Advice for Homeschool Dads
- Monday, August 13, 2012
Homeschool dads should protect their families. We recognize the need to protect them physically, but there are other forms of protection that are important too. Sometimes homeschooling parents are accused of being “over-protective.” This accusation frosts me. We do not let young children play on busy streets or under sinks with chemicals, because they need to be protected from such dangers until they are old enough to handle them. In the same way, we also need to protect them emotionally and socially until they have developed sufficient maturity to deal with various situations. As a father, in order to provide this protection, exercise some control over what is allowed in the home and what the children are permitted to do.
Also, Dad should protect his wife. Since she does most of what people see as “homeschooling,” when there are criticisms, she will likely bear the brunt of them. However, when that happens, Dad should step in, serve as a buffer for his wife, and say: “We have decided together that we are going to homeschool our children. My wife is doing exactly what I want her to do, so if you have any criticism, direct it to me.”
A homeschool dad should recognize the need for preparation. Home education (or any education, for that matter) is more than just learning academics. It is preparation for life. Sons need to know that when they grow up they will be responsible for providing for their families. Of course, they should be taught the basic skills that will allow them to be properly trained for their life’s work, but they also need to be trained in values such as honesty, hard work, and frugality. A father is in the best position to teach and model these traits to his sons. Spending time with them to discern their strengths and weaknesses will equip a father to serve as a kind of “guidance counselor” as his sons begin to think about what they want to do with their lives. I have no daughters, but if I did I would not think of trying to train them in homemaking skills; that is certainly an area where a wife can excel. But I would try to help my daughters, both by instruction and example, to choose husbands who will honor them and be good fathers to their own children.
Homeschooling fathers should be examples to their families and especially to their children. On the one hand, we realize that we are not perfect. Yet we need to be careful and not use this as an excuse to say “Do as I say and not as I do.” If we don’t want our children to lie to us, we must not tell them to say that we are not home when the phone rings. If we don’t want them to cheat others, we must not fudge on our income taxes. No, we are not perfect, but even in our imperfections we can serve as examples.
One of my weaknesses is anger. I do not fly off the handle quickly, but if I am tired or a little stressed, and on top of that am having trouble with one of the boys not doing his work properly, I can become frustrated and in anger say something I shouldn’t. Then I have to stop, tell myself that this is probably not the most important thing in the world, and apologize for losing my temper. Then we have hugs and kisses. In doing this, I am showing by my example that, no, I’m not perfect, but I’m trying to improve and grow, even as my children need to improve and grow.
Finally, a homeschooling father should exercise discipline. We usually use the word discipline to indicate punishment. It means more than that. In fact, everything we do in training our children, including “home education,” is part of discipline, the aim of which is to “disciple” our children and help them to develop self-discipline. However, the concept of discipline does include punishment when necessary. If Mom is going to spend her day trying to teach the children, she shouldn’t have to spend a lot of that time correcting unruly children. Therefore, the children need to know that if they act up for Mom, they will have to answer to Dad when he gets home. And they need to know that serious infractions will most assuredly receive swift and certain retribution. With this kind of assurance, Mom can then devote her time to instruction and encouragement. Each family will have to work out forms of punishment that will best meet its needs, but it is important for both Mom and Dad to be in agreement about whatever it is and then try to be consistent.
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