Menu

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Insecurities of a Homeschooling Dad

Social media can be very deceiving. We scroll through the news feeds of people we know (or of celebrity bloggers and content experts), and assume that they are living perfect lives. With every holiday photo they post, every food picture presented, or every insightful article they write, we slip into social media envy and assume that our friends are enjoying the time of their lives. And many people assume that of me as well. They seem to think that I am living the dream life with a wonderful job and wonderful kids. And when I meet people at my various engagements, I seem to get the nod that I am the model citizen of social media society. 
A recent holiday in Disneyland. After long queues under the hot sun, we were quite the "model" family!
There is some truth to this. At this moment, I can say that there is no other job I would rather do; to be my own boss and to conduct training workshops for others, sometimes with my wife; what more could a man ask for? And my kids? They are the cutest ever; with their witty quips and tender spirits, they are a delight to behold. 

But I am far from perfect; and indeed far from being immune to the disease of insecurity. There was a recent discussion in a homeschooling forum regarding how fathers feel, and this was my response:
For me it's not the decision to homeschool or not to homeschool. It's the fear that somehow I would not be able to provide for my family. Doing your own business is very scary and anything can happen. Will there be enough food on the table if anything happens? Will I be so tired working that I don't have the time to support my wife in the day to day tasks? Will I have the energy to play with my kids and not just brush them off with a tired grunt? Is my parenting style too strict such that they are too scared of me and don't dare to approach me for anything? Am I a good enough husband and father? I struggle with all these and more...
What is the parenting journey all about? As a father am I doing the right thing?
Homeschooling Dads are similar to other fathers. To borrow a quote from Shakespeare, "If you prick us, do we not bleed?"



It has honestly been a difficult few years since I started my own company. The uncertainty which stems from the lack of a fixed income has been a predominant worry: What happens if I don't do well and am not able to provide for my family financially? Would my wife have to return to full-time employment; and would we have to abandon our plans of homeschooling our kids?

Then there is the worry that I am spending so much time working that I neglect my kids. Unlike many dads, I have to use my computer very often; even in the presence of my kids. As such, there have been times when they have playfully come up to me with a story to tell or some exciting news to report. Regretfully, I have brushed them aside on numerous instances, telling them that Daddy needs to work. What if all they remember of their father is one who is typing at the computer, and neglecting their emotional needs? That would make me the very father I am trying not to be!

I have been very busy with my work; and people say that "busy is good". For a businessman that is true in that the busier you are, the more you are supposed to be better off financially. But in reality, I don't always want to be busy. I want to be able to have the time to spend with my wife and kids, and being busy with work robs me of precious time with them; yet I know that if I don't work hard, that I would not be able to keep up financially with the high cost of living here in Singapore. It is a financial tightrope that I have had to walk; and the balance is not always easy to achieve.
One of the workshops that I conduct with my wife. But if we spend so much time on work,
how much do we have with our kids?
Am I "good enough" as a husband and a father? This has been the question that has always been at the back of my mind. Somehow I worry that I do not support my wife enough in the day-to-day running of the house. I fear that my business at work drains me both physically and emotionally, and that I am as such not able to simply "be there" for her. As a father I am worried that my parenting style is too strict; and that all my children see is a father who is stern with them. I am also concerned that I lack the physical energy to be "present" with them at the end of a long day of work. Sometimes all a child needs is for the father to be physically and emotionally present; and I fear that I sometimes forget to "be there" for them.

And then there is the educational front. What if our kids end up doing badly in their academics and that our homeschooling is deemed to be unsatisfactory? What if we make the wrong decisions regarding our children's educational paths? It seems that all eyes are on us following our counter-cultural decision to homeschool our kids. As such, we are often asked why we do so, as well as whether our kids are socialised; and while we have the answers to these very standard questions, there is always something at the back of our minds as to whether we have made the right decision. And this is something we will never be able to answer until after our kids have grown up.
"Educating" the kids on Daddy's favourite movie Star Wars.
How then have I been able to deal with all these uncertainties? Just like any other father, I know that I will never have the answer to these questions. I am just thankful that at the end of it all, I have a Heavenly Father who has taken care of me all my life; and I have the faith that He will also be there for my children. 

For faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. And sometimes, the best we can do is to parent with the knowledge that God our Heavenly Father will be there for our children, even in the midst of all our insecurities.
When all has been said, the heart of the matter is to fear God and keep His commands.

1 comment: