A reader from Instagram asks: how do I get my husband more involved?!


I’m sighing about this question for two reasons. Firstly, because it frustrates me that most dads – and, I really do mean most dads – still seem so reluctant to open their eyes to different life options for their children. But I’m also sighing because I get it. Most dads – and again, I mean most – just want the best thing for their child.  They want them to get the best education, and the best social experiences, and the best opportunities, and the best possible career…they really do mean well.

But the great irony with so many dads is that their stubbornness against this way of life, and their reluctance to spend the time and energy on researching all the different possible life paths for their children, is actually preventing them from finding – and being able to provide – all of those 'bests' they so dearly want for their children.

So then the question becomes: if they’re so well meaning, as I believe they are, why won't they invest the time and energy into learning more?

Well, as a dad myself, I think I know why. And it boils down to two things.

The first one is the fear of social stigma.  The perception of your child – and, by extension, yourself – by your friends, family and the world in general. When your child goes to school, they – and you – are just like everyone else. You live all the same experiences, and get to talk about all the same stuff everyone else does. Your child with other children, and you with other adults.

But when your child doesn’t go to school you suddenly lose that common ground. Instead of joining in on those conversations, you find yourself having to explain why you can’t. And – because home education is still so very misunderstood – that explanation is rarely met with any real understanding.

And so you kind of sit on the outside of any office, or workplace, or social chatter that’s related to that – which, you discover quite quickly when you’re no longer part of it, is actually a lot. School is just such a foundational thread of society.

In the ten years since my eldest son turned five – which is school age here in NZ – I’ve worked for four different companies, with hundreds of different people, and a grand total of zero other home educating parents. That I knew of, at least.


It doesn’t matter how strong you are in your convictions, or how ready you are to explain why you’ve chosen the path you’ve chosen, that is not an easy environment to be bold in. And I think this is what dads picture when you try and talk to them about a different life path for your child, or when you send them a post to read or episode to listen to, or when you hand them one of my guides. It’s not that they don’t want to do the research – most dads I know are all about the hard data – it’s that they don’t want to carry the weight of that social stigma. For them, or their child.

Dads – I need to tell you that I get that. It can feel scary, and isolating, and lonely. I have lived it, and felt it, for years. But if feeling those things – if taking that on – means your child, because of who they are and how they’re wired, will have a better life if you do…then you need to do it.

The second thing that feeds this reluctance is the potential – no, likely – recognition that their own school experiences might not have been as positive or necessary as they’ve convinced themselves they were. It cannot be – statistically, it just cannot be – that all these dads had such wonderful experiences at school that they don’t want their child to miss out on them. It is far, far more likely that most of these dads are repressing memories from a time of their life that was actually really difficult.

About one in every 20 children will be diagnosed with ADHD at some stage of their schooling life. But for every girl that’s diagnosed, there will be between three and seven boys. For every one might-be-a-future mum diagnosed, there will be between three and seven might-be-a-future-dads. A typical classroom is a very difficult place to spend time as someone with ADHD, and this is just one example, of one type of neurodivergence.

Statistically, a lot more dads will have struggled at school than mums.

When I released the very first episode of my podcast, I was sent a message from a mum who had sat down and listened to it with her husband. A man who has never cried about anything, I’m told. As he listened to the story of my difficult school years, tears filled his eyes. He’d had the same kind of experience, and – for the first time in what must have been a very long time – he truly let himself recognise that.

Letting yourself feel these things, especially if you spend a bit of time in it and really reflect, can be confronting and painful. It can stir up memories of experiences with a bad teacher or a playground bully, or it can go down way deeper. Right down into things like shame and embarrassment at not being able to keep up in a class or subject, or the crippling stress that comes, for so many, with assessments and tests and grades, or the loneliness that so many experience during a lunch hour that can feel like an eternity.

There are so many feelings to be processed, when you really start reflecting. It’s hard, confronting work. But, for your child’s sake, it may just be the most important work you ever do.

Guys, I know this stuff is hard. I know it can dredge up painful experiences you’d rather not go back to. Or, even be honest with yourself about. I know it can be socially confronting to sit through workplace chat about everyone’s relief at the school holidays ending, knowing there’s just no way you can join in on that conversation. I know how overwhelming it can feel to continually have to explain why you’ve decided to walk a different path to almost everyone you know and ever meet. Trust me, I do. I have felt all of this, and I have lived all of this. As a child, and as an adult.

But your children need you. They need you to be open, to spend the time and energy they deserve on researching and deciding whether school truly can provide them the best path through life. Because if it won’t, they need you to smash open the door to a new one. They need you to pick up that weight and carry it on your shoulders. They need you to be bold. They need you to be strong.

They need you to be their hero.

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