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School choice and social media manners

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Confession:  I get a little cranky about people acting like parenting is a different experience now than it was for the eons of time before.  So much of good parenting is consistent from generation to generation, BUT I think there is an element of social media now that has made relating to other parents difficult in a new way.  I find that when I talk to my homeschooling friends face to face we find much we agree on.  We can share parenting joys and struggles and support each other.  Where I have the most frustration is in the realm of social media.  The same way this is true with other controversial topics, it is very easy with schooling topics to throw a bomb and walk away.

I will say that I have seen this much more from homeschoolers than public schoolers.  I’m trying to think if I’ve ever seen a post by a public schooling family that said how homeschooled kids are going to end up dumber, heathens, and unemployed because their parents didn’t obey God’s call.  I can’t remember that, although it has probably happened.  I do feel like those in the homeschool community are more likely to post such thoughts.  I really do get it!  When you feel like you’re the persecuted minority, it’s easy to want to justify what you do.  And with how much work homeschooling requires, you wouldn’t be doing it unless you really believed in it.

I read a post recently by a respected homeschooling father who started out by saying he was going to go through the 10 or so lessons he’d learned by homeschooling his kids over the last 20 plus years.  He said he knew 10 lessons wasn’t very many to learn over 20 years, but he went to public school himself, so should be forgiven for being such a slower learner (this is my paraphrase).  Really?  It just seems like such a cheap shot and makes it hard for a public schooling parent to hear the message when it’s wrapped in that kind of package.  I have no problem reading about the benefits of homeschooling. It’s an area I try to research fairly regularly as we consider each child and each school year individually.  But the tone is what makes it so difficult to respect what I’m hearing.

(Disclaimer- I know MANY wonderful homeschooling families who are gracious and respectful to people who are making a different choice.  I am not talking about ALL families and have been encouraged to see that this issue frustrates my homeschooling friends even more than it frustrates me because of how it damages their reputation.)

When we cite statistics or anecdotes about how well homeschooled kids are doing when compared with kids in public school, are we thinking about what most homeschooled kids have in common?  These are children who have two parents that are economically advantaged, who have decided one parent should be at home, are intelligent enough to teach, and have homes centered around faith.  While there are examples of other kinds of families that homeschool, in my experience this is the typical model.  (We can argue about the definition of “economically advantaged” but somebody in the depths of poverty is going to be pretty stretched to buy curriculum or stay at home with their kids.)  Is it really a fair comparison to look at those privileged kids next to your average public school student?  Whatever the school environment my child is in, he has the benefit of two loving parents who are eating meals with him, supporting his education, teaching him our values.  I have been happy with his educational progress and also his spiritual growth over the last year.  We are setting him up for success.  That influence is not going to be undone during the time he spends in a public school classroom (especially not when his public school teachers are so supportive of us) although all of us are gifted with the ability to make our own choices.

During our group home days we could take kids out of environments that were obviously negative and abusive.  The kids knew that things were difficult and that the choices their parents made were damaging.  They were with us 24/7 for weeks and months and years, but they still wanted the approval of their parents.  They still carried their family history and values.  Of the kids we loved and homeschooled and wept over, a minority chose anything different from the lifestyle they saw modeled by their parents in their earliest years.  A parent’s influence is VERY strong.  Our children don’t cease to be our responsibility because they are receiving their formal schooling from someone else.

So if we know that homeschooled kids are generally from a fairly privileged background, who exactly are these families we’re putting down when (as I was told just the other day by a homeschooling parent) we are thankful our kids don’t have to be around their negative influence?  I just want us to take a moment and think about who we are actually discussing and check our attitudes.

-Special needs kids are in public school.  Even families who homeschool may use the public school system to provide services for their special needs children.  When you talk about how thankful you are that your kids don’t have to attend the horrible public schools, remember that this is a place where “the least of these” are receiving help at no cost.

-Christian educators and administrators are in public schools.  Not every teacher is intent on undermining parents or subverting your faith.  When you make sweeping judgements about the school system you are including passionate and loving educators (some of whom may be your Facebook friends or in your church community).  They are motivated by a desire to be a light to the kids in their care who may not have other loving influences.

-Foster children, kids from poverty or single parent homes are in public school.  Not everyone can afford to homeschool.  I’m not saying you have to be wealthy to do it, but it does require a parent being at home to educate their child or the ability to pay for a tutor.  When we talk about the dumb kids who are bad influences in the public schools, we are often talking about kids who are growing up in less than ideal circumstances for no fault of their own.  They may deserve more of our compassion and less of our “fend for yourself” mentality.

-My child is in public school.  Kids like mine are heading off into those schools every day.  The children of your friends and your family members.  Kids who are loved and treat adults with respect and want to obey God.  Kids you would really like if you got to know them and would be happy to have playing with your kids.

