Irena Quitzau

I have nine children: 23, 20, 17, 16, 12, 10, 7, 4 and 1. I just
learned about Unschooling a few years ago. My two oldest children were
never homeschooled (the oldest graduated from college last year and
the second one will graduate next year). My third child went through
10th grade and then decided she wanted to come home last year. She
went back to school a few months at the beginning of this year and
then decided she wanted to come home again. My fourth child went to
school until third grade and then was homeschooled through sixth. He
decided he wanted to go to the school for seventh grade where my
husband teaches and tested into the 8th grade. Now he is in 11th.

I am guilty, especially since I first started reading the Unschooling
advice of Sandra (and Joyce, Pam S. and Pam L...), of trying to ingest
as much information as I could without taking a breather. I did not
take the advice to "read a little, wait a little, watch...". As a
result, I do not think our journey into Unschooling has been as smooth
a transition as it could have been. I have always been an attachment
parent (family bed, extended breastfeeding, no set bedtimes, food
available when hungry etc.) so some of the advice has been implemented
flawlessly. I understand the difference between "principles" and
"rules". There are other areas that I really struggle in.

One of the most challenging aspects of our family is having a child
that goes to a conventional school and children that are home and that
are free to learn at their own pace and follow their passions. I think
it is also challenging for my husband because he is a math teach and
varsity swim coach at that same, very "academically rigorous", school.
My husband's paradigm about learning has been changing as well and I
think he would like to be working in some other area but that
opportunity has not materialized yet (even though he has been actively

This morning (and it has happened several days in a row), my fourth
child did not get up in time to go with his father to school (they
have to leave at 5:30 every morning because varsity swim practice is
at 6 before school starts). My son is in danger of not getting credit
for his classes because he is getting close to having missed 10 days.
I tried to encourage him to go anyway (even if he missed his first
class) so that he could be marked "present" for the other courses. He
broke down and said that it was "too late". I wrote my husband and
told him that I would be willing to be the "wake up" person (and make
sure that he has his uniform ready, breakfast etc.) since I know how
hard it is for my son to get up that early.

My husband wrote me in an email that "...And by the way, if you let
him go out tonight with friends and not do any work all day long, that
is horrible parenting; I completely disapprove if that is what is
going to happen. It's time to get a little tough here." I feel caught
in between loving, respecting, being gentle with my son and being
"tough" like my husband feels I should be. At the same time, if my son
wants to continue going to that school, there are certain rules that
need to be followed (even if he thinks they are unfair, ludicrous,
poorly thought out...). I know he feels ambivalent about being there-
wants to be there for the "social" aspects of school (he is very
"popular" and is able to mingle with people that are very materially
wealthy...)- but does not like putting in the "required" academic

I am not sure how to navigate this situation in a way that shows that
I respect and love both my husband and son. I do not know how to help
keep the peace between my husband and son. My husband interprets my
son's "lack of motivation" as a "lack of respect" towards him.

Thank you for any advice and thoughts of wisdom. I have benefited
tremendously from the thoughtful responses on this list and I thank

Irena MQ

Joyce Fetteroll

On Jan 10, 2014, at 11:56 AM, Irena Quitzau <iquitzau@...> wrote:

I feel caught
in between loving, respecting, being gentle with my son and being
"tough" like my husband feels I should be.

You said your husband is shifting his view of education. So maybe your husband's reaction has less to do with a desire for your son to buckle down and has to do with how your son's behavior and attitude towards school reflects on your husband. Maybe someone at school said something to him. Or the fact that your son is close to failing for non-attendance. That's not going to go unnoticed by the people your husband works with.

So your son's choices are impacting more than just him. What would be easier on your husband is for your son to decide if he's in or out rather than half in for the social part.

Have you asked your husband what's concerning him?


Sandra Dodd

Maybe you could spring for a mediator—someone who knows about unschooling, and parenting, and could let your son explain his feelings to a neutral person who could help interpret.

I agree that if a child IS in school and needs to be up and out early, he should NOT be out with friends the night before.

Unschooling isn't a part-time thing.


Sandra Dodd

-=-how your son's behavior and attitude towards school reflects on your husband. -=-

OH, Joyce is right.
There's another whole overlay here.

At school, the kids of teachers and administrators are in a spotlight.  Other kids, other teachers, everyone sees the relationship between that child and the parent, in public.  And there are things that will get someone's butt kicked socio-politically.  If an public school administrator or teacher has a child enrolled in a private school, that causes problems, but when the child is brought to the public school, he's often resentful, knowing that it was for the political ease or gain of the parent, perhaps against the parent's knowledge of which school was actually better for the child.   That's a rough one.

I suppose unschooling would qualify as both 'a private school' and as truancy, in such a case, especially if the transition if unfolding in real time during the school year, not in private over summer vacation.

It will be difficult for a teacher who "can't control" or influence his own child to keep the attention or respect of other students who know that.  And they will all know it, or a lot of them will.

When the dad's income is crucial to the peace of your family, it's important that it not be dismissed unless you're all independently wealthy and the job is a hobby.