discipleship without dadI have been asked the question:  Can I disciple my children, when dad isn’t 100% on board.

To be in the situation where your husband agrees to homeschool, or agrees with a particular parenting direction, and yet doesn’t get involved is a hard one.  And yet, I believe you, the mother, can disciple your children.  Here are some thoughts:

  • I am reminded of Timothy from the Bible, he was discipled by his mother and grandmother.  We don’t hear about his father, but we know he was Greek.  We can read into that – or not – but either way, the mother and Grandmother are noted for teaching him the things of the Lord.
  • We are all called to make disciples in the Great Commission (men and women) and our children are our first disciples.
  • Though I believe it is God’s best to have father and mother both teach and train their children in the ways of the Lord, we cannot insist, or expect our husbands to do anything where his heart is not at – this is an issue between him and God.  All we can do is pray, keep our tongue sweet, and our attitude and actions loving and honest while we do what God has put on our heart.  Of course, if your husband is against the very things on your heart, that is another matter.

I have seen an example of this – my friend’s husband isn’t a Christian though he supports her homeschooling and teaching them God’s ways – in as much as he isn’t anti.  His perspective on parenting is so different than hers though and often pulls against the character/discipleship stuff she is teaching – not intentionally, just his value system is different.  Her children are growing as Christians and are wonderful children.  It is hard for her, sometimes lonely but he loves her, he loves his children.  He is on his own journey.  She sees herself as blessed to be able to disciple as she can and makes the most of every opportunity (especially the school hours, and when he is at work).

My husband, Peter, works away from home at times, and he works very long hours.  There have been many times where he would be unaware of what particular issues we are learning – academically, character, life skills or talents wise.  But when he has the mind space I used to get the children to ‘show and tell’ what they have been learning or what they have made – just as if they were going to school in a sense.  This has been one way for him to interact with the kids, without taking on any of the work load.  Another way is to talk around the dinner table about what has gone on in their day.

When we started homeschooling Peter was pretty much of the mindset that homeschooling was my choice.  He was fully supportive of me homeschooling, he saw the good in it but it was my deal.  When I asked him for an opinion he would say, ‘well, you’ve done the reading, I don’t have time for that – whatever you reckon’.  This was frustrating.  There were a few times that I said, “I want your response as a man who knows God’s word on this idea” and then I would sketch out the idea, philosophy, method etc.  He was able to share his thoughts in that context.

I remember asking him to teach the kids the principles of flight.  I thought this would be an easy thing – he is a pilot – he lives and breathes the principles of flight.  But he got really really stressed about the whole idea and I couldn’t understand why.   I came to realise that when I asked him to teach the kids something he thought he would have to spend time doing lesson prep – find books, illustrations, worksheets etc and deliver a well structured, planned lesson.  This is what he saw me doing and he thought he would have to do the same and he simply didn’t have time to do that.  When I explained that I just wanted him to talk to the kids, maybe take them to the airport he was on board.  I realised from this example – and it happened early on in our homeschooling journey – that he had mindsets just as I did.  The  more I homeschooled and the more I read my mindsets were changing.  He needed grace and help to get onto the same page – but in his own time.

Though he is not very involved hands on, he is still their dad and still has an influence in their life – this is discipleship.    Over the years Peter’s understanding of education has changed, along with a fuller and growing understanding of discipling (as has mine).  Homeschooling is just one way we speak into our children’s lives – we need to make sure that we don’t make it the only way and therefore make more of an issue than it is, and in doing so discrediting the interactions our husband does have with the children.

I don’t know what will happen in your husbands’ heart, whether he will ever change his perspective or not.  But I do believe that when they say ‘yes, you can’ that they are being ‘leaders of the home’.  This is one of the stumbling blocks that a lot of women feel.  They want their husbands to be the leaders – and they want to define what ‘leadership’ looks like.  I never once thought Peter wasn’t being responsible for his family – we are in this together, even though I was doing the hands on, face-to-face, day-to-day discipleship.  Peter still contributed to their hearts – to their life, it just looked different than the way I did it.

So step out in faith, and walk in the ways God has put on your heart, and accept how God has provided for you – in your husband being content for you to do what is on your heart – and believe that God will be faithful – as He always is.

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 Every week I'll email an encouragement to stay intentional and relational in all your family life.  But for now, download your set of reminder posters - posters which I've used over the years to remind me to keep my eyes and heart on what is important.

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