Anyone who has known me for very long quickly surmises that I am a firm believer in Christians homeschooling their own children. The primary reason is that the Bible simply knows no other educational method than for parents to teach, train, disciple and raise up their own heritage (children). I find no biblical warrant for Christians to turn their children over to the state (or other secular institutions) for 40+ hours per week.
That said, I realize in this culture it often does prove nearly impossible for every Christian parent to homeschool. For example, 40% of our homes in America (and the church sadly just reflects the cultural reality at this point in history) are single-parent homes. In my neck of the woods, military families are also single-parent homes for long periods of time due to deployments. Or, perhaps sickness or illness prevents a parent from homeschooling. I also have a soft spot in my heart for women married to non-Christian men. This would make homeschooling very challenging. And in a very few instances, a family truly does need a dual-income to provide the basic necessities of life. (NOTE: This is a far cry from a Christian family refusing to downgrade lifestyle to obey God’s design and commands in their homes).
The point I wish to hammer on today, however, is father-focused. Even among Christian homeschoolers, I find a conspicuous absence of the father in the educational process. Homeschool families in the church are too often Matriarchal. The mom who does all the teaching and training and disciplining of the children “wears the pants.” Dad is just along for the ride, assuming he is even “in the family car” a few hours each week. This results in an obviously “out-of-balance” family. It’s particularly devastating to boys who are trying to learn how to become young men. But, it’s also harmful to girls who look to their Dads to see what a man should be.
Factors for this “weak dad” phenomenon are probably many. Work-aholism is surely one major factor. I am so far from being impressed by dads working 60-70 hour weeks. Their family is suffering BIG TIME. It makes me sad that they cannot or will not give up the materialism that typically drives their work addictions. Work is a good thing. God made us for it. But it is not to be on the thrones of our hearts, and it is not to stand in the way of us obeying our God.
A second factor may be a warped view of fatherhood and motherhood. Children are mom’s area, work and hobbies are dad’s area. This view does not come from God’s Word.
A third factor may be the influence of feminism, which has told moms to basically take over everything. You can have it all. Go work full-time or part-time, take care of kids, go to soccer games, cook and clean. It’s killing women at the cyclic rate and far too many Christian homeschool moms seem to have bought into the “control freak” mentality of feminism. Be warned. It’s deadly to the body and soul. And it marginalizes men. Again, this view is anti-biblical.
The first year my wife and I homeschooled, I am shamed to confess I sat the bench, content to dump the full-load of child-rearing on my bride. Oh, to be sure, I actively disciplined my daughters, and played with them after working hours. But, the stress level on my wife rose to the point that Holy Spirit God forced me into His Word to see where I was missing the boat. I knew God commanded us as parents to be the primary teachers/disciplers of our children, but I had not searched the Scriptures for what God said to me, Dad.
What I found in God’s Word pricked my heart like a two-edged dagger:
For I [the Lord] have chosen him [Abraham] that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice (Gen 18:19).
He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers to teach to their children that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn (Psalm 78:5-6).
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4).
These are merely a few examples of the overwhelming evidence of the Bible that God calls on Dad to be the teacher and discipler of children. Now, this obviously will demand that much of the training time be delegated to mom, as Dad works outside the home (though I would argue dads should frequently take their sons to work with them once they reach age 12 or so). In God’s kingdom, Dad is the Christ-like Patriarch who actively instructs his children in the Word, disciplines them with the Father’s love, and ensures they know redemptive history. If others are brought into the educational process (mom, adult mentors, Bible teachers), it is on Dad’s shoulders to prayerfully delegate.
Now, be honest, dads. Doesn’t this sound a bit impossible for you? Our cultural expectations on home and family life are absolutely at odds with the Bible. We’ve almost necessitated a Matriarchy by the ways we work, live and educate. How can Christian American dads truly become the primary disciplers of children? Well, they can’t unless they radically change some things and re-order their priorities.
And this radical shift, I believe, is as needed in homeschooling families today as it is in all families. How sad, that so many homeschooling Christians squander the potential of that God-ordained educational method by excluding Dad.