In Hindsight...
What would you have done differently?
"If Only..."
Regrets expressed by unschooling parents.

Unschooling Chat transcript on what some moms would have done differently.


Outside unschooling, people have looked at their childhoods, too. Click here for quotes from Andre Agassi, Craig Fergusson and (eventually) others on school, or family relations, or parenting.


My kids are 12 and 16.

I would have let go of more control over TV, video games, and food much earlier, or not ever started to control those things. I regret and am embarrassed that I ever did it, and the controlling has bad results. Most of them, but not all, are healed at this point—after five or more years since I got it.

I would have responded more kindly and with less blame to my kids when they were fighting. Getting angry at them repeatedly did not help them be less angry with each other. Their relationship has not benefited from any anger or consequences I inflicted on them before I figured it out. At this point they do not fight, and rarely even argue, but are not really good friends, either. Which they might not ever have been, as they don't have all that many things in common, but I will always wonder if they could have been.

Heather (in NY)


If I could go back in time and tell myself to relax, that the influence that matters most in those early years is mine and Doug's generous and open support of Ethan's wonder at the world around him, I would. I can't go back. But I can share this wee bit of insight with new parents, for what it's worth.
—Karen James
more of that writing

Robin wrote:

I would avoid schlepping Michelle to all homeschool field trips longer than a half hour and I would look carefully at expectations of the kids. Even though she would enjoy the topic/place, too many people, too much noise, and too many rules made her completely miserable. She'd be melting down and I'd be beside myself.

She was perfectly happy at home. *I* was looking for more social time.


On Facebook in August 2011 I asked people this question:
"Hindsight: What would you have done differently, in your parenting or unschooling? If you could go back and change something..."
If I could go back in time, I'd tell myself to calm down and worry less, not pander to anyone else's ideals and I'd trust my kid alot more. We tried to do things the way we were "supposed to" for too long. The only lesson of value we learned from it was not to do it. — Lea Tapp
I'd have worried less when the kids were younger (like 3-5) about "introducing" things like music or art or going to museums. —Meredith Novak
Mine's ongoing, but I'll say it in the past tense to help my subconscious know that it's a characteristic on its way out!: I'd dig my heels in less, and relax and accept the moment more. I'd use my calm voice more, rather than my frustrated-and-fed-up voice, especially when *I* was the tensest one in the room. —Teresa Honeyday Youngblood
I would have liked to be a better mother a more patient mother towards my son when my daughter was born. For about a year I was not as patient with him as I was before she was born. I really wish I could have been calmer and nicer towards him. He was so young. I was so patient before she was born. —Alex Polikowsky
If I could go back, I would find the time and money somehow to get the kids to more conferences. Not sure how I would manage that, but it's what I would attempt. —Genie Maples
I wouldn't have foisted so many of my adult ideas onto a young child. Things like blue food is "poison" or Dollar store toys were "junk". It makes me cringe just thinking about it :( She didn't die when she ate the blue lolly (which is what poison means to a 3yr old), and the toys from the Dollar store were lovely to her. —Brie Jontry
I would have started sooner and gone to more conferences. Mine is 18 now. —Priscilla Sanstead
I have had a lot of people around me decide that their late readers had issues that needed to be dealt with. While I did let my son learn to read in his own time, I stressed for years about whether I was doing the right thing. He was about 13 when he became an active reader and reads a lot now. Mostly Manga and info. As much as I heard people say "trust it". I worried too much because of the people who said "no, DO something". I could have easily done something and now pat myself on the back because of it. And I would be wrong! So I'm glad I forged through, but the stress was a waste... —Joanna Wilkinson
I was a pretty attached parent and I found unschooling when my oldest (now 10) was 5...but i wished I'd never bothered with the whole "bedtime" thing. So many battles and so much time lost over trying to get her to go to sleep at a certain time. So, so wasteful. And trying to force her to sleep in her own room because her dad insisted on it. That sucked, got us nowhere and did so much damage. —Gwen Montoya
I wish I'd found unschooling sooner, while my oldest was younger and less injured by school. —Sylvia Toyama
I wish I could have enjoyed the moment...lived presently, something I find harder and harder as life becomes so much more complicated. I would have made my choices based on love not worry or guilt. There is no better time than the present. I also would have owned my choices and allowed the children more of their own. —Rachel Ferriola Boulier
Part of me wishes I'd found it much sooner, before we'd done any damage. But another part of me knows that I found it when I was ready to receive it. Any sooner and I probably would have rejected it wholesale from my entrenched authoritarian upbringing. I really believe I was led to it for the sake of our youngest, whose spirit, I think, would not have survived a schooled life intact. —Leah Rose
I wish I had started when my oldest was born. He was 13 when we started. On the plus side, his baby brother got all the benefits of finding it later.

For that one's sake, I wish we had lived in a big city and not moved so much. —Karen Tucker


Karen James' advice on deschooling (and what she would have done differently): Karen James on Deschooling

"If Only I'd Started Sooner..." a collection of wishes and regrets Statements from people outside unschooling entirely