Here is a picture of my daughter and her friend...
Sometimes it is really hard to be an advocate for your children. Over the last week and a half I have been put into a position of acting and speaking on my child's behalf in a way that was uncomfortable for me. It was uncomfortable because I tend to be shy and non-confrontational, not wanting to rock the boat. However, when my kids really need something that they feel they can't get for themselves, whatever it is, as a parent, I have to put myself out there. I do it because my children are far more important than my discomfort!
I just got back into the house after such a confrontation with the neighbors. My heart is still beating fast, but I did it. Chamille really wants her friend, the neighbor girl, to stay the night tonight. They are in the process of moving and her dad and stepmom are splitting up. Dad is moving about 2 blocks away next weekend, and stepmom moved about 30 min away into her own place. Chamille's friend is over at stepmom's house while their current place is being cleaned.
They always have reasons for not letting their daughter spend time with mine, mostly trivial and stupid reasons. So, when I saw the stepmom drive up to the house across the street, I went over there to ask if the daughter could stay the night. Her immediate reaction was that "no she couldn't because she wasn't going to be coming back out this way after going home.". I knew this was going to be the answer from the getgo. They are very predictable that way. I removed that barrier by offering to do the driving. Then, it was, "I'll have to ask her dad.", again I knew it was going to be the next answer. Then up he drives so I ask him repeating my offer to drive. They say theywill get back to me. I took away their excuses, and are, I'm sure,trying to come up with another one that I would actually buy. I put them in a position of having to justify their behavior.
It was uncomfortable for me to do this because I knew it would be confrontational. Chamille won't even talk to them anymore because they don't like her and she can feel it, even though they say that isn't the case. She is afraid of them. Their daughter won't ask because she knows they will say "no" and offer no explanation and expect her to accept the answer. They can't do that with me and they know it, so I psyched myself up for it and went over there and did it for them. I am willing to be the "bad guy" for them so they don't have to. They seem to have it in their heads that moving will dissipate the friendship, however, I will make it clear by my actions that if the friendship dissipates it is all them. The kids aren't stupid, they know what's going on.
Over and over my parenting skills are tested this way. Over and over, I put my children's feelings over my own discomfort, because I am their advocate when they need me to be.
Confronting friends, or inlaws, or whoever, is just one of many ways we can be advocates for our kids. It can be uncomfortable for people like me who don't like dischord, who aren't outspoken, and maybe even shy. I have to say though, my kids are so much more important than all that discomfort. They absolutely know this without a doubt.
They trust me to act on their behalf, they trust me that I have their best interest at heart. This lends itself to every aspect of their lives. That deep trust allows them to accept my answers to their questions, or to accept an answer of "no" from me because they truly know that if I could I would, that I do everything in my power to find a way for "yes" to happen. It also allows them to be able to question my actions freely when they feel that I'm wrong, without fear of punishment, largely because if I've said "no" to something that doesn't make sense, it is glaringly obvious to them and they correct me in my error.
All of this, for me, is at the heart of unschooling. My job, my life, is for my kids for as long as they need me. It lends itself well to learning in a happy stress free environment. And I get to grow as a person as a side effect!