Homeschooling while depressed/during marriage conflict - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 24 Old 06-12-2007, 07:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Have any of you homeschooled or even unschooled when life was throwing curveballs at you..depression, conflict in your marriage, death in the family or anything of the like?

This past year I put my dd in school mid-way through the year because I was very stressed over a crisis in my marriage and I was depressed. In order to shelter my oldest from the emotional climate at home(since she is more aware of these things), I put her in school. School's out and I want to return to homeschooling (though more of an unschooling approach this time) and I'm nervous about the "what-ifs". School was more of a daycare for us in this situation and it turns out my dd doesn't like it anyway. My marriage is much calmer but there are still rocks in the road, so to speak and I'm just worried that I will have to put her in school again at some point in the next year. I wanted my children to have a stable life. They have been through too many adjustments already being part of a blended family. I'm trying to gain strength and momentum now that things have calmed down. It's all those "what ifs" that I can't escape.

Can anyone relate at all?

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#2 of 24 Old 06-12-2007, 07:32 PM
 
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I wish lots of strength for you, mama. I have had some form of depression all of my life (seems like), and I unschool my kids. I work very hard to control my moods with good nutrition and exercise. That being said, having other life stresses can be incredibly challenging. If you think you could use the experiences to grow with your little one, keeping communication (of appropriate matters, of course) going, she may grow with you and learn good things about handling stress and emotional onslaughts.
I can certainly relate to your concerns...it can be a rough road having kids home all the time in a stress-filled home.

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#3 of 24 Old 06-12-2007, 07:37 PM
 
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I don't know if I am going to be much help, I've continued to homeschool through some rough things the past year. Ds3 was born shortly after we started and Ds2 (2 years old) has delays and is mostly likely on the autism spectrum, it's been a big adjustment for the family and certain things make homeschooling harder like constant appointments, therapy, tests, and not being able to go certain places because they aren't safe for ds2. DS1 hated school and I feel like whatever is going on at home if I were to send him back to ps it would really only complicate the issue and make him feel banished. My advice is, if you choose to continue homeschooling make a solid decision not to send her back to ps mid-year, that way you don't have to worry about things changing so much.
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#4 of 24 Old 06-12-2007, 07:45 PM
 
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I think homeschooling is great, if you can devote time, energy, and planning to do it. If you can't, I don't see anything wrong with sending a kid to school. Let's face it, it's over by 3 o'clock, it lends structure to the day, and it takes the burden of planning and prep off of the mama. Unschooling is just another name for the kind of intensive parenting that so many AP mamas do, and there's still time for that when the school day or week is over.

Lots of times kids pick up on their parent's ambivalence--that may be what's causing your DD to say she doesn't like school. But it can be just like eating your vegetables or brushing your teeth--you might not like it at first, but this is something you need to do, and you'll get used to it.

I think it's better for kids to have two parents who love each other and work together. If your marriage is the thing that needs your time and attention, don't hesitate to do it. Down the road, when you feel more secure, you can always opt to spend more time and attention on homeschooling. It's jarring to start school in the middle of the year--better to try it for another year from the beginning and see how it goes.
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#5 of 24 Old 06-12-2007, 08:54 PM
 
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Well, the great thing about unschooling is you don't "do" it. You just live your life. And there is no timetable, no schedule or age at which a child NEEDS to know X, so if you need to take a couple months to do whatever-gets-you-through it, be it just walking through the park each day, or whatever...a change in routine, then that's okay too.

I think putting kids in and out of school according to stresses in life would not only be confusing to them, but deny them the opportunity to be part of the process, to learn about working through issues, etc. You can't hide them from family stress, but you can model going through things together rather than sending them away...

I would suggest that even if you are "doing school" at home and using curricula, etc that there is no harm in taking a couple months off from that to let the kids just hang loose for a bit while you do what you need to do...

