The last time my wife asked me to guest-post, I wrote a brief description of homeschooling from a father’s perspective (well, from this father’s perspective, in any case). This time I was asked to write about the importance of fathers in the homeschool process, and I’m primarily addressing men here. Because it’s such a vast subject encompassing so many aspects, I’ve chosen to begin on one particular aspect: Time
“…For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.”
– James 4:14
The older you get, the more you realize how short life really is, and you realize how little time you have to do all the things you’d like to do. Let me say right now that if you spend all of your time trying to fulfill some “bucket list” you’ll probably miss out on the important relationships that really matter. No man on his death-bed has regrets about never having had a chance to sky dive. What a dying man inevitably regrets is all the time wasted on useless things while neglecting his family. If there’s only one point I can get across to husbands and fathers is that you need to be attending to your relationship with your family. If that means you miss a football game or time on the golf course, so be it. Better to miss a few meaningless pursuits than to come home one day and find that your children have grown and are gone, and you missed out on the whole thing.
Work – Let’s face it, guys need to work. Given the state of the economy, a man’s got to do whatever it takes to make ends meet. This may eat up most of his time, and the family just needs to understand that dad can’t always be around. My only advice to dads is that they only work as much as necessary to properly provide for their families. I won’t define “properly” here, because everyone’s circumstances are different. Suffice it to say that you shouldn’t be working more than is necessary if it means you’re neglecting your family to make a few extra bucks for that new car you’ve been wanting. Like I mentioned earlier, no man will look back on his life and regret not getting a new car. He will, however, regret not spending more time making his kids laugh. It’s the little moments we take for granted.
“Labor not to be rich: cease from your own wisdom… for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward the heaven.”
– Proverbs 23:4-5
Education – So what does all of that have to do with education? It’s constantly being repeated that homeschooling is about using every opportunity to teach some lesson. This means that, as a father, your involvement in your child’s education includes every moment you spend with them, which is why I wanted to focus on the importance of time spent with your children. If you’re not spending any time with your kids, then you’re likely imparting no knowledge to them. And take note that education isn’t all about academics. It’s about teaching your kids about truth, beauty, wisdom, justice, goodness, order, and about the God who provides a rational ground for making these things intelligible in a coherent, correspondent world view.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
– Proverbs 1:7
Teaching your kids to cook, ride a bike, or play an instrument are all educational experiences. It should also be noted that the classical understanding of why we receive an education is not to get a degree so that we can go out and get a high-paying job. Rather, we educate ourselves so that we might glorify God as we live a moral, intellectually robust, winsome lives, while helping others. I’m not suggesting that a job isn’t important as well, but only observing that no certificate of degree has any value if it doesn’t correspond to having actually gained some wisdom. The world isn’t short on idiots with degrees.
Training – We’ve all heard about the social ills due to fatherless homes, so I won’t touch on that except to say that most of it is due to a lack of discipline. I won’t pretend to have this down perfectly, but dads need to be teaching their children (especially if they have a headstrong son, which I do) that their behavior has consequences. It’s better to spank your child’s bottom and teach him this lesson while he’s young, rather than him learning this lesson the hard way when he’s an adult, at which point the consequences might be permanent and more severe. Fathers who fail to teach their children the harsh reality of consequences are doing their children a great disservice.
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.”
– Galatians 6:7
With respect to headstrong boys, let me say that a man’s nature is to be the dominant sex, and so a headstrong boy will have a difficult time taking instruction from a woman, even if it’s his mother. He’ll rebel and protest and refuse her instruction, often to the point of disrespect. If you have such a son, you’d better be ready to discipline this child and communicate very clearly to him that you will not tolerate his treating your wife this way. You wouldn’t let another man treat your wife poorly; don’t let your own little man treat your wife poorly. You’ll also be doing his future wife a favor if you teach him now to have respect for women, so love and cherish your wife and show your son how to be a loving husband.
Leadership – Some people are natural leaders. They don’t even have to try, and yet people will look to such people to lead them. My wife is such a person. She doesn’t have to ask anyone to follow her. Other women just seem to do so. Men, on the other hand, are called to be the leaders of their home, whether or not they have any natural leadership abilities. I happen not to be a natural leader, so this role of leader isn’t easy for me. Suffice it to say, men are called to provide for and protect their families. That’s not the difficult part. What is difficult is being the spiritual leader, and here’s where most of us, including myself, come up short. Rather than wasting time lamenting this situation, let’s just say that we need to step up to the plate and begin praying with our families and leading them in devotions. We need to be the one to set the godly example. We need to be the one to encourage them when it’s time to go to church. Most importantly on this point, we need to lead by example, not by force. People can only follow you if you’re out in front. If you’re pushing them from behind, you’re driving them, not leading them. Your family is not cattle. Don’t treat them as such.
Finally, much of this may not seem related to homeschooling, but again, every aspect of your relationship with your family is a lesson taught to your children. Your wife already carries most of the academic teaching, so use what little time off you have from work to spend with your families and be the man God calls you to be, one of those roles being that of teacher to your children.
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart: And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
– Deuteronomy 6:5-7