Question: “So my husband and I decided when my daughter was born that we were going to homeschool her because we didn’t like the public school systems where we live, but now I want change that plan and send her to public school. I work full time and my husband is a stay-at-home father. We have two children, a 6-year-old and a 10-month-old. My 6-year-old is now a first grader, and I feel like she is not learning like she should be. I am so stressed from work that I hardly have time to help her with homework when I get home. My husband is taking care of the baby all day and can’t help her either.
Lately he’s been resorting to giving her ultimatums. For example, ‘If you don’t read a whole book by the end of the month you’re going to be in trouble.’ That’s going to make her hate learning. I’ve brought public school up once but he fought tooth-and-nail, arguing she is not going to a public school. I pointed out that we are both too busy to really help and are short tempered with her when she doesn’t get certain subjects. I want to bring it up again, but I’m just afraid he’s going to yell and fight me on it again. I’ve even thought about going behind his back and putting her in school, but that would most likely end in divorce. Any advice on how to handle this situation?”
Answer: While there are pros and cons to both homeschooling and public schooling, based on your assessment of the situation, it sounds like your daughter’s educational needs are not being met at home. You’re correct that from a child development standpoint, threatening her with ultimatums or getting frustrated when she doesn’t understand a certain subject is not productive. Those actions can cause issues like decreased confidence, fear of failure, anxiety and other psychosocial problems.
By sending your daughter to public school, she may be given the opportunity to make friends with a diverse group of children, improve social skills, develop more independence and join extracurricular activities you and your husband can’t offer. This type of learning environment may also provide more structure and attention for your daughter, which if your husband is busy with your 10-month-old, he may not be able to provide. Additionally, I’m not sure of either of your educational backgrounds, but I personally feel that teaching is no easy task. By enrolling your daughter in a public school, she will be provided with the support of a teacher who has been trained to help children learn.
There is clearly a reason your husband is so vehemently against your proposed changes to her schooling, and he may be justified in his fear or disapproval. If you continue to feel strongly that your daughter needs this change, I would try to have a calm conversation to understand where his feelings are coming from. Set ground rules for the discussion to keep it as civil as possible and enable the most effective communication. Start by asking your husband if he would be open to simply touring the local school district. This may change his perspective a bit and offer you more opportunity to discuss how this could be a good decision for her future. You can also remind him that if it doesn’t work out, you can easily resume homeschooling.
I wouldn’t recommend going behind his back, and I suggest you avoid that as best you can. That being said, sometimes we have to make tough decisions and strongly advocate in the best interest of those we love and are responsible to care for.
Best of luck,
Morgan Absher is an occupational therapist in Los Angeles who hosts the podcast, “Two Hot Takes” where she and her co-hosts dish out advice. She writes a weekly column, sharing her advice with USA TODAY’s readers. Find her on TikTok @twohottakes and YouTube here. You can reach her by email at [email protected] or you can click here to share your story with her.