What I’m saying is this:  If we remove our children from our neighborhood schools, that doesn’t mean those schools no longer matter.  When you say something demeaning about those public school kids, you are often talking about children who are your brothers and sisters in Christ, or kids who are growing up in difficult situations, or kids who have unique needs.  While all publicly schooled kids aren’t in a bad spot, most kids in a bad spot are also in public school.  And yes, some of those kids are growing up without positive influences and may have developed troubling behaviors as a result.  God grieves for those children.  If you remove your kids from that environment you may have taken away those negative influences on your children, but you may have also removed your ability to influence those hurting families who desperately need it.  Even if you structure your life so your kids never interact with those children, their adult world won’t be quite so segregated.

So the next time you’re tempted to make a sweeping public generalization about the failing public school system, the lazy teachers, the inattentive parents or the unruly children take a minute to consider who you’re really talking about.  Put a face to it.  Have some compassion.  Engage in thoughtful discussions with grace, gentleness and sensitivity.  Love your neighbors.

46 Comments

  1. This is very thought-provoking. I know I have posted many an article about homeschooling because I found it interesting. Now I’ll know that I should back it up with my thoughts on how it relates to parenting any type of schooled child (the principles always do, imo). I didn’t do that before because of my assumption that everyone is getting the same thing out of it (or can, if they read it).
    I don’t think I’ve ever read something like what you wrote above (like the father who didn’t learn much at public school), and if I have, I probably didn’t think twice about it, just filtered it away and took from the article what I wanted.
    I forget that not everyone is able to read something, glean what they want, and spit out the rest.
    Sarah M

  2. I have refrained from commenting on the previous posts this week, waiting to see if at some point there will be a balance to the posts about homeschoolers, but I must admit that I am getting discouraged with the way I feel you are respresenting homeschool parents. So far there has been a blanket letter to all homeschoolers asduming all of them as a whole are defensively rude to those who question their schooling choices, and 2 posts admonishing homeschoolers to watch how they present their choices to their children and others.
    I really enjoy your blog and find you have a lot of gentle wisdom on so many topics, so I am still hopeful that you have plans to present homeschoolers in a positive light; I just felt compelled to share that so far, t this is feeling a lot l

    • Aaand that’s what I get for attempting a post on my kindle. Ha! :) What I was trying to say was that so far, this has kind of felt a bit unbalanced. I hope I am not coming across harshly – I truly feel that you traditionally do an exceptional job at showing grace onall topics, even on topics that I didnt necessarily agree with you about. :)

    • Meagan, I appreciate you reading and offering feedback. I hope that you’re seeing that I am totally supportive of homeschooling as an educational choice. I have clarified that I have been part of homeschooling culture, have close friends (and sisters) that have home schooled, and consider it a valid option for my own family if we need it again in the future. The “balance” I can offer is that I support both of these educational choices equally when made in the best interests of children.
      In discussing this, a friend (who homeschools) pointed out to me today that the critiques of homeschoolers are often from people outside the church, but the criticism of public schooling families tends to come from those within the church. I think that’s why I’ve wanted to address this issue so thoroughly—because of my concerns about unity. I can’t “fix” the fact that those outside my faith won’t understand why our convictions might lead us to homeschooling, but I do feel I can address to those within my faith why I’ve chosen what I have and how we could be supporting each other. I have also wanted to be clear that my concerns aren’t with all homeschoolers, just with the very vocal group who maybe haven’t thought about how their advocacy comes across. If that isn’t you, then feel free to just know I support your educational choice and have no desire to be offensive.
      I do have one more post for tomorrow that I think you’ll enjoy, but ultimately I write what is on my heart which may or may not be what other people want to read. I’m okay with that :)

      • I think the very vocal group you describe must be the minority. Most homeschoolers that I know are pretty “live and let live” kinds of people when it comes to education–they’ve made the choice they feel is best for their families, and they’re OK with the choices others are making for themselves. Sure, we’ve got opinions about things–everybody does. No one can approach life without bias or preference. But I think we’re generally pretty gracious about the way we handle our choices and opinions. In the same way I can be friends with someone who thinks along different political lines even though we may vehemently disagree on some issues, I can still love and be friends with someone who has a different philosophy about education.

        I haven’t felt much unity as I’ve visited this week. I’ve just felt sort of…yucky. This hasn’t really felt like a balanced school choice series, but more like a series about why homeschoolers need to be nicer. The first couple of posts were a little eyebrow raising for me–did I really come across as defensive to others? I didn’t feel defensive. But as it went on, it just seemed very heavily weighted to “this is how and why you’re doing it wrong”. The comments from moms (both here and on FB) who have had a “Hear, Hear!” sort of response have also made me feel pretty discouraged. I feel like they’re saying, “Go get em, girl! Tell those homeschoolers how we really feel!”

