Moms and dads are different, and not just in terms of biology. As we ponder the dad’s role in the home school, keep the three “I’s” in mind: influence, impact, and involvement. Dads can exert a positive influence over the home school, impact their kids’ character, and find ways to get involved in homeschooling. While moms do the hard work of “manning” the trenches, dads can act as sounding boards for moms, keep pointing at the big picture, and keep the family pressing toward the end goal.
Influence: A Double-Edged Sword
Influence is a double-edged sword that defaults to every dad.
We all have influence, whether for the affirmative or the negative.
Affirmative influence is a light shining before others. Negative influence, meanwhile, hurts and hinders. Every father must choose: will he be an affirmative or negative influence in his home?
Experience has taught me that I must be intentional if I aspire to be an affirmative-influencing dad. Otherwise, I’ll prioritize the wrong things and the result will be regret.
My wife is my first priority as a homeschool dad. Mom has the most control over our kid’s education in our home. That’s her influence. When I am supportive of her, praising and simply talking with her, and acting as her number one cheerleader, I’m exerting an affirmative influence.
And this influence cascades. When my kids see me loving my wife, living out our values, and leading family devotions, they develop a greater appreciation and respect for her, and everyone benefits.
Fun can be a great source of affirmative influence from dads!
Read: “How to Make Homeschooling Fun”
Impact: Intentionality and Eternality
Impact, like influence, comes in positive and negative forms.
Looking back, I can see the negative impact I had on my kids because of my own pride, insecurity, and, worst of all, distraction. I find it easy to become distracted in the doing—in life—and that distraction allows my impact to go unrealized. Unrealized impact is still impact. I may have impacted my kids in a negative way simply because I was not paying attention or I believed the lie that life’s mundane activities do not matter. The mundane is arguably the most important part of life. Everything matters!
Fortunately, God, in His mercy, has shown me these vital errors and allowed me to correct my mistakes. I’ve learned that impact is like influence: you must be intentional.
Start Small, but Focus on the Eternal
Start small. One way I create impact as a dad is by teaching my kids to better aim at the target. Experience teaches two principles: first, you often cannot learn something without failure, and second, you will never hit your target if you do not aim and release your arrow.
If I teach my kids to begin with small goals, they’ll grow to overcome failure. If I teach them to aim small, they’ll miss small. The insurmountable becomes surmountable. And that leads to the eternal.
I’ve learned to focus my impact on the eternal, on that which lasts forever.
Would I rather make an impact by focusing all my energy on teaching my kids how to play basketball, rake up leaves, or clean their rooms? Certainly, those are worthy activities, but are they the aim of life? Or would I rather make an eternal impact by teaching them those invaluable underlying principles of life, to work with all of their heart as working for the Lord, and not man, and to make the joy of the Lord their strength?
By focusing my impact on the eternal, the little activities—basketball and raking leaves—become worthwhile, and my kids gain that perspective.
Education is a journey that begins with baby steps.
Read: “Raising Lifelong Learners”
Involvement: To Be or Not to Be
To be or not to be involved?
How will I feel reflecting over my life in my later years? Will I feel confident with the level of involvement I had in my family? What if my level of involvement hurt my kids’ trajectories? How would I feel then? Would I be okay knowing that I had avoided the hard because my flesh desired the easy?
Of course, it’s easier for me not to be involved with my kids’ education. It is easier for me to simply “bring home the bacon” and leave the homeschooling to my beautiful wife, the mother of my children. Being involved requires effort.
But it’s worth it. Involvement is the pillar for impact and influence; you can’t influence your family or impact your kid’s life without getting involved first.
Ask Questions, Make Yourself Available
In my experience, getting involved as a dad is often a simple matter of just asking lots of questions and then making yourself available. Involvement often doesn’t need to be specific: just be there in some capacity.
I volunteered at a homeless shelter for about a year. Early on, I was sitting at the lunch table by myself, and an older, wise man who had started and ran the shelter came and sat down with me for a minute.
He asked me what’s up. I told him that I wasn’t sure what I could do to help serve. He responded in a gentle, noncondemning way and simply suggested, “Just do something.”
I will always remember that interaction and the life principle he taught me that day. I’ve learned that I do not have to always get it right, that I am created to take risks, and that God has given me a gift called faith, and my responsibility is to exercise it.
I aim to teach my kids the same.
Dads, learn more about classical education and find more ways to get involved with this free resource:
I still have that inclination to choose that easy route and do nothing to contribute to my kids’ schooling. But, whether I want to or not, I have influence, and I make an impact.
So why not choose the hard? Be involved. Be intentional.
As a dad, I emphasize to my kids that they do not have to be the best, the smartest, or the most creative. They should not measure themselves against other kids in the classroom. Instead, they should make an effort to do their very best, making small changes one at a time.
And my advice to other dads is the same. Consider this quote from the Lord of the Rings: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time given to us.”
Numquam cede. Never surrender. Fight the good fight and be encouraged.
Interested in sharing your influence, making an impact, and getting involved?