"It will help you heal from your childhood, to be a good mother. Seeing your own child's bright eyes when you do something sweet can heal the child inside you who would have loved to have had someone do that to, for, with her, years ago."—Sandra Dodd

Jessica Hughes, in May, 2017:
Being the mom I wish I'd had has been very healing. It's been the closest thing to having that mom I could achieve with the cards I was dealt.

Focusing on what I didn't have was a negative that only distracted me from being the best mom my children can have. It invited a mindset of "At least I'm better than my parents" or when my children were unhappy with a decision I arbitrarily forced upon them, "You think YOU have it bad." It excused me (in my mind) from making objectively good choices (be more positive, be more joyful, be more loving, give more abundantly) because - even if subconsciously - I was giving myself a pass for just being better than the parents I had.

So I do wish I'd had parents who knew these things and made these choices, but I didn't and I don't wallow in that anymore. I'm too in love with my own kids now to have time to focus much on what I once lacked.

Just as giving a gift can be as enjoyable as receiving one, giving unconditional love has been as beautiful as receiving it and it has alleviated many longstanding pains that I once thought would be permanent.

—Jessica Hughes (the original is here)

"Unschooling can repair damage done by traditional parenting and schooling approaches."

Podcast created by Amy Childs, with Sandra Dodd, Janine Davies, Leah Rose, and others
as part of a series called "The Unschooling Life," at Unschooling Support (a site no longer available).

Photos are links to Just Add Light and Stir posts useful for thoughts about healing.

Jessica Sutton:
I never really got to have a childhood and I feel like I'm getting to have it right now right alongside my little guy. It's a beautiful thing and I'm very grateful.
Sandra Dodd:
I'm sorry for you, and others, who didn't get a fat dose of childhood.

I had a pretty good one, myself. I have lots of memories. And my mom was a sort of brain-damaged, alcoholic irritant too much of the time. So even with lots of good memories, there are things that could have, should have, been better.

It's a gift to have children to help us have an excuse to have a sort of do-over on behalf of our moms.

For me, it seems like a gift to me and my mom both, if I can do better than she did. She would have liked to have done better, too, so I can do it for her.

I get some healing benefit either way.

Photos are links:

After I wrote this (also quoted at the top of this page)...
It will help you heal from your childhood, to be a good mother. Seeing your own child's bright eyes when you do something sweet can heal the child inside you who would have loved to have had someone do that to, for, with her, years ago.
...someone who will be anonymous here responded beautifully. I have made minor changes, but the theme and the points are beautiful:
I have just had my mom here staying in my home for five weeks (she moved to another continent 15 years ago) and I can tell you that those words of Sandra's are as true as true can be!

Nothing else in 50 years has helped me heal more than unschooling my children. I have tried it all and read it all, and had some therapy (my mom used physical violence too).

I'll be honest, I was slightly dreading her coming, but also mixed in there was excitement of her seeing the peace and joy in my family now. I was secretly hoping that perhaps finally she might praise me, or even notice the difference and chat to me positively about it. That would have been a start.

I prepared myself and the family as best I could. I sent her Pam Laricchia's book and wrote her some info on how we live now (she hadn't been here for three years—which should also tell you how much connection we all have with her....). I felt she needed to know as it is so different from three years ago and she would be staying in our house for five week. She saw it as me worrying and not welcoming her.

What we got was tough, and she hadn't read the book, I had hoped she would as she wrote back to me initially and thanked me for it and said she would really give it a go to understand more what we are doing, I even wrote on here about how happy and hopeful I was with that response, but clearly it was not what she did... and I got no praise or positive words—not any any recognition at all. But what it did show me in spades was how far I have come—how much further toward "better " I have come, and so very, very glad I am that we are living, loving and learning this way.

I still in her presence craved just a little of what I didn't get as a child and that surprised me. I also almost instantly felt the need to retreat from her and protect myself ("five weeks" was all I could think about most of the time!) but what surprised me more, and was stronger and so overrode my personal desire for her approval, was the healing that has happened from unschooling my boys.

