Monday, March 5, 2012

"Finish what you start." NO, wait...

Once someone wrote in an unschooling discussion: "I just have one concern. I want my children to finish what they start."

I responded:

If you start a book and decide you don't like it, will you finish it?
If you start eating a dozen donuts, and after you're not in the mood for donuts anymore, will you finish the dozen?
If you start an evening out with a guy and he irritates or frightens you, will you stay for five more hours to finish what you started?
If you put a DVD in and it turns out to be Kevin Costner and you don't like Kevin Costner, will you finish it anyway?
The only things that should be finished are those things that seem worthwhile to do.

When I'm reading a book, I decide by the moment whether to keep reading or to stop.

Even writing this post, I could easily click out of it and not finish, or I could finish it and decide not to post it. Choices, choices, choices.

Wanting your children to learn to ignore their own judgment in favor of following a rule is not beneficial to them or to you. It will not help them learn.
photo by Sandra Dodd
of a fat black widow in the back yard


  1. Why is there a picture of a spider?

  2. I was running out of pictures. :-)
    Garden spiders seem to methodically plan and finish their webs. Black widows just make a random set of sticky webs until they don't feel like it anymore. There's not a pattern. And I started to kill all the black widow spiders in my back yard, but I never finished.
    That's the best justification I have. :-)

  3. I figured using a spider picture that way meant I needed more photos in my stash, so I spent a couple of hours finding other photos I can use. I'll be travelling a lot, starting in May, so there should be lots of photos of things I see in Massachusetts, Oregon/Washington, and various other places this summer.

  4. By e-mail:

    "I so love this post. It took me years of guilt and therapy to realize what you so succinctly wrote. I can't tell you how many crappy movies, books and dates I suffered through because of this--At least I don't anymore."

  5. I agree. But what about when what they started involves someone else or has an impact on someone else? I still think that I need to hold my children to their engagements if they have promised to do their part of something. Me "needing to" meaning that I will remind them, encourage, nag, coerce or whatever word one could use. What is your view on this? Kindly, Maria

  6. -=-I agree. But...-=-

    "Yeah, but" always means "no."
    It's okay if you don't understand it.
    Millions of parents will applaud you for nagging and coercing.

    You don't need my opinion.

    If you were to want to be your child's partner, though, then perhaps your help should come before they commit themselves to something that might have an impact on someone else.

    Your children might need you to help them extricate themselves from a soul-sucking or fear-invoking situation, instead of force them into it week after week.

    It depends.


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