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No. 5

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The Last Word
Thoughts From Mike Smith
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How to Have the Best School Year Yet

With homeschooling back in high gear, I would normally address my remarks to homeschooling moms to encourage you to have another great year. This time, however, I would like to address homeschooling dads, with an emphasis on making this the best school year ever.

The premise of my remarks is an old saying: “If mom’s happy, everybody’s happy. If mom’s not happy, everybody’s unhappy.”

J. Michael Smith, President of Home School Legal Defense Association.

First, dads, let me say that I am very proud of you and your participation in your family’s homeschool program. In 1982, I gave my first address at a homeschool conference, held at a large church in southern California. To my surprise there were at least 500 people gathered in the church. However, just about all of them were homeschool moms and potential homeschool moms. It appeared to me that homeschooling was a mothers’ movement.

Over the years, I’ve seen fathers’ attendance at homeschool conventions dramatically increase. Realistically, moms still do the majority of the actual teaching, but more and more fathers are taking their role seriously. I estimate that at the last conference I attended (in Idaho), 40% of the audience was homeschool fathers. These fathers have accepted their role as principal of their homeschool and number-one cheerleader for their wife.

Men, to help us do a better job of supporting our wives in successfully carrying out our homeschool program, I want to share with you what wives wish their husbands knew about homeschooling. The following list represents a consensus of things that homeschool moms have shared with my wife at various conferences over the last 15 years.

  • Understand that Mom’s scenery never changes, and this can be stressful. Dad typically goes to a whole new set of adult relationships and surroundings every day.
  • The whole world can see the results of a mom’s homeschooling, and moms feel the intense pressure of this fact.
  • Moms need some time each week to regroup, listen to themselves think, and just be alone for a while. During a typical homeschool day, Mom probably hasn’t talked to another adult at all. Meaningful adult communication meets a basic emotional need of our wives.
  • Our wives want to know that we will support them in the decisions they made that day regarding our children’s education, discipline, and training.

Based upon the above, and my experience with my own wife, the best support we can give to our wives as homeschooling moms is simply to be the best husbands we can be, taking into consideration the uniqueness of the pressure that a homeschooling wife is under.

How do we show love to our wives? We can show our affection with hugs and compliments. We can help with the dishes and take the kids out of the house on Saturday. So many of the things that encourage our wives are also things that we, as men, easily overlook.

All of this love and affection is not based upon receiving anything in return; the love that Christ modeled for husbands was unconditional. Moms have expressed that a simple hug means that they are important to us, that we’re concerned about their problems, and that we think they're doing a good job. If they get all of that from one hug, men, let’s specialize in hugging.

Focusing solely on the homeschool side, we as men should assume the responsibility of being the principal of our homeschool. We’re responsible, just as a principal is, for everything that takes place in that school. Because we’re responsible, we have to be knowledgeable. We are interested in how our children are doing and supportive of the teacher in the process. As the principal, we are the bottom line for discipline. I want to suggest that in this area we have one clear rule: Disrespect of mom will be the most serious offense in the household, and each child needs to know ahead of time what the consequence will be.

Moms, as tempting as it may be to use this article against your husband, don’t! You may encourage him to read it, but remember that he needs to receive the same humble encouragement and constructive support from you that you want from him.

In conclusion, my prayer for both husbands and wives is that we’ll all be working toward a one-flesh relationship—one that expresses mutual love and respect and a recognition that we cannot be satisfied with a lousy marriage. It is not enough to be committed to “no divorce.” We need to be committed to loving and mutually serving one another. This type of marriage will give couples the greatest opportunity to carry out God’s mandate to raise our children up in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord until Jesus returns. And, dads, your initiative in loving your wife may be the key step to a great marriage and the best school year ever!