Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How I Have Conflicting Feelings with Sending Our Children to School {and Who is Responsible?}

"Who do you think is responsible for your education," I ask cuddled in the arms of my oldest and the other in the bed across from us, "mom and dad or your teacher?"

"OUR TEACHER!" Alexa yells.

"I don't know," Robby echos.

They start school in one week and we are sending our second child off, as well, this year.

There is something very exciting about it. And somewhat conflicting.

" and dad are responsible for your education," I respond. "We are entrusting your teachers with your hearts and minds to offer you the gift of your education and we want to support, encourage and assist your teacher as much as possible."

These words aren't adding up when spoken out loud and I wonder if they notice.

However we, mom and dad, are ultimately responsible for you, what you learn and how you learn, when you go off to school. That is why anytime you have a problem, we want you to come to us.
Yet I know how difficult it can be to connect with their hearts after a days separation, activities, homework, and maybe dinner together before bedtime

And we ask that anytime your teacher has a problem concerning you, that she come to us. 
 Yet,  they understandably deal with as much as possible internally.

And because we place God at the center of this home and government runs your school, you will be taught things that just don't line up with our values and beliefs. We can talk about those things.
But, then again, attempting to talk about school is like breaking the Vegas moral code. What happens at school, stays at school. They don't seem to want to talk about it.

I conclude with,

 "We are praying that God may direct your education and we'll be praying for your teacher, as well.

And we will, no doubt. But really?

Lord, protect these dear six and eight year old children, as we throw them out into their pagan school without our leading and help them to be strong enough to "think critically" regardless of all they are up against spiritually and morally - at six and eight. please? 

That feels slightly like an irresponsible prayer.

And I feel like, with all the well-intended talk, in the end, we're still throwing them to the wolves.

Not the people, but the governmental system.

And we are the ones responsible for them. I'm not going to lie.This all sounds a little absurd. We. are. responsible. And we have no idea of the ins and outs of how their hearts and minds are being affected day in and day out.

We are responsible and yet we release our children to strangers seven out of their twelve waking hours every day.

We are responsible, yet it appears that we are handing over our God-given responsibility.

And I wonder if they notice.

Please don't misunderstand. We have some of the best schools and teachers where we live. We couldn't be more blessed! I do believe there is a need for our schools. I do understand moms work outside the home, too.  And I do believe teachers (many being those moms) have one of the hardest, most admirable jobs there is. 

Yet, It's conflicting because something feels unnatural about this system for us. Something feels unnatural about breaking a part a healthy, functional, character-building, love-for-learning-infused family by the time each child turns five. A family in training, whose children are learning about love, compassion, and service best from each other. And who are still learning how to love and serve others outside of themselves together.

This is all recently heavy on our hearts here. And we're not making any hasty changes without prayer and proper preparation. 

So, for today, this is what we are choosing. Yes, we choose it with eyes open. By no means do we think that  somehow we are not responsible.

We will support our children's school and teachers. We will pray for them. We will do our best to keep communication lines open with our children.

And I will be a part of the PTO. And I will be at most of the school events and I will each lunch with my kiddos occasionally with my youngest two.

I will be involved. And I will not condemnThis is our choice.

But I ask that you join us in prayer for our children, for our schools, and for our nation in general. And yes, trusting that God has these kids, even where we shut Him completely out. And yes, He made us responsible, yet ultimately, they are in His hands. No doubt. He'll work this out.

Thank you for being gracious here in allowing me to express my heart. This heart truly is all for preserving the infrastructure of family, not against our schools. But, yes, it is conflicting. Can you truly be passionate about both?

I realize this can be a controversial topic, different scenarios and callings for each and every family. These are my thoughts, not givens. And I invite your feedback and respectful conversation in the comments.

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  1. Your words resonate with me. I do homeschool for the reasons you mention. However, I realize that option isn't for everyone. It's a tough reality for sure. It is evident that you are a very loving, involved mom, and your children are blessed to have you!

  2. Those are some of the reasons we have chosen to homeschool. I guess we have the same feelings, onlyl maybe a bit stronger, because it is something that I couldn't get past.

