DSM: Re: role of parents

Allan Saugstad (asaugstad@vsb.bc.ca)
Thu, 14 Dec 2000 11:40:25 -0800

I sincerely thank those of you who took the time to respond to my questions
regarding my school/community vision. This helps and challenges me to think and
plan more clearly and hopefully more successfully.

Some clarification (apologies for the length of this):

1) I know from experience what Melissa says about children having more freedom
to be themselves when they are away from their parents. As an educator, I too
have seen this so many times, just like she said. I guess part of me wonders if
this need to seperate from the parent is just part of growing up or is it a
function of a controlling relationship. In other words, perhaps if I honestly
give my children a voice, perhaps they will not feel too much of a need to
separate from me?

Regardless if that is true or not, my intention would be to honestly give my
children the freedom to choose other mentors. I would even take steps to
distance myself from them if we (my children and I) felt my presence was too
much pressure on them, or embarrasing to them, etc. There will always be others,
both peers and adults, whom they will associate with and learn from.

To be honest, though, this is new territory for me, because my children are
still so young. I guess I will have to wait to see how it plays out.

2) Mike had a lot of questions about my model. My apologoes for not explaining
myself too clearly. Let me explain my vision from my child's point of view.

Anya is four years old. She has always had a lot of freedom to make her own
choices in life. She chooses her own clothes, when to eat, when to go to bed,
whom to play with, and where to go. Even more importantly, she was allowed to
choose to sleep close to her parents when she was little, nurse to her hearts
content whenever she chose, and stay with mom or dad when she was nervous or
shy. Her parents have always helped her take ownership for her feelings and
never pushed her to do anything she wasn't ready to do on her own.

Now she is almost five. She is beginning to enjoy social situations more and
more, especially after mom or Dad have been there for awhile and she is
accustomed to the environment. She is beginning to watch and learn from others
outside her family, and enjoys it greatly!! However, although she loves to
dance, she is not yet ready to take a dance class on her own. She says she
really wants to when she is a little older.

(now to the future) She is now 6 years old. She loves her school and is learning
so much. She feels safe there because there are many people she knows and trusts
who are there. If Dad had not been there she wouldn't have gone in the first
place. Now that she is comfortable in the setting, she freely associates with
everyone, and the respect others have given her has allowed her to learn
voraciously. It's still nice to get a little comfort or assurance from her
parents now and then, but more and more she is on her own, doing her own thing.
Mom and Dad busy themselves doing all sorts of different things, including
helping a lot of her friends. At this school her rights to freedom are enshrined
and discussed at regular meetings. At night, her and her friends all return to
their own homes close by for some time to connect as a family and for a little
quiet time. Some evenings and weekends, everybody gets together for dances or
jam sessions or just to sit and chat by the fire and share stories. It's a
joyful life for her. She feels cared for by her loved ones - they love her for
who she is and allow her the freedom to direct her own life.

3) One of the things that make the planning of this community difficult is that
all of the parents in our group are either just plain ol' too tired or too busy
to plan this in depth. And yes, they all have their own interests which they
hope to have time to pursue some day. I believe the only way to make the school
work will be to have regular paid staff, supplemented by parents who volunteer
on a regular and structured timeline, with clear guidelines as to what their
role at the school is. I think most parents will want to help out one, maybe
two, days a week. They may teach, clean, do accounting, etc., but what's
important is that they have a definite role - a job to do at the school.

4) There would be a difference between the community and the school. At the
school the rights of the children would be the focus of all that goes on there.
In our homes, each family would work out their own sets of responsibilities. At
other times we would set some community guidelines or rules to help us live
together. There will be a space and time to share and support each other, and
space and time for privacy.

I look forward to more advice and perhaps references to reading material you may
know about related to these topics.

Yours sincerely,


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