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Where is Dad? – Part 1

  • David and Laurie Callihan Authors
  • 2002 24 Oct
Where is Dad? – Part 1

As home schoolers, we have all taken a bold and courageous step in making the decision to home school our children. 

Why do we say this? Just consider the numbers. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are estimated to be just under 70 million students enrolled in schools across America in the fall of 2002. Last year, the U.S. Department of Education completed a study in which they estimated approximately 800,000 children are educated in the home across our country. 
We agree with Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute that this estimate is extremely low. Probably there are closer to 2 million home schoolers in the United States. In either case, that represents merely one to three percent (at best) of the total school age population. 

To buck against that kind of a base requires some serious thought, intention, and convictions. Our experience is that most home-schooling parents take their role as educators very seriously. But, frankly, we also see in our experience of sharing with home schoolers across the country that the weight of the burden in actually “carrying the ball” with this home-schooling job is primarily on the mother. 

So where is Dad?

It’s not our aim here to ask this question as some exercise in placing any blame or guilt.  To the contrary, we hope to establish some positive thoughts that will encourage us all that Dad’s role, while certainly critical, doesn’t always have to be front-and-center. 

At this moment, in our home, Dad is definitely under a lot of pressure and stress. Those who know us know that we struggle at times with finances. David has the uncanny ability to bounce from one career crisis to another. It’s not that he doesn’t work hard; far be it.  He works non-stop. He just doesn’t seem to be able to always put enough money in the bank all the time, practically speaking. 

But we suppose this is quite common. It takes a lot of concentrated effort to provide for a family in 21st century America. By far, the vast majority of home-schooling families have made a decision to live on one income. Who is going to provide that income?  Usually the dad. (We know there is an occasional mom who is gifted with a talent or career that allows Dad to stay home and raise the children. But that’s probably only a few out of a hundred cases. Most of the time, it is the father who “brings home the bacon.”)  So we will focus on Dad’s role here. If it is reversed in your home, just switch the thoughts accordingly.

There are some telling studies available to help us learn just how successful home schooling dads are in providing for the home. We’ll state the obvious here to start with.  Many home schoolers believe that the Lord is our Provider. Ultimately it is God who gives and takes away. But from a practical standpoint someone has to work. And home-schooling dads do work, and work hard, in order for moms and children to learn at home. 

According to The Scholastic Achievement and Demographic Characteristics of Home School Students in 1998, an independent study by Lawrence M. Rudner, Ph.D., Director of the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation (accessed through the HSLDA/NCHE web site), over 75 percent of home-schooling families live on a single income, and over 93 percent have over $35,000 in annual income, compared to only 50 percent of families nationwide. One clear reason for this is that over 65 percent of home-schooling dads have at least a bachelor’s degree. They already have proven that they believe in education.

However, there is also another interesting statistic on the size of home-school households.  Over 90 percent of home-schooling families have at least two children, compared to just over 50 percent of our country’s families. And over 30 percent have four or more.  The point here is that not only does Dad work, but he has to provide for a big family of six or more in many cases. So he’s staying very busy.

So where is Dad?  Well, frankly he’s working a lot. If he’s able, he may work at home, in a home office, like David does. The point is that even though Dad may be nearby, he’s hard at work. This is a good thing for the children to learn. Dads who are industrious, diligent, and responsible lay tremendous groundwork in their children to do likewise. The role model of a working father is a fantastic example to have our children observe. 

David and Laurie Callihan are authors of "The Guidance Manual for the Christian Home School: A Parent’s Guide for Preparing Home School Students for College or Career," and the brand new "Christian Homeschool Daily Planner" (with their Grand Plan built right in).  Learn more at They are regular columnists on Crosswalk’s High School page.