The Christian education debacle.
I had spent nine months reading every "what to expect" book I could get my hands on. I had talked to every mother I knew whose kids were not demon possessed (and a few whose were, just so I knew what not to do). And I had prayed. Boy, how I prayed.
I was terrified that I was going to mess up. Either I would drop my baby (huge fear), or he would cry and I wouldn't know what was wrong with him, or I would forget to feed him (as if he would let me forget!), or I'd leave him in the shopping cart at Wal Mart, or forget to buckle his car seat, or something else really awful and unforgivable that would scar my sweet baby for life.
I was ate up with it. But hey, aren't all first time moms afraid of the unknown? That's a normal thing, right? Sure it is. At least, I told myself so, and I just knew that with time it would go away.
But it didn't go away. It just transitioned from one fear to the next, all focusing on the milestones ahead. After I became confident that I could clip my baby's finger nails without chopping his finger off in the process, I then began to fear that he would suffocate in his sleep if the temperature in his room wasn't perfect.
Then came the fear that he would never roll over. I had visions of my baby as a grown man writhing on his back like some weird baby-man-turtle.
Then, came a whole new package of fears with baby #2. Will I love this baby as much as the first? Will #1 adjust to #2? Will they be friends? Are they too close in age? Will my body ever recover from this? How in the world will I manage to keep two kids alive?
I guess it comes with the motherhood package. Especially the neurotic mother-hood package. As consuming as these fears were, they were really quite minimal compared to what lies ahead.
My oldest son just turned four in July. Which means, in less than a year, he could be going to school. Just the thought of sending him somewhere else each days gives this paranoid Momma heart palpitations. It is something I have agonized over for four years now: How are we going to educate our kids? We have three options:
I don't know about you, but where I live there is quite a bit of tension surrounding this issue. On the first day of school here I watched the Facebook statuses pour in throughout the day, ripe with defensive comparisons. Now, let me say that not everyone falls into the education extremist category. There are parents on all sides of the Christian education debate that are respectful of those who choose a different route. Unfortunately, it's the extremists that bark the loudest and ruin it for everyone else.
Whether they are home schooling parents, public schooling parents, or private schooling parents, the education extremists that I'm referring to are those who say, "This is the way everyone should educate their children. This is right, every other way is wrong."
Of course, no one says it in those words, but it is nevertheless said, quite clearly. If you fall into that category, then let me start by saying (with all due love and respect) just shut up. Your words hold power that you're not quite ready to wield, so simmer down and listen. Here are 8 statements I want you to keep in mind when facing this debacle.
Education is not immune to God's sovereignty.
God is bigger than public school, or private school, or home school. At the end of the day, if you are including him in the decision making process, that is all that matters. I, obviously, know the power that fear can have over us, especially as mothers, and it would be foolish to let that fear dictate your decisions. And since you are not in the heart or mind of any mother besides yourself, it is not your place to determine on what basis any other mother makes a decision for her child. Stop assuming and judging and spitting on the motives of others. Just stop!
Every family is different.
I feel like at the root of the tension between families who choose "christian education" and those who do not, is a sense of feeling judged. We tend think that when someone does something differently than us it's because they don't agree with the way we did it. When, in reality, it's likely that their different decision has nothing to do with us, it's just the decision they made, and we need to get over ourselves. Every family is different, every situation is different, and the "right" way to do something varies from one to the next. Don't take things so personally. It's okay to disagree, and it's okay to chart a different course than others around you. And, for crying out loud, it's okay when someone chooses not to do what you advised them to do.
A mission field is only a mission field if you are on mission.
When I mention the possibility of us home schooling or private schooling our kids, one of the most common response I get is, "If we pull all of the Christian kids out of public school, who will be there to minister to those who are left?" This bothers me for several reasons. First, it's an extreme thought, and working in extremes is rarely, if ever, productive or relevant. Second, I see a lot of unintentional hypocrisy in this way of thinking. If your goal in sending your kids to public school is for them to be missionaries, then you need to be willing for them to not just be around unbelieving kids, but to be involved with them. If they're really going to have an effective ministry, you have to let them get their hands dirty. And if that is your goal, and you are willing to do that, that's great, but you certainly need to insure that they are prepared for such things before you send them off. You wouldn't send your kid into any other mission field in the world unprepared, so why this one? However, it's okay if that's not your goal. In fact, I'd say it's preferable. You can send your Christian kids to public school without a missionary agenda.
It is up to each parent to determine the readiness of their child.
I know several middle school and high school students in the public school system, who are, indeed, on mission. They are blessing our schools in ways they don't even realize. So, do not take my previous statements as saying that Christian kids can't serve the Kingdom in their schools. Absolutely, they can. But that's not to say that every one will, or should.
Don't miss the point: education.
The bottom line here is education. That's the whole purpose of school, to educate our children. Not to create missionaries. Not to create athletes. Not to create tension between different methods of achieving the same goal. To educate.
God is the only one to whom we have to justify our decisions.
If you find yourself in a situation where your choice is being challenged by others, explain as much as you feel led, but if you're not being heard, just bow out. At the end of the day, you don't owe anyone an explanation. You are not a bad parent if your child is in public school. You are not going to retard your children if you choose to home school them. And you are not a snob if you put them in private school. You're a parent, seeking God's provision, who wants what's best for your kid. Now, trust that He'll lead you, and prepare yourself to follow when he does, and you'll be just fine.
What about you? Have you experienced any of these tensions where you live? Do you feel like there is a "right" way to educate Christian kids?
This entry was posted on Friday, September 14, 2012 and is filed under Controversial People,Culture,Parenting,Unity. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.