In many homeschooling families, the day typically starts when one parent – usually dad – heads off to work.
Mom continues the day’s activities with a combination of lessons, chores, activities, play dates, and various other events… A rhythm and life-flow develops between all the family members at home, and then Dad arrives back at the end of the day. Mom and the kids struggle in varying degrees to get him up to date to keep him in the loop, with varying levels of success…
because it’s often difficult to do!
When these efforts are not successful, dad becomes disconnected and/or withdrawn from the family, mom becomes resentful and assumes a “head of the household” role, and even more seriously in extreme cases, there develops an underlying stress in the marriage.
Although it shouldn’t, this can come as a big surprise to both mom and dad. Many parents start homeschooling with dreams and visions of a growing warmth and closeness within the family, and this development certainly doesn’t fit into that picture…even though it’s totally normal.
But it’s the wise spouse that may see this happening, and then takes steps to safeguard the priority relationship in the family.
What can YOU do when you see homeschooling “get in the way” of your marriage?
Be aware – First of all, understand that this is totally normal. I mean, when any group of people are together 24/7 (for the most part) they are most certainly bound to become close. That being said, however, don’t settle! Develop an antennae to recognize when your spouse is out of sync, then immediately get to work on a plan to remedy the situation.
Be pro-active – Here’s where the plan part comes in. Don’t expect your spouse to fix things, because often he won’t even know he doesn’t know what’s going on. (This is akin to asking your high-school student “What part of rocket science do you not understand?” If they knew that…they could figure out the problem!) Plan and ensure you have periodic times together to talk one-on-one about:
- what’s going on in your day;
- challenges you and the kids are facing;
- a struggle that you could use his help or input regarding;
- discipline or future study issues;
- scheduling field trips or classes or additional outside responsibilities or family activities.
Figure out how he processes information, and then deliver updates in that format. This might mean short, quick phone calls or texts throughout the day, or emails, or occasional “parent-teacher meetings” at home, or a date night designated as a homeschool update opportunity.
Be free of resentment – Hey, nobody likes to feel like an outsider; this extends to your husband, too. Resenting the fact that he may have checked out does no good whatsoever, and is totally counter-productive. During the day, prep the kids to share their successes and frustrations with dad when he gets home, maybe during or after supper. And make sure you give yourself the same pep talk and reminder But remember that whatever you do is helpful only so far as your attitude is concerned. Whatever you do to strengthen your marriage in the context of your family life, make sure you’re doing it out of a heart of love and a desire to have a whole and healthy marriage and family.
Be patient – Remember that the issues and problems and habits didn’t happen overnight, and they don’t get fixed overnight, either. Make little changes on a consistent basis, keep tweaking as needed, and you’ll find that not only will your husband get back in the game, but your family’s homeschooling efforts will make your marriage all the more strong and rich, healthy and fulfilling!
Homeschooling should never “get in the way” of your marriage. While not only being a tool to give your children a quality education suited to their individual needs and unique gifts, homeschooling can and should be another extension of life with your spouse, adding depth and richness to the marriage relationship.
Bio: Pat Fenner has been homeschooling her 5 children for 20 years, learning and changing her methods quite a bit during that time. Preparing for a soon-to-be empty nest, she shares what she’s learned and encourages others in the journey over at PatAndCandy.com. Join them over a cup of coffee and sign up to get useful and creative parenting and homeschooling “members-only” helps.