I'm truly grateful for the families who have shared their experiences, although I've never viewed anyone as a guru--not John Holt, not Sandra Dodd, not Dayna Martin--although I've gained a lot from their stories and countless other quieter blogs. I agree with The Intuitive Parent: No Guru Zone: "Don’t give your power away to them [gurus] and let their opinions rule your life or make you feel guilty in any way." Trust yourself.
I agree with this, too:
"Very few if any people are worthy of guru status. When we hold them up (even at their own behest) as something more, one of two things will happen: Either we set ourselves up for disappointment and disillusionment or, what might be worse, we refuse to believe the lack of perfection in our guru and continue to model ourselves – unsuccessfully – after someone who doesn’t really exist." -- When trust is broken, UnschoolingNYCI've never held these louder unschooling voices to a higher standard, so their human flaws aren't likely to negate the value I've gleaned from their stories and ideas. This is probably because of my imperfection. I feel that I'm a good mom. My kids say so a lot, bless their precious hearts! But I'm also "bipolar," so I don't always know how I'm going to feel when I wake up in the morning--maybe awesome!, maybe blah, maybe I don't want to get out of bed or see anyone other than my kids. I related to Blog of the Zombie Princess: Warty, warty, mom-warts.
I also have a history of severe childhood abuse, plus I grew up in a meth house, and was taken away from my mother for a time. These experiences have certainly influenced my personality. I'm cautious and guarded, and I'm pretty sure I come off as odd, especially when I'm in one of my reclusive moods. I've been looking for a mouse t shirt that I can wear when I feel that way. I also have a wolf and a raccoon t-shirt for different moods. It's a way of bolstering my strength when I feel anxious.
Despite my flaws, I've written books about unschooling to share my favorite ideas and what works for my family, not for notoriety, as should be evidenced by the press attention I've repeatedly turned down. It would suck to set up an interview and then feel like I don't want to talk to anyone that day. I'm really introverted and moody as hell, and I know that's not a "face of unschooling" that we want to show to the world.
In general, I don't have a problem with other families seeking notoriety. It doesn't threaten me, as I know it does so many others. I'm not thrilled with the idea of the masses judging unschooling by a few faces, but that's kind of how our culture works. And I know that those unschooling shows do reach some people in a positive way. I didn't think the WifeSwap episode was so bad.
It makes me really sad to see the mudslinging that has been going on within the unschooling community for a while now. I feel strongly that it's kinder to handle some disagreements in private rather than rallying a gang, but that's my opinion as an acutely sensitive person. I like the Sufi saying:
To clarify my position: I definitely agree that the unschooling community should know when someone isn't trustworthy or stable. I just don't like the degree to which people have ganged up and frolicked in the evil glee of kicking someone who is in a bad place, i.e., jokes being made about alcoholism, delusional behavior, and suicidal comments.
I'd gotten in the habit of passing along media requests so that other unschooling families could decide if they wanted to take the risk of exposing themselves that way. I mean, someone's going to take the opportunity, right? But folks started getting mad at me for sharing the requests, as if I was encouraging participation. Not my intention. I've decided not to pass along the requests anymore. If folks want attention, they can seek it out for themselves.