When the Going Gets Tough

By Elizabeth Smith

Home School Speaker and Writer

The role of the father is paramount to the success and well being of the home-schooling mother.

This points up the importance for home-schooling mothers to try to find soothing avenues of relief from the long-term pressures they experience. There are several ways to gather the strength and encouragement to continue.

The role of the father in the home is paramount to the success and well being of Mom’s frame of mind as she home schools. Dads need to be hands-on in parenting and truly tuned in to their wives. They need to listen well and seek out ways to lessen the burden. It may be giving Mom one day out a week to help relieve constant demands from the children, or getting the kids up in the morning, breakfasted, and ready for “school.” It might be back rubs, verbal encouragement, or other signs of affection and support. Dad should remember that he may be the only grown-up Mom has talked to all day.

Perhaps the most important thing Dad can do is enforce respect for Mom in the home. Any sign of disrespect/disobedience toward Mom should be dealt with seriously and consistently. Husbands should always show deference and respect to their wives and require the children to do the same. Husbands should ask for specific ways they can help and encourage at home. And wives should openly share the burdens they carry as home-school moms to help their husbands better understand the pressure they feel.

Home-schooling moms need contact with other home-schooling mothers. This can be in chat rooms on home-schooling Web sites, phone conversations, participating in local home-school support groups, or reading home-schooling newsletters and magazines. Spending time with other moms in the same situation can be a great encouragement. It is easy to overlook support group involvement, but it is truly one of the best things a mom can do for herself and her family during the home-school years.

Many home-school moms will tell you that they grew as Christians during the home-school years. The nature of what we are doing requires us to cry out for help, and the Lord is there to meet our needs.

As we realize that we are almost solely responsible for the human beings our children are becoming, and that our love for our children gives us an urgent desire to see them succeed, we also realize that we are largely powerless to make this happen. For the strength we need each day, and for the patience and creative ideas to train our children effectively, prayer is our closest ally. Mom needs to find a little time each day to spend in God’s Word and prayer.

Sometimes Christians feel pressure to have it all together, or think that to admit they are struggling is a sign of weakness. The apostle Paul declared that when he was weak, he was strong, because in his honesty and humility, God became his strength (2 Corinthians 12:9). If you need help, feel overwhelmed, or become depressed for a prolonged period of time, share it with your husband, a friend, or your family doctor.

Elizabeth Smith is the wife of Michael Smith, President of Home School Legal Defense Association. Elizabeth and Mike home schooled their children for 15 years. Elizabeth is on the Board of Directors for the Family Foundation of Virginia and the Madison Project, and on the Advisory Board of Breakthrough International Ministries. Elizabeth speaks at women’s retreats and at home school conferences throughout the country.