No-dads homeschooling group


#1

I'm really struggling with something that shouldn't be a big deal, but I can't get past it. Our family is blessed to know a lot of Catholic families that homeschool. Our daughters are friends with their children, and many of these families are in a weekly Rosary prayer group for families with us. These Catholic families seem to belong primarily to two homeschool groups. The groups do a variety of activities, and have meetings on various topics related to homeschooling and home management on a regular basis. There are other homeschool groups in the area, but we don't know any of the people in them already.

My husband is a SAHD, and is going to homeschool our two 4-year-old daughters in kindergarten next year, to see how he does. He is really struggling with motivation and confidence, and possibly a hint of unnecessarily high expectations. These are normal problems for him, probably side effects of a mild but constant depressive disorder, and not directly related to homeschooling except that they make it, like almost everything in his life, more difficult. Like much of our lives, there is a tendency for me to need to provide him with lots of little pushes and encouragements to help him stay on top of things, and for me to take on large portions of the work directly, especially planning. I work full-time and we have a nursing baby, plus this tendency extends to home management, so I am already pretty overwhelmed. I really want to help my husband find a homeschool support group that can maybe help both of us with some of these difficulties.

The problem is, I either have to be the only one to attend the support meetings and take notes for him, or we have to find a non-Catholic group with people we don't know. Both of the local Catholic groups have "no Dads" rules at their meetings, even the one named after St. Joseph. We can both participate in the other activities, but it's the support groups that I think would really benefit him. I feel like their decision to have no men is shutting out my husband where he most needs someone's help. I wouldn't mind if this were special women's nights out, but this is the main way they homeschooling parents in this group get support. My husband is not Catholic, and I also worry about what he must think of their discrimination and what he might think this says about Catholicism in general.

There's a meeting tonight, and I'm not sure if I should go. I feel very hurt (irrationally so), even though I understand that the mothers probably just want to be able to talk about "girl topics" and to feel more comfortable. The topic is "Organization and scheduling", something which tends to fall onto my shoulders but which really needs to be my husband's job, and something we could use a lot of help with - but I really want my husband to be able to attend with me, so he can hear directly that other parents struggle with the same issues that he does. When I tell him his issues and concerns are pretty normal, he doesn't seem to believe me. I'm afraid I'll accidentally let some of the hurt slip out in sarcasm, or that I'll start crying in the middle of things - but I'm also afraid of not doing everything I can to support my husband and children in homeschooling. Having me take notes isn't ideal, but it might be better than nothing.

Any thoughts about how to get over these petty, irrational feelings of hurt? And how to get the most out of these meetings? Or do you think we should just give up, and go somewhere where DH can be at the support meetings himself? DH isn't confident or motivated enough to start a guys group, although there probably would be enough interest locally for a small group to form, and I don't think it's right for me to form a group like that even if our family really needs it.

Hrm, maybe I could offer childcare so that another local Dad could start a meeting that the guys could attend? I don't think making an offer like that would be overstepping. Thoughts?


#2

Have you discussed your situation and the rule with the moms in the existing group? Is your dh the only dad around who is the main educator of the homeschooled kids? Would the group be willing to make an exception to their rule in certain situations? Granted, our group isn't large or active enough to have support meetings, but I can't imagine why it is necessary to talk about "women-only" topics at a homeschool support meeting. At least to the point of refusing to offer support to a fellow homeschooler who otherwise meets your entry criteria. What about at the events planned for kids, like field trips or holy day parties? Are dads prohibited from those too? If so, it sounds like a group not worth belonging to.

If it is a vibrant group, it might not hurt to give this group another chance to welcome your dh. But otherwise, absolutely do what you need to to find a community that he is welcome in. Maybe start out looking for a secular group (which might be larger), and see if there are any men there. This other local dad - is he interested in starting a group? I don't know if you should volunteer him exactly, but your dh could approach him and ask if they could start something together. You offering to babysit is a wonderful idea. Good luck. It's a shame it can't be easier, but hopefully you'll find a solution that gives you the support you need.


