Dropping Out

The Rewards of Homeschooling

A dozen years ago, I wrote my last column for Commonweal, “A Feminist Homemaker Confesses: Taking the Irony out of Housework.” Though someone else gave it the clever title, the sentiment lay close to my heart. At the time I was struggling with what it meant for me—a Yale Divinity School graduate schooled in feminist theology and keenly aware of gender inequality—to let my career lapse in order to become a full-time parent to my young children. Some years later I made another, similar choice, putting a doctorate on hold and giving both my sons a year of homeschooling. Each spent his sixth-grade year at home, one after the other, while I took a two-year leave of absence from my doctoral program at the Catholic University of America.

Reading a Commonweal blog post on homeschooling last fall brought me back to this decision. The conversation touched on gender identity and vocation, with some participants wondering whether women who choose homeschooling may be bound unconsciously by sexist cultural expectations of predetermined roles in raising children. Such notions seem plausible, yet in some ways they strike me as beside the point for women asking the question: Should I do this for my child? So often, theoretical discussions of gender expectations don’t leave much room for an appreciation of the real and costly claims that the...

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About the Author

Liz McCloskey is a PhD candidate in spirituality at the Catholic University of America. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband Peter and their three children, Brian, Colin, and Nora.