        I kept waiting for some more balance–some redemption for my own heart and feelings. To hear that there is only one more post in the series is pretty disappointing, because I’m trying to figure out how in one post you could give some balance to several posts in a row that have seemed to be calling out the mean homeschoolers.

        I don’t think I’ve ever felt as removed from “public school moms” as I have until reading this series and the comments following it.

        • I haven’t known how to word what I have thought about these posts either and Brianna, you just put it all into words for me :) I’ve come away from reading these all with the same feelings. I haven’t seen my homeschooling friends be rude as some of the suggestions in these posts. Yet I’ve heard more negative responses to homeschooling from public schooled moms. Maralee, I totally get it and respect that you write from your heart and that is completely appropriate…it is your blog after all :) However, you say that you are coming across as balanced, yet I”m not seeing it as Brianna pointed out. It is obvious that you are writing from a public schooled mom’s point of view, rather than writing from mutual grounds. That is ok. Just call it as that rather than saying you are coming from a balanced view when it is definitly coming across as…”those homeschoolers, need to be nicer, ect.”

          • Brianna and Dena,
            You know I love you both. I’m really thankful that you haven’t experienced this kind of interaction with the homeschool community. That’s great! If you don’t feel like you’re part of the problem, then as I’ve stated this doesn’t apply to you.
            As I’ve said- the “balance” is that I’m okay with either schooling option. Yesterday’s post was aimed at both public schooling and homeschooling parents. I am absolutely NOT arguing that all kids should be homeschooled or public schooled or private schooled. And I disagree that I’m coming from this with a public school bias. Honestly, I am writing this from my experience in homeschool culture. As a public schooling parent I wouldn’t even necessarily know this is going on, but I am very well aware that within *some* homeschool communities the public school choice is viewed in an extremely negative light. I am wanting to speak to my homeschooling sisters who are struggling with this. If you aren’t those ladies, than this shouldn’t be offensive to you.
            The fact that this has touched a nerve with a lot of public schooling families should be an indication that even if you haven’t experienced this, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. If that awareness has been raised, then I’m okay with the discussion being uncomfortable for a minute here. It may feel divisive for a little bit (which isn’t what I want), but I think that’s just because there wasn’t an awareness that people were hurting. If you can hear and validate that that is their experience even if it isn’t yours, I think that’s a big step toward unity.

        • THIS is a MUCH more gracious and eloquent way to say what I so awkwardly blundered through up there. Thank you for putting well-thought-through words to my exact feelings.

  3. There is a darker side to public schools, to which homeschoolers share about with no regard to the well-being of those in public schools. As a former homeschooler in the community, and one who is still surrounded by homeschoolers, there’s a lot of sad things that I have experience with but no one wants to share that its there. I think we need to acknowledge these things. Nothing is without imperfection and it is good to bring to light things that aren’t talked about.

    I’m glad for those who’ve never experienced the darker side of homeschooling; but I have. And it has hurt. And definitely no, not every homeschooler is this way! Just as every public school parent does not leave their parenting to the schools, not every homeschooler believes or does these things. Friends who I’ve sat next to who have shared how happy they are their kids aren’t tainted by the other kids at public school. They are so happy “their” precious kids won’t be taught those sinful things by those “other kids”, or “those teachers.”. And their kids don’t have to eat “that crappy food” at school. That those “awful neighbor kids” are ruining everything innocent about their child. That they cannot wait for “those public school children” to go back to school and get off of the public playgrounds for their families to enjoy alone again. I’ve heard a father “Give tribute to the public school! We have cheap back to school clothes! Thanks!” This hurts real people, and a real God who made us all. And has turned something meant for good, into something bad. I feel it may cancel out the good that’s being done. Or at least, tint it a different color than it was meant to be.

    I feel as though the very principles of shepherding and discipling our children’s hearts, which is the principle of most Christian homeschooling; is what Christian parents are to work toward and lovingly share with others. This is possible in every realm of schooling and does not only exist in homeschooling. Bringing to light what goes on behind closed doors and in secret conversations and in our minds begins to heal our hearts. And I know this is what Maralee is about.