#3

Oh gosh, this is a tough one.

First of all, I think it's wonderful that your husband is willing to take on the job of homeschooling your girls. It is a very tough job and I think we all suffer from feeling inadequate at some time or another, not only in home schooling but in parenting in general. I think for tonight, you should not attend the meeting but instead you should contact one or two heads of the group to see if an allowance can be made for your husband. If not, then maybe they would be willing to discuss what options he may have to get the support he needs from the group. I don't think it would be wise to attend their meeting if no one knows you're coming or what you want to discuss. The gentle way is always best. Having a stay at home husband home schooling the kids is not the norm for the majority of home school families so this makes yours unique. With the big waves of home schooling in the country, our Catholic home school groups will have to be willing to flex a little and make accommodations for different kinds of families such as ones with special needs and/or circumstances. In the group I am in, we have only one home school dad. It's not the status quo, but it has been done before.

All that being said, I think you have a sticky situation on your hands with a non-Catholic primary care giver also home schooling the kids. Is your husband also responsible for their at-home religious training in the Catholic faith? Do you think your husband would mind all the Catholic talk that will certainly go on in either of these home school groups? If the answer is yes, and you think he would feel like they were proselytizing him, he might actually be more comfortable in a Non-denominational home school group. There are many out there and it might be a good option for your husband if things don't work out with the Catholic groups.

I feel for your plight and I want you to know you're in my prayers tonight. Take every decision one step at a time. The most important thing is to preserve your faith and your marriage.

God Bless!
Elizabeth


#4

Yes. Not all of them, but several.

No, this is the second time it’s come up, and there’s another local dad who shares responsibility equally (he’s home 2 days a week, his wife is home 3 days, IIRC).

Not at this point.

DH’s theory is that the women are using homeschooling to justify to themselves a chance to get some “girl talk” time. He’s actually much more understanding of it than I am.

No, just these meetings. The vast majority of the events are for both, which is why this really shouldn’t be that big of a sticking point for me.

I’ve heard a couple of guys mention that they wanted such a group, and had considered starting one. DH isn’t going to approach anyone, unfortunately. He’s struggling too much with the emotional side of things to feel like any good can come out of such things. I’m feeling a lot better now that I thought about offering to babysit . . . or God sparked the idea :wink: I think a lot of the hurt for me was feeling powerless to help DH because of what seems like a rather exclusive rule. Having something I can do to work around the problem is a big help.

No. That will be part of my homeschooling work. He might give them coloring sheets or direct them to religious ed. materials, but won’t be actively teaching religion.

No. He knows most of the families already because he comes with the kids and I to the Rosary prayer group each Wednesday, which is really more of a family support-and-chat group. There won’t be any Catholic talk in this group that he hasn’t heard before. He’d actually be less comfortable in a non-denominational group, as he is agnostic, and they (in our experience) would be less likely to be welcoming / non-proselytizing.

I think I’m over my little hissy fit. Thanks, you’ve both been a big help :slight_smile: I think I will go tonight. They know I’m coming (and this isn’t the first time I’ve been invited), and they probably will have some good ideas for things I can do as the spouse of a homeschooling parent to help him get organized enough to feel confident in the quality of our children’s education. Plus, I’m hoping that by going, maybe I can indirectly show them through my questions how much more helpful the group could be for us if the primary homeschooling parent could attend. If they understand that homeschooling dads can be dealing with fear of failure and insecurity despite their gruff, masculine exteriors (and DH is very much the strong silent type), maybe they’ll have a different perspective on their rules and how they affect the excluded parents and their families.

We’ve looked around online for different groups, but DH is reticent enough about getting involved with a group (even though he knows it would be a good thing to do) that trying to get our family involved with a group without anyone we already know seems like an overwhelming chore to me right now. I wish DH could drive some of these issues and help solve them, but I understand that he has a lot to cope with that makes these problems difficult and discouraging for him. I’m just trying to do the best I can without taking on too much, and leaving the rest in God’s hands

And thanks for the prayers! Undoubtedly they are already helping, and are a large part of my quick change of heart :slight_smile:


#5

Is he on antidepressant medication? This might need to be addressed. Remember how fragile the male ego is (and how they are so hesitant to admit it, given that fragility). :o


#6

So, really, they are "homeschooling mom" groups, not homeschooling groups.

