by Pam Geib
The gleam of white porcelain began to dull as steam rose from the scalding hot water filling the bathtub. The daily ritual of three hot-as-I-could-stand baths had begun for the day. With the aid of my father, I would be carried to the torture chamber, gently lowered into the water, and await (often with tears) for the tick tock of the old alarm clock to ding my release from that living purgatory.
The discomfort I felt those few months during my seventh year were real, yet minimal in comparison with the fear my parents faced daily. The paralysis was partial, but I continued to maintain a fever. Every morning was a new agony for them. Would the paralysis sp
read? Would I be able to move? Complete paralysis would mean the dreaded iron lung and hospitalization, maybe even my life. I was oblivious to their deep concerns and that of my doctor (who’s own child was sentenced to a lifetime of confinement in braces from the same crippling disease).
Eventually the fever broke and I was taken to a polio specialist who pronounced that the disease had run its course and I would recover. There would be no braces, no iron lung, no coffin. My legs would always remain thin; I would always suffer with leg aches. I outgrew many of the effects of the disease. I was a lucky little girl. Whether the hot baths did the job or whether they were simply a placebo for my parents to keep them busy as they waited out the fever, I do not know. However, hot baths and heated swimming pools became a big part of my nurturing years.
It is often the tendency for parents with sick children to spoil and pamper them. I was no exception. I was nearly grown before they stopped putting me in the grocery cart at the supermarket. My parents often drove me places: to the park, to school, to the swimming pool where other children could easily walk. My father was great for carrying me from the car to the house after a long drive and to bed at night.
One of my most endearing memories of being pampered was on our excursions to our favorite department store. We rarely went without visiting the toy department and indulging in an ice cream cone from the lunch counter. Both were down in the basement. We faced what seemed to a small child as a cavernous opening with steep descending stairs, which prevented me from moving from the ground floor to the subterranean one. My father would make a game of it. How many stairs could I walk down before he would have to carry me? I was always so proud if I could make it all the way to the landing. Then my father would wrap me in his arms and carry me the rest of the way down the stairs. When our expedition in the underworld was complete he would again wrap me in his arms and carry me all the way back upstairs.
As with all young girls, I came to an age where I was “too old” to sit on my father’s lap or for him to carry me up and down staircases. Providentially, the department store obliged the situation by putting in an escalator just at that same time.
The appearance of the escalator did not remove me from the sheltering of my father’s arms, for even as an adult woman I never greeted my father without receiving a warm embrace, or departed from him without one either. Fathers play such a key role in our growing up years. Our relationship with our father directly relates to our perception of who our heavenly Father is. If we have had a good relationship with our father, then we move into a good relationship with our heavenly Father quite naturally. However, if our relationship was poor with our father, then a relationship with a loving, perfect heavenly Father is difficult for us to receive. How can we make sure that our children have a strong paternal image to relate their heavenly Father too?
Home education tends to be a real maternal arena. Dad goes off to work each day to provide our families with clothes to wear, food to eat, a roof over our heads, and curriculum on our shelf. Mom stays home and teaches and disciplines the children. Proverbs 29:15 says, “The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.” Scripture clearly shows that the role of mother in shaping our children has historically remained the same.
We mothers, therefore, are in the pivotal position of being able to strengthen or diminish our children’s perception of their father and their heavenly Father.
We should not try to tell our husbands how to be a father, but we can teach our children how to honor their dad. We can show them by example that we honor their father’s position in our family as head of our household. Genesis 1:1 tells us that God is our creator. In Psalm 50:12 the Lord tells us, “The world is mine and everything that is in it.” God clearly tells us just who He is. He also likens us to servants in Luke 16:10-13 and tells us to choose who we will serve. Then in 1 Corinthians 11 He shows us that He has a divine order: Christ, church, man, woman. In 1 Peter 3:6 the Scripture tells us that Sarah called Abraham master and it is credited to her as a noble thing, and that we can be called her daughter if we also keep our husbands in their rightful position. God is owner and creator of all. He compares Himself to our father. We are to choose to serve Him, and because we are the women in our household, we should also choose to serve our husband, and so emulate Sarah in setting an example before our children of serving God through serving our husband.
In setting an example before our children we need to examine how we treat our husband. In my own home I saw a few areas a while ago where I was not putting my husband in his rightful position of being first. I did little things like doing his load of laundry after everyone else’s. A simple area to correct, but by putting Dad’s clothes first, I found myself honoring him and showing my children that this is Dad’s home and he comes first. Another area where we show respect is at the dinner table. We use our kitchen table as our school table, as well as for a dinner table. To avoid arguments about who sits where, I have assigned a spot for each of us and those spots are not negotiable. However, at dinner I make sure the children know (and often must remind myself) that the dinner table belongs to Dad, and he chooses where he will sit and he decides what the rest of the seating arrangement will be.
An area of respect that we learned from Jonathan Lindvall’s Bold Parenting Seminar is who gets first serving of food at mealtime. I prepare the meal, but once it is time to be served it now belongs solely to Dad. He then serves himself first and then passes the food along. This is a small thing to show respect and honor, but a large symbol to our children of just who is the head of our household.
In the area of teaching, I begin by running my yearly plans and goals by my husband. He has delegated this area of home educating to me, but in wanting to honor him before our children, I seek his approval of my plans. His input is invaluable to me and shows our children that although dad has delegated this area of responsibility to me, they are still his children.
As Dad is our financial advisor, I make my petition for curriculum needs to him. I may make the initial choices of what I feel we need for our school, but Dad ultimately decides what will or will not be purchased. (Usually whatever I choose is fine with him. It is more a matter of when it will be purchased that my husband takes into consideration.)
In actual day-to-day teaching, I have taught my children the Ten Commandments and have pointed out the fact that number five says, “Honor thy father and thy mother.” with father coming first. When the boys run to me with their quarrels and their father is home, I remind them that they are their Dad’s and he should be mediator when he is home.
When they speak disrespectfully to their dad, I remind them that they must honor their father as Scripture tells us; and when they ask me for special treats like seeing a movie or buying a CD, I remind them that their father is who they must take their requests to.
My dear father passed away two and a half years ago. Although he did not home educate me, he did not leave me bankrupt of memories or in need of arms to hold me, for by his example he made it easy for me to believe in my heavenly Father.
Scripture tells me of my heavenly Father’s arms: “The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27 NIV). My father left me a legacy of warm embraces and strong arms, but more than that he left me a refuge in the everlasting arms of God, my eternal Father.
Copyright 1992. Used by permission of the author. First published in the Parent Educators News Magazine, 1992.
Chuck and Pam Geib have been involved in home education since 1985. Their first involvement was by homeschooling their two youngest sons. They also served on many home education leadership boards throughout California. They are now grandparents to seven spectacular grandchildren whose parents are homeschooling them. Chuck and Pam are always honored to speak to groups and/or individuals when requested. Currently they serve on CHEA’s Regional Advisory Board.