    There are a lot of things that I am missing out on by not sending them to school. After I had children, I kind of imagined myself doing the whole PTO, room mom, school involvement thing...making friends with other school parents in a tight-knit community. And having this thing called "free time" to explore other interests while they go off to school every day.

    But, God had other plans for us. Praying for you, because it sounds like you had a difficult time arriving at this decision, and I know that's tough to feel so pulled in 2 different directions. Blessings for you and your family!

  3. thank you, mandy and crystal for your feedback! This is only recently heavy on our hearts and I suspect our feelings are weighted similarly. We were not ready to make any changes for this year and we're not ones to jump into anything without a well thought out, prayerful plan and so that is what we are doing now. Therefore, I can't say that I am doing the school involvement thing because I see myself as that mom. It's really to honor where we are at right now and fully embrace it until God leads us otherwise. So here lies this post. :)Thank you so much for commenting!

  4. Theresa, I sent you an email through your contact email listed.

  5. Theresa,
    I think these feelings are normal for every Christ-following parent. Our kids go to public school, and I'm always conflicted about that choice. But, right now, we feel like it's the best option for them. We do the best we can to be involved and to keep them talking to us. And we intentionally address the things we want them to learn that aren't covered in school. Praying for you as you continue on this journey that your heart would be peaceful in whatever route you choose.

  6. We must each live our lives with His Will for us as our direction. Home schooling is not for everyone just as sending our children off to school is not for everyone. I worked in a school for 16+years- I loved the people I worked with and the fellowship of believers we had there knowing that we all had the same calling- to be Godly examples to all children in our sphere of influence. At the same time, I too was conflicted with sending my kiddos off every day. Mama's heart you know. I do know that in my own life if there's conflict and no peace about my decisions there's usually gonna be some conflict after the decision too. Praying for you and your decisions!

  7. My two children go to public school. And I honestly feel that if God wanted me to homeschool them, He would be very clear and intentional about it with me (because He is that way with other things in my life). And I know that God wants good things for my children and that He can use them in school to bring glory to Him and to refine their little hearts as well. I see the amazing relationships with other parents that have been borne from the friendships my children have formed.

    It's not a perfect situation and will never be, but what situation on this earth will ever be? My point is saying all of this is to encourage you -- God can and does and will do a mighty work in your children wherever they are.

  8. Thank you, Lori and Nancy, so much for your feedback! It is encouraging to me to hear your perspective.

  9. Yes, I agree, Jen! And I do understand that God does not call everyone to the same task. Thank you for your perspective and encouragement!

  10. While we have been blessed with a Christian School in our area (through scholarships and help of the grandparents) I still need to be involved. Kids are still exposed to stuff through their peers, etc!

    Funny, I just posted this week on why I DON'T homeschool and why I choose to let someone else handle the reading, writing, arithmetic...
    stopping by from betterwriter facebook page :)

  11. Thanks, Julie Anne. I'll check that out!

  12. The reasons you mention are some of the reasons I had for homeschooling my son. The school district we were in was NOT a good school. I was constantly frustrated and having to speak with teachers about things they taught or did in class. (example - showing a movie in class as "literature" but it was a movie we had decided was not appropriate for our family.) The final straw was learning that my son's LD teacher was screaming at and calling the kids demeaning names. And the principal was aware of it. He told me, "It's so hard to get good teachers in small rural schools." We brought him home to teach him ourselves.

    He's graduated now. But we have friends who are teachers in another school district and they are wonderful. They are believers who have so much patience with their students. They are frustrated with what the government now insists that children be taught. I agree that God does not call all believers to teach at home. I believe that God anointed our schooling, but honestly I feel I was rescuing my son from a bad school system. Now I know it was the right choice for him. He's a very independent thinker who credits that ability to home education. But had we been in a GOOD school district, with teachers that cared about what they were doing? I'm not sure we would have made the same decision. For what that's worth...

  13. I found your page from "Walk with him Wednesdays" on the Holy Experience blog. I have just been wrestling with the same issues and just wrote on "To homeschool or not homeschool" I appreciate your honesty and your heart for prayer for your children! It is such a difficult decision!