I would go to a secular or non-Catholic group - and I would be pretty ticked off about it too.


#7

[quote="LongJourney, post:5, topic:215886"]
Is he on antidepressant medication? This might need to be addressed. Remember how fragile the male ego is (and how they are so hesitant to admit it, given that fragility). :o

[/quote]

We've tried to work with counselors twice, and ran out of money before the counselors got anywhere. We've had better luck working on our own :( We only paid off the bill for the last attempt this morning, more than a year after the sessions. I'm not sure what happened, really, but I think DH basically didn't think he was depressed at the time and ended up with a bad match for counselors who really thought he was just lazy, and he was too lacking in self-confidence to try and say otherwise.

We'll probably try again once finances get patched up, but we're actually coping pretty well right now. The problem is, we're literally coping, i.e., using strategies to work around his weak points rather than getting the underlying problem fixed. I think this is actually helping, though, because avoiding things that make him fail helps him stay positive (not surprisingly :) ) and I'm hoping that will give his brain a rest from negativity long enough to start producing the chemicals most people have that help them stay hopeful and optimistic.


Anyways, I did go to the meeting tonight.  I got some good ideas, and wrote down some quotes from the other moms.  It sounds like DH is doing better than I even realized, and I got a few good ideas to pass on.  The best for our situation was, "Don't plan what you're doing, write down what you did."

#8

My husband and I are planning to homeschool our kids at least through elementary school (I'm licensed to teach through 6th grade), and it's kind of sad to know that some homeschool groups purposefully exclude dads. :( I can understand wanting to have "girl talk" and that some women don't feel comfortable around men, but really, what good does it do to bar a dad who just wants to help his kids from coming? And then they'll complain that dads never help out. :rolleyes:

I've lived with depression for about 10 years now, and I understand what your husband is going through. Some days or even weeks I can't figure out the point of going on living. It's hard sometimes, and I sometimes wonder if I really know what it means to be happy.
If it's depression, I think your husband ought to see a psychiatrist instead of a counselor. Counselors will only talk with you and if you get a bad one, you'll be paying hundreds of dollars for basically nothing. A psychiatrist can give medicine and is covered by insurance. I hope your husband would agree to go, because being on or off meds is like the difference between night and day. I am sure he will not regret taking them if he can just get started in the first place.


#9

I am sure he will not regret taking them if he can just get started in the first place.

If you are hesitant about the chemical aspects and expense of seeing a psychiatrist, he could try St. John's Wort. It is natural, doesn't require a prescription. If it helps, then maybe he would be willing to try something more--- modern. ;)


#10

[quote="LongJourney, post:9, topic:215886"]
If you are hesitant about the chemical aspects and expense of seeing a psychiatrist, he could try St. John's Wort. It is natural, doesn't require a prescription. If it helps, then maybe he would be willing to try something more--- modern. ;)

[/quote]

Do NOT just try it. "Herbal" drugs can have a whopper/opposite affect than intended. Dr Ray Guarendi suggests looking into catholictherapists.com. Although they are mostly Psychotherapists (ie.. not MD's so can't prescribe RX's), Some do call only consults and they can tell if there are underlying problems thus referrals to shrinks.

Please tell your DH that mine was hoping to work from home part time and homeschool all our kids. He would have been wonderful at it. But instead I'm home and unable/completely uninterested in homeschooling. Maybe your DH needs to start the Homeschooling Dads thread here and start a meetup group for it. Also, search Facebook and Google. I pray he doesn't feel so isolated in the near future.

IMHO, I would not attend any group, Catholic or otherwise, that I or my family felt excluded from. I'd rather spend the free time in from of the Tabernacle, asking for the next step.

Blessings!


closed #11

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