A vegan teen (and other interest-led learning wins)

Sharing my teenagers' stories has been a tricky thing to do on the blog so I mostly haven't. I think this happens to a lot of memoirist/family lifestyle bloggers as their kids get older. Teens need space and privacy to grow into themselves, online and otherwise.

The fact that social media is used by many teens to publish very private and personal stuff about themselves is a separate issue I'm not addressing here. I think it speaks to a desire of wanting to seen, known, and loved exactly for who you are. But seeking that acceptance in un-healthy contexts, which perhaps is nothing new for teens, or people in general.

There are teens-at-large and then there are my teens. For my own children it's clear to me that my role is that of a mama milkweed guarding her chrysalides - loving, protecting, and sheltering my teens when they are like little monarch pupas hanging from the underside of a leaf. All gooey, messy and undifferentiated inside, things hidden and unseen, holding out hope for the beautiful butterfly that is to come.

I really love the pupa metaphor for teens (or mid-life crisis) and if you're raising teens, or will raise teens, I think you'll appreciate that post if you haven't read it yet.

(Melissa Camera Wilkins recently published a blog post on this pupal phase, she calls it the Goo Phase in adult stages of life. Another good read for those messy, waiting seasons of life.)

The energy has shifted a little bit in our own home and with our own teens. They're starting to emerge from the pupal stage. Having three so close together makes these transitions somewhat collective for our family. It's an evolution, not an event, but I'm starting to feel an emotional shift. The maturing and the growth is noticeable.

I'm still not sure how much of their stories I'll tell in my writing, present and future. But when they tell their own stories, well, then I know I'm free and clear to share that here.

Brienne recently did an interview with her nana, my mom Karen Toews, about her vegan diet. Why she's a vegan and how she manages that in her community context. We were house vegans for years but that changed a few years ago. Brienne's veganism is definitely built on the foundation of her mostly vegan childhood but is completely her choice at this stage and requires not just conviction but responsibility and effort.

I'm incredibly proud of her. I love that she has strong convictions and stands by them, even when it's not convenient (especially when it's not convenient). And that she owns the work of her choices.

For years I've written about homeschooling and have shared my kids' endeavours. There have been less stories about the kids during the pupal phase, for all the reasons I explained in the mama milkweed post.

It's very gratifying for me to add these older teen stories to their earlier experiences. The ones I told about letting them play and learn discipline by participating in family life and following their interests.

In an educational and parenting culture that's orientated so differently, it's natural to wonder "How did that turn out for you?" I'm entering a time in my kids' growth and development that I can start sharing some stories to help answer that question.

For families wanting to learn the principles and practices of interest-led learning, wondering how to raise and educate self-directed, self-motivated learners I'm running a course right now at Patreon called Freedom Education: A course in Life and Homeschooling. You can still join that course and have access to all the teaching to date and to come (until mid-April). Choose the $20 per month level on this page.

And if you're interested in vegan-ism, you can talk to Brienne about that.

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  • Karen

    Karen on March 27, 2019, 2:35 p.m.

    I appreciate your respectful and cautious sharing about my grandchildren-teens. It was great fun interviewing Brienne with her clarity and confidence - and her sparkle. Hope she and I can collaborate again xoxo


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