Monday, January 16, 2012

I unschooled my kids and got burned

"I unschooled my kids and got burned," my friend tells me as we talk over the phone. "I recall my father telling me, 'Karla, what about your career?' But did I listen?"
At the time, she says, she was young. Unschooling was fulfilling and rich and she didn't feel like she needed more. She was poor, her husband didn't make much but she was happy being with her kids and helping them direct their learning.

But now, although she does not regret having unschooled, she has to admit that she is in a "rotten place."
With a divorce in the works, and still one child not yet grown (now at high school) she admits that she should have seen this coming. She wishes she had been more prepared. "I'm getting older and jobs aren't falling into my lap," she worries.
"It's not like I didn't work at jobs though," she continues. She worked on projects, did some writing but she didn't take the time to nurture her own interests and career. "A big mistake," she warns.

I agree. When I was in the throes of unschooling when my kids were little, I made sure I worked on my own interests. I always took a course- whether it was photography or 'word' or singing. I called it taking care of my mental health. I volunteered a lot (and my kids came along with me)  and created a group against the use of pesticides for cosmetic use. I produced a weekly radio show (for free),  I wrote for little pay or for nothing- but that helped build up my resume and gave me confidence to move forward when the time came to seek employment.

Many other women do the same. Or they work part time or in the evenings or in the morning. Or they have a small business. I think it is very dangerous to NOT keep this in the fore when you decide to unschool.
It sucks that you can spend all your life doing the most important thing in the world, raising the next generation and in the end, end up with nothing.

Ultimately, you must take care of yourself because if you don't, how can you take care of your family? I am interested in reading your comments.

35 comments:

kbcdlovejo@aol.com said...

Maybe she could have spent more time working on her marriage.

Cathy said...

While I would never blame a mom for staying home 100% with their kids, I have been fortunate to work a part-time job while my kids were young. I love my job. At first I only taught two nights a week. My husband got home and took over care of the kids which was nice for him too. Now that the kids are teens, I can teach a morning class and be home shortly after they wake up and do their neighborhood dog sitting jobs.

Since my close friends were always homeschoooling moms, going to work and having a little time that was not about anything related to my family was good for me. It definitely helped that I loved doing what I do and that my husband was with the kids, otherwise I probably wouldn't have worked outside the home, even for those eight hours a week.

I am glad that I kept up with my profession because now I am trying to work it into a business for myself and hopefully make more money while doing what I love so I can help pay for the kid's college, if they decide to go.

One message my kids have taken from unschooling and watching me is that it is important to love what you do.

rfs said...

@kbcdklovejo- that is really harsh!! Way to blame the woman! I can't believe it.

rfs said...

@Cathy- thanks for the comment. It is great that your husband could help as well. Ideally, husband should since the children are theirs as well.

Beverley said...

One of our most important lessons as mentors for our unschooled children is looking after ourselves, meeting our needs every day, and working to meet our future needs. We can get too busy and lose this focus, especially with all the "it's all about the kids" hype that is often found on unschooling blogs, sites and forums. It's not, it's about living and learning - individual, family and community centred living and learning.

rfs said...

@Beverley-I agree that it is not all about the kids. I am glad you made this important point. Kids don't want to be the focus of our lives. It is unhealthy for everyone.
Still, a busy unschooling mother might loose herself along the way; or neglect herself. She might need to be reminded that they're more to unschooling than the kids!

Denise said...

While kbcdlovejo said it very harshly, it does bring up a point. As a full time unschooling mom with a husband who works long hours, at the end of the day I often barely have enough brain process to make a coherent thought, never mind have an intelligent conversation with my husband (or be able to fit in a part time job)! I think in some ways our marriage suffers somewhat because we homeschool. If we aren't being very careful with our computer/TV time at the end of the long days, we can easily go a week without a real conversation. So, while having outside interests and/or jobs is important for our own mental health, I think it is also hugely important that we spend time nurturing our marriages (for those of us who are). I understand that probably isn't really the point of your post... just a good reminder for myself :)

Jackie said...

This is a timely reminder for me. I sometimes question whether taking time out for myself or to earn a little extra income for the family is at the expense of the homeschooling. However it is keeping my skills up to date, it is great for my sanity and I believe my kids get some great values out of it also. Perhaps they'll learn great work ethics and to pursue their hobbies, interests and goals also. Natural learning or life learning should be just that natural and a part of your every day life. Not at the expense of one family members.We just all do it in our own unique families way.

rfs said...

