- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dear Ms. Vicki:

I am a stay-at-home mom and a home-schooler.

After relocating to the Northern Virginia area in January, our child had a difficult time keeping up with school and was failing academically. So my husband and I discussed my home schooling him for the remainder of the school year. I did, and his grades improved tremendously and so did his self-esteem. My husband and I agreed that I should do the same this school year and also teach my daughter, who will be in kindergarten.

At first, he was gung-ho and even told me to go ahead and look at what I would need for the upcoming school year. But lately, all that has changed. My husband has been telling me that I need to get a job every time we have an argument about money. Don’t get it twisted; we are not struggling at all financially, but he has been putting 5 percent of his monthly pay in the savings, leaving little for us to do anything extra with.

During our last argument about household duties, he mentioned yet again that “maybe you should get a job.” What about all the plans we made for the next school year? What will I tell the children? He cant make me get a job, right? If he’s so hellbent on my getting a job, then I think he should just get out of the Air Force and get a better-paying job. Do you have any advice?

Utterly Confused

Dear Confused:

It sounds like you and your husband need to have a heart-to-heart talk. You are doing a lot of talking at each other, but not to each other. You said you are not struggling financially, but from your report, you are. He is obviously stressed about the family finances.

Let me applaud you for what you are doing. You have been working and doing a lot of work from home. You helped improve your child’s grades by home schooling him. Great job. Also, being a stay-at-home mom is a very tough job that is 24/7. To our benefit, that is a job that generates much praise in the long run as our children get older and realize our sacrifices. My sons are always calling me, saying, “Mom, thank you for everything.” Their compliments make me feel very good and, believe me, you will get plenty, too. However, being a stay-at-home mom does not generate income, other than saving on child care expenses, or unless you have a home-based business. You and your husband need to sit down and discuss your finances. Financial problems can cause major marital problems. He may think the only way out of the financial problems right now is by your getting a job. If so, then you must consider how much you can earn and the cost of child care and the cost of before- and after-school services, if applicable. The issue of who will tell the children if their educational situation is changed should be discussed in a family meeting. You should not hold that responsibility on your shoulders alone.

My suggestions are to visit your nearest Airmen and Family Readiness Center. I know the people at the Bolling Air Force Base and they will be ready to assist you the moment you walk through the door. They can help you with a financial budget, home schooling or public school information, employment information, and even couples communication, et cetera. There are other offices at the Pentagon and at Andrews Air Force Base. This would be a great start for you and your husband, so don’t delay your visit. Let me know what decisions you made. I hope it all works out.

Readers’ responses to previous columns:

• “Dear Ms. Vicki, your advice is so practical. Remember, sometimes the truth hurts. What’s up with the girl that’s having a relationship with her brother-in-law [while her husband is deployed overseas]? Are people still this crazy? Oh well, I still enjoy the way you reply to your letters. I hope you dont only receive letters from military spouses, kids and their family members. You are too good just to be in that box. Be a risk taker!” — Jackie from Dallas

• “Dear Ms. Vicki, I just wanted to comment on your column by ‘McLean’ [who wonders why her husband has to pay so much for his children from his previous marriage]. I felt sick to my stomach while reading her rant on what it takes to keep her happy. To want to take food out of children’s mouths for your own personal pleasure is disgusting, and she should be ashamed of herself. … What she is asking him to do is so selfish and as you said, maybe one day he will replace this ‘trophy wife’ with another younger and hopefully a more productive, sensitive, caring and understanding young lady. ‘McLean,’ you really need to get a clue. I suggest that if you want to continue with your ‘up-to-date lifestyle’ without making sure that children come first, then you should just move on and let that father be the good father!” — Disgusted

• “Ms. Vicki, I think you got it wrong with the advice that you gave a young lady in your recent column regarding her parents refusing to pay for her wedding [because she’s been cohabiting with her boyfriend/groom for a few years]. I think she should expect her parents to pay for her wedding just the same as they paid for her siblings’ weddings. It’s none of her parents’ business that she chose to live with her boyfriend before marriage. Why should that be their stipulation? I think her parents need to pay up …. You are so wrong to tell her to downsize her wedding-day expectations and cut costs so she can pay for it herself. A wedding is something every girl waits for all of her life. Ms. Vicki, please get a clue or keep your mouth shut!” — Gaithersburg

Vicki Johnson, a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three, has been counseling service members and their families for 15 years. Her column, Dear Ms. Vicki, runs in The Washington Times Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at dearmsvicki@yahoo.com.

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