By Frederic Gray
A friend of mine, a mom, once told me, “We home school. And when I say, ‘We home school,’ it’s kind of like saying, ‘We’re pregnant.’”
Everywhere in our culture, we are being fed the line that dads don’t matter. But dads have power. Great power. Generational power.
As parents who have side-stepped the modern cultural current and have decided to proactively empower our children with parent-driven education, home schooling, we must do all we can to help our children be all they can be for the Lord. And that means accessing Dad—if he is available.
First we will look at historical and biblical proof of the generational power dads have over children. Then I will give you specific things every dad can do to maximize his home school efforts . . . in only a few minutes each day! Dads are truly the home schooling X-Factor.
How important is a dad in the rearing of his family? Don’t ask me. Ask the Jukes.
“Jukes” is a fictitious name given to a family that was the subject of a multi-generational, groundbreaking study by Richard Dugdale. In 1874, Dugdale asked a question that many of us ask when we see people’s lives go awry: “Why? Why did this happen?” He asked that question a lot, because he was a member of the executive committee of the New York Prison Association. Being a compassionate man, he was concerned about the inmates he met.
One day, during a normal inspection of one of the county jails, he discovered something that sent his compassionate curiosity into overdrive. He found that in one jailhouse there were six blood relatives serving time for various offenses. Their charges included attempted murder, attempted rape, and burglary.
How could this be? Why were so many people from one family in the very same jail, for such horrible crimes?
That is when Dugdale began researching the roots of this family to whom, in an effort to protect their identity, he gave the fictitious last name Jukes.
Dugdale traced the ancestry of the Jukes back to a man he called Max, who was born some 150 years earlier. Max had eight children: two sons and six daughters. Some were born outside of marriage. His work history was nothing to be proud of, and his life was filled with bouts of heavy alcohol consumption.
Dugdale published his findings in 1877 in a book entitled, The Jukes: A Study in Crime, Pauperism, Disease and Heredity. Out of the roughly 1,200 members of the Jukes family, he was able to track down and verify just over 700.
The results are stunning.
- 180 were what were then called “paupers.”
- 140 were criminals.
- 60 were habitual thieves.
- 50 were prostitutes.
These results helped shift the thinking of the day—that people were products of heritage, not habitat; your genetics predisposed you to either prominence or crime. Much has been done since then to validate Dugdale’s research.
The word was out. “Max Jukes,” the deadbeat dad, had triggered a family culture and cascade of immorality and crime. Richard Dugdale awakened people into realizing the potential negative generational impact one dad could have.
However, as stunning as the results of Dugdale’s study are, the results are even more stunning when you contrast the Jukes family with the Edwards family.
In the early 1700’s, the colonies that would become the United States of America experienced what has become known as the first Great Awakening. Central to that spiritual awakening was the preacher Jonathan Edwards. Edwards had very high standards and demanded biblical integrity and congruency from everyone—especially himself.
W. Winship, a man of similar curiosity to that of Richard Dugdale, researched the family of Jonathan Edwards. Again, the results are stunning—especially in light of what we know about the Jukes. Among the roughly 1,400 descendants of Jonathan Edwards whom Winship researched, we find:
- 13 college presidents
- 65 professors
- 100 lawyers, one of whom was a law school dean
- 30 judges
- 66 physicians, one of whom was a medical school dean
- 80 people who held public office, including:
- 3 U.S. senators
- 3 mayors of large cities
- 3 governors
- a controller of the U.S. Treasury
- a U.S. Vice President
The numbers are staggering. The trends are undeniable. It reminds me of a saying I heard a long time ago: “How you do anything is how you do everything.” –T. Harv Eker
One dad. That’s the power of one dad . . . for generations.
If the historical markers do not move you, let’s consider more inspired evidence.
Abraham is a prominent figure in the Bible to both Jews and Christians. He’s such a central figure to Christians that the Bible calls Christians descendants of Abraham (Galatians 3:26-29).
Abraham was no spiritual bum. He was special. He was even called a “friend of God” (James 2:23).