@Denise-It feels like you're damned if you do and damned if you don't with just not enough time in the day for a woman to do it all. Yet that is the expectation. The reality is that something will suffer if you're not aware or balancing it all. And I agree that nurturing the marriage like nurturing any relationship is necessary if you expect it to thrive. But there is no guarantee that your going to be where you are 10 years from now when it comes to marriage. There is no guarantee that you'll still be together. That's just putting all your eggs in one basket and believing that divorce, sickness, death or what ever it is will not harm you. It's a question of preparedness IMO.

rfs said...

@jackie- definitely take time out for yourself and to improve your skills. No body is going to give you a medal for being a martyr to your kids. Fact is, all too soon they are grown up. And then what?

Anonymous said...

I stayed in a bad marriage because wanted to unschool at any cost. Turns out the cost was very high. My husband's contempt for me, what I was doing impacted the kids in the end and I have to let people know that my sons are exhibiting the same attitude towards me as young adults. My feeling is that if your marriage is not good, get out of it. Unschooling can emphasis everything that is wrong in a relationship. My boys saw me 'putting up' with abuse. It wasn't worth it.

Cathy said...

Perhaps a post could be written about unschooling and marriage???

When we started this journey, most of our unschooling friends appeared to be in happy marriages. Over the years, I have seen many fall apart. I do think there is something to this. In one way unschooling brings us closer together as a family as each of our interests are integrated together but on the other hand, there have been times when my husband has demanded I take time out for him alone. I am glad he did. Now that the kids are teens and need more freedom away from us, it is nice to know that we still enjoy spending time alone together. Unschooling has many benefits and the time we spend with our kids is priceless, but it is also a lot of work. I am glad this topic is being discussed here even if that wasn't the purpose of the post.

Crystal Jeffers said...

I do believe that we, as adults need to continue to pursue our goals and have plans for our future. However I do not agree that dividing my time between a "job" and my children is the answer. I believe that My children should know that I have goals for my future when they are grown and gone. They all know what that goal is and encourage me. It is equally important to spend time fostering your relationship with your partner because that is the person you decided to spend your time with. My husband and I make it a point to take at least one vacation a year together. We spend alone time and relax together. He works long hours and rarely has more then 1 day off a week. It can be difficult to find time together but if your marriage is worth it you find the time. I never put more into my children then I am willing to put into myself and my marriage. It has to be divided equally.

Simply Homeschooled said...

Perhaps your friend is not as "skill-less" as she feels. As you said, a woman can feel lost if she dives in fully with the kids. If she really thought about it though, I am sure she would realize she has developed many skills over the years by the activities she pursued with her kids and what was required of her as a stay at home mom.

However it is important to take time out for yourself and to be sure to take time out alone with the spouse as well.

My kids see me working on building business and working on finances all the time, now my 10 year old daughter is wanting to start her own business. She sees really cool ways of "making money" and has her eyes out all the time for money making opportunities.

I dont always think the 9=5 job is always the answer, but is more important to see and seize opportunities in a land where it abounds......

Anita Ann said...

Sometimes I think we just get down on ourselves. It's really not a good place to be. I was worried not to long ago where I'd get money to care for my five kids. My husband was in rehab and I was alone with five kids. He gave me a share of his money and I sold thing on eBay and Craigslist...and paid a few bills.

rfs said...

@Cathy- that would be cool. Would you be interested in writing the post for RFS blog?

rfs said...

@crystal-I don't think anyone is suggesting that we need to divide our time between our children and our jobs -only that we need to keep that 'employment' job open while we unschool. I agree with you that kids should know that we mums have goals and dreams and that we are working on them actively.

rfs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rfs said...

@simply homeschooled- good point. We all have skills but how do we make them marketable-right? And building a business takes time. My friend is working on developing her business while working a really low paying retail job.

rfs said...

@Anita Ann- exactly. We do endanger ourselves when we have nothing to fall back on.
This is great. I am so glad we are having this important discussion!

Anonymous said...

If you have the support of your spouse and perhaps some other relatives or close friends, having an outside job or taking courses might be possible. But not everyone has such support.

We still live in a time where most women are expected to care for the kids, do more than their share of the housework and maintain a career. Then, we are supposed to magically have time to devote to our marriages as well. In the end, something has to give.

The least we can do is listen to each other without passing judgement.

rfs said...

@anon- support, support , support. Really tough to come by but worth nurturing and working hard to get.

Simply Homeschooled said...

Many people with higher educations and skills to fall back on are working at low paying jobs right now unless you happen to live in an area that is finally bouncing back economy wise. IF you are lucky to be working at all. My husband is much more capable of earning minimum wage....but that is what he is being paid and for only 20 hours a week right now and there is NOTHING else available in our area.

Yes building business does take time but there are always ways to reduce cost of living, while increasing income even turning in scrap metal if you have to or biking 5 miles to town.

