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How to Balance Homeschool, Parenting, and Marriage

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So, how do you balance homeschool, parenting, and marriage? What a great question. It's part of our 100+ questions on homeschooling. I'll tell you, this is not as difficult as it sounds. The problem is when we don't understand two simple things. One is balance and the other is hierarchy. Okay, so balance. Balance is the right amount of the right thing.

My name is Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand and my wife, Jody and I mentor families in how to raise independent thinkers, independent homeschoolers. Well, there's nothing more valuable in all of this than a mom and dad getting their mind and trying to produce an outcome how this stuff balances, homeschool, parenting, and marriage.

So first, balance. What is balance? A lot of times we tend to think balance is 50/50. We do this for a certain amount of time. We should balance it with something else. You've read this long, you should go outside and play this long, you might say. That's not exactly the nature of balance. Balance is the right amount of the right thing. So, soup, you don't want it to be 50% salt, but some salt or flavor in the soup really helps dramatically rather than if you have unsalted V-8 Juice or something like that. So, it's the right amount. So, the right amount of attention to homeschool, the right amount of attention to parenting, the right amount of attention to marriage, that would be the nature of the game.

Now, circumstances can affect us. When people are deployed, for example, overseas, it's hard to spend that much time on the marriage, as it were. But that notwithstanding, in the normal day to day nature of things, what we want to understand is first, it's balance, the right amount of the right thing. You get to sort of figure that out, how much attention to homeschool, how much attention to parenting, how much attention to marriage, how those things overlap. But the second is hierarchy, and that is what you value first, second, third, and how you put that together is going to affect everything. If you have a family system where the homeschool is ahead of the marriage, it's going to take a certain look. If you have a homeschool in which a parenting, whatever you understand that to be, is the dominant thing over the marriage and homeschool, it's going to have a certain look.

I'm going to argue with you that from a leveraging viewpoint, the small-but-powerful thing is that the marriage is the priority. I know this comes as difficult information, because I know marriages have struggles. Jody and I coach couples and have done that for decades: and we have worked through our own challenges in marriage as well. No one's saying it's easy. And I know in particular the readers I'm talking to right now, are predominantly women. You moms are the ones who predominantly homeschool. That's just a fact. You may not know this, but in the divorce world 70% of the divorces statistically are initiated by the women. So, that kind of tells me something is amiss or strugglesome (and the women are often the more stressed) This may or may not be the case your marriage. The question is how do you get your marriage to be as good as it can be? When the marriage works, the parenting starts to work too; and that gives you room for the homeschooling to work. That would be the sequence.

You have a (1) good marriage and (2) good parenting, so you're a (3) great fit for homeschooling. If you're using homeschooling to make up for the parenting and the marriage, you're going to have struggles.

So, the reason it works this way, as you can imagine when you were a kid, if your mom and dad actually were secure in their love and creating an environment which you didn't ever think, “Are they going to get divorced?”--- that world gave you a context for growth as a child. I know both Jody and I had those struggles growing up, worries when our parents were conflicting. My parents did finally divorce though Jody's didn't. But those kinds of insecurities on the child will drive some acting out, some struggles, or some distractions and stress of various kinds. So that kind of marriage, just from a safety viewpoint, creates a context of something awesome in the family.

The challenge here, I think, is that when we come around to parenting and homeschooling, we tend to think 50/50. So, dads should be 50% involved. Moms should be 50% involved or something like that. It's never going to work that way. Somebody is going to be better at certain things than the other. Somebody is going to be available for more of the full-time context. It's not uncommon for the dads to work and the moms to have that great gift of nurture. So, I would say that's probably very traditional in homeschools, but not unique. In our context, I did a lot with homeschool but Jody certainly did that greater portion, especially in the early years. She was home with them and focused on growing the kids; that was OUR game plan.

So, how about you and your marriage and your homeschool and your parenting? I'd argue it needs to work as follows. Work on the marriage. You do that largely by what you model and focus upon. Is the marriage the priority? How do you show that to the kids? Do you two ever go out without the kids or spend any time alone without the kids? Is it a family room and a family bed and a family everything? If you do that, you're making no distinction to marriage. And in my experience, you're not modeling to the kids to go out and to be independent, to find themselves a spouse, to build their family. That's really what you want to do. Of course, I realize you might be a single parent homeschooling, but doesn’t the principle hold? If your ex is in the kid’s lives, then the better that relationship, the better for the kids. Aim for peace and cooperation always, even if you can’t have it.