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#6 of 24 Old 06-12-2007, 09:05 PM
 
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This is a really serious issue... honestly I wonder if a woman with a lot of emotional problems/mental illness should homeschool at all. I think it can set up a really bad dynamic between the kids/ parents. The closeness of homeschooling is great but it can also be destructive. I have gone through periods of emotional turmoil over the past 10 years, some years were calm, others not. I have never ever abused my kids but many times I just am not "there" for them. And if I am going through a severely agoraphobic period it is hard for me to leave the house which means they don't leave either. My DH does not step in to pick up any slack. Anyway, I've decided to continue homeschooling my special needs child because there are no viable options for him, but to put at least 2 in school and maybe a 3rd in preschool. This is a personal decision each mom has to come to, weighing the pros and cons. You should never make a decision one way or the other just based on guilt. When you find the right decision you will be at peace with it.
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#7 of 24 Old 06-12-2007, 09:47 PM
 
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This is a really serious issue... honestly I wonder if a woman with a lot of emotional problems/mental illness should homeschool at all. I think it can set up a really bad dynamic between the kids/ parents. The closeness of homeschooling is great but it can also be destructive. I have gone through periods of emotional turmoil over the past 10 years, some years were calm, others not. I have never ever abused my kids but many times I just am not "there" for them. And if I am going through a severely agoraphobic period it is hard for me to leave the house which means they don't leave either. My DH does not step in to pick up any slack. Anyway, I've decided to continue homeschooling my special needs child because there are no viable options for him, but to put at least 2 in school and maybe a 3rd in preschool. This is a personal decision each mom has to come to, weighing the pros and cons. You should never make a decision one way or the other just based on guilt. When you find the right decision you will be at peace with it.
:

I have some agoraphobic issues and it makes homeschooling really tough. My son wants to do things and there are not a huge amt of things to do in the first place, (we live in a small town and have no second vehicle) and then you add the fact that I have trouble leaving the house without DH who is not home during the day and its a bit of a problem. (why I have these issues is a whole different post in a different forum, lol) My son is special needs though, and even this situation is better for him than school. I would like to put him in school, but the schools here simply dont know how to deal with him, and he ends up just getting lumped in with the "bad kids" and/or counciled to death, instead of taught.

I have a daughter that is almost 2, and we are going to enroll her in kindergarten when the time comes. If it doesnt work, we always know that homeschool is an option. Same with the baby coming in October. We're playing it by ear.

You should do what you feel most comfortable with. If it was me, and I did not expect to continue to home school without another break for regular school, I would put my child in school and leave them there until the situation was more stable or I would ride it out and keep them home regardless. I think that stability is important (for my son atleast, who has a lot of trouble with unstable situations/changes in routine)
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#8 of 24 Old 06-12-2007, 10:08 PM
 
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Honestly, if I had a special needs child, that would make me less, not more likely to homeschool. Public schools are required by law to address special needs, and while I would never say that it is a walk in the park to advocate for your child, you can get them the professional help they need.

Special needs kids do take more attention and time, and I would want them to have some time away from the family nest to help them learn to function in the outside world. Also, I would imagine that special needs mamas could use some time with their other little ones...a difficult situation to be sure.
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#9 of 24 Old 06-12-2007, 11:04 PM
 
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Honestly, if I had a special needs child, that would make me less, not more likely to homeschool. Public schools are required by law to address special needs, and while I would never say that it is a walk in the park to advocate for your child, you can get them the professional help they need.

Special needs kids do take more attention and time, and I would want them to have some time away from the family nest to help them learn to function in the outside world. Also, I would imagine that special needs mamas could use some time with their other little ones...a difficult situation to be sure.
Public schools *are* required to address special needs. Whether they do this, and how they do this is a crap shoot at best. I started hsing because ds's special needs were not being addressed and the school was causing many more problems than it solved. For my first few years of hsing, other special needs mamas were most of the only hsers I knew. There is actually a huge support network out there for special needs hs and most families I knew started hsing because the school failed their special needs kids so badly.

Off the soapbox now : . I've dealt with agoraphobic and OC stuff along with depression and very low energy from thyroid stuff. I've hsed through most of this, put ds back in school last year, not for any of these reasons, though.

