Happy parents = Happy kids?

I hate this argument.

I mean, I do believe that happy parents make happy babies. Babies pick up on our emotions and will react to them. If we are stressed, they will be stressed. If we are sad, they will be sad. If we are happy, that will be happy. As a human being, our emotions and what we project will affect the people around us. Depressed people will bring others down and happy people will lift others up.

However, this argument is something that comes up often in parenting discussions and most often it comes up to justify a parenting choice that puts the needs, wants or expectations of the parent, over the needs of a child and that is where I have a problem.

When we choose to become parents, we choose to accept that there will be differences in our lives and that there will be some of our needs, and definitely some of our wants, that are put on the back burner. Is it about being a Martyr? No, not at all. It is about being a parent. An infant is helpless and they simply cannot meet their own needs. As parent we must meet their needs for them. It is that simple. Of course there are times that our needs may come second, but we should be mature enough to accept that we have to wait sometimes.

So now I hear it:“Exactly, which is why we have to “teach” our kids that sometimes they don’t always get what they want right away”. No! this is not the way it works. It is actually the opposite.

If our needs have not been met, then it has been ingrained inside us to do everything and anything to get our own needs met now, because if we don’t do it, it won’t be done. But, If our needs have always been met, then we have the trust that our needs will come to be met even if we have to wait. This includes not only the physical needs but of course, and maybe more importantly, the emotional needs as well.

So to learn that we can wait, we need to have our needs met.

For an infant, or a young child, that does not yet have the capacity to meet their own needs (physical and emotional), If we do not step up and meet their needs, ALL of their needs, their needs will simply not be met, and that, is not acceptable.

Also remark that by putting our needs on the back-burner, it does not mean ignoring them or disregarding them completely. We do have needs but they may not always be done in the way that would want. We have to eat. We have to sleep. We have to go to the bathroom. In these cases, it becomes essential that we find a way to meet everyone’s needs and this is when the scale needs to be balanced but can easily be tipped. This is when we often need to make compromises with what we “want” to then meet every one’s needs.

The thing is, the more we meet our children’s needs, the more they will know they can count on us and the more independent they will become, because they always know there is someone to fall back on. This is the one of the fundamentals of a secure attachment and this type of attachment will flow into all of the stages of childhood until a child becomes an adult and is ready to be on their own and will make it easier to parent. (read my post on Discipline and how non-punitive parenting works) This is the exact opposite of what mainstream parenting practices which is why it fails and why so many adults have trouble putting others first when it counts.

Our society has unrealistic expectations. Babies are expected to sleep through the night, they are expected to not breastfeed as much as the need to, they are expected to sleep alone, they are expected to willingly and happily go with other people other than their parents, they are expected to adhere to a parental schedules. There are so many expectations. However, societal expectations are not congruent with biological needs. They are not natural and they are based on a point of view that has been manipulated and skewed over the years in favour of parental wants over biological needs.

This is when that instance of parental wants often supersede a child’s needs. This when the argument “Happy mom = happy baby” often comes out to justify the favouring of a parents want over a child’s needs.

The thing is, parenthood is not always easy…

A mom should be happy, but happiness is also a frame of mind. You have to be happy within what is handed to you, even in the worst of times and you must have realistic expectations and meet a child’s needs and understand that they’re the ones that know best what they need. And, no, I am not talking about giving kids everything they want, I am talking about giving then what they need. A cookie is a want, food is a need. Going to bed with the pink blanket and not the green one is a want,  Going to sleep cuddled or nursing is a need.

And before it comes up, I do think moms need to take care of themselves and keep healthy to be an optimal parent. That is very true. But it is a choice on how that is done.  Babies are only dependent for a short time in their lives and their needs are actually quite basic. The need to eat, the need to sleep, the need to be cuddled, the need to be loved and feel secure. Meet those needs now and there will be little tears, and pretty soon they grow up and can make their own breakfast while you get a few extra zzzz’s. They will even start making yours.


Have you ever heard of that term? It is not a new one but it seems to be gaining momentum. I have already mentioned the pet peeve I have about using the term unschooling for a preschooler but I thought I would go into it more.

Unschooling is educational choice, an ideological shift that yes, may look, and feel like a continuation from toddlerhood and the preschool years for many, but is at the same time, very different.


Children are only required to go to school or have an alternative educational model once they reach school age, and once they reach that age, unschooling is not a choice that is not taken lightly as it requires a complete paradigm shift on how children learn and trust that children will learn what they need without any imposed curriculum.

Preschool is not a requirement just as daycare is not a requirement. Many parents that choose to use public school or homeschool using a strict curriculum will not choose to send their preschool, yet it doesn’t mean that they are that they are unschooling or “unpreschooling” just like not sending a baby to daycare is not “undaycaring” it is simply called all just part of parenting, it is simply letting pre-school aged children be themselves and learn organically. Then, when they reach school age, unschooling demonstrates that there is no schooling involved and when we reach adulthood, the term is left behind again. There is already so much confusion around the term unschooling that adding another term, especially for an age that is not school aged,  just makes it more confusing.  Essentially, I think that this is why the term “life-learning” is gaining momentum over the term unschooling in many circles.

