Here at 1 Smart Mama, we spend a lot of time speaking to moms, because moms are at the forefront of so many home schools. This week, as we approach Fathers Day, I want to shift the focus and speak to the homeschool dads who are sometimes left out of the picture.
The National Fatherhood Initiative has done a study called "Pop's Culture," surveying dads across the country about their views on fathering. The survey produced some challenging results. According to NFI, "91 percent of respondents agreed there is a father absence crisis in America. Only slightly more than half of the fathers agreed that they felt adequately prepared for fatherhood. 'Work responsibilities' was named as the largest obstacle to being a good father, and over 50 percent of respondents agreed that fathers are replaceable by mothers and other men."
In another NFI study, "Mama Says," 1533 moms shared their views on fathering. The results were surprisingly similar. "Nine in ten mothers (93%) agree that there is a father absence crisis in America today. Mothers - even those that indicated that they were 'not at all religious' - indicated that 'churches or communities of faith' are the best places for fathers to learn about fatherhood."
The National Home Education Research Institute reported that in 2009, more than 97 percent of homeschoolers were in married-couple families, so it might be easy to conclude that the "father absence crisis" doesn't affect our community.
And yet, an article in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine pointed out that moms make up 99 percent of the primary teachers in home education.
Mom's ability to stay at home with the kids may depend on Dad's working long hours away from home. On the other hand, as the nature of work in America shifts, some families are blessed to have both parents working, at least part time, from home. Mom and Dad may share teaching responsibilities, or Dad may be the primary teacher, or Dad may not know how to get involved.
The question I think we have to ask in all of these situations is how parents, churches, and homeschool communities can support entire families.
One of the first steps is to ask a lot of questions: What is the biblical role of a father in his children's education? What practical limitations of work and money does our family have to work with? What small changes can we make to help dad fulfill his God-given role? As a larger community, how can we invite fathers into what can be a mom-centered conversation about homeschooling?
It's exciting and encouraging to see homeschool dads stepping out and exploring their role in their family's home schools, and this week, I want to share some of their stories with you.
Won't you join us?
You may find The Home Schooling Father, by Michael P. Farris, a good place to start the conversation.