Yet, in spite of that, Abraham gives us a Jukes-type example in the Bible.
Abraham, while traveling through a foreign land, was afraid people might want his wife. So, he misled people into thinking they weren’t married (Genesis 20:1-13).
Lo and behold, Abraham’s son Isaac engaged in the same act of misleading people into thinking Rebekah was not his wife. And he did it because of the same fear (Genesis 26:6-11).
Depending on what experts you listen to, people are born with only one fear, maybe two (heights/falling and loud noises). But what everyone agrees on is that most fears are learned. Even God tells us that His “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).
Here’s my point. Isaac learned the same fear his dad had, and responded in the same misleading way his dad did, in the same location (Gerar), and maybe even with the same king! (They had the same name.)
In essence, Abraham, known as the father of the faith to billions of people across the planet, gave us a Jukes-type illustration with his son Isaac.
On the opposite spectrum there is Joseph and Jesus.
When I ask people what occupation Jesus had, many will say, “He was a carpenter.” After I ask them for proof, they will almost always say these exact words, “Well, we don’t know for sure that he was a carpenter, but we assume he was because Joseph was.”
It’s at that time that I point out that the Bible does actually identify Jesus as a carpenter (Mark 6:3).
- God chooses Joseph to be the “dad” in the life of His son, Jesus.
- Joseph discipled Jesus in the family business, carpentry.
- Jesus discipled apostles, who as disciples are spiritual carpenters in God’s house (Ephesians 2:19-22).
- The apostles are to make more disciples who will further build God’s house (Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 2:19-22).
Given this information, you could say that the discipleship pattern in Christianity points back to the heavenly Father’s choice of the best earthly father for His son.
Even simple observation makes the same point. I have heard dozens of moms from across the country tell me that they “have to” put their sons in school, or they “can’t handle” their sons. I’ve even seen moms and daughters hiding from their angry son(s) until the dad came home. The common thread is Dad’s lack of involvement in the home schooling of the children.
A pastor I’m close to told me something I’ve never forgotten. It rang true with me and everyone I’ve shared it with—both moms and dads: “Usually when a wife gets angry with her husband, it’s not as much about what the husband did to her, as it is about the impact the husband’s behavior has on the children.”
Dads, wives are crying out for their husbands to be involved in the home schooling of their children, in any way. Many dads are already involved, and the numbers are rising. Let’s make the numbers rise even more.
Here are some things dads can do to help make the home schooling of their children the best it can be.
- Every morning tell your children you expect them to honor their mother.
- Get them to commit to it orally. If you don’t see them in the morning, do it the night before. Remind them that she is doing what you want her to do, and if they disrespect her, they are disrespecting both you and God (Ephesians 6:1-2).
- Every evening ask your children if they honored their mother.
- Ask in front of their mom. Then, after they answer, ask their mom how they did.
- Read one Bible verse each day.
- Simply read one verse. Many dads put tremendous pressure on themselves to lead a lengthy devotion each day and consequently give up quickly on trying to establish a routine. I’ve been there.
The accountability, the daily regimen, the questions, and God’s word will all work together to take you places you never have been.
Even if moms say, “We home school” the same way they say, “We’re pregnant,” dads can still be the X-Factor in your home school. Learn from the Jukes, the Edwards, Abraham and Isaac, Joseph and Jesus, and the collective cry among home schooling moms across the country—a few minutes a day can have a huge impact on your children.
That’s because dads have power.
Frederic Gray is the founder of the Fathers of Faith and Daughters of Excellence father-daughter retreat, as well as the Unquenchable Love Marriage Workshop. For over 20 years, Frederic has been speaking into the lives of others. In his teens, he began speaking to youth. In his twenties, he began speaking to churches, schools, and business groups. Churches, schools, home school organizations, youth organizations, abortion counseling centers, lectureships, and conventions have invited Frederic to speak on issues pertaining to families, marriage, parenting, and concerns for today’s youth (including abstinence, student leadership, and healthy choices).