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Still on my Parenting 'L' Plates

by Beverley Paine, May 2014

I am a mum, a grandma and a mother-in-law. This stage of life throws a different perspective on being a parent.

Growing up I never wanted to be like my mum or my dad. Still don’t. My kids and my husband reassure me I’m not a bit like them, but I know I am, it is impossible not to be. Sure there are lots of differences and I deliberately and conscientiously strive to be different every day. My desire to be different has meant that I parent consciously, constructing and reflecting on my responses and modifying my reactions thoughtfully.

I am also acutely aware that I parented my children the way I did, not out of love but from fear: fear of being stupid or ignorant or botching it up, of not being good enough, of inadvertently giving them psychological and emotional scars they would have to work through for the rest of their lives. It didn’t really matter how hard I tried as a parent I still managed to make mistakes. Genetics are against me being the mum I wanted to be, the mum I longed to have as a child and still fantasize about. The indoctrination and conditioning prevalent in the era in which I grew up was against me too.
I’m human. And I am a parent. I will wear parenting L plates forever. That is the nature of parenting.

The difference between me and my parents is that my kids forgive me for my parenting mistakes. It is time for me to embrace that the mum I wanted to be is a myth. I’m just a learner mum, always will be. My wobbly self-esteem means I still worry that I am not good enough, that the many mistakes I make will be judged forever. But that is my problem. I think my kids forgive me because I own it as my problem. My parents, on the other hand, know that they graduated from being learner parents with distinctions. They have nothing more to learn, they know how to parent.
I run a few online home education support groups. Parenting questions and issues come up frequently. Even with my three decades of parenting experience I usually feel inadequate to answer or comment, knowing that most of the time I did an appalling job of parenting. I don’t want to judge how my kids turned out and I don’t want anyone else to either. I have no idea what successful parenting (or home education) looks like . My motto has evolved to be “do what works, stop doing what doesn’t work”. This is naturally different for each situation, time, place, person, circumstance, culture, era...

Despite feeling inadequate and often challenged I’m here, learning and sharing, growing. I never want to step away from the raw emotion and confusion that parenting is, because I might inadvertently ‘graduate’ myself and become one of those people who know ‘how to be a good parent’.

This Mothers Day I am going to forgive my mother and my mother-in-law. I'm sorry I didn't do this earlier; it has taken me this long to grow and to understand that it was my choice to carry and nurture the pain from old wounds year after year, using that energy to build a shield that not only protected me but kept me from experiencing life fully.

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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 support 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."

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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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