At the local home school group, mothers and children gather for their monthly meeting. Laughter punctuates the meeting, and everyone seems encouraged and energized as they visit. Everyone, that is, except a certain mom over in the corner. She's struggling, and the reason soon becomes apparent. She's just about worn out with pushing the home school train down the track with no help from her hubby. Though he doesn't exactly oppose it, he refers to home schooling as "her thing" and does not contribute.
She doesn't want it to be her thing. She wants to share the triumphs and the challenges with her partner-in-parenting. Besides, the pressure to do a super-teacher job in order to show that home schooling is indeed the best thing for the children is turning out to be a monster burden and she dreams of having him desire to shoulder part of that burden.
This mom tries not to complain or feel sorry for herself as others in the group talk about how their husbands are involved in their schooling endeavors while she's facing the daunting task of schooling three children and two toddlers, keeping the house livable, and having food on the table three times a day, which is like trying to perform in all three rings of a circus at the same time. Oh, and mothering has got to happen too--settling squabbles, training her young barbarians in social graces, and pointing their souls to the Lord. Hers is a lonely road.
And she's not the only one. The truth is that while some home school families do have both parents involved in the education process, there are a lot of moms out there that are doing the job virtually single-handedly. Their journeys are ones of solitude, with year after year of minimal support and/or non-existent help from spouses.
Are there any remedies? It would be great to say, "Yes, all you have to do is follow these three fail-proof steps and your spouse will suddenly become involved in home schooling and you will live happily ever after." But reality is that there are no magic solutions in life.
However, there is some good news, which could be summed up in the word "hope". Hope--not so much that we can pray and have things fall into place to fit the picture we have in our minds, but hope that in the midst of wherever we find ourselves, the Lord will not leave us alone or comfortless. Also, we can pray that the Lord will work in our spouse the desire and ability to shoulder the responsibilities of fatherhood in a fuller way. And though it may seem like a generic prayer, we need to pray for the Lord's will in our home school. He knows who and what to work on to help everyone grow up in Him. Many a pray-er, while focusing on the changes needed in someone else, has been the one to be stretched and challenged to grow, and all are benefited.
There are some practical things a person could try in order to involve a less-than-enthusiastic or non-interested spouse in home schooling. A weekly or every-other-week night where students demonstrate their latest academic achievements for their dad can be a fun time for the kids to show their stuff and may even inspire dad to become more involved, give input, or help him feel better about the children's education.
Changes take time, especially those changes that take place within a person. That's God's business, and we can't hurry the process, only hinder it. Some spouses never do metamorphose into active home school participants. However, they may possibly grow from total non-involvement to being willing to review the children's' papers in a given subject. If a dad shines in history, he might be approached about fielding history questions. Others who excel in math or science might come to enjoy helping with the trickier answers. Such a request may seem a bit overwhelming for some, so perhaps once every week or two, solicitation for input on different academic or disciplinary aspects of the children's schooling may work better for them.
Of course, this carries a certain amount of risk--if we ask, we should be willing to implement some of those suggestions. Otherwise it will be an exercise in frustration for both, and may hinder rather than help encourage growth toward involvement. Spouses need to know that they are appreciated and needed. If our husbands' suggestions get axed before they have a chance to get off the ground, next time they may not be willing to stick their necks out. And who knows? Perhaps the very act of trying to carry out their suggestions will be the catalyst that helps them become more involved.
For so many home school moms, changes in this realm may be few and far between. So if you happen to be a "lone-ranger" home schooling mom, be emboldened by this knowledge: You're one of a valiant company that carries on despite difficulties and the weariness. There is an army of moms out there just like you, who are doing this incredibly challenging thing called home schooling because they believe that it is the best thing for their children. You may not have a lot of help, and you may not do a perfect job. But one thing is very certain--your heart motives and your efforts will not go unrewarded.
Leslie Wyatt has been married to her husband, Dave, for 21 years. They have six children ranging in age from 5-19, and have been homeschooling for 14 years.
This article was published in the Jul/Aug '05 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more information, visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com. To request a free sample copy, visit http://homeschoolenrichment.com/magazine/request-sample-issue.html