Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Who's Making the Decisions?

It never ceases to sadden me when I hear of women who are in total control of their family's homeschool. It doesn't matter the reason - single mom, widowed, or that's what they and/or their husbands have decided - all of these women have a difficult task in front of them.

I would dare say it almost angers me when married couples don't share in the responsibility.  I'm not talking about both parents teaching the subjects or grading papers.  I'm just talking about TALKING to one another, bouncing ideas back and forth, encouraging one another when there's a bump in the education road, & both being involved in the curriculum choices.  I've spoken with several dads who have no idea what curriculum their child is using for various subjects.  For some dads, the only involvement they have is telling their wives to spend as little money as possible and give the kids a good education.  *I will address this in another post in the near-future*

Marriage and parenthood takes two involved people.  That is God's design.  We are to work together in the raising of our children.  Couples often balance one another in many aspects of life, including academically.  For instance, I'm strong in the areas of English and Social Studies while my husband's strengths are in the subjects of Science and Math.  When we go to conventions, we seek out the curriculum choices in our areas of expertise, consult with one another, and then decide.  Normally, the one who is stronger in that subject-area makes the final decision.

If a mom decides that she wants to make all of the decisions for her children's homeschool, she is missing out on some very valuable insight from her husband.  If a dad decides that homeschooling is his wife's department, he is putting a very heavy burden on her shoulders.

Last week, I was planning on attending our local homeschool convention with our older two girls.  My husband had strongly suggested that, because they've been so diligent in getting their school-work done throughout the years, they should choose their own curriculum (with a bit of guidance from us).  While I never would have thought of that on my own, I totally agreed that it was a great idea.  However, in the weeks leading up to the convention, I had very little time to sit down and plan our day or talk to the girls about the various decisions they would face.  Hence, Thursday night found me at the computer trying to figure out what I was doing the next day.  I was checking out the vendors that would be in the shopping hall, trying to figure out parking in the city with my mammoth van, and getting stressed about paying $72 just to walk in the door.

In the midst of my hysteria, I realized that I had spoken to my husband a total of about 30 minutes in the last two days.  Because this is one of his busy seasons and I had been so busy running here and there with appointments and activities with the children, we had not had a chance to sit down and really discuss our goals for next year.  I realized how much I depend on my husband's ideas and feedback when I was suddenly without it.  I went to bed that night praying to God for direction while my best earthly counsellor was in a deep sleep beside me.

Early on Friday morning (the day we were going to the convention), I walked in the rain to the barn where my husband's office is located.  I knew he would be enjoying his morning coffee and having his quiet time.  He was happy to see me which, I'm happy to say, is normal for him when I make an early-morning visit.  I asked him what he was doing that day, knowing that the rain would limit any farming activities.  He wasn't sure and was eager to accept my invitation to the convention.  Immediately, I felt as if a weight was lifted.  No longer would I have to worry about parking and walking miles in the rain.  No longer would I have to text him back & forth like mad while deciding between two curricula.  No longer would I have to worry about how much money to spend.  My husband was, again, more than willing to take an active part in OUR children's education.  After that decision was made, I was able to tell him what I was thinking concerning next year's homeschool & we had that much-needed conversation in the quiet hours of the morning.

When I left the barn to head back to the house for a little bit more sleep, few of my questions regarding next year had actually been answered.  We still had to pay the $72/family rate for the convention.  I still had no idea what curriculum I would be purchasing.  But, my heart was at peace because my husband would be by my side and we would be making decisions...together.

As I think of it, the people who will benefit the most from our team-work are our children.  After all, we homeschool so that they will learn how to be godly husbands, wives, citizens, and servants of Christ.  Knowing that their parents are on the same page, supporting one another for their benefit is one of the greatest life-lessons we can teach them.

Parents, begin working together if you aren't already doing so.  If you are, don't give in to the false assumption that one of you is unnecessary.  You depend on one another just as your children depend on you - both of you - for their education.