Friday, February 20, 2009

Things Homeschool Dads/Husbands Need To Know

I had some conversations with a couple of homeschool moms today, both of whom were feeling battle-worn and under-supported. The similarities of the struggles of homeschool moms was striking. I've been there, felt that, and heard it from others a zillion times. And what I mostly wished for was an opportunity to *somehow* be able to explain to the husbands of homeschool moms about what they need to know and do to support their wife and help make it possible for the homeschooling, homemaking, and nurturing to happen. So here is the vent:

Hint: When your wife says she needs something, just give it to her.

Does she need you to listen? Then listen to her.

Does she need money for curriculum or someone to help clean the house or for some underwear that isn't stained and has elastic that isn't worn out? Then figure out how to get her the money. With a smile, too.

Does she ask you to come to her rescue? Do it. Now! With love and compassion. And no side dishes of guilt or whining.

Hint: Although you work hard to provide for your family that is probably staying afloat with your earnings alone, I've got bad news for you: It's not enough. You also need to be a compassionate, caring force for good behind your wife and your kids.

Taking on the task of homeschooling is a mountain. The amount of information to digest and apply is daunting. The amount of decisions to make and options to wade through is exhausting. And then once you've done all of the reading, digesting, and decision-making, a homeschool mom gets to constantly assess and re-assess what's working, what's not, how to know when to stick to the plan and when to jump ship and try one of the other 3, 456, 341, 899 options for each and every possible academic subject. Plus clean up milk-and-cereal spills, and do extra laundry from when the stomach flu fairy came to visit last night. All while she has bad cramps and her period.

Because you're not actively doing all of this reading, digesting, and decision-making and cramp-having, I realize that it probably doesn't look like that big of a deal. Well, believe it or not, it IS a big deal. REALLY big. You may not know it in your bones like your wife does. If you can, though, try to know it even just a little bit in your head.

I assume that when you were first in love with your wife you wanted good things for her, thought she was pretty interesting, smart, talented, and special. You probably felt like leaping tall buildings in a single bound. And now, enough years later to have had some kids and gotten lazy about your love, you think you can ignore that woman, leave her at home all day, come home to expect a nice dinner, the kids to behave, and some hot (or at least luke-warm) lovin' before you go to sleep and start all over again the next day, without taking care of her in the other ways that would help her get "filled up" with rest and refreshment so that she can "pour out" good stuff on the family every day. When she says she needs a break, you may think it's ok to roll your eyes, give her a hard time, or whine and complain about it. I'd like to give you a swift kick (or twenty) in the rear. Your homeschooling wife is doing A WHOLE LOT behind the scenes that you probably never get to see, and I guarantee that she's dealing with a large load of mental and emotional stuff as well. She may vent to you about some of it, but it's likely just a smidge of what's really going on. If she tells you she needs something, do your DARNDEST to make it happen. Today. And be mighty nice about it. Try to remember that once she was precious to you. (You may say she is still precious to you--but are you treating her that way? Does she feel that she is precious to you?) Try to remember that you'd like her to not be so burnt out that she can't enjoy you, your children, or the life that you work so hard to provide for her. She's not meant to be kept in a box. Encourage her to get out and take care of herself, to cultivate good friendships, to get some fresh air and sunshine, to be able to move without children to hold or carry or manage at every turn. Encourage her to do good things for herself: a fresh new haircut, a facial, a massage, or maybe a lunch out with a friend. Money may be tight, but find a way to give her some good breaks and nurturing. It doesn't have to be expensive--it just has to be a fit for her needs. Hint: If you give it with a pure heart of love, with no resentment, whining, or bad attitude, it will go miles and miles and MILES toward giving her new strength and peace to continue to do what she wants to do for you and your children.

In my conversations today, I was thinking about how little I can do to help a woman who is drowning in her homeschooling when she doesn't have the support that she needs from her husband. Men--you may not be choosing the curriculum, reading the books, or teaching the lessons, but the role you play can definitely make or break the success of your family's homeschooling. Without your loving support **in the ways that seem loving and supportive to your wife** she will be stuck struggling in areas that you could have alleviated, simply by treating her like you yourself would want to be treated.

The golden rule: It ain't just for strangers any more. Try it on your wife and kids.

1 comment:

SiouxsieQ said...

nice post.