  14. Oh, Theresa, I appreciate your honesty, your heart, and your willingness to wrestle out such a tough issue. I know God will direct you and your family down the path He's planned for you since time began. Rest in Him, friend. And I'll keep praying with you.

  15. Theresa--thank you for taking the time to communicate the conflict. I share many of your thoughts. My heart says to keep them home. My mind and will, by God's grace, enable me to send them to the public school, equipping them as we go. We were so convinced that sending our children to public school was the right choice that, when our oldest were preschoolers, we chose the school district we wanted and God provided a wonderful home in that community. It is not the "best" district, but we are pleased with the challenges and opportunities it offers. Our kids' education and community was important enough for us to change our lifestyle. Our oldest graduated last spring and, though our children have asked to be home schooled, we see and experience the fruit of them exercising godliness daily (1 Tim. 4:7-8, Heb. 5:13-14, Gal. 6:7). Keep loving, sharing, building truth into your children and teaching them to rely on and trust God above all others. You will be blessed!

  16. You put my scrambled thoughts into actual words! My daughter heads to kindergarten in one more year and I struggle all the time with "are we making the right decision"...My mommy heart desperately wants to keep them home and shelter them from the world out there...but how can we all be lights for Christ if we don't teach them and equip them to be in the world and not of the world...I just don't know what the answer is. But thank you for your wonderful post! It made me feel less alone in my struggle. I just keep remembering that the Lord loves my children even more than I do and He will help us know what to do.

  17. Understand.
    We decided on public education; but must confess that we were not as energised to pray, engage and bring Light as were intended..

    My girl is now 12 and i am re-visitng the homeschool option because i see even longer hours and more wolves ahead. It's crazy trying to evaluate these things. I know the One Person to go to and wait and hear though...and will share more when i hear more..

    meanwhile, i wrote The Teen Dance in my blog if it will help you who parent brand new teens!

  18. I think this is something every Christian parent struggles with. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Theresa, I am so grateful for the afternoons I spend, every other week, with friends whose children attend my kids' school, too. We are in Moms in Touch, International, and we pray -- oh, we pray -- for our children, the children at the school, the teachers, the administration . . .and oh, how He answers prayer! This public school is being transformed, and teachers are praying before together, weekly, before class, and the atmosphere is becoming one of increasing unity and faith. Not all of the families, of course, are Christian. But I am so encouraged by the role we can each play in showing who Christ is, in the secular spaces. It has been five years now, of steadfast prayer -- and He is so good! Praying for your heart as you continue to surrender and listen. I so appreciate your openness and vulnerability here.

  20. So very hard. Any time we release our children into the care of another, we should feel a tug, right? I do...even if I'm simply going to a doctor's appt. ::SIGH::

    And to think, God loves our kids more than we ever could.

    So thankful we all can make that choice for our children -- for what is best for the cell of the family. And am forever grateful for the power of prayer to fill in the cracks of where I can't touch.

    Hugs to you, Theresa!!

  21. I'm already fighting this battle in my mind and Thomas is only 1.5! :) It's a hard one for sure. The Lord will direct you. He is faithful.

  22. So glad I stopped over. How thorough and eloquent is your community discussion here. WOW. Thanks again for visiting me.
    We have three, one just graduated from college. Each year we re-evaluate each child's best option for school. One made several changes from public to private to Christian to boarding. These are well prayed over and well thought out decisions. We trust the Lord's love and His hand on our family. Lean into Him as you are and you will feel His leading. Great to meet you, new friend. And the prayer of my heart is for your children to have a wonderful school year. Oh I know your momma's heart on this one.

  23. Thank you all so much for your feedback and support. It is encouraging to me to read about the amount of prayer, trust and peace that you all are experiencing on this journey. Jennifer, I love the idea of a moms in touch prayer group! I do feel a peace in moving forward, trusting God will direct our path with each day and each year. Thanks, ladies!

  24. Great and thoughtful post. You are responsible and asking these questions and praying these prayers is just what you should be doing right now.

