by Trent Joblin
In one of my favorite movies, “That Thing You Do”, Guy Patterson says in response to a question by the press, “I am the drummer”, as if that answers the asked question all by itself. Earlier in the movie Guy was told “You are the drummer. You are the backbone – the timekeeper”. A lot of times in the church I seem to hear the same type of statement “I hold the priesthood” in response to various questions, as if that answers all questions. You may wonder what any of this has to do with homeschooling. Hopefully, I will be able to tell you.
Just as we all have different callings in the church and in life, some are called to homeschool, some are not. The spectrum runs from some families accepting the idea to homeschool very easily, to some that agonize over their decision. All families are not guided to homeschool their children no matter how much prayer is involved. We need to keep this in mind. But, what about those families that do get an answer? And what if the answer comes through the mother? What is the father’s responsibility when the mother has been given the answer to homeschool their children? Is the father’s responsibility different depending on who gets the answer?
In our home, I am the driving force behind our homeschooling. I was the one that was inspired to bring our children home. My wife thought I was crazy (actually, she thought that before the homeschooling idea) . I research the curriculum, buy the books, and participate on the different homeschooling boards. I try to be the guiding force behind what we are trying to accomplish. My wife acts as my counselor in all this. I teach the older children, 9th grade, 8th grade, and 6th grade. My wife teaches the younger children, 4th grade, 2nd grade, and kindergarten. These roles are not set in stone as we both actually teach all the children. Also, the older children help with the younger ones. But, is our home the norm? No, nowhere close. There probably isn’t a “normal” home. It runs from our example to cases where the father does not want to see the children taught at home, period.
No matter where the family falls on this continuum, what should be the father’s minimum responsibility to homeschooling his children? What manner of man ought ye to be? You must fulfill the priesthood responsibilities that were accepted when ordained to the priesthood of God. The father is the patriarch of the family. This is a responsibility that cannot be forsaked. As the patriarch, the father should make sure that, first and foremost, the gospel is taught in your home, that everything is done to strengthen the Spirit in your home and in each individual’s life. What should this entail?
family prayers morning and night
family scripture study daily
personal prayer and scripture study
family home evening
personal priesthood interviews with your wife and each child
Is this all that should be done? No, teach by example in all things. The gospel is the most important thing that we can teach our children, and is our greatest responsibility.
With the Spirit of the Lord able to act freely in your home and your life, decisions about homeschooling will be done with the attitude of truly seeking answers from you Heavenly Father. Is everything we are asked to do easy? Of course not. Will homeschooling be easy?
Who knows? One thing is for sure. If your Heavenly Father tells you that you should homeschool, then you should “go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7).
From Alice in Wonderland, “if you do not know where you want to go, it doesn’t really matter which path you take”.
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.
These can be found on www.lds.org by doing a search:
“A Latter-day Father’s Guidebook”, The Liahona February 1996, Kim Crenshaw Sorensen,
“What the Lord Requires of Fathers”, Tambuli August 1982, Elder Robert L. Backman, 1st Quorum of the Seventy,
“To the Fathers in Israel”, Ensign November 1987, President Ezra Taft Benson,
“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”
“Parental leadership in the Family”, parent’s fireside broadcast from Temple Square, 27 Jan 1985, Elder Dallin H. Oaks,
“Teaching the Gospel in the Home”, Family guidebook,
“Strengthening Families: Our Sacred Duty”, Ensign May 1999, Elder Robert D. Hales, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles,
“First Presidency Message: Train up a Child”, Tambuli April 1978, President Spencer W. Kimball,
“Train up a Child”, Ensign April 1999, John W. and Marjorie Hasler,
“Teaching Children to Walk Uprightly before the Lord”, Ensign May 1994, Sister Ruth B. Wright,
“Teaching Children of God”, Tambuli March 1981, President N. Eldon Tanner, First Counselor in the First Presidency,
“Teaching Children through Prayer”, Ensign May 1973, Marian P. Sorensen