Right after our first son was born, I had a big plan for his education. Chief on my list was the proper foreign language instruction which happened to be French in my view. There he was, barely born, and I had plugged in the Calvert School French language tape that would shape his linguistic future. My wife has remembered to tease me sufficiently about my enthusiasm for the first (and very young) member of our homeschool. You see, we had planned all along to home educate all of our children all the way through high school, but I was under the impression that by playing this set of French tapes that our son would learn by osmosis and have the language mastered before we even began officially “home educating” him. It took me a while, but I was gradually disabused of this idea, although I continued to speak French to him as he was growing up. His foreign language of choice today is Japanese. Oh, well! I tried.
As a father in a homeschooling family, I’ve never understood the passion to educate one’s children at home solely for negative reasons. Without the joy of the prospect of rearing your children under God’s guidance, homeschooling (in this father’s mind) would be a a very lifeless affair. That’s not to say that there are not some great negative reasons for pulling your kids out of public education, such as the new bathroom mandate. Many schools are attempting to keep their federal dollars for education flowing in while not “ticking off” parents with new bathroom policies that may allow aggressive teen males into the same private area as young women/girls, violating their privacy and perhaps more.
One of the positive reasons for homeschooling your kids is sanctification, that big scary theological terms that makes our conduct square with our profession of faith. Now, that doesn’t mean that kids who attend public education will remain unsanctified, of course. Rather it’s the joy of participating in the sanctifying process of your kids. Supernaturally, it is God’s work of grace in our lives and the lives of our children. God gets the credit. But he uses instruments, human instrumentality, to accomplish His purposes of sanctification.
It is also vital that the father supplies a vision for his family in their homeschooling journey. Too often, the desire to educate one’s own children is more of the mother’s vision and aspiration. But she needs that support from their father that this is, indeed, God’s calling on their lives. To provide an alternative to public (or even private) education, is a noble and spiritual endeavor. But it is more than merely passing down your core values to your children. It’s caring about them enough to recognize that the nurture of their souls is as at least as important (if not more so) than the level of academic training that is imparted to one’s children. There are families, however, where the majority of the enthusiasm for homeschooling comes from the mother and the father is rather indifferent about the whole enterprise. That is a serious situation for if both parents are not agreed in vision and purpose for homeschooling, it is only a matter of time before secular pressures will pull the children away from the parents and away from each other into different “grade levels.”
It is so difficult to resist the pull to have the mother, who could be actively involved in her children’s education, making a separate income from the father. Perhaps with mother working, the bills seem easier to pay (often forgetting about additional child-care and other automobile-related expenses). Harder and harder it has become to stay a complementarian father as well with society pulling fathers in the direction of asking their wives to pursue a career outside of their home. Generally, it is a different allure in that case. The husband might be thought of as restricting his wife who might remain unfulfilled without a career. Or possibly the extra money would become a form of security or insurance for the future. Whatever the form of reasoning, it needs to be addressed and tackled by the Father with the Word of God; otherwise, his wife will be left wondering if an outside career isn’t really better for the kids.
Sit down as a family and write up a vision plan or statement to define what your homeschooling mission is beyond the obvious academic and spiritual objectives. Or if you have not yet purposed to “go that route” of homeschooling ask yourselves if an extra income with all of the supposed “bells and whistles” that it brings is worth the cost of separation. Is it really worth having the kids go their direction, the wife go hers, and the father take off in yet another direction? What does this do for the group morale of your family? Does it build up your family mission or does it rather divide the family? How about the level of “busy-ness” where each child will be pulled in extra-curricular activities that make spending any time together as a family that much more difficult?
Whatever reason becomes the most compelling for your family, the positive joy of rearing children in the fear and admonition of the Lord should never be left too far back on the backburner. Hence, the need for a mission statement where fathers can express a fundamental direction for their family that is “counter-cultural” in the good sense of the word. At the end of the day, Fathers need to not only support homeschooling efforts in their family, but they ought to stand with Joshua and shout, “But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15; New Living Translation).
Recently, I had the privilege of speaking with author of Worldview Apologetics, Pradeep Tilak. I’ve been working on the editing this interview to fit a “podcast” sort of format which should be ready by next week. Dr. Tilak is a major equipper for Christians who are seeking to engage worldly belief systems at the level of both the heart and mind. Locust & Honey’s very first podcast episode featured Jon Zens, editor of Searching Together and author ofChrist Alone and Don’t Forget the Part about the Sheep and the Goats. We talked about Searching Together when it used to be Baptist Reformation Review, the Great Commission, and divorce in the Body of Christ.