    Stay connected to your kids and your God...

    For us, we send them to school (it is a Christian school); when we were at another home, it was homeschool. But I don't know what is right for you; there are definitely challenges and trials in all scenarios. Dragging out of them what they are learning, staying connected; this is a challenge. And you are right, they are too young to fight the wolves on their own. So you are testing the waters... and constantly praying about how to fulfill your responsibility to them.

    I will say this- my kids are "schooled," and one thing I love about that- I get to teach them the best things at home. My husband and I teach God's Word and faith, I sit down to read my favorite books with them, I get to focus on my favorite areas instead of ALL the areas (no science, no math! It is outsourced!)

    Of course, it helps to know the teachers are supporting what we teach at home. Perhaps yours will at least not undermine...

    All that to say, keep on praying and wrestling and loving your babies. It is God who works in you and in them too, and He will keep you in His hands.


  25. Yes, I will pray with you. I understand in ways that not all will understand as I have never had children but have taught in the public schools in several states across the US. I taught first and K mostly, ages of beautiful willingness to learn, ages of innocence for most.

    I am 64 yo now, but were I 34 and had a family, I consider homeschooling something I would want to do for I now know that I want to teach as a Christian. I was not one then, but I knew how to teach, I knew how to be compassionate, I knew how to be a great teacher with love wrapped around each child. I was just on the path to becoming a follower of Jesus...just not there yet! I left teaching because I had grown weary of the paperwork of public education, the growing lack of time to educate, the stipulations of how and what to teach without creativity, and having to teach to those tests.

    So your conviction to be a part, a strong part, of your children's education, and to continue to teach them God's ways are such important pieces of a child's education, if only ALL parents would see it that way. I thank God for parents as you and your husband. I will pray that the decision you make now is the best. And should you change then it will be the best then. Yes, it is never an easy decision for these children are precious and vulnerable. They are so maleable. I am praying for each one, for yours as well as the many, many others, for the teachers and administrations, for our education system as a whole, and for our government.

    May we walk in His presence with each and every step.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda @ Being Woven

  26. Emily and Linda, thank you! I greatly appreciate your perspectives! Emily, I like your angle on being able to teach your children all the fun stuff! That is a great way to look at it. Linda, I value your words coming from a teachers perspective. There are so many teachers I know who amaze me - all the love you wrap around your students. I hear you, though, regarding the government requirements. There is only so much of you to go around and I know those demands spread you even thinner. Thank you for your honesty. Thank you both so much for commenting and for your prayers!

  27. I pray that the Lord will lead you in the direction He would has for you and your family. If He is leading you to homeschool, then He will make that path straight before you. I pray you hear His voice.

    No matter what it is He calls you too, you will not feel guilty over.

    Let me know if I can help in any way. Blessings to you, friend.

  28. It is so good to read the perspective of someone who has struggled with this question and ended up deciding to stick with public school. I worry about the direction our public schools will take if all the responsible, caring parents decide to pull out of the system! Here's why my child goes to public school.

    One thing I notice when I read about many people's reasons for home-schooling is that they feel unable to trust anyone else with their children or to trust their children to do well away from them. I think this lack of trust is a problem that needs God's guidance. Sure, in some situations there is a serious problem with the school (or in its ability to serve that particular child) and home-schooling may be the best option. But in most cases, giving up the idea that YOU are the ONLY person who can be trusted to get things right is a form of pride, and God can help you discern which people and schools are worthy of your trust.

    Have a great school year!

  29. Oops, I meant, "the idea that YOU are the ONLY person who can be trusted to get things right is a form of pride, and when you give up that pride, God can help you"--I didn't mean that giving it up is a form of pride!

  30. I'm so thankful for this post! I ran across your blog from Anne Voscamp's and I immediately clicked on this post. This resonates with me more than you know, and I have spent lots of nights up and praying. Conflicting feelings is definitely how I'd describe myself as well. I think sometimes conflicting feelings are God's way of asking us to trust Him more and sometimes they are His way of telling us something else. I'm trying to discern which here too. Thank you for this.


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