Jody and I would model it this way: Our bedroom is not for the kids. That was our place. Our focus was to let that be our place, and they can wonder what went on or not; and hopefully, we came out happy from being in there. It was a refuge. It was our place. At the kitchen table, we didn't sit across from each other because that's oppositional. We sat beside each other. In church, we would sit by each other and put the kids around us on either side, not corralling the kids between us. It was just our understanding. But in doing that, we were saying to the kids, our marriage is central to this thing. And so, figuring out how to make sure we spend time together, to learn how to resolve things together, to learn how to be like-minded about homeschooling and parenting together. That's the key. It's the centerpiece of the marriage. And if you don't have kids aren’t you still have a family? Marriage is family and kids are added for a time. That's the game.

So, what I would challenge you to understand is that whatever you need to do, you began by making the marriage the priority. And then inside of that, you're like-minded about how you approach parenting, what are you modeling to the kids, what are your standards of what you're trying to do. And then, inside of that, the homeschool game can begin to make sense. I hope that helps.

Fred Ray Lybrand

P.S. This topic of parenting and marriage is fully covered in our book, The Absolute Quickest Way to Help Your Child Change.


So, how about you and your marriage and your homeschool and your parenting? I'd argue it needs to work as follows. Work on the marriage.

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Jordan Peterson Rule #5

I want to a comment a little bit on Jordan Peterson’s principle from his book about the 12 Rules for Life concerning children. His thought on rule Number 5 is “You don’t want to allow your kids to do anything that will cause you to dislike them (I think ‘hate’ for emphasis from my experience as a counselor)”. 

He could soften it or stretch it or whatever he’d like to do, but he said it the way he did perhaps for a really good reason. I’m not only inclined to agree with him, but I've kind of been saying that for about 22 years or more. Here’s the point; he understands, as I understand, that you’re not a saint and when you allow your children to do things which you don’t like, you’re going to come around to being frustrated with them. I think he would say you ‘take revenge’. He also observed, and he’s right, that other people are not going to like what your child does either. But we live in a world where we think we can’t do anything as parents. We’re kind of into fads and trends and we think these little crazy creatures that have been given to us are just ‘how they are’ and there’s nothing you can do. Well back 22 years ago I wrote a little book called The Absolute Quickest Way to Help Your Child Change” and in there I basically say, “Hey! You can help your child change. It’s based on principles that we can find in the universe and amazingly and wonderfully you actually have a creature that is desiring this guidance!” What we tend to do is not understand that these babies want us, whether they realize it or not, to guide them. They’re not qualified, they’re not adults yet, they don’t know anything. That’s what we’re doing here; we’re wanting to guide and shape and develop their behavior. We don’t take away freedom that way, we actually empower them.

In my 2014 release I put four questions together that let you look at behavior in a fresh way:

  1. What do I see?
  2. What do I want to see?
  3. How am I encouraging what I see?
  4. How can I encourage what I want to see and discourage everything else?

I’ll walk others through these questions and Peterson does the same kind of thing because it’s profoundly ‘common-sensical’ --based on one fundamental thing he and I share in common; we think this universe is designed, that there’s design for maleness, there’s design for femaleness, and there’s a design for things like personality and the way things function. Because of those designs we can actually anticipate and work with principles. That is where the secret is if you are inclined to awaken and continue to add momentum to life. In parenting, you’re going to see the opportunity to structure things around your child so they really learn.

You already use this principle innocently and perfectly with language. If you’re from Alabama like I am (I now live in Texas and I don’t think it sounds much different) or if you’re Jordan Peterson and you’re from Canada, you can see they say cool things up there or down under or in the UK or who cares, true? What you need to know is language has been a subtle reward-and-discourage training that you do with your children. When they say something in a proper way you give them what they want. When they say it in an improper way you correct them or you don’t know what they’re talking about. In this way they learn to pronounce and communicate properly in that context, in that dialect, and so they can master language in the region they’re in… so that they actually can circumnavigate life well. That’s what training is and it works with language, so why not do it with [other] behaviors? You have a great future out there, but please equip your child with some self-discipline. It comes from the outside first and then they internalize it. Look at Peterson’s book. Look at my book. Think for yourself. Grow a kid who can do the same. Bless you.