It has really touched me deeply and profoundly, and each time she tried to cut me down with a remark or comment (they came thick and fast in the last few weeks), instead of rising to the bait I went to my boys and hugged them or just sat with them, asked them if there was anything I could do for them or bring them. I knew she would be thinking 'Oh she spoils those boys so much.' I could have written the script that will have gone back to home with her word for word, but I don't care! because the gift of her trip (even though it was a test of endurance) is that I have healed, and I have healed from unschooling my boys!

I wavered a bit in the middle for sure—a sensitive perceptive and deep-thinking gal like me would have trouble—but overall it was an exhilarating experience and compounded so much deeper for me all the reasons for living this wonderful way.

Every time I bought a gift for the boys or sweets or ice cream I could feel the energy from her.
I could feel the healing in me,
    —with each monkey platter I took to them while they where gaming or watching a film or whatever,
    — each time I comforted them and made a transition sweeter,
    — each time I reminded her to be quieter because my eldest was still asleep from late night gaming, each time they had a choice,
    — each time we played with the cat in my loft bedroom and we all ended up in the one bed for cuddles and one or both staying/falling asleep there,
    — every single time I said YES where she said NO to me for years.
I stopped pushing down the hurtful memories. Instead I was reminded of them and healed from them while she was here.

One painful one that sticks out was the dinner table for me—forced to stay for hours till vegetables were eaten, made to sit still and use formal table manners, and if not complied too having hands slapped and being verbally shamed for forgetting to saying please or thank you, I could go on... So imagine how wonderful that area of unschooling was/is for me and to see my boys free to choose where they eat and when, sometimes bouncing joyfully to the table because they want to chat with me and be with me/us, or just wanting to eat their dinner at the table, to be asking them while she was here where they wanted to eat, if they wanted to eat right now, and then either taking it to them or setting them a place at the table at which there is absolutely no shaming or Victorian etiquette!

She will have thought it all utter madness, and I laugh out loud each time I think of that, not out of disrespect or vengeance—I would never raise my kids a certain way to exact revenge on my mum.

Victory is what it feels like—the biggest victory in my life so far. I am my own healer and validator. Unschooling my every thought word and deed is my healer, my boys are the absolute proof of my victory and my healing. I am now a sweeter, kinder person—a less judgemental, critical and negative person. I have found again the joy, curiosity and fun that was squished (and often violently) out of my life so much as a child, and I can't get enough of it! Bring it on! Unschooling heals and rocks!

I changed enough to make that less identifiable.

The general story has been told by others. Healing can come from positive examples or negative. People who reject unschooling might later come around. Or unschooled children might grow to adulthood before their grandparents see the benefits in their lives.

Many, many, though have seen acceptance in a few years. And the book referenced above is Free to Learn, by Pam Laricchia. If the grandmother in the account above had read the book before her five-week visit. It would have made at least four lives better immediately.

Use your Childhood Memories
Just as the adult a child will be already lives in him, so the child you were still lives in you as an adult. If you have memories of childhood, examine them objectively sometimes when you're considering how to be with your own children.
. . . .
The list of things that marred your childhood can be your checklist of things to avoid or change or undo. The things that brought joy to you as a child can be things for you to do for and with your children, too, if you can.

from "Healing," on page 271 of The Big Book of Unschooling

More about Healing:

Healing Presence
when things have not been going well

Mindful Unschooling
"Unschooling facilitates a profound and deep healing process in many individuals and families."

Your Mind and Awareness
"I read a little, watch a little and try a little with my own healing. i prioritize healing my trauma for many reasons. one is that it makes unschooling easier."

When Parents Have Issues
Be attentive and sweet to your children. That might be one of your best healing tools.

What unschooled children will not know
It can be healing for parents to think back to their own sorrows and then to their own children's freedom from those experiences.

"Me" time for unschoolers
"Part of my healing was realising that I hadn't put my life on hold, I had changed my life."

Mental Health ideas and links for unschoolers
Helping children have secure peaceful lives is healing for our own "inner child."

Beautiful (new in late 2021) writing by an experienced unschooler writing anonymously of transitions and transformations, and an awareness of expansive peace and healing. Beautiful:

In all directions

Photos are links:


Thoughts on Changing

How Unschooling Changes People

Mental Health