But then again, is not one of the points of unschooling to create LIFE LONG learners? How can we teach our children to be life long learners if we the parents are not always learning new things ourselves?

this is an important post, and I am glad you posted this for discussion.

rfs said...

@simply homeschooled- thanks for your insightful comments. Living simply is definitely something that many unschooled families are familiar with- without feeling that they are deprived.

Sara said...

As small farming, organic gardening and local food is a passion of mine, I'm pursuing my dream to sell produce at the local farmer's market. But the money making part is just a piece. The rewards of being part of this movement/local community means we come in contact with a lot of artists who love what they do for a living. (The farmer's market is also a hub for local authors and artisans). We make lots of friends. This builds community values as we seek to help one another promote local businesses, facilitate opportunities for them to teach their skills, etc. My kids love to spend their allowance there and are learning how to barter while making new friends of all ages. A homeschool activity group has grown out of friendships there. I guess I see it as more convivial than seeking a livelihood through the institutionalized wage system. I also have a close extended family and a loving church community. Put those together and you have better insurance for tough times than a waged skill, although that is important to many people and can be part of the equation as well. I think the global economic system we have exploits a lot of people and is imploding on itself so it makes the local food, small business revival kind of a mission, too.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it is fair to say that unschooling got you burned. It is not unschooling but rather the lack of anticipating the future- or at least getting ready for it. Unschooling lifestyle doesn't not mean a 'laisse faire' attitude.

Cathy said...

I would love to write a post on marriage for RFS.

Anonymous said...

I know two moms who were left holding the bag when their husbands left. One thankfully had gone to vocational training before the split. I was just this week thinking I needed to find a way to make an income. My husband is self-employed in a trade that is hard on his body. If his back goes out and he can't keep doing it, we don't have a back up plan. I just already feel overwhelmed and don['t know how in the world I can add in another activity, even one that I enjoy. I suppose I should just begin and not worry about what doesn't get done.

rfs said...

@Anon-I am so glad we are talking about this issue. Obviously it is an important one. I think it is wise to keep it in the fore without losing sleep over- just be ware, be proactive etc etc. Thanks!

David Hamilton said...

I would just like to say how sorry I am for the circumstance anyone is left in after a divorce. The educating part is not the problem. Something else is obviously the problem. The hearts of poeple is the source of everything wrong in this world. I hope that the woman who wrote the original post will be encouraged. She has done a marvelous thing and it is not for "Nothing" unless of course, monetary results for herself was her goal, which I doubt it was. Loving and raising your kids with all you have, despite the terrible things occurring in the world aroung them, is a life well lived. Definitely not for "nothing". Adversity like this can be the greatest teaching tool. How it is handled and how perserverance to do what is right with a right heart amid difficult circumstances can give a young one a lifetime benefit of knowing that difficulty does not mean the end, it means a change in strategy or a time to get creative etc.... I hope kdbclovejo will be encouraged by this and be enabled to see the potentially amazing opportunity before her to show he kids how to make it and live and love despite incredible difficulty.

Hambone

Anonymous said...

This is so stupid...

*Don't talk about jobs, they suck, get a business.
* Congratulations for unschooling your kids, school is one of the worst thing you can do to your kids
* Teach them how to make business. If they start early, by the age of 18-20 they should already be making more than any other kid their age (which is obvious, because the other kids will spent thousands on college rather than earning money, duh!)

imtakinganap said...

Wow, this is weird. I just blogged about the problem of divorces among home/unschoolers then came here and read this! Too cool guys!

Sandra Dodd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sandra Dodd said...

I'm very late to the conversation. I came here to find podcasts for a friend to listen to on a trip.

http://sandradodd.com/spouses
This is something that's important for children, for the parents to maintain a peaceful relationship.

Divorce kicks people's butts into adulthood, and it's no good for parents to deny that.

Too many parents take the children's side against the spouse, and if they can figure out ways to gradually move toward being a peaceful team, it's better for everyone.

Of course it's not always possible, but some people use that as an excuse to ignore their marriages and think that won't be a problem.

Divorce (prevention of, for unschoolers)
http://sandradodd.com/divorce

Anonymous said...

Hey kbcdlovejoe. Maybe you're right, but what an incredibly judgemental thing to say. You know nothing about this woman and yet you feel you can make such a comment. Maybe she's like me and put every ounce of energy and love she had into her marriage and family for 10 years but unbeknownst to her, her husband was abusive, not physically but in every other way. But maybe she didn't even know that she was in such a relationship because emotional abuse is designed to make it's victim's opinion of themselves change so that they end up believing that what's happening is acceptable. Not only until you escape can you see what was happening. Or maybe not. But my point is, who knows. We have no right to judge. Blessings to you and yours.

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