Episode 105: Valuing Logic

Logic is important for your kids as they grow. Frankly, if they don’t learn to make sense of things, they are going to have a tough time in this world. The makeup of humans helps, as they start arguing around 12 years old (known as the Logic/Dialectic Stage in Classical Education). Really, there isn’t that much to logic…but there is enough to demand we think clear about it! Today’s podcast will get you started 🙂

TODAY’S PODCAST CONTENT:

  1. Value of logic
  2. Importance of logic to parents and kids
  3. Bad premise, bad conclusion

Additional Resources:

  1. The Only 2 Reasons a Teenager Rebels
  2. Why Having a Best Friend is a Bad Idea!
  3. Free Mini Writing Course

 

Episode 104: Romance, Dating, & Courting

One of my mentors, Robert Fritz, pointed out to us that ‘romance’ is really based on the unusual. Of course, that means that our ideas about relating can get messed up because most of life is about the usual, true? It’s the math of relationships that helps us out…realizing it’s an equation when two people agree or disagree allows us to respect one another’s freedom.  Understanding this math is especially important for our kids, since they are in a world of constant decision about who they befriend and what they do together.

TODAY’S PODCAST CONTENT:

  1. More about Romance
  2. Math of Relationship
  3. Two Essentials: For a lasting marriage (please use while dating / courting too)

Additional Resources:

  1. The Only 2 Reasons a Teenager Rebels
  2. Why Having a Best Friend is a Bad Idea!
  3. Free Mini Writing Course

 

Moms and Dads Make a Difference by being Different

In this tense, sexual equality world, we are having a hard time talking about differences between men and women, which sadly keeps us from seeing what makes men men, and women women. Just because there are differences, it doesn't mean either is inferior as a person.

This issue explodes when it comes to how moms and dads affect the family. We are so busy trying to pretend we don't need each other and children are just fine with a single parent, that we don't really appreciate the amazing impact a Mom and Dad can have together.

Are we saying kids are hopeless without two parents? NOPE...but we are saying that God's preferred parenting plan includes a Dad and a Mom (who are actively involved). Here are a few thoughts that might help:

Fred Ray Lybrand​​​​​​

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How to Get Your Kids to Stop Fighting (with each other)

The most important thing for mom and dad to discover about their own kids fighting with one another is that mom and dad are ALSO PART OF THE PROBLEM.

If you are not aware of systems, then you'll tend to miss the different factors that contribute to what's happening.

Basically, how you respond to sibling rivalry determines how they fight. There are TWO WAYS to respond (essentially)...this video helps you choose a new path, if you're up for a change in family conflicts 🙂

Off to learn,

Fred Ray Lybrand​

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Want Mature Kids? Dump the Rules and Add ________________!

Yes, we need rules for little ones. But as they age, rules don't help grow wise-and-mature young men and women. In this quick video I explain why building principles into your children is far more important than getting keeping them under the rules of the house.

Off to learn,

Fred Ray Lybrand​

I'd love to hear your comments or answer your questions

How to Use Movies to Teach Your Family Values

Often we avoid movies with our kids, especially we who homeschool. Honestly, that can be smart with some movies...but you could also be missing out on an opportunity to learn and prepare your kids for life in this world. This video shows you how we approached movies with our kids.

Off to learn,

Fred Ray Lybrand​

I'd love to hear your comments or answer your questions

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Why Having a Best Friend is a Bad Idea!

Even as technology isolates us more, and tries to connect us (think FaceBook), there are other things that really interfere with having great relationships. One of these things is the "Best Friends" idea. Like most ideals, it sounds great to think there is that one close buddy who is there through thick-and-thin. The truth is that we humans do better with multiple relationships rather than just a single one (what pressure!). Here's a way to rethink this important area for your kids [and yourself?].

Off to learn,

Fred Ray Lybrand​

I’d love to hear your comments or answer your questions

Mistake: Trying to Raise Happy Kids

Parents often misunderstand cause and effect. Just because a kid is happy, it doesn't mean she will be when she grows up. We really need to aim at raising happy adults...which leads to a pretty good childhood too!

Off to learn,

Fred Ray Lybrand

I’d love to hear your comments or answer your questions

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