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Tea with Julie

Welcome to "Tea with Julie," a weekly missive by me, Julie Bogart. My wish is to give you food for thought over a cup of tea to enhance your life as an educator, parent, and awesome adult. Glad you're here. Pinkies up!
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Cincinnati, February 20, 2021

Hi Friend,

We’ve talked about the rosy sides of parenting, when life is a swirl of activity and spilled orange juice, and the greatest problems seem to be syncing up nap times between babies and toddlers or figuring out when to take the 15 year old to a parking lot to learn to drive.

It helps to slow down to savor the intentional educational and sentimental moments.

But what about when there are added stresses?

I spoke at a local homeschool group once. As I explained how the Brave Writer philosophy worked (our non-workbook approach to things like spelling and grammar, the freedom in writing without a systematic schedule, fewer writing projects with more revisions), one mom raised her hand.

She asked, “How can I get my husband to accept this? He really wants proof that we are doing school and I don’t think he’ll accept this idea.”

My initial reaction startled her: “I don’t know your husband. So I don’t know if he’s a control freak or a nice guy you can talk to about stuff that matters to you. Will he listen?”

She laughed nervously. So did her friends in the audience.

I explained that I didn't know their dynamic together. I told her that I imagined he was likely a nice guy and if so, she could ask him to trust her home education research and hard work. I suggested she share our materials with him, that she send him to our website. She could suggest a Brave Writer podcast, if he was really concerned.

But then I pivoted and told her the truth: If he's a controller, none of that will help.

I could hear the nervous exhales.

We moved on that night because I’m in the writing business, and am not a marriage counselor. However, this is not an infrequent question and it’s a part of a larger context of difficulty in homeschooling. I can’t help your marriage or partnership. But I can talk about the stress that relationship issues create for you and what to do when homeschooling.

Parental Stress

Home education is unique in that it requires total responsibility taken by parents. 

That responsibility is even more difficult to manage when you’re not directly in charge of the decision-making. A parent who is not home to see you agonizing over websites, poring through borrowed materials from friends, and listening to your conversations at the park, may have a truncated view of how much education is happening in your home. If you have a relaxed learning style with your kids and your partner is a Type A “show me the results” kind of person, tension over what is the right way to home educate is likely.

Homeschool is deeply knitted to the atmosphere of the family and the marriage dynamic. A supportive context is essential for your kids. They make the most progress in their education when parents are on the same page because then the home educator isn’t trying to please someone else’s idea of learning even while secretly distrusting it. The best ways to foster this kind of shared philosophy are as diverse as healthy relationships.

Letting one person be fully in charge while the other gives lots of compliments, all the way to reading everything together and discussing all the possibilities until consensus is reached are two ends of the continuum.

Problems arise when one person has the responsibility and the other person has the control. That’s when homeschooling becomes a battleground. (Psst. It’s usually not the only battleground, either.)

It’s very hard to home educate when you’re pressured to perform a philosophy of education you don’t hold. It’s very hard to generate good feeling, hope, optimism, and attentiveness to your children’s specific interests and needs if you’re afraid that you’ll “get in trouble” for the methods you use to meet those needs.

Typically we pass stress along. So if you feel stressed by the pressure your partner puts on you to “perform,” you’ll transfer that stress to your kids. You’ll do it if you feel pressure from any source (your mom, your father-in-law, or the ghost of public school past that still haunts your imagination!).

If that unwieldy pressure comes from the person you rely on to be your biggest support, your closest confidant, and best friend, the level of disquiet you carry will be substantial, and naturally will transfer to the kids. This may be the reason they resist math or hate writing. They have internalized the conflict.

It matters that you take seriously your level of:

  • stress,
  • anxiety,
  • and feelings of pressure.

If the usual methods of problem solving don’t work between you and your spouse, it’s time to get help. Don’t wait. Professionals are trained to help you thrive and overcome these natural impasses. Your kids live in the atmosphere created all day long. Help it become one that feels more like a jacuzzi and less like an unheated pool.

Compromise is a normal part of a healthy partnership. Capitulation is not, and it leads to resentment. 

Need help keeping your relationship thriving while homeschooling your kids? Listen to our Brave Writer podcast with Leslie Gustafson! Leslie’s worked as a marriage and family therapist for over 25 years and is a homeschooling mother of a teenage son. 

If you truly can’t get to the same page philosophically after exhausting all the methods of conflict resolution, you may have to consider that homeschooling is not for you or for your kids. It may mean that your partnership is not capable of supporting the demands of home education. If that’s true, it’s okay.  Peace in the family is more important than homeschooling. 





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Julie Bogart
© 2021 Brave Writer LLC™

Brave Writer




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