Another thing is that in my experience over the years, what happens when applying an educational term to this age group is that parents start looking for and applying educational value on activities, and pages and websites that talk about unschooling in the toddler years often paradoxically focus on educational activities, things to do and educational websites. They focus on tricks and games for learning letters, numbers and colours that are fun etc… There is a focus on it being “child-led” yet it is often still parent directed. Basically, it is often about homeschooling based on a child’s interests (which is not unschooling at all).

In many cases that I have seen, parents that don’t agree with unschooling, or child-led learning, but don’t send their kids to pre-school, or don’t start homeschooling curriculum before a certain age, are often less preoccupied by what their pre-school age child is learning then parents that are “unschooling” a pre-schooler or “unpreschooling”.

Until a child is school age, educational terms should be set aside.

All children that are left to their own devices are learning organically. (In essence  until children are expected to learn, they are all being unschooled) Once a child hits school age, unschoolers simply let that organic learning continue and the educational term comes into play as a way to explain the educational style chosen.

But until then, letting a child be a child should be awesome enough!

Seeing the results of unschooling…

We were sitting around the table the other night having Fondue for supper which is a meal that we all enjoy. For those that are not from Quebec, Fondue here has nothing to do with oil, but it is all about broth. It is usually referred to as “Fondue Chinoise” and  it is based on Chinese Hot Pot a meal in which various ingredients are dipped into a simmering broth and cooked gently. Besides cheese and chocolate fondue, it is the only meat fondue that people usually eat around here and is a meal that many people eat on a regular basis.

So we were sitting around the table and the kids were being loud and my brain was just not handling it. So I asked if it was possible to have a few minutes of quiet and suddenly it became a game. The kids were competing on who could not talk the longest. I have to admit is was quite enjoyable to have a quiet meal but what was fun was to see the way that the kids came up with to get messages across without talking.

At one point, Xavier got up and went to get a paper to write what he wanted to say. This is a big deal. Xavier just doesn’t write. He has been reading for years but only recently has he started writing and like most things he does, he will only really start doing it once he gets the confidence that he can. But he wrote what he wanted to tell us without a problem. Afterwards he took to going in another room and recording his voice on his tablet and came back and would play it back for us using various voices.

I think Colin found it the easiest not to talk, he just giggled at things and ate and got up and got what he wanted and was just having fun watching everyone else. He wanted to win the game.

But Khéna… Khéna found it the hardest and messed up a few times simply because he forgot what he was doing but would stop himself when he realized. At one point he was trying to tell us something and we just didn’t understand. After a while, he took the piece of paper and the pen that was on the table and I saw him really thinking to himself while he wrote letters down. (Which reminds me, I need to show him how to hold a pen more efficiently) He handed it over and I looked at the letters. KEFH. I remembered him fake coughing when he was trying to tell us something so I picked up right away on what he was trying to write. KEFH was COUGH. He was asking if was OK to cough. Wow. Here is my newly six year old writing down letters phonetically to make a word.  He may not be reading or writing yet, but the building blocks are definitely there and once the confidence hits he will have no problem in advancing.


I find it amazing.

Unschooling is amazing.

Reading and Math are the two “subjects” that always come up when people question unschooling. How will a child learn something if they are not actively taught? If you don’t present the subjects to them, how will they even find an interest or start to learn? But here it is… they just do. They learn it because it is part of life and we are living life right now. I can’t explain how it happens which is something that some may find it hard to comprehend, but I just know that it does happen and will happen.

So finally Khéna talked again, then Xavier, and then Colin and we went on and had a great movie night.

I think we need to play the quiet game more often.


What if money didn't matter?

One question that often comes up when I talk about unschooling or even homeschooling is about the future. How does a homeschooled child get into university? How will they get that well-paying job down the line? I have even written of this before.

I often tell them the same response.

There are ways to get into University. If they want that job, then they will do like any other kids or young adult and will work towards it.

I always have to pretend that I care about the future in the same way that they do. That a job and money is the only important goal in life and that every path has to lead to a higher education so that you can get the job with the money. In reality though, I don’t care. What I want for my kids is to be happy and love what they do. There are too many people out there, Simon being one of them, that did the schooling and went into something that would make them money but also make them miserable everyday.  There are way too many people in the same position. But, there are people out there that love their jobs and that followed their passions. Some paths did take them through higher education but others went other routes to get where they wanted to go.

This is what I want to teach my children… to be happy and to find what they love to do and to do it. I want my children to have full lives and little regret because they followed their hearts and not what others expect of them based on some idea that essentially just fuels having consumerism and depression.

It is hard to explain this to people though. It goes against everything they are led to believe is important.

When this video came up in my news feed this morning it made me smile. This is exactly what I want to teach my kids.

(Narrated by Allan Watts)

[youtube_sc url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nif01WZ9aI” color=”white” theme=”light” autohide=”1″ fs=”1″].

Now to find a clever way to explain this simply to people who ask me the question in the future.. it is so disconnected to what people view as normal.

Sad… that in a way being happy is seen as negative thing.

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