by Mel from When Cows and Kids Collide
I like my husband. He’s a sweet, caring man who is bright and a good listener. We suit each other well. I don’t like change much – so his love of new experiences pushes me out of my comfort zone. He struggles with planning and organization outside of his job – so my skills in keeping our life organized makes our home pleasant place to live. Most importantly, we enjoy each other’s company and know how to support each other during hard times.
On the other hand, neither of us abdicates responsibility entirely to the other person. I don’t ask my husband for input on how I handle grocery shopping or when to schedule Jack’s medical appointments; that’s my realm of expertise. Likewise, my husband doesn’t expect me to tell him how to fix the well; he’s been doing that since he was a teen and I honestly have no experience in that area.
With that background, I hope you understand why the next quote from “Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit” scared the snot out of me:
Instead of fearing you are failing in an aspect of your homeschooling, trust that if you are truly failing, your husband will become aware of it and point it out. (pg. 54)
That’s really, really bad advice. By the time a homeschool has become bad enough to trigger a response from a spouse, the education of the kids is in shambles.
See, the person responsible for running part of a household handles routine maintenance and covers common breakdowns without disrupting household service. By the time that household service is disrupted, the solution to the situation is much more extreme.
Let me give a simplistic example. We use cloth diapers for my son because I prefer doing laundry to having to run to the store for disposables. I’ve got a washing routine down so that we have clean diapers available without running out. If I fall behind in diaper-based laundry, I’ve got a stash of disposables ready for use. This system works well for us because I am regularly monitoring the number and type of diapers we have available.
When would my husband notice that something was off in the system? He would notice if he went to change our son and there were no diapers available – at all. We’d be in a situation where the kid would be using dish towels as a diaper while we did two loads of laundry and someone ran out to the store to buy disposables. Plus, I’d have to wash those dish towels so add another load of laundry.
Academic progress works the same way. Teachers monitor the progress of their students continuously because doing routine maintenance like explaining a concept one-on-one to a student during class or quickly correcting a flaw in a student’s technique is quick, easy and painless for everyone. Some issues go a little deeper – but most students can be straightened out in a 15 minute tutoring session before or after school followed by some close monitoring. By the time an academic struggle becomes visible to someone outside the classroom, far more intensive remediation is needed.
Husbands can also help allay fear and worry concerning curriculum decisions if we will bring these decisions to him to help make. I will often discuss potential curriculum with Steve. I sometimes write out the information he needs to know to help with the decision. I do this because I know he is not aware of how the curriculums work in their day-to-day usage in our homeschool. Having the facts before him allows him to pray and think before we make a final decision.
I remember a time we were choosing a new curriculum. I had read and mulled over a sample of a curriculum I thought had potential. I had poured over it for hours and was praying about it. Finally, I showed an area of slight concern in the curriculum to Steve. Within one minute, he had told me that the curriculum was not for us! All that wasted energy on my part. If I had taken the curriculum to him earlier, I could have bypassed so much of that thinking time. (pg. 54)
This quote baffles me.
The first paragraph sounds like how I would approach a curriculum choice. I would decide what the most important features in a curriculum were to me, then decide how well the options I could afford fit what we needed. Bouncing my findings off another person is helpful; explaining what I found about each curriculum clarifies my options. So far, so good.
The second paragraph is where the whole situation becomes weird. Choosing curriculum is hard – but it shouldn’t be emotionally exhausting. Curriculum examples are pretty slim reading; distributors don’t want people using their materials for free. Something is out of whack if Mrs. Maxwell can go over a sample for hours – and find time after that to pray about the choice! Mrs. Maxwell mentions struggling with depression and has described what sounds like severe untreated anxiety on top of that. This makes me wonder if the curriculum choice coincided with a time where she was struggling emotionally.I can wrap my head around the anecdote prior to Mr. Maxwell’s appearance; then the wheels come off.
- What was this minor concern?
- How did Mrs. Maxwell’s assessment of this minor concern create such a mismatch that Mr. Maxwell rejected the entire curriculum in less than a minute after this concern was raised? In my opinion, if a flaw can cause an entire curriculum to be dropped, it is NOT a minor issue.
- If she hadn’t brought the curriculum to him before, what was he making his decision based on?
- What were the other options? How does this minor issue compare to the other issues with other curricula that were available?
All of these questions lead up to the elephant in the room: how much of Mr. Maxwell’s decision was based on reducing his wife’s anxiety level? Caring spouses can end up making decisions that reduce their spouse’s anxiety in the short-term but create larger problems in the long-run. Perhaps the minor issue was truly minor – but Mr. Maxwell preferred to help his wife calm down by removing the stressor of changing curriculum rather than continue to watch her suffer.
A supportive spouse is a gift – but a spouse with magical powers is a curse.
Mel resides in Michigan with her husband and child on farm. With her years of teaching experience, keen mind and observational skills she always brings a deeper look at the issues of homeschooling, teaching issues, and explains the science behind behind quiverfull beliefs. Mother, wife, teacher and caregiver of a child with health challenges she always brings a measured and reasoned voice to NLQ.
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