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Filling the Gap

By Andrea G. Schwartz
April 17, 2007

In an earlier blog, I spoke about the vital function that fathers play in the success of homeschooling. I promised I would address the concept of finding a godly substitute in the case of widowhood or divorce, or even a single mom who has never been married. So, here are my thoughts on this subject.

First of all, the role that is to be replaced as far as the homeschool is concerned is father, not husband. This is an important distinction. I'm not saying that a woman cannot successfully homeschool if she is not married. Sure, a two-parent household is ideal, but just as a person can continue to live a productive life with one kidney, one leg, or one eye, etc., so too can a homeschool succeed with just one parent. As the person who has lost a vital part of his anatomy needs to make adjustments or get aids to help in dealing with the loss, so too does the homeschooling mother need some assistance when dealing with the discipline of her children.

Grandfathers, uncles, and older adult brothers can function in this capacity. There must be a consensus of what the standards and rules are, and an agreement that the surrogate will act in accordance with, not in opposition to the mother. In the absence of blood relatives, an elder, deacon, a member of the church might be willing to take on such a commitment. And, a commitment it is. For this is a role that will continue until the homeschooled child reaches a point where he or she is ready to make significant lifetime choices and live them out.

The covering and protection of the father-figure can be aided by members of his immediate family. In the case of a non-family member taking on this responsibility, he must have the support and assistance of his wife in making this a family ministry. Showing up for important events and providing encouragement for the milestones of life can be a shared activity with his own family. Care must be taken that no improper bond or relationship develops between the "father figure" and the mother without a husband. The man's role in this is to fill the "father gap," not to become a substitute for the love and care the single, divorced, or widowed woman may desire.

The Body of Christ is a family. Galatians tells us to "Do good unto all men, especially those of the household of faith." This is a very tangible way for church members to make a huge difference in the lives of fatherless children.

{Note: I have first-hand knowledge of family members filling the gap left by an absent father (either due to death, divorce, or desertion). I'm eager to share the stories of others who have witnessed similar acts of grace. Please send them along.)


Topics: Family & Marriage

Andrea G. Schwartz

Andrea Schwartz is Chalcedon’s family and Christian education advocate, and the author of eight books including: A House for God: Building a Kingdom-Driven FamilyThe Biblical Trustee Family: Understanding God’s Purpose for Your HouseholdEmpowered: Developing Strong Women for Kingdom ServiceWoman of the House: A Mother’s Role in Building a Christian Culture, and The Homeschool Life: Discovering God’s Way to Family-Based Education. She’s also the co-host of the Out of the Question podcast, and Homeschooling Helps (weekly live Facebook event). She can be reached at [email protected]

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