Like other mamas have said, I can't really tell you what you should do, other than go with your gut. I don't think that going back and forth from school to home and back is a really disruptive thing, in the long term, if it's the best choice for the moment.

Probably the best advice I can give you is to cross that bridge when you come to it. Your home life and marriage situation might be totally different come september, and you'll just stress yourself out worrying about it now. Come fall, do what you think is best for your dd.

We're going in to our 6th year of hsing, and I can tell you that I've forgotten most of the what if's I worried about when we were first starting and I wish now that I had not spent so much time planning, prepping, researching, worrying and obsessing over every single aspect of his education and possible future life and just spent more time living in the moment with ds and enjoying the process more.

Remember, too, that conflict and crisis and learning to work through family dynamics and watching parents work out there problems are "educational", the sort of real life problem solving and character building that schools try to instill with empathy building exercises and role playing games. It's not necessarily a bad thing for kids to see some conflict in their lives, in the long run.

to you Kindermama
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#10 of 24 Old 06-13-2007, 02:06 AM
 
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Probably the best advice I can give you is to cross that bridge when you come to it. Your home life and marriage situation might be totally different come september, and you'll just stress yourself out worrying about it now. Come fall, do what you think is best for your dd.

<snip>
Remember, too, that conflict and crisis and learning to work through family dynamics and watching parents work out there problems are "educational", the sort of real life problem solving and character building that schools try to instill with empathy building exercises and role playing games. It's not necessarily a bad thing for kids to see some conflict in their lives, in the long run.
I was going to make these same points.

I've had some difficult and stressful times in the last year. Each time, I dealt with it in the best way I could. When I lost a baby at 20 weeks gestation last year, I hid in my room and cried for a week. Then I pulled myself together and hyperscheduled because it was too painful for me to be alone and be able to think. So that was probably good for my kids- we had a great summer, did lessons everyday, went on tons of field trips, went to the beach every week, etc.

But this spring, I reacted differently to stress. When my grandpa died, my sister got divorced and needed support, and we moved to a different house, all within 3 weeks of each other- I was totally overloaded and just went into survival mode. I didn't interact with my kids as much as usual, we didn't do any formal lessons, the house was messier than usual, etc. But after everything settled down, we fell into a new normal, and everything is good again.

I think that you just have to do the best you can in the situation. It can be hard to predict what things will be like in the future. Do what works for you *right now* and if it stops working, then try something else.

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#11 of 24 Old 06-13-2007, 05:03 AM
 
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Bird Girl....welcome to the forum! I'm curious as to whether you are a homeschooler?

Kindermama: It sounds like school is daycare for you, which I see as a totally legitimate option especially when you're pressed to the wall. But it also sounds like it's daycare that didn't work especially well for your ds.

Waht if you accept the fact that your needs and the needs of the rest of the family may require that you need some daycare in the coming year. Strategize how you might get that needed break. Mother's helper? Outside classes? Drop-off playdates? Swapping time with another homeschool mom?

Using the schools is one answer....but there are lots of other possible solutions!
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#12 of 24 Old 06-13-2007, 12:02 PM
 
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Waht if you accept the fact that your needs and the needs of the rest of the family may require that you need some daycare in the coming year. Strategize how you might get that needed break. Mother's helper? Outside classes? Drop-off playdates? Swapping time with another homeschool mom?
:

During times of crisis in our family, I've been even more happy that we're hsing. Having the ability to see how things are affecting the kids, being able to talk with them when they needed to talk, and having them see how various life issues can be handled/gotten through has all been really important to us all.

We unschool, and that's not something that is separate from the rest of life. There have been times when their activities have been disrupted, but that's what happens sometimes.

But, as others have said, only you know what will work for you.

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#13 of 24 Old 06-13-2007, 01:08 PM
 
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My family has been homeschooling since 2000.

Since then, my kids have been through their dad's infidelity, a divorce, a roommate situation that got ugly for a time, two household moves, their dad's deployment to Iraq and his subsequent transfer overseas.

Honestly, I can't imagine them having to deal with school, too.

