Lament of a Home School Dad
- Monday, December 26, 2005
If success was measured by a mother's ability to homeschool her children while her husband played a passive role, then my wife would receive a gold medal. Sadly, the realization of my shortcomings came only very recently, when I awoke to discover that my oldest child was now in the fourth grade. (Seems like only yesterday when I was changing his diapers.) Scratching my head, I concluded that God had blessed me by working wonders through my wife, even while I slept.
But the presence of God's helping hand upon the undeserving is nothing new. Centuries before Christ Jesus walked upon the earth, a group of recently freed Hebrew slaves lumbered through a wilderness where they complained practically every step of the way, failing to appreciate the blessings that were given to them. However, rather than punishing them beyond their capacity to endure, God provided for His people, giving only enough food to sustain them while they slept in the ignorance of their deeds.
In the same manner, while I was sleeping in the ignorance of my poor deeds, God was providing for my three young boys by supplying them with a food they greatly needed--the active love of a mother. However, though adequate in many circumstances, such food was incomplete, lacking the pizzazz that only I could give.
Seasonings, such as the math "tricks" that I knew, were never tasted. Spices, such as the stories from history that could pique my children's interests, remained untouched. And the flavorings, such as my Biblically-based observations of many of the world's troubling events, were never savored.
Like most fathers when they first decide to homeschool their children, I had the desire for my children to have opportunities that far surpassed the ones offered in public schools. In this pursuit, I sacrificed our family's ability to earn more income by encouraging my wife to spend countless hours instructing our children. Yet, as the sands sifted through the glass of time, I failed to realize a serious error on my behalf.
I became passive in lending a helping hand.
This mistake, I have been told, is common with fathers who choose to homeschool. Many fathers take on the responsibility of providing for the family, while mothers tackle the *more important* task of instructing the children. However, despite being a member of the majority, my actions were wrong. There was nothing fair in leaving the task of molding my children to one person, even if that one person was my wife.
But, by the grace of God, I was awakened when I was struck with the thought of considering myself from my children's perspectives. After speaking to my wife, it appears that her prayers were a major factor in setting off this alarm clock. I asked myself what my children saw in me, their father, during the course of a day.
Was I the man who was absent many hours of the day? Was I the one who returned in the evening, tired from work and moaning for rest? Was I the one who failed to ask my children what they learned? Was I the one who seldom lifted a finger to help in the learning process?
These were only some of the questions. Sadly, the answers were not what I wanted to hear. They definitely weren't the answers I would have expected of myself when we first began homeschooling our children years ago.
What kind of role model had I become? Was I the father who was going to wake up one day when it was too late to rectify my lack of desire? Was I going to discover that I was too late to right what was wrong? Was I going to wonder why my children had little interest in me when they reached adulthood? And, was I going to gnash my teeth when my children repeated the same mistakes with their children?
For longer than necessary, many families have suffered in a wilderness that they have created. Many wives have had little support in their roles as teachers. Many children have been denied opportunities of having both their role models play a part in their upbringing. And, many fathers have mistreated themselves by not experiencing the rewarding pleasures of seeing their children learn, develop, and grow into the strong vessels of God that we pray they will become.
But, oftentimes, this nearly fruit-barren wilderness is taken for granted by the father. More often than not, he concludes that his lack of playing an active role in educating his children is normal and acceptable He hides his passive stance behind the excuse of being concerned with what he perceives as the more daunting troubles of life, such as providing food for the table and dealing with issues from work.
Sadly, children sense this conviction. They learn from it. They begin to think that dad's troubles are primary concerns of life. And, in time, if your children are quick learners, they too will learn how to misalign their priorities and how to elevate the secondary.
For many children, this would be a pity. Not only would they be gleaning what many of us fundamentally believe is poor sustenance, they would fail to learn what most of us want to teach--that faith in God and love of family transcends the issues of this world.
But, thankfully, the slumber of my passivity is over, and now is the time to offer apologies and make offerings for what I consider to have been sinful neglect. With God taking the lead, I realize that my wife and my children need me to become a more integral part of the learning process. And, with God's help, I will be able to take the lead and bring my children into a spiritual and educational land of promise that's overflowing with milk and honey.
Joel King is the father of three children: Jordan, Joshua, and Matthew. In addition to these blessings, he is also the husband of an exceptionally talented wife. Joel is an insurance agent whose interests include writing and spending time with his family.
This article was originally published in the Nov/Dec '05 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more information, visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com To request a free sample copy, visit http://homeschoolenrichment.com/magazine/request-sample-issue.html
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