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Combatting the "I will never be as good as..." Failure Syndrome

© Beverley Paine

Children, and even adults, often give up developing their skills and talents because they fear they will never be as good as the athletes, singers, performers, writers, actors, musicians, sports men and women, etc paraded on the television and media each day. I've fallen victim to this myself. Why write a children's novel when I can never reach the dizzying heights of JK Rowling? I will never be as good as Roald Dahl... The world doesn't need another mediocre children's author...

How can we combat this pervasive depression of 'ordinary' talent?

The Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling encourages "living books" - I like this, though never explored it personally with my children. I think that perhaps biographies and autobiographies (and perhaps some sensitive and more accurately portrayed movies) are a better way to introduce our children to the extraordinary abilities of others (or better still - real life encounters!) because at least they will see that these people are human and struggle with fragile egos and self-doubts the same as the rest of us.

I think that shows like "Idol" might be okay if they stressed the journey more and the 'winning' less... Instead of focussing on eliminating the less popular (and therefore deemed to be less talented) perhaps the show could focus on how hard it is to be a performer (or whatever, depending on the nature of the show) - the 'staying power' required, and what drives that, the support mechanisms needed to continue in a chosen field against all odds, etc. These shows could be about character building as much as showcasing extraordinary talent. In that way EVERYONE can take something from the show instead of being voyeuristic armchair critics, knowing in their heart of hearts they will never amount to much at all.

The days when families played and sang most days doesn't have to be gone forever... Maybe it is time to turn off the box, reject the magazines with their competitive messages, and have some quality family time where each person is able to explore and develop their talents in a non-competitive environment.

If we can't manage to do that (and I know how hard it is to turn off the box!) then we need to work really hard to continuously give ourselves and others permission to 'be' - to 'be' exactly who they are in this moment in time (not the next or future moments years away), in this particular situation and circumstance. We need to drop our expectations of others and allow them to express themselves without need to judge them or their actions; to act rather than react with this in mind. I find that so hard - the urge to judge is amazingly strong, but then again, I was brought up to fear judgemental authority, and as a kid I knew that when I grew up I would be in a position of authority. My training was to learn how to judge, not how to accept and offer permission...

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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.

Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

"You've been an inspiration to me, I love the way
you really listen to people."

"Whenever I read your writing I always come away
with increased confidence in my ability to provide and
share a wonderful learning journey with my family!"

"Your guidance, understanding, support and words of
wisdom changed our lives. We now offer support and
organise many homeschooling events for others."

"Thank you once again for your prompt and friendly service.
I am convinced that your books are going to add
quality and peace of mind to my journey of teaching my kids
at home! Just from studying your website, until almost
2am in the morning, I 've been encouraged!"

"Thank you for all your many,many reassuring words
over many, many years. You probably don't know exactly how
valuable you are to the Australian Home Education community.
I've been reading your stuff for maybe 8 years or more now.
And I'm very grateful."


Welcome to the World of Home Education and
Learning without School!

We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine

The information on this website is of a general nature only and is not intended as personal or professional advice. This site merges and incorporates 'Homeschool Australia' and 'Unschool Australia'.

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