And for me, personally, keeping active is the best way to deal with situational depression. When my ex told me he wanted a divorce, I had a job and a lawyer within two weeks and was out of military housing six weeks after that.
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#14 of 24 Old 06-13-2007, 02:09 PM
 
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Well, the great thing about unschooling is you don't "do" it. You just live your life. And there is no timetable, no schedule or age at which a child NEEDS to know X, so if you need to take a couple months to do whatever-gets-you-through it, be it just walking through the park each day, or whatever...a change in routine, then that's okay too.
If a parent is severely depressed "living their life" may not involve a lot more than getting out of bed. Kids deserve more than that. I can't endorse unschooling as the kid gets nothing - I think it can demand a lot from parents in terms of time, attention, driving kids places, meeting people, building and working together, finding resources, etc. That may not be something every parent has it together to do at every point in their life. I do have a problem with people using "unschooling" as interchangeable for you don't need to give your kids anything.
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#15 of 24 Old 06-13-2007, 02:47 PM
 
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I do have a problem with people using "unschooling" as interchangeable for you don't need to give your kids anything.
I agree with you.

IMO, unschooling can be more challenging than homeschooling if you're really interested in helping your children live an interesting, stimulating life. I have to WOTH full time, and don't have the sort of free time, creativity, or mental energy that I believe is necessary to make unschooling an enriching experience.
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#16 of 24 Old 06-13-2007, 03:49 PM
 
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Since then, my kids have been through their dad's infidelity, a divorce, a roommate situation that got ugly for a time, two household moves, their dad's deployment to Iraq and his subsequent transfer overseas.

Honestly, I can't imagine them having to deal with school, too.
We're in a similar boat. Our family has been through more in the last few years than I feel comfortable discussing online, and we homeschooled through it all. I think it made it easier for the kids because school would have been just one more stress in their lives. We asked if they wanted to go to school, and they didn't want to. We've also felt that each problem was temporary and that we would work through it.

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If a parent is severely depressed "living their life" may not involve a lot more than getting out of bed. Kids deserve more than that. I can't endorse unschooling as the kid gets nothing -
I totally agree. Unschooling is not that same thing as "not doing anything."

A lot of us go through periods where we are not 100%, and obviously you don't have to be perfect to homeschool. Are you in therapy? May be trying meds? May be taking actions that help (such as exercising, changing your diet, keeping a gratitude journal etc.)?

It doesn't make sense to put kids in school because of a short term problem, but if there is a long term problem it might.

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Waht if you accept the fact that your needs and the needs of the rest of the family may require that you need some daycare in the coming year. Strategize how you might get that needed break. Mother's helper? Outside classes? Drop-off playdates? Swapping time with another homeschool mom?
Excellant point! Last year when I was struggling with depression, I enrolled my DDs in a drop off program for homeschooled kids at our local Y 3 afternoons a week. They had a blast, got lots and lots of exercise, and made some nice friends. I got a much needed break and used the time to get my head back together. Find out what the options are in your city.

Kindermama, what would happen if you left the choice up to your DD? Would she rather return to homeschooling or return to school in the fall? If she would prefer homschooling and you would prefer homeschooling, it seems a shame to put her back in because of "what ifs."

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#17 of 24 Old 06-13-2007, 05:37 PM
 
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Hi Chfriend. Thanks for the welcome. I'm a SAHM now, but my kids are only 4 and 2, so I'd be hard pressed to say that all the stuff we do at home is really "homeschooling"--it's not like they'd be in public school during the day anyhow. I taught kindergarten before I had children, so I've seen both the positives and negatives of public school. I think that, as with so many parenting choices, what works best for one family will be different than what works best for another.
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#18 of 24 Old 06-13-2007, 06:54 PM
 
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Bird Girl...with a 4 year old you'll be making some educational decisions soon! I hope the time you spend in this forum looking at the "other side of the fence" will be helpful to you as you make them!

I agree that unschooling is not not doing anything. I have described our style of learning as "being dragged around by wild horses" more than "child-led"

But I also think that homeschooling doesn't have to be a check off the chart/lesson plan thing either.

