you, or produced from "out there," but which everyone has always had and can now call forth into an active family experience. This is true family freedom and joy!?

© 1998 Win and Bill Sweet

Win and Bill Sweet began homeschooling their children nearly 30 years ago. They are the authors of  Living Joyfully With Children, available from Amazon.com.  You may contact the Sweets by email at: wsweet@aol.com.