Monday, November 27, 2006

Dads - Part 5

Next in the series on how Dads (or at least the Dad at our house) participate in the education of their children. (If you missed it, here's Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4)

I originally started this series as "How Dads Participate in Homeschooling". As time went on I shorted it to just "Dads." Many, if not all of the things on my list, could apply to dads regardless of homeschooling.

So, now back to my list.

5) Dad covers Mom's blind spot

This is also a polite way of saying that Dad reigns Mom in so she doesn't turn into the Wicked Witch of the West.

Not to sound sexist, but women can be more emotional and volatile then men. If I over react to something, Henry gives me the "Honey, you're going over the edge" look. He gently reminds me what is really important.

At our house, Henry is the unflappable one. In 14 years of marriage, I think he has raised his voice (slightly) maybe 3 times. I'm not one to yell, but I do get frustrated and show it.

Here's an example: A week ago, we invited some friends over for dinner. The kids were in charge of the food. I had planned a simple menu (a potato bar) and given the girls instructions. They were supposed to wash, stab with a fork, wrap the potatoes in foil and put them in the oven which I had preheated. I set them to the task and went to do something in another room. About 45 minutes before our guests are to arrive, I went into the kitchen to start the girls on the other preparations.

I was stunned to find that the potatoes, nicely wrapped in foil, sitting on top of the stove. The girls had never put them in the oven. This was when I got upset. I called the girls in and began to lecture them along the lines of "How did you think the potatoes were going to get cooked sitting on the kitchen counter?" By this time, a few of the kids were near tears.

This was when Henry gave me the look. I kept going back to "What were you thinking? You need to think things through better." He gave me the look again and I let it go even though I was no where near done venting.

For a historical reference point, in my maternal grandparents home, the worst thing you could do was something that showed lack of thought. Showing how smart you are was everything. So, this kind of mistake really gets to me. Henry gave me a short parenting pep talk and I forced myself to calm down.

Dinner was a little bit late, but everything was fine. And, more importantly, I hadn't damaged the emotional well being of my children.

This brings to mind something our former therapist once said. Part of a good marriage is trusting that your spouse can see something you can't see.

In homeschooling as in any other parenting endeavor, it is easier when both parents actively participate. One person can't see and be everything. Each parent has unique strengths and perspective to add as a result of their different personalities, experiences, talents and genders.

As I was writing this post, I asked Henry if he knew what math program we used. He gave me a blank look, and after a moments pause said "....a..... I don't know, Saxon maybe."

He had an equally blank look when asked about spelling. He trusts that I am taking care of that. As long as the girls learn how to learn, he doesn't really care what they learn.

The only thing Henry has every asked me when he comes home from work is "Did you study the scriptures today?" I know there will be someone who reads that who will think, "Oh, they're one of those religious nuts who are trying to brainwash their children at the expense of their education....."

This is not to say that math and spelling are not important. We do want our children to be successful in academic endeavors. However, in the end, if our children grow up to discover the cure for cancer but they have gone over to the dark side, their lives and our efforts will have been wasted.

Henry puts his efforts into developing their character and intellect. While these things are important to me too, I'm distract by the day to day details of homeschooling to give them my full attention. Henry doesn't worry about the day to day details because I do.

His contributions are harder to define. He introduces the girls to good literature, takes the girls to eat at various ethnic restaurants, and does odd projects like build a maze for our rats.

Recently our twelve year old daughter became very interested in cooking. She would spend hours looking at cook books and trying out new recipes. I was concerned that she wasn't spending enough time on "school work." Henry's advice was to leave her alone as long as she was learning. I'm so glad we did. While cooking skills won't show up on the SAT test, she will need to eat for the rest of her life.

In a way, Dad is the ultimate unschooler. Together, Dad and Mom make a pretty good team.

Next, see Dads Part 6.

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Anonymous said...

What would we do without Dads to balance us? I think what you describe is quite universal. Great post.

Homeschool Help Web said...

LOL, sounds like me and my husband, except we seem to take turns with who is the Wicked Witch at any given moment. Seems like the things that set him off, I stay calm about, and when I go bonkers, he's the calm one. I guess we've got that good cop/bad cop thing down to a science. ;-) I was so shocked the other night when our daughter did something wrong (thoughtlessness causing delay for everyone) and we BOTH handled it calmly! LOLOL

Janine Cate said...

Thanks for the nice feed back.

Anonymous said...

I believe this kind of balancing act is common--perhaps it is the reason for the saying that opposites attract?
I definitely believe it is a good thing to have!