Kindermama: does having a routine help with the depression? Or does that feel more like pressure to you?
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#19 of 24 Old 06-13-2007, 07:20 PM
 
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I think homeschooling is great, if you can devote time, energy, and planning to do it. If you can't, I don't see anything wrong with sending a kid to school. Let's face it, it's over by 3 o'clock, it lends structure to the day, and it takes the burden of planning and prep off of the mama. Unschooling is just another name for the kind of intensive parenting that so many AP mamas do, and there's still time for that when the school day or week is over.
Lots of times kids pick up on their parent's ambivalence--that may be what's causing your DD to say she doesn't like school. But it can be just like eating your vegetables or brushing your teeth--you might not like it at first, but this is something you need to do, and you'll get used to it.

I think it's better for kids to have two parents who love each other and work together. If your marriage is the thing that needs your time and attention, don't hesitate to do it. Down the road, when you feel more secure, you can always opt to spend more time and attention on homeschooling. It's jarring to start school in the middle of the year--better to try it for another year from the beginning and see how it goes.
I have to chime in here. Unschooling cannot go hand in hand with schooling, IME. While teaching ps, my biggest frustration was having to interrupt the amazing creativity of many of my students (Gate classes) to move on to "curriculum".
I unschool. I can say, with some certainty, that it can be done through stressful life experiences, and ought to be. If you use a curriculum, let it go when it's too much. Show your kids that *life* is more important right now. Be open and as honest as need be. IMO, allowing kids to see how you (we) handle life is so valuable. Being in school cannot teach that. It can actually *add* to your stress. I had a family pull their kids out while they went through mom's cancer and subsequent divorce. Those kids needed to be with their family. That family strengthened and grew through their experiences. I am sure it was *not* easy for them. But, it worked for their family, and their girls were/are incredibly compassionate and intelligent kids.
When I had my dd, I quickly fell into heavy ppd. All sorts of bf issues, marital issues, you name it. They have long since been resolved and we've grown. DH and I never once waivered from our determination to have our kids home. We all worked together a nd grew together...and now we continue to live free and learn free.

I really hope and wish the best for you. In whatever decision you make, stay true to your intuition. All will work out.

Peace to you.

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#20 of 24 Old 06-13-2007, 07:52 PM
 
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I found that homeschooling though a family tragedy provided us with much needed closeness.
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#21 of 24 Old 06-14-2007, 12:13 PM
 
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Let's face it, it's over by 3 o'clock, it lends structure to the day, and it takes the burden of planning and prep off of the mama.
I suppose we could say the same for daycare, but a lot of mamas here go to great lengths to be able to stay home with their kids.

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Unschooling is just another name for the kind of intensive parenting that so many AP mamas do, and there's still time for that when the school day or week is over.
Unschooling is an educational philosophy, not a parenting philosophy. I know unschoolers who are not AP, and AP parents who do not unschool.

And I agree with a PP that unschooling is the antithesis of school. I don't believe the two can be combined. Unschooling is not a part-time venture.
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#22 of 24 Old 06-15-2007, 03:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone for your thoughts and advice. It was very helpful. Something is shifting for me and I feel very hopeful that I'll be able to give my children the life that I connect so deeply with and want for them/us.
I'm throwing my fears out the window. What good will it do me to be afraid. I can do this and I will. Thanks mamas (again)!

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#23 of 24 Old 06-15-2007, 05:20 PM
 
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Thanks everyone for your thoughts and advice. It was very helpful. Something is shifting for me and I feel very hopeful that I'll be able to give my children the life that I connect so deeply with and want for them/us.
I'm throwing my fears out the window. What good will it do me to be afraid. I can do this and I will. Thanks mamas (again)!
That's wonderful to hear. You can do this. Come here for support...that's what this is for .

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#24 of 24 Old 06-15-2007, 11:48 PM
 
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I went through this over the late winter/early spring with my marriage. I took a little bit of time off, we still did things and she wasn't neglected, but it wasn't our norm. I got past the guilt, and knew that I was doing what was best for my entire family at the time.

I'm glad you are feeling stronger, and I hope that everything goes smoothly for you.
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