  4. I have to agree with the above commenter. I think I assumed that this series would be centered around discussing the validity of different choices for different families, however with each new post it has felt more like “instructions to homeschooling parents” on how we should behave towards non-homeschooling families. It’s felt a little condescending, actually.
    I have no doubt that the homeschooling world is full of pride and legalism and all sorts of other sins, but I just don’t believe that those sins are confined to homeschoolers.
    Some of my dearest friends have been/are teachers and administrators in public schools. They love the children they teach and are grateful to be called to minister in that way. I’m glad they’re there. The decision to teach my children at home doesn’t negate my thankfulness that the kids in my community get to know my sweet friends in their lives.
    Our decision to homeschool has nothing to do with wanting to protect our children from “those” kids or shelter them from reality for their first 18 years and, honestly, in my experience it is not the driving factor for most homeschooling families. Ours is strictly a philosophy of education; a way of life. We believe that the days/weeks/months/years are all too short to be spend confined to a classroom and that ministry happens in such a huge variety of ways that the argument that we’re turning our backs on the children of our community by not being a part of the neighborhood schools falls flat. In fact, I think we would say that the freedom our family enjoys because of homeschooling enables us to minister to our community in ways that public-schooling families can not. And that’s great! Lets hit “loving our neighbor” from all sides!

    It certainly sounds as though you’ve had some rough experiences with homeschooling families. I’ve had a few surprisingly hurtful conversations with a few public-schooling mothers myself. But I think you’ll agree that the majority of us are just trying to hear God’s voice and love our children the best that we can.

  5. This is an interesting thread. I teach in a comm college and because we have running start (early addmission to HS jrs to get 2 yrs HS and 2 yrs college free) we see a LOT of homeschooled students (ages 15, 16, 17) – about 1/2 of those I have in class do fine and the other 1/2 are often pains – they are often not used to being on a schedule that is not focused on their needs, but worst are the students who have never learned to struggle to learn. They have difficulty knowing how to research a topic(except on something they are interested in) and they want their questions answered NOW. They also have not learned how to clearly state what they know, what they don’t know and what they need assistance with. PLEASE PLEASE – if you homeschool, do your student a favor. Don’t let them get away with saying “I need help” or “I don’t get it” – help them learn to articulate what they know and where they are stuck and what they need help with. This is probably the biggest obstacle the homeschoolers I see struggle with.

  6. In regard to relating to parents who make different choices in the realm of social media, I’ve been told by a “friend” that even a status that I posted once about the fact that I was baking cookies with my oldest son one afternoon made her feel judged as a public-schooling mom. But yet, my public-schooling friends post statuses and pictures all the time of their family life as it relates to their kids and school and it wouldn’t even phase me to be bothered by it. Yes, it is absolutely my responsibility to be kind in word and deed, no matter the topic or situation, but is it really my responsibility to downplay or even hide my passion for education in order to protect “unity”? Can it even be called “unity” if one side can’t feel strongly and speak openly about it’s choices without offending?

    • Judy,
      I can’t identify with feeling offended about somebody else baking cookies with their child. I can imagine if the picture was captioned, “So glad my kid isn’t stuck inside with those loser public school kids today, but instead gets to make cookies with somebody who actually cares about him” I might change my story :) I’m assuming you didn’t do that, so I’m not sure why that was hurtful. I like seeing pictures of my friends enjoying their lives however that happens.
      I agree and support you feeling as strongly and passionately as you want about homeschooling. I think we should all feel strongly about the rightness of our school choice for our family. I will respectfully disagree about our rights to speak openly without worrying about offending. The Bible has much to say about how we need to weigh our words. Even in writing this post, it went through many many edits, gave me plenty of anxiety, and eventually lead to a sleepless night just knowing that there was potential to offend. That isn’t what I want to do, but I do want to share my perspective respectfully and in love. I know it’s hard to hear even things that are true if they don’t seem to be spoken in love. I’m not asking anyone to do what I’m not trying to do myself- be thoughtful about the words we use.
      As far as your original comment- I wanted to be clear that this message isn’t for all homeschooling families. If you are ministering to those around you, supporting your friends who are making different choices (when they are made for the right reasons) and being an encouragement to those who are involved in public school, then this isn’t for you. Well done!

      • Nope, didn’t even post a picture. Just mentioned that it was fun that my 12 year old son asked to hang out with me and was glad that was fun to him. No mention of schools or family choices at all. Not even implied. My point is that sometimes people find offense where there isn’t even a hint of it and I can’t burden myself with the weight of that.
        And I said that I *do* have the responsibility to speak with kindness and consideration, no matter the topic, so I’m not sure what you are respectfully disagreeing with? My point was that there really is no unity when one side needs to stop talking all together in an effort not to “offend”. I have been made to feel as though I should not talk at all about homeschooling because it causes others to feel judged. And I can assure you that A) I’m not even all that vocal about my choices, and B) that my words are carefully considered and full of grace. My intent will never be to shame or condemn any other parent for making a different choice. I also don’t intend to ask them to measure their excitement over the school they’ve chosen. That’s what I feel like is being asked of homeschooling parents here in the name of “unity” and it’s leaving me scratching my head a little.

