In September 2022, I received a sweet e-mail from Amy McDonough. Not only did she agree to let me share it, she got permission from her kids to send photos to go with it.

I just wanted to thank you for all of the time that you have spent sharing stories and helping people through unschooling. I just listened to a podcast with you in it this morning. I thought to myself, “the world needs more gratitude so I am going to show my gratitude to Sandra today!”

My children have never gone to school and I know I had my worries at times, like all mothers do I suppose. My daughter (the oldest) Ava started community college at age 15 (she’ll be 17 in September). Two of her professors have asked to use her papers as examples for other students. She got her license at 16, she failed the first test. I was so worried she wouldn’t want to go back for months, she’s very shy. She said “mom I’ll go back every day until I get it!” She got it the next day!

My son, Sullivan, has an avid interest in flying and he flew his first plane at 15. We set up the appointment for him, his copilot was a real actual pilot, of course, but he said Sullivan had a very natural ability. He wants to someday fly private jets for the wealthy.

My youngest daughter, Juniper (13), reads constantly she set up a retirement tank for her Betta fish and she knows more about sea monkeys than anyone I know.

They are not just successful they are thriving. I know when it’s early on parents worry about routine, reading, food etc.

My oldest decided when she was about eight that she wanted to be an ethical vegetarian. We supported that and trust me this kid loved bacon and steak! Now she is a vegan and has been for over five years. I decided to do it with her for a year just to make sure I felt like I was getting the nutrition and she was too. It was a lot of fun we had so much fun making vegan food. My son is a meet and potatoes guy which I don’t mind at all. I don’t mind making all of the different meals. My youngest is a vegetarian. I find joy in knowing that they are happy. Both of the girls are amazing cooks and they bake so many yummy treats. Now when my husband and I go out on a date night, we come home and the house is spotless—not that we ever asked them to clean—and we say it smells like a French bakery! I feel so lucky.

I had an accidental fall one morning in March. I slipped on some dishwater and all three of them took such good care of me. I felt so cherished. Because I couldn’t really walk around that much I was bruised all over. I even knocked out one of my teeth!

I told them I didn’t want to just sit, I wanted to do more, so I finished my memoir. They knew about my childhood. They knew about how I had grown up with an alcoholic father. They knew that I was abused, but I wanted the memoir to be funny, too, because I don’t like when people feel sorry for me or if I make them feel sad. My daughter did the cover art.

They all helped me with different parts of the book and I thought it was really cute that they laughed in all the right places. I just wanted to share it with you because there are so many bright lights in dark places. And my children have taught me probably more than I have taught them.

Sending light and love your way,

Amy McDonough

(and she offered to send me a copy of the book, but I bought one. It's not about unschooling, but about how she grew up. It is a prequel to her own parenting.)

More, in retrospect, by Amy:

Crooked Hair Girl: A memoir

More Teens at Peace

These are from Radical Unschooling Info, on facebook. After the fifth comment, I'll put a link so you can see how I spread the credit to others, too.
Tauna Grinager, July 14, 2022

I haven't been real active lately in the unschooling realm. At least, not online. But I wanted to come in here and say how grateful I am for Sandra and all the other experienced unschooling mentors that kindly share their wisdom. Our son is nearly 16yo now, our only child, and a dedicated gamer. We've heard a lot of uproar about that over the years - from family, friends, other homeschoolers and total strangers. Putting our child and his happiness first; seeing what lights him up and being his partner...that's what we've always kept at the forefront. He's an introverted homebody. He likes to spend time with a few friends, but mostly enjoys his peaceful days at home.

Our local teenage community has recently has had a lot of heartache and sadness. I don't want to get into all that has happened, but each story makes me grateful that our child is safe, happy and content in his home. A lot of the losses that are occurring are kids looking for pleasure, thrills and connection away from their families. So for all those people that warned us what dangers we were allowing into our lives, I wish they could understand that the real danger is not connecting with your child and loving them for who THEY are.

Claire Horsley

Thanks so much for sharing your perspective Tauna. It always upsets me to hear of young people in distress, let down by parents or their peers, getting into situations that could be life-ruining or even, unfortunately, fatal. My daughters are 17 and 15 now, one extrovert and one introvert, each leading a life full of choices and fun, with the love and support of their parents. I’ll always be grateful to Sandra for our unschooling life - my children, and also my partner and myself, have thrived because of it.

Holly Blossom

I appreciate the greatness of those who have helped me to “get it.”

My wondrous relationships are here because of generous contributors to deep unschooling discussions

Marker Alicia

Thank you. I see you and FEEL all of this!

We have the same situation. My son is now Dual Enrolled at a local university. I am good to let him be himself, but so many others close to me do not understand. ✨

Pro Forma

This could have been my post. When my 15 year old son is unhappy he asks us for a hug; he talks to me about the quarrels with his friends and asks for my opinion. I am just so thankful that we still get to be there for him.

When I was his age my parents knew that I was doing well in school and that‘s about it.

Tauna's original writing, with more responses

Perspective: Looking back, looking around
by Maya L. in 2014


Milestones in the Lives of Unschoolers

Unforeseen Benefits of Unschooling