Who are America's greatest heroes in this day and age? I submit that they are America's home-schooling mothers.
While social watchdogs lament the lack of positive role models, I ask you, "What better role model exists than a home-schooling mom?" Even though we home-school dads live with these powerful examples, I suspect that some of us do not fully appreciate the magnitude of the responsibility a wife assumes when she agrees to home school the children. On a day when my wife was feeling the weight of the responsibility she had undertaken, she shared with me in no uncertain terms some of the unique pressures home-school moms experience.
She told me that home-school mothers enjoy the presence of their children morning, noon and night. In essence, they are with their children 24/7. This alone is stressful and tiring - moms can begin to believe that "school is never out."
In addition, home-school moms feel the full responsibility for making sure their children are making appropriate academic progress.
On top of those pressures, home-school moms are aware that they should respond properly and patiently to their children at all times. Failure to do so brings guilt that may become overwhelming.
In what ways can we as husbands alleviate some of the pressures our wives are experiencing? Understanding that these suggestions are not exhaustive, I submit the following:
Being a loving husband and father is the greatest support for your wife. Sympathize with her pressures and encourage her with your words and actions. Strive to meet your wife's basic needs such as affection (remembering that physical intimacy and affection are not the same for her), conversation, honesty and openness, financial support, etc.
Simply hugging your wife can express your concern about her situation and affirm to her that she is doing a good job. Greeting cards, notes of love, flowers, invitations to dinner, opening doors, and holding hands - all these simple things convey a love and appreciation for your wife that is essential to a strong marriage.
Providing regular opportunities for your wife to take a break from the rigors of her daily responsibilities is essential as well. She needs relief from the pressures of her multiple roles as helpmeet, mother, and teacher. A wife treasures time alone with her husband for adult conversation. "Dating" is a great idea. Many of us in the home-school community advocate courtship instead of dating for our children. However, after marriage, dating is an excellent expression of love - a husband should desire to continue to win his wife's heart by planning and enjoying special times with his true love.
In the area of home-schooling support, a father should assume the role of principal of his home school. Unfortunately, many men are not providing this kind of support. The bottom line, however, is that the father is ultimately responsible to God for the education and training of his children. The buck stops with him. He needs to take full responsibility for the success of his home-school program.
Most home-school moms would love for their husband to become more involved in the actual teaching portion of the home-school program. To that end, he may assume the role of tutor where mom does not feel confident with a particular subject area, or he may provide the resources for another to fill this need.
Additionally, he is responsible for maintaining and establishing discipline and order in the home. Having been sent to the principal's office several times by my teacher during my school experience, I clearly understand the importance of that role!
An aspect of the principal's role which is especially important to us at Home School Legal Defense Association is that he is responsible for the protection of his home school. This requires knowing what the law is in his state and what the practice is in his school district. He will prepare his wife for any contact she might have with a truant officer, social worker, or police officer, and he will take responsibility for resolving that contact with HSLDA's help.
The greatest disappointment I have at HSLDA is that when families experience contacts with social workers or school officials, the mother is normally saddled with the responsibility of resolving the conflict on behalf of the family. That should not be the case! Mom should not have to deal with the added stress of resolving legal contacts.
I want to challenge dads, as part of their protecting role, to become more proactive in responding to legislative threats against parental freedoms and home schooling. This involves becoming knowledgeable about the issues and then responding by way of letter, e-mail, and telephone calls when needed.
Home-school moms, we want you to know that HSLDA is giving you a standing ovation. More importantly, your efforts are not going unnoticed in the heavenlies. Our prayer is that we husbands, fathers, and children will be sensitive to the pressures that you face as America's greatest heroes.
As a mother do you appreciate Mike's comments and suggestions in this article? As a father, are there other things you do to make your wife's load easier? E-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will make sure Mike gets your email!
Mike Smith is the president of Home School Legal Defense Association. Mike and his wife Elizabeth home schooled their children for 15 years. (They are now all grown!) In addition to his duties at HSLDA, Mike and Elizabeth speak at home-schooling conventions across these United States.