Homeschooling and Marriage: When Parents Disagree

Homeschooling is a contentious subject. Homeschoolers believe that are doing the very best thing for their children’s education and well-being. Anti-homeschooling advocates feel homeschool kids end up as misfits and the parents are undermining the educational system. But what happens when these opposing viewpoints exist within one household.

Disagreements on child rearing decisions is one of the biggest factors in marriage dissolution, along with infidelity and financial issues. This problem however is often kept under wraps as one parent usually silently dissents to the wants, needs, and beliefs of the other parent, in this situation. You would be amazed, however, by the sheer number of complaints on message boards where a divorce is underway, that homeschooling suddenly became the biggest issue. Most homeschooling parents have absolutely no idea that their spouse was against homeschooling until they read about it in a summons from their spouses’ lawyer.

Of course, this is a symptom of a greater issue. When discussing the decision to homeschool, parents must be completely honest about any reservations they may have about it. In addition, both parents must listen, and try to fully understand these reservations and concerns. The parents of the child to be homeschooled must whole-heartedly agree that homeschooling is the absolute best choice for their child. If one parent is gung-ho about homeschooling and the other is luke-warm at best, unexpected issued may arise later.

I have heard many homeschooling moms say that their husband coaxed them to try homeschooling for one year, and now they are thankful that they were talked into it. I am not against this, but the teaching parent must be very willing to try. If the parent feels “forced” or pressured to homeschool the kids, resentment may arise. Such resentment is not healthy for the children, or the marriage. It is also not healthy for the homeschooling process. In addition, at the end of the trial period, the parent who was coaxed into trying it out must be allowed to say yea or nay on his or her own accord.

Just as I have heard homeschooling moms say they were coaxed into trying out homeschooling for one year and now love it, I have also heard homeschooling moms say they were pressured into trying it for one year, and then another, and another. Likewise, I have encountered many moms who pressure their husbands into letting them homeschool for one year, and spend the year compiling statistics, and academic proof (through the children’s performance) that homeschooling was a great idea. Such a trial year exceeds the horrors of teaching a child to-the-test. In the end, the mom will burn out, the kids will burn out, and the father will believe in the end that homeschooling was the wrong choice. With behavior like this, it is no wonder that a flabbergasted parent receives a summons to put the children back into school upon the filing of a separation agreement.

So what do you do if you feel that homeschooling is the best way to educate your child and your spouse does not agree? You need to present your argument and wait as long as it takes the other parent to come around. This waiting period should include constant arguments about homeschooling, or even leaving homeschooling statistics lying around the house. They may never come around, but there is a good chance they will. Once the idea of homeschooling is planted in their heads, most reasonable people will investigate it on their own and many actually come to decide to do it on their own.

In my case, I remember my husband suggesting I homeschool my kids soon after my first child was born. I thought it was a horrible idea and graphically told him just how crazy I thought he was. Fast forward eight years, and problems with several teachers, and I found myself in a situation where I had two very unhappy children who were miserable in school. Because my husband had planted a seed many years before, I knew homeschooling was a very do-able option and began to investigate. When I announced to my husband that I wanted to homeschool our kids, I did have to put up with a shameless I-told-you-so happy dance. Nevertheless, witnessing that spectacle has been well worth the results of the past three and a half years.

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