A Personal Note to Fathers
By J. Michael Smith
I would like to share with you from my heart one of the burdens I have regarding homeschooling. That burden is that we dads are not participating enough in the overall homeschool educational program of our children. Obviously, because most of us are employed full-time outside the home, the primary teaching responsibility will fall to mom. However, this does not have to always be true. Even though we are outside the home five days a week (or even more) during the day, the flexibility of home teaching allows fathers to participate at night by teaching various courses. These courses could be one we are especially interested in or, perhaps, one that mom is not particularly interested in or does not feel capable of teaching.
As I travel across the country speaking to homeschoolers, one of the greatest needs I hear expressed by homeschooling mothers is the need for more support from the fathers. Many times this can take the form of simply babysitting in terms of relieving mother from the continuous, relentless pressure of the presence of the children. One suggestion was that mother should be able to have a day to herself, if she so desires. For instance, dad could make Saturday his day to spend with the children. Normally, this would mean taking the children outside the home so mother could do things she cannot do during the week when the children are about. Alternatively, dad could stay at home with the children while mom runs necessary errands, or simply enjoys her freedom that she is not allowed because of her responsibilities during the week.
My primary concern, however, is that dads need to take a more aggressive role in the family regarding the legal aspects of homeschooling. It is true that many times when a contact is initiated by the school district, the father is not at home and the mother must respond. It is my desire to see a “response guideline” established and drawn up by the father and mother when a family begins this process of homeschooling. I would suggest that these guidelines would provide that, upon contact, the mother would indicate that she would like to channel all school district communications through her husband. This accomplishes several things.
First, it gives the family the opportunity to respond in a thoughtful and prayerful way. In other words, they are not merely shooting from the hip, but they have a plan, and that plan involved mutual discussion and prayer on their part. Secondly, the pressure of this contact should be borne together, not only by the mother. Too many times, I am seeing the mother under tremendous pressure from this contact, and in many situations, it appears that the other feels that she is in it by herself. My personal conviction is that God has designed the father in the family as a protection for the rest of the family. Therefore, in the area of legal matters, and specifically contacts from school officials, the father should be the primary spokesperson. I realize that in certain families, we have some men reluctant to talk. However, God may allow certain things to happen in a family to cause the father to move forward and take more of a leadership role in the area of home education. I know one homeschooling lawyer that feels so strongly about this matter, that whenever he is called by the mother explaining that she has been contacted by school officials, he requires the father to call him back. Although I am not this dogmatic in my own approach, I do believe we need to see more active involvement on the part of dads, especially in this area of the legal ramifications of homeschooling.
Let’s be sensitive to the needs of our wives so that our homeschools have the possibility of being everything God desires for our families.