by Mike McHugh
In most home school programs, the major share of the teaching burden falls to mom. In fact, it may safely be said that in a significant number of cases the major burden of most everything domestically speaking ends up with mom, or at least with an older sibling under the mother’s direction. The act of home education, if done properly, is anything but easy. It will put any parent, and therefore any marriage relationship to the test. The commitment of home schooling will often magnify the administrative, academic, emotional, and physical weaknesses of the person who is in charge of “keeping it all together.” Although it is certainly true that many home school fathers help where and when they can, such dads are often too focused on finding fault with the very one who is carrying most of the water.
One key to enable home school dads to move beyond the all too human habit of fault finding, is for them to fully comprehend that their wife’s progress as a human being, or lack thereof, is a direct reflection upon himself. As Ephesians 5:28-30 so aptly puts it, “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” The message of Ephesians chapter five challenges both the husband and wife to live in the reality that they are joint heirs of the grace of life; to understand that God has given them in the covenant of marriage a sacred and solemn duty to nourish each other, as Christ nourishes His church.
The church of Jesus Christ has the privilege of being loved by a God who is patient when provoked, thinks no evil toward His people, and who never stops working sacrificially on their behalf. This model of sacrificial love is of such a high order that God himself chose to lift it up as the pattern and standard by which all husbands and wives could obtain a blessed union together. No marriage relationship, including those within the home school community, can hope to prosper while ignoring the imperative of sacrificial love, a love that alone can cover a multitude of sins, as well as a steady diet of human faults and failings. All this to say, thank God that He does not love us only in proportion to our daily performance!
Home school husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loved the church. This has never been easy for husbands, (nor I dare say for most wives to submit to imperfect headship) nor will it likely ever be under heaven. In the end, however, it is the husband’s duty to pick up his cross and to follow his Master’s bidding by taking the initiative to love his wife. Ephesians five, as well as other passages of Scripture, make it clear that husbands are the ones who have been given the ultimate responsibility to relate to their wives in a loving manner. The principal duty or calling of the wife is to respectfully respond to her husband’s imperfect efforts at love for the sake of Christ, even when she does not feel like it.
The bottom line is that home school moms are standing in the need of a steady dose of encouragement and praise from their husbands, and also from children who are willing to arise and call their mother blessed. (Proverbs 31:28) Home school husbands may not be able to do the majority of the teaching in a home school, and most wives have little trouble comprehending why. A notable number of wives, however, are likely finding it very hard to comprehend why their husbands seldom have the law of kindness on their tongues, and so little praise on their lips for all that is done for them each week. I guess the old adage is true, that “the tongue is the deadliest of all blunt instruments.”
As one who has been involved in home education circles for nearly thirty years, it has been my observation that more home school moms fail for lack of encouragement than for any other reason. May Almighty God help more home school husbands to renew their efforts to provide their wives with the loving support and encouragement that they need to persevere in their calling as both helpmate and teacher.
Copyright 2008 Michael J. McHugh
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