SummaryDads play a vital role in homeschooling, even when they can’t contribute much. Christine Smitha shows how dad’s support is as vital as the teaching itself.
You’re not necessarily home all day long, teaching Mary fractions, doing science experiments with the twins, and correcting Eddie’s English paragraphs—although some of you assuredly are.
Most of you are working long hours in an office or workplace somewhere, probably a long drive from home, getting home late in the evening, with only an hour or two to spare before the children are in bed.
You might be wondering whether you’re really contributing anything to the homeschooling of your family, and wishing you were a better homeschooling dad.
Here’s a little secret: you’re a great homeschooling dad.
The most significant contribution you can make to the homeschooling effort is support. Your support has a value at least as essential as the actual teaching itself, and this is because that teaching couldn’t happen without your willingness and encouragement.
The fact that homeschooling is happening in your household means that you put some serious thought into the welfare of your children and, along with your wife, chose a form of education that would protect your children, enrich your children, and build them up in the Faith, all while challenging their minds for a successful future. Essentially, it means that you care.
“But I’m not contributing anything practical. My wife does all the work. I’m gone all day, and the kids are finished with school by the time I get home. ”
Do you work long hours and accept personal sacrifices so that your wife can stay home and teach your children?
Do you affirm your wife in the work she is doing to educate your children, and do you ensure that your children remain respectful and obedient toward her?
Do you ask your children about what they learned during the day, and do you encourage them to talk about the interesting facts in their books or the school projects they’re finishing?
Do you praise the efforts your children are making, and do you encourage them when they struggle?
Do your children come to you when they have questions and insecurities? Do they come to you when they want to show off their accomplishments?
You answered yes to most of those questions, if not all of them, didn’t you?
Again, the value lies in the fact that you care, and that you demonstrate as much with your steady presence and regular reinforcement of the good that is happening in your family.
“Is there something I can do to step up my game as a homeschooling father?”
No matter who we are or where we are in life, we can and should always be working to become better in the roles we are meant to fulfill. There are many things you can do to become an even better homeschooling father than you already are.
1. Rely on Providence
Keep building your relationship with God the Father, His Blessed Mother, and St. Joseph.
The more we can come to understand the loving Providence of our Creator, the better we will become at channeling that through our own parenting. Every boy’s first love after his own mother is the Blessed Mother, and she remains our best intercessor in all things. St. Joseph is the human prototype of good fatherhood, and as many of the other saints have testified, continues to exercise prudential care for those who seek his aid.
Regularly appealing to God the Father, the Blessed Mother, and St. Joseph for help with parenting, homeschooling, and family needs will keep the grace flowing into your home.
2. Cherish Your Wife
Cherish your wife and your marriage. It’s an oft-repeated saying that, “The best gift a father can give his children is to love their mother.” Your marriage is the bedrock of your children’s future; its stability provides them shelter and security. Your wife should come first for the sake of your children, who will feel safer when they see that you and she are a single unit, bound together by mutual love and respect.
In Father, The Family Protector, James Stenson points out that, “A man permits no one to threaten or upset his wife—and this includes their own children… A man will allow no one to disrespect his wife, including—and even especially—at home.”
Your children will heed your authority in other matters much more quickly when they see that you are a man of your word who consistently stands by their mother. They will also heed her more quickly because they know you stand behind her. As Dave Steele, a Seton father, put it, “When fathers support and love their wives, the two become one of the most beautiful and strongest teams for educating children.”
3. Unconditional love
Get to know your children as individuals and let them be themselves. Find out what each child really loves and help that child develop confidence and a love of learning through a pursuit of that interest or activity.
Roy Shaw, another Seton father, says it is important to remember as well “the carefree and whimsical stages of childhood so as not to scorn or crush the joys and innocence of childhood.” Children are sensitive and much in need of encouragement. Although everyone is different, in general boys wish to be praised by their fathers for their strength and bravery, their inventiveness and problem-solving skills.
Girls wish to be admired for their loveliness, sweetness, femininity, and yes, their talents and differences. So, take time to sit down and play Legos with the child who likes to build. Go fishing with your daughter. Play baseball with your son. Be humble enough to have tea with your little girl’s stuffed animals and race matchbox cars with your little boy. Have ice cream dates with each child on the back porch.
Let them work alongside you, and praise them for their efforts while guiding them toward greater skill. Talk to your kids about the important things, and listen to them speak about what matters to them. Love each child unconditionally, exactly for who that child is, and you will find that he or she will never stray too far.
4. Strategic Approach
Have a strategic approach. Again in Father, the Family Protector, James Stenson says,
“If you want to be an effective father, you need to start with this clear idea: with the way our society is today, your children really are threatened by disastrous problems later in life—and it is your greatest challenge as a man to save them.”
He also says that effective fathers, “Think strategically. They project ahead, twenty or more years into the future,” and “act now, intelligently and urgently, to save their kids from disaster.”
With your wife, be sure that your parenting choices are geared to long-lasting effects that will endow your children with strength of character, good habits, strong faith, thoughtfulness, and competency in life skills. Be consistent and forward-thinking, and take the time to address problems when they arise to keep your children on the straight and narrow track.
In the end, the value of supporting the homeschooling effort “goes far beyond just helping educate our children; it affects how they live their lives through adulthood,” as Dave Steele says. Thank you for making the choice to homeschool, and thank you for supporting your family as they pursue the path of home education.
You’ve committed yourself to the path of greatness with this choice, and your children will undoubtedly “esteem you all their lives as a great father and a great man.”