        • Judy,
          I was respectfully disagreeing with you saying it isn’t unity if we aren’t able to speak openly without worrying about offending. I think we do need to consider the impact of our words. And that obviously applies equally to homeschooling and public schooling families. I’m not asking you to not talk about your school choices. This post is addressing people who are saying insulting things about the public school system. If you aren’t doing that, then this doesn’t apply to you.

          • Since this is a series about maintaining unity within our relationships with each other in regard to the various schooling methods we might choose then I’ll expect to see you address the ways that public-schooling parents have also been divisive and offensive in their comments and assumptions towards homeschoolers like myself in your final post. :)

            I think that’s where the disconnect is for me. I completely agree with your suggestion that it’s divisive when homeschooling parents speak negatively about the choice to use the public school system, but I feel like you’ve used this series to point out all the ways that homeschooling parents have failed to foster unity. Yes! I agree that it has been done and it will likely continue to be done and that it’s not helpful. But it’s being done from the other side too and since that’s not really being talked about here it makes this series feel more like an attack and an admonition directed as “those homeschoolers who are creating all this division.”
            As someone who doesn’t talk much about the choices that we’ve made unless specifically asked to do so, I’ve had some shockingly hurtful things assumed about me and my family because of our choice to homeschool. I’ve been told that I obviously don’t care about the Kingdom of God because I’ve chosen to “hide away” from the world with my children. I’ve been warned to consider if perhaps I am not trusting God with my children and that’s why I feel the need to “take control” and keep them at home with me all the time. I’ve been told that I’m preventing my kids from being used by God because they’re not with their peers all day.
            None of those things are true. I care very deeply about the Kingdom of God, and it’s probably the biggest reason that we have our children here at home with us. They are learning to serve the kingdom in very real ways right along side my husband and me and our most earnest prayer is that they would leave our home with a strong sense of who they are in Christ and what God is calling them to do for His Kingdom.
            Anyway, maybe you will say that this series wasn’t meant for families like mine, but if the series is truly meant to pay equal respect to all of the various choices open to Christian families, and if special attention is going to be called to the many ways that homeschooling parents cause tension, then I wish there would have been a little more talk on all of the ways that public schooling parents have also helped to build whatever wall of division there might be built up between us. Perhaps that is the topic of your final post tomorrow. I’ll look forward to reading it.

          • Judy,
            I hate that people have said unkind things to you about your schooling choice. That’s hurtful and it’s unfair. I can imagine that those experiences make you all the more sensitive to critiques of homeschoolers even if they aren’t directed at you.
            I feel like there were/are a lot of assumptions being made about what I intended to accomplish with these posts. I am writing what is on my heart. I support both educational choices, but I am a person with my own experiences and maybe they don’t come across as “balanced”, but I am not a news service :) If you blog I’d be happy to come read your thoughts on the issue and I’m looking forward to sharing the thoughts of some other people tomorrow.
            I am addressing homeschooling families because I love them and by and large we share the same faith, which made me believe we would value the same things. Having (not just from you) such a strong defensive response about a post that simply asks that people consider the struggles of others before making blanket statements about their failures is really troubling to me. I don’t want to think that homeschoolers are so quick to circle the wagons about any kind of critique. I don’t want to see this reasoning that says “I’m only willing to hear my flaws if you’re pointing out her flaws, too.” It’s either relevant or it’s not and whether it’s “balanced” shouldn’t change that.

  7. We homeschooling moms need to have some spunk. What we do is in the minority. Its a lot of responsibility. I have experienced disapproval of my choice. I’m confident, however, that I’m doing the right thing for my family and have been called upon to defend it more than once or twice. I’m ok with Maralee kindly reminding me how my passion may come across. I want to be kind. She already has the respect for all moms to trust we are making informed decisions! (Am I correct, Maralee?) So I think its a reminder to think about our demeanor towards others. Thats always welcome in my book. :)

    • Reminders are good. Even if they dont apply…because they can keep that need for love at the forefront of our minds…so we dont cause pain and can encourage others in the same direction. I’m also thinking as I’m reading here, that much of this depends on the community you’re in. I have been a part of ‘live and let live’ homeschool community. I have also witnessed…quite often, actually… the ‘going to public school is an ungodly choice’ community. Lets not deny its existence! I think denying it can be equally hurtful to moms who send their kiddos to public school. If we’re already grace-filled about our homeschooling choice, lets spread that mentality to those around us! :)

    • Becky,

      I don’t know you (or do I?) but I know I love you! I’ve viewed this whole series as an opportunity for iron to sharpen iron. I’m pretty sure as a public school Mama (and teacher), I’m going to be facing some uncomfortable convictions in coming posts that speak to the camp I’m currently in. I think it’s good to be reminded how we come across to others and remember to be kind!

