Talking With Your Husband: Homeschooling With a Meek and Quiet Spirit

WhenCowsKidsCollideby Mel cross posted from her blog When Cows and Kid Collide

Communication is critical in a marriage.

My husband and I have been dealt some tough times since we’ve been together.  We’ve stayed together because we are able to communicate our feelings, needs and desires to each other. 

This section of Teri Maxwell’s “Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit” bothers me because she teaches that homeschooling mothers should lie through omission to their husbands:

It is most likely when a Christian family begins to homeschool that both the husband and wife are in agreement that this is the Lord’s direction for the family.  When homeschool becomes difficult, I encourage you, Mom,  never to consider quitting unless your husband is the one who says you are to do so.

Keep in mind: it is entirely possible that a loving husband, one who does not want his wife to “suffer,” might suggest she quit homeschooling even though he wishes her to continue. This will usually be the result of the wife having regularly complained about her struggles, fears, and failures. Eventually, despite his heart’s desire, the husband will decide that homeschooling is just too much for his wife. Therefore, consider well the possible consequences of not developing a meek and quiet spirit. (pg. 53)

Mrs. Maxwell’s suggestion of avoiding even thinking of quitting homeschooling until it is brought up by the husband is problematic.  There is a wide gulf between thinking about making a major life change and accomplishing that life goal.  For many people, dreaming about making a radical life change is a form of stress relief.   For a homeschooling mom, imagining how much more simple her life would be if her kids were in school could give her a nice mental break.

For a woman who enjoys homeschooling and whose children are doing well, never thinking about transitioning back to a traditional school places her at a disadvantage if her husband wishes her to return the kids to school.  Communicating the concrete benefits that the children have gained during their time in homeschool takes some advanced thought and preparation.   When I was teaching full-time, I may have been able to think of one or two reasons why a student was improving in my classroom on the spot – but I would have better support for those reasons if I had some advanced planning time.

One major issue I have with CP/QF life practice is that men are assumed to be childishly simple in their thought patterns.  My dad retired from teaching high school after over thirty years.  During that time, he had genuine complaints about some students, some classes and some administrators.  Generally, he worked the issue out in a way that was positive for all involved – but there were some situations that grated on him or had unpleasant outcomes.  Since Dad was sharing all these struggles and problems with my mother, why didn’t she encourage him to quit?  My mom realized that for all of Dad’s complaints he really loved teaching.  He got a kick out of watching students explore new pieces of literature.  He enjoyed seeing students grow over time.  Dad adores theater and loved directing plays – even though that brought its own set of issues and frustrations.  Teaching was worth the minor stresses for my father – and we all could see that.

My husband was able to see the difference in me when my complaints about teaching moved from annoying, but manageable situations to crushing frustration.   Really, this is not a hard distinction to make for most adults – but Mrs. Maxwell seems to imply that a husband can’t tell the difference between “Today was insanely frustrating because everyone was wearing their cranky pants at once and I’m exhausted” and “I can’t work up the energy to teach our kids any more.  I’m completely overwhelmed.”

That last line is supposed to be a threat – “Whine too much and your husband won’t let you homeschool!” – but in my book, it’s a great reason to avoid developing a “meek and quiet” spirit.

This next quote immediately follows the previous quote.  I’ve read this section a few times – and I still can’t figure out the transition between from “Don’t complain or else!” to this new idea.

Let me share a story with you about how the Lord began to teach me to trust that my husband will point out real faults in my life. There was a time in my life when I struggled and struggled with thinking I was overweight. In reality, I was not overweight,  but in my perception of myself I was. My thoughts about my weight ended up  affecting how I dealt with my days in general, giving me an overall feeling of being unhappy. Finally, one day, the Lord spoke to my heart. He caused me to think about what difference it made if I was overweight except perhaps to my husband. At that point, I decided to accept my weight where it was unless my husband began to tell me I needed to lose weight. (pg. 53)

In “Growing Up Duggars”, the oldest Duggar girls describe Michelle Duggar’s struggle with bulimia.  Like Michelle Duggar, Teri Maxwell seems to have struggled with control issues surrounding food and body weight.  Mrs. Maxwell describes two of the traits in mental illnesses.  First, she has a disordered view of her body; she thinks she is overweight when she is not.  Secondly,  that disordered view causes her psychological distress severe enough to affect her daily functioning.  (I’m reading a bit between the lines – but if a doyenne of CP/QF admits to having thoughts that “affected how she dealt with her days” leading to “feeling unhappy”,  I’m assuming she was ruminating on those thoughts and making daily choices based on her negative self-perceptions. )

An adult woman would determine if she was overweight in consultation with a medical professional.  An adult woman would discuss her feelings about her body with a friend, a mentor, a counselor or her spouse.  An adult woman would seek a healthy balance between concern over health issues surrounding weight and enjoying what she likes about her body.

Mrs. Maxwell behaves as a child would: she abdicates responsibility to her husband.   Notice she never even tells her husband about her concerns – she simply assumes that he would let her know if she needed to lose weight.   This allows her to avoid the possibility that Mr. Maxwell might look at her and say “But honey, I’m worried that you are too thin” or “You look like you are at a healthy weight to me…”  That response from her husband could be extremely unsettling if she was struggling with an eating disorder – and so she avoids it by not communicating with him.

Communication is the basis of deep relationships.  Following Mrs. Maxwell’s advice will drive couples away from each other instead of closer together.

moreRead more by Mel

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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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