I Want Them to Be Thrilled With Their Lives

“What were my dreams for them? I wanted them to be thrilled with their lives.”

– Carleen Sing

I read this quote in an article about unschooling recently and loved it so much! As an unschooling parent, I am often questioned about my children’s future.

What does this choice mean for them? Will they learn all the things they ‘should’ be learning? Will they be successful? Go to university? Get a good job?

I don’t know, honestly. No one knows, no matter if they homeschool their children or not. School is focused on trying to guarantee these outcomes but I am not.

What do I want for them? Truly, just what Carleen said. I want them to be thrilled with their lives. A feat most schools fail at.

The details of what that looks like do not matter to me. I do not define success as school does. I will not teach them that they will only be happy when they reach the next goal set for them by someone else.

The world is so focused on what people should achieve that there is not enough attention given to how people feel. In fact, I have been told quite plainly many times that it doesn’t matter how my children feel. That they should not get used to being too happy, or spending too much time doing things they like. After all, they will have to grow up and get a job and do what their boss says whether they like it or not.

I completely reject this belief. Being too happy and having too much fun is not a risk. Don’t we all want to live a life that we enjoy? I think that’s the goal. I want them to spend their childhood preparing for that.

Meeting expectations, being judged as good enough, constant compliance, and outperforming other people… these are not generally things that guarantee contentment, let alone feeling thrilled.

How do you curate a life that you are thrilled with? Just look at children! They come out thrilled and amazed by everything! All we need to do is not wreck it. At present, my 14-year-old still gasps at the sight of a beautiful field or tree. She spent this afternoon lying in the grass drawing some mushrooms she found and writing about them in her journal. She is still amazed by life, even in her teen years. She is inspired. Passionate. Motivated. Joyful. Absolutely thrilled!

What makes people feel this way? Freedom, autonomy, agency, support, respect, an inspiring environment, healthy role models, involved parents, unconditional love and positive regard… many things that we have taken away from children.

Children need to be able to spend their days doing things they enjoy. They need to be allowed to find the things they love and spend as much time doing them as they want. They need to be free from judgement, demands, punishment, and guilt. They need to have supportive and inspiring adults in their life who are there to help and guide them. They need to be part of a community and experience a sense of belonging. They need plenty of time for fun, and tons of downtime. They need to feel a sense of control over their own life and learning. They need to feel that what they are doing is meaningful and important. They need access to the world. The need rich experiences. They need to experiment and wonder and discover things for themselves. They need the freedom to create the type of education that is perfectly tailored to their needs.

I can give my kids those things.

These are the goals that matter to me.

I want them to be thrilled with their lives, and they are. I can’t think of a better preparation for the future, or definition of success.


June 26, 2023 at 11:26 pm

I love your blog. My question to you is what would you suggest for a family who lives very rurally and does not have access to many offerings of larger communities. Thanks.

June 27, 2023 at 12:16 am

I love this post so much!! Itbis exactly why we unschool!!!

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