      It’s true, as others have posted, that the negativity is probably only coming from a vocal minority, but the stings hurt nonetheless. And if it helps people be aware where the hurts are coming from, maybe we can address it in love and move forward. I think there may be some defensive reactions from people who probably have no reason to be defensive, because they aren’t the ones causing the hurt.

      I can vouch for having heard and read a lot of the same comments Maralee has written, though, and on my end, it hurts my heart to be judged by other believing moms. It goes back to iron sharpening each other and building bridges instead of walls.

      I loved Maralee’s initial “information gathering” on Facebook, when she asked moms in both camps to share what they learn from the other. If we approach our conversations this way, I think a lot of good can happen.

    • Absolutely right, Becky. Absolutely.

  8. I agree with above posters. If this was a balanced approach, it would have been more along the lines of things everyone says and attitudes we should watch. This wasn’t directed at everyone, it was directed at one group, and at that a very poor and minor representation of that group. Kinda like giving the Westboro church as a representation for all Christians

    I have been hsing for 19 years and have only given my reasons why when I have been asked or misrepresented. I have never heard another parent say they love their kids more. My best friend’s kids are in public school. It is within the church I have heard the most hurtful things and had the least support. that is why many hsers seek outside groups for support. I have seen some strange families on all spectrums of schooling.

    While your intent might have been different, to me this was just another attack on hsers. For unity’s sake where is the public school parents portion of watching what is said. How many psers have been turned into the cps or police for their choice? I could list a whole page on hs discrimination within just the church. It just doesn’t matter. I am at peace with my choice no matter what yours is.I just don’t think much was done here for unity’s sake in the broad spectrum. I am blessed to be amoung some groups now where unity isn’t an issue – just the grace of Jesus.

    • I’ve read with great interest all the entries, and the comments. And while I think people have respectfully shared different opinions, the only “attack” I ever saw was with the comment yesterday:

      “It teaches that we shouldn’t be unequally yoked in anything…. if not in business or marriage .. how do we justify the raising of our children to unsaved authority.. willingly.”

      I felt that comment was incredibly hurtful, judgmental and an attack on public school teachers and parents. I have not relegated the raising of my children to anyone. I also know that ANY teacher has been put in a God-given position of authority…saved or unsaved. And there are plenty of Scriptures that can support that.

      While we may not all agree with Maralee, or each other, I know her heart. I see these posts (and the one that I’m sure is coming for a public school parent like myself, as a way to look at our hearts and check our motives.

      Myself, I’m not looking forward to whatever conviction she may be sending my way when she makes that post. But if it gives me food for thought and makes me a kinder, more supportive mom, I’ll take it.

  9. I have no qualms about you raising awareness in how we may say things that may hurt others feelings without thinking. However, as others have commented, where is the blog post asking the same grace to be given towards homeschooling moms from the public schooled moms. As I’m not aware of all the negativity that you say come from homeschool moms towards public schooled moms, I am not doubting that it doesn’t happen. With that being said, maybe you are unaware of the negative comments that come from public schooled moms towards homeschoolers. It happens and that issue wasn’t addressed here which is why other moms agree that they don’t feel like these posts are unified in different educational choices. There was no reminder to public schooled moms to be nice with their words.

    • Dena,
      I see what you’re saying, but I don’t think having a post about the unkind things public schooling moms say would make this post more or less true. Maybe that would make people feel better, but it wouldn’t change the truthfulness of what I’m saying. (And I did address that very thing in the post before this one from both sides- homeschooling and public schooling.) People have been hurt and it would go a long way towards healing for that to be acknowledged instead of defended with a “Yeah, but they’re mean, too” mentality. I can own that there are people who have been insensitive and unkind towards homeschooling parents and I hate that. I will not defend that kind of behavior. In my experience I haven’t seen as much of that from within the church community, but I have seen a lot of Bible verses or religious language used to shame public schooling parents, which is really sad to me. Ultimately, these posts come from my experience and if they don’t feel “balanced” enough to you, there are lots (and LOTS) of places you can go to read about the evils of public school and the parents who stick their kids in them :)
      You know I love you Dena and I don’t mind the debate. Our hearts are in the same place even if we’ve come to different conclusions.

