By Michael Leppert
Since post WWII, the role of fathers has been mostly away from home. Homeschooling fathers have the opportunity to experience a closeness with their families that was common in Colonial America.
Most of us dads don’t realize it, but our children often don’t have a clue who we are. We go to work “Somewhere” sometime early in the morning and return late in the afternoon or early evening. If we are homeschooling dads, we usually leave the teaching up to our wives . . . shame on us! If we are Christians, and the Bible makes fathers the heads of households, we should be able to make the stretch to realize that such headship includes teaching our children. It is not a point of strength to make it look to our children as though fathers cannot read, write or do math, but simply “go away” and “return”. . . . and discipline or holler!
In the Colonial times, most fathers worked from home — as blacksmiths, carpenters, printers, innkeepers or farmers, for example. In these instances, the children could look out the window to the fields or walk into the family shop to see dad working away at his trade. The boys knew they would possibly be apprenticed to the family trade or to some other father tradesman. Dads were complete, three-dimensional people, just like moms were. Today, however, many of us dads are only two dimensional, while mom is completely “filled in”; therefore, it is important for us to take steps to fill our “selves” in to our children. They need to know our favorite food, color, flavor, sport(s), hobbies, etc., and the work we do, as well.
We need to take steps to make sure our children know that thinking, reading and other intellectual pursuits are not “woman’s” work, but man’s, too. Reading aloud to our children every night is one way to inform them that yes, we can read. Playing board games is another way to let your children know who you are, in subtle ways. How you win or lose, what kind of strategy you follow, if you know trivia or are good at charades or Scrabble . . . all of these little things go into filling in your persona for the silent watchers.
Making our children be proud of us is significant, too. The best ways I can think of are again, subtle ways, that demonstrate a quiet strength, patience, a sense of humor or a high degree of skill in music, cooking, sports or an intellectual pursuit. There is nothing more satisfying to a young child than being able to beam with pride and say “That’s my dad!” Remember the scene in The Lion King when Mefusa says that same kind of line to his son, Simba. “Nobody had better mess with your dad.”
From time to time, I will offer specific suggestions, as I can find them, to help you in being seen as the full, three-dimensional man you are – that your friends know you as. MjL