Tuesday, August 30, 2011

You're Not Homeschooling Because....Your Spouse is Against it

I hear from lots of people who are interested in keeping their children out of school, but they have numerous reasons for not doing it. This week I will explore some of those reasons.

If you are not interested in homeschooling, please feel free to browse the links in my sidebar and come back next week for more stories of authentic parenting and natural living.

I know a woman whose husband was vehemently opposed to homebirth.  She agreed to a hospital birth for her first child and for her second she chose a homebirth.  However, when she was in labour, her husband called an ambulance and forced her into it.  Her son was born en route to the hospital.

I know another woman whose husband insisted that it was time to sleep-train their 6 month old baby.  For weeks this mother stood outside her baby's bedroom every evening, sobbing as her daughter cried herself to sleep.

I know another woman whose husband says he never agreed to her becoming a stay-at-home mom.  When her children were 3yrs and 1yr, he insisted that she return to work.  Everytime I see her she tells me how lucky I am to be raising my own children and how much she hates it that someone else is raising hers.

Friends, I'm not trying to vilify husbands. 

A mother's relationship with her parenting partner is just as important as her relationship with her children. 
But it is not MORE important.

The big decisions that a family faces should include the concerns and input of everyone involved:  where to live, two incomes or one, the style of education.  There should be no default to whatever option is the most familiar, especially if one person is raising questions about following the status quo.

I've written before about how my Partner-Guy and I make big decisions that profoundly affect our family.  We start by LOVING one idea to see how it makes us FEEL.  Then we try on the other idea.  Once we've experienced both plans we discuss which one made us feel more authentic and tuned in to our values.

The topic of homeschooling deserves a big, serious discussion.  But before you sit down with your spouse, be prepared.
  1. Do some research to support your position.  Make sure you have clear reasons why you don't support the public system of education.  Learn about all the options available to homeschooled children, such as ILC and university.
  2. Talk to some people who are homeschooling so that you have a really thorough understanding of what you want to do.  Don't try to sell a romanticized version of homeschooling.  Know what you're getting yourself into.
  3. Pre-empt an argument by preparing a list of pros and cons in advance.  It is good to help yourself understand what concerns your partner might have.  Add to the list as you talk together.
  4. Give it lots of time.  The time to start a discussion about homeschooling is not Labour Day.
  5. Investigate your options and be willing to compromise.  Perhaps part-time schooling is possible?  Or maybe your partner is willing to homeschool for just the first few years?
  6. Recognize that your partner loves your child as much as you do.  You both want what is best for your child.  Your partner is not against you.
I have found through many discussions with friends and family who expressed anti-homeschooling sentiments, that just listening to their concerns and then giving them information that they didn't have (such as the fact that every university in Ontario accepts students who have not been to highschool), is enough to make them more comfortable.  Fear is often the reason why people automatically reject trying something that they are unfamiliar with.  Answering the questions behind the fears will go a long way toward getting your partner on side.

And though I may draw a firestorm of fury from some readers, I would recommend that if you believe that school will harm or is harming your child, you have a duty to your child to prevent further harm, regardless of the opinion of the other parent.  Your child has ONE CHANCE to grow up without being violated by a school system that is incapable of ensuring his or her emotional (or physical) well-being.

Homeschooling is not a panacea.  But perhaps it a part of the type of family culture that, ultimately, you and your spouse both long for.  It is worth discussing.


  1. JulieJ (friend of Patti)August 31, 2011 at 9:19 AM

    Patti: you have been a wonderful HELP through OUR choice to PART-TIME school our daughter (son is 4 and beginning JK, daughter is 6 1/2 and beginning grade 1 and has the beginnings of 'school phobia')...as soon as my daughter and I TALKED about the amount of TIME at school (and away from me) being the SAME amount of time-rather than ALL day away, SHE RELAXED and has been ALOT more COMFORTABLE with the whole idea!! 8) We've chosen to do this to EASE the transition but who knows, it MAY become PERMANENT! ;) We will see....
    Patti, you HELPED me so much with my 'letter of intent' and with getting my Husband (who is a HS Teacher) on BOARD with all of this.
    THANKS SO MUCH!!!! 8) You're a great FRIEND!! 8)
    xo Julie xo

  2. Patti, I too know of women like the ones you mention and my heart aches for them-- especially the CIO ones! Sigh. I was lucky in that my husband was gung-ho about homeschooling even before I was totally committed to it! -Kerry