  10. I just want you to know I read this one post twice. I read the entire thread. I am 54. My children are grown. We homeschooled and sent our kids to Christian schools. There are some things the Bible is very specific about in teaching your children. You have to decide if you can do those things wherever your kids go to school. Not so specific about the ‘where’. It is almost impossible for us to talk about issues we fel so deeply about and not say something that someone else feels an affront. I feel offended by the term ‘economically advantaged ‘. If you had a spark of an idea how hard I worked, what I gave up, how broken my body felt when all was said and done, you would not call it economically advantaged. And since when is a two parent home with meals at the table economically advantaged? I say all this a bit tongue in cheek. You seem to do what you are asking others not to do. You know what? Sometimes Jesus was offensive. Sometimes he said stuff that made people so mad they wanted to kill him AND he was perfect.
    I think you are talking to brothers and sisters to admonish them of what they say and how they say it, especially. I liked your last paragraph. My point is that no matter how good and kind you are, there is Always a chance someone will feel threatened by it.

    • Jesus was offensive to people who wouldnt believe He was the Messiah. We believe He IS the Messiah, and are following Him , our Head. Our commands on how to treat each other as Gods beloved brothers and sisters come from Him. We may be ‘offended’ by him because we need to repent of sin…but that is a gift to us so we dont remain apart from Him and divided from our spiritual family.
      In other words, I know I may offend those without faith with the ‘aroma of life’ because to them it is the ‘aroma of death.’ But we should be the aroma of life to one another. Just some thoughts.

    • Melinda,
      I appreciate your thoughts and I can tell they come from some real life experience. I agree with you about what we need to teach our kids and can we be fully doing that in our child’s current educational environment. That is a real and good question and one that keeps me motivated to spend time in the Bible with my kids since I know that’s not part of the education their receiving at school. Christian parents who choose public school have to be very committed to supplementing their child’s formal education with a Biblical education at home.
      I want to respect that you are being tongue in cheek about being offended with the term “economically advantaged” but I know it has struck a chord with others as well. It’s probably good for me to clarify that I have worked with kids from extreme poverty situations (homelessness included) and have a child adopted from West Africa. The poorest among us is rich by those standards. I know just about everybody feels financially stretched and homeschoolers often do with great financial sacrifice. I’m not saying everyone who homeschools is wealthy, just that when we’re looking at outcomes for public school we need to consider that we may also be looking at the outcomes of poverty.
      I see what you’re saying about asking others to do what I am not doing. Sometimes it’s hard to take the risk of offending to let people know they have been offensive. It’s not comfortable for me and I feel the backlash, but my hope is that ultimately it leads to more sensitivity all around. And this isn’t my first go-around with this kind of interaction :) I’ve experienced that when talking to people about the appropriate language to use with adoption, or how to interact with an infertile friend, or how breastfeeding moms can make bottle feeding moms feel hurt. Nobody likes to hear that maybe they’re being unintentionally offensive and our first response is always defensiveness. My hope is that after the defensiveness has run its course, we’re able to see the truth that was spoken. I know I am hearing that this series has been hard for homeschooling moms to swallow and that’s heightened my awareness to the pressures they experience, which is good.
      Thanks for contributing to this discussion, Melinda!

      • Is it at all possible that the backlash you’re seeing from homeschooling moms after this series isn’t actually defensiveness but rather a valid suggestion that perhaps it hasn’t been as much of a unifying series as it was intended to be? I genuinely believe that most homeschooling parents agree with much of what you’ve said here. That “We” have come across, intentionally or unintentionally, as prideful and condemning in the ways in which we’ve spoken against public schools. I am certain that it happens and I don’t want to be a part of it. I am grateful for the reminder that my words matter. I am not missing the truth of your words in my “defensiveness” (because im not feeling defensive in the slightest). Perhaps your admonishment might have been better received if you have been clear in your intentions in the beginning. I was expecting to read a series about how we can be on the same team as Christian moms in regard to our schooling choices but instead have felt that your words have been heavy handed on one side.
        I’m not angry. I don’t feel defensive. I do agree with the truth of many of your ideas. I don’t feel more unified with my sisters in Christ after this series but I’m not too sure that mine is an opinion that is heard here. That’s ok! I really don’t need for it to be.

        • Judy, I’ve been thinking about this a lot this week, and I wonder if it might merit another post by Maralee. You are a homeschooling parent. As a public school parent and teacher, how can I come alongside you and encourage you? What are some things that we can be doing to create more unity? How can I make you a better teacher?

          What are some things that you can bring to the table to encourage me? How can our iron be sharpened to make us both better parents and teachers?

          • Love this! Thanks Alaina!

