I am so thankful for my husband John's role in our family. In fact, he's been so instrumental in my children's lives, it's almost annoying.
What do I mean? Well, not that I'm bitter or anything, but when my children wrote their essays for college on who was the most influential person in their lives, EVERY ONE of them listed their dad.
I couldn't help thinking, "Now wait a minute! I'm the one who did all the work! Who homeschooled them? Who drove them to swim meets and stayed to cheer? Who was present every minute of every day? Sure John's role was important, but he was working. How is it possible that he had such an impact?"
Although I can muster quite a bit of "mom indignation," I seriously couldn't be more pleased that the kids respect their father and have learned so much from him.
But their answers were the catalyst for some thought-provoking questions about the role and influence of dads within the home and homeschool.
The impact of fathers: A little of dad's active presence goes a long way
While I know a number of exceptions to this generalization, I would say many dads feel somewhat removed from the homeschool environment. They leave for work early, come home late, and often miss out on the day to day experiences of learning that moms get to experience. This doesn't mean, however, that dads have to sit on the sidelines!
I would challenge dads: Don't be discouraged if you feel you don't have the presence you would prefer at home. Use the time you do have, even if it's only a few minutes of time together sharing stories on the couch in the evening. Make an effort to ask questions, listen, and bond with your children and they will treasure your interest and thrive on your attention.
Although I was our primary homeschool instructor, John gave counsel to our children when they needed him most. When one of my more sensitive children was in tears, John would sit with her for an hour or more asking questions and giving an adult perspective and a listening ear.
Dad's perspective is strategic for homeschool success
Because John was a bit removed from the minute by minute quality of our homeschool, I think he could sometimes offer a more objective perspective to what was happening, or notice issues I didn't because I had been too much in the midst of them or too close to notice. This helped our family gain insight that kept us on a good path toward our goals.
John and I embrace our differences as we realize we truly complement one another. Where I am weak he is strong and vice versa. We choose to focus on each other's strengths instead of noticing all the weaknesses and failures of the other person. We are a parenting/homeschool team.
I want to challenge moms in this way: Please celebrate your husband's role with your children and in your homeschool. Don't belittle or begrudge his level of involvement, but help him find creative ways to interact with your children. Your kids WILL feel his intentional pursuit of relationship as well as the level of your respect and friendship with their father--they may write their college essays about it later!
If you are taking on this homeschool journey alone ...
If you are a single mom (or a single dad), I hope this talk of teamwork doesn't just remind you of the huge challenge before you as you balance these roles in your life; I hope it encourages you that you DO have a Helper.
I pray for you, if you are a single mom, that God would sustain you just as he promises to be Father to the fatherless. I pray for your endurance as you carry double weight in raising your children. I pray God will provide the counter balances and male figures your children need.
For you single dads, or even dads who are doing the majority of the daily homeschool, I pray the Lord gives you an extra dose of patience and sensitivity to balance these roles as well. May he provide the help you need and the female figures in your life to help your children flourish and thrive . Cherish every precious moment with your children as a gift from God.
May your family celebrate our Heavenly Father this week as you think of the special role he's given dads.
P.S. Please share what you are thankful for in the "dad" in your life on the Beam forum. Are you a homeschool dad? In what ways do you intentionally build relationships with your children? You can also email me at email@example.com.