There is an excellent book written by Douglas Wilson on fatherhood that I strongly recommend—“Father Hunger”. In the chapter on education, he says, “Education, when it succeeds, is the result of a child wanting to be like someone else. To be like his Father. Fathers are essential to any successful school system, and no system of education can successfully compensate for the abdication of fathers” (p. 65).
Children need fathers for the simple reason that children are imitators. They need someone to look up to and follow after. But fathers also play a role in teaching their children the correct way of life and then guarding what they have passed on. As Wilson says, “Fathers are responsible to cultivate a correct view of the world that comes with true education, and they are responsible to guard it against compromise and drift once it is established” (p. 67).
If anyone has any doubt as to the importance of fathers in a child’s education, just look at those children who do not have fathers around at all. People often make the simplistic observation that the wealthier schools have more money, and they thus conclude that money is a big difference. Therefore, schools just need more money! Except this has not worked.
The problem is that families who do not have fathers around create an environment of fatherlessness. If kids do not have dads at home to imitate and learn from, they will learn from others.
When home life is not in order, no one should expect a child to thrive at school. Further, fatherlessness does not require a father to be physically absent. There are many fathers who live with their children but are always gone or in the other room or emotionally distant.
This is also not to say that mothers play no role in a child’s education. Mothers play a very important role. But most children have a mother around. The same cannot be said about fathers. And until we recognize this problem, things will not get much better.
Kids need a dad. They need him to love them. And they need him to teach them how to live.