By Kevin Swanson

Reprinted from the CHEC Homeschool Update; Third Quarter 2001


John Steinbeck’s novel, Grapes of Wrath, draws a poignant picture of a world of irresponsible fathers. When the times became tough, the men would walk down the river never to be seen again. It is a novel about the abdication of the fathers’ role as protector and leader of the family, and it is slowly turning into an all-too-true picture of the culture in which we live.


In 1960, 5% of American babies were born without fathers. By 2000 that percentage had gown to 33%, with recent studies indicating that this trend is continuing to rise. We are coming to live in a world without fathers, a world of orphans and widows. One-third of children are now born without fathers, and a great deal more will lose their fathers during their childhood years. Many more children have fathers who are detached or disconnected from their families.


For the deep and painful problems that prevail in our society, such as the one mentioned above, I have seen many solutions proposed and I have worked on what I thought would be basic and lasting solutions. However, if one were to ask me what one single cultural institution is needed to restore and strengthen the moral fiber of this nation, I would simply say, “Fatherhood.” If we were to bring fatherhood back into our homes, one by one, much would be accomplished in restoring the strength of our churches, and our education, cultural, and political institutions.


Being a father today is not intuitive, normal, or natural. In fact, it is counter cultural. As men in a society where fathers are at a premium, we must struggle to re-invent what it means to be a father. We must uncover God’s original plan for fatherhood. Here are several basic principles concerning godly leadership in the home that I have gleaned from the Word of God.


  • A godly father is one who takes responsibility for the physical and spiritual well being of his household (I Timothy 5:8, Ephesians 5:25-29, 6:4, Deuteronomy 6:1-8).


  • A godly father is one who protects his family from influences that could hurt them (Acts 20:28-31).


  • A godly father strives for a balance of courage, wisdom, and love in his decisions and actions (Ephesians 5:25-29, Joshua 1:7, Proverbs 4:7).


  • A godly father will take the time to understand the specific needs of his wife and children, and then does what it takes to see to it that those needs are met. This is servant leadership (John 13:5-17, Ephesians 5:29).


To some extent, all of us are a part of the culture in which we find ourselves. Although I was privileged with a wonderful father who pioneered the Homeschool movement 40 years ago, there has been much I have had to learn about being the father that God wants me to be. Looking back over 11 years of marriage (and 5 children), I have to say that it has been a growing process for me. I have found that my involvement in my family has grown over the years. Time spent in front of the television or computer has been replaced with more consistent family devotion times, one-on-one time with the children, and family game nights. I spend more time communicating with my wife about the spiritual and academic progress of each of the children. By God’s grace, I am gradually learning what it is to be a father.


The major challenge is in the practical application of the principles of godly leadership. Practically speaking, here are some important areas of involvement in our Homeschool that I have tried to incorporate into my life as a father:


  • I like to work together with my wife in choosing curriculum. We discuss our choices extensively, and then we’ll shop together for curriculum at our (statewide) conference. As a father, I feel that I have a vital interest in seeing to it that the curriculum used in the education of my children will contribute positively to my overall objective of “bringing them up in the nurture of the Lord.”


  • I have found that it does not take much time to “check the pulse” of our Homeschool by monitoring each child’s work on a regular basis. This is also an opportunity to encourage the children in their work, and a little encouragement from daddy goes a long way!


  • I can also teach them directly about the most important lesson of all. Biblical lessons about God’s plan of salvation and Christian character are just too important to delegate entirely to other teachers.


  • Sometimes I help tutor the children when they get stuck in some subject and mom’s rapidly losing her hair over it. Two minds are better than one, and often dad can explain it in a way that mom cannot.


  • Finally, during those days when the schedule gets tight, when emotions are strained, and the stress mounts (and those days do come!), I have found that I can relieve my wife of a lot of pressure by helping out with the teaching when I get home from work.


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