Friday, April 15, 2011

Cultivating Interdependence

I finished reading Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes. Some of her ideas are, well, radical, but she also makes excellent points that are worth pursuing, such as figuring out ways to try to turn one's household into more of a production unit than solely a consumption unit. Household tasks like gardening, cooking, knitting, etc. would fall into this category.

I also really like her thoughts on how homemaking should be more of a collective effort, rather than the individual pursuit it has become. Hayes alludes frequently to “housewife's syndrome,” or what Betty Friedan in The Feminine Mystique called “the problem that has no name,” in reference to the isolation, depression and boredom felt by many suburban housewives in the 1950s. Hayes states: “If we want to be 'happy homemakers,' yet avoid the condition of housewife's syndrome, and if we want to create a system that enables us to achieve well-being, but without requiring a surfeit of money, then the first skill of paramount importance is the art of building and nurturing relationships.” (p.186)

I think the keys to “happy homemaking” are also the keys to “happy homeschooling,” which, not surprisingly, the author also does with her two children. Homemaking and homeschooling are much more enjoyable and rewarding when undertaken collectively, rather than individually. We feel very fortunate to have lots of family time each week with grandparents and aunts and uncles, and numerous interactions with friends and community members.

City homeschoolers have access to so many people in the community who, collectively, can make homeschooling and homemaking much more satisfying. The key, as Hayes reinforces in her book, is to work on building these relationships to become less independent and more interdependent.

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