          • Alaina, I think that we can encourage each other by remembering that God gives different callings to different people/families. I think we can encourage each other by not lumping anyone into any specific categories or making assumptions about each other’s motivations and opinions based solely on their schooling choice. I think that we can encourage each other through reminders to press on in the good work that God has called us to without allowing our insecurities to get in the way.
            I think that public school teachers can help homeschooling moms by not taking our choice to educate our own children personally as an affront to you as a teacher. It’s not personal! I think you can help us by not looking down on us because we don’t have the training or specialties that you have. I think you can help us by not assuming that we’re prideful in our abilities and that we’re doing this because we think we can do a better job than you can. The reality is that, more often than not, we fear that we’re ruining our kids for life by assuming responsibility for their education! :) For most homeschoolers, there are bigger philosophies at play here than strictly educational, though it’s often difficult for us to remember that in the day-to-day grind of it all. I think that my public school teaching friends can help me by bearing in mind that though it may look as though I’m “neglecting the Kingdom” by not putting my children into the neighborhood schools, it isn’t necessarily true and that there are a million and one ways that families can be actively involved in serving God’s kingdom in their communities.

            I think that I can help my public school teaching friends through prayer that they would keep the goal of loving their students and being a reflection of Christ in the front of their minds in the midst of their very difficult and often under-appreciated job.

            In the end it’s just what Maralee has been saying, but applied to every end of the spectrum. There is contention and strife on every side of this debate and that doesn’t need to be so. Within the body of Christ there are arms and legs and eyes and ears and hands and feet. What a beautiful body we are when we are working together for His Kingdom! We can, and should, remember that as parents we all love our children dearly and make the choices that we do out of that love according to what we believe Gods best is for them. I think that we can all encourage each other to be filled with grace in our words and deeds, trusting that Jesus is at work in His people and will convict and sanctify in His good time. We don’t need to place the burden of broad reprimand on our own shoulders, but should look instead for ways to build each other up in our love for God and our love for our neighbor.

        • Judy,
          Of all the things you can accuse me of, I don’t think you can accuse me of not hearing your opinion :) I’m thankful that you’ve shared it and I hope you will continue to read and offer feedback, although I promise these posts aren’t usually so heated.

  11. “It teaches that we shouldn’t be unequally yoked in anything…. if not in business or marriage .. how do we justify the raising of our children to unsaved authority.. willingly.” –

    I want to just say again. That was part of our reasoning. It was directed at a comment that we tell our kids we homeschool because we love them more. It is what we teach. Not directed at anyone else. We believe this includes any more than casual relationship and to us putting our children under a teacher for 35 hours a week isn’t a casual relationship. It is more of a covenantal relationship. That affects OUR choices because of OUR belief. It also means if I was to entrust my children to you as a teacher. I would hold that relationship in a very high value and commitment. I also believe each parent/family has the freedom in Christ to do as they feel best. I respect your freedom/value and position in Christ.

    • I think you’re right that we each have the freedom to do what we feel we are called to do. And we should act in freedom–but without telling others they’ve made a covenant with their child’s teacher and the unsaved world! :-) Equating the time a child spends in public school under unsaved authority, and that it is wrong, is where I have to say is that a truly Biblical view, or conviction–and what does it teach our kids and grandkids about how to raise their kids? My child is in public but still spends 135.5/168 living hours with our family. If that is not enough to make a firm influence, what is enough? What hope do our kids & grandkids have who choose not to homeschool? What if one works for a non-Christian business? Or a Christian place that believes slightly differently than you (this is my husband’s work place situation.) Should the people and things we obey only be Christian and of our specific bent?

      God commands all believers to subject themselves to unsaved authority. I could go into details about sincerely held beliefs that violate God’s law, but that’s not much of what we’re talking about. I can’t teach our children to only obey Christian authority because that is not what the Bible teaches. It teaches specifically that we are to be subject to governmental authorities, those over us in work, community & church, and to be respectful of all and to be fair & just if we are in a position of authority. If I are only have my children subject to Christian authority, then God violated himself by sending his son to be under authority of the leaders of that day and age, and to be under the physical limitations of the physical human body. Jesus stood up for things that violated God’s word, but if you look at the people he was hardest on and upset with in regards to dishonoring God–it was the Pharisees who constantly tried to usurp the authority of God by making up their own laws (the Talmud) to hold other believers up to–upon what was already commanded. Unsaved officials and authorities who created the laws of the towns and cities for the purpose of maintaining law & order, Jesus obeyed.

      Our lives are to be lived in the world and not of it–and this is a state of our mind as well as our heart’s affections not simply where we live, work or spend our days. These affections & idols can be money, time, freedom & things but they can also be marriage, our families, our school decisions & our sincerely held convictions. Anything other than God Himself. I hope this helps you understand why a lot of people don’t believe having kids in public school is disobeying God’s Word.

      • I have said how many times now…. this is OUR belief. I have never said. You have to believe this. I have never said YOU must be under this conviction. I heartily apologize if it came across that I expected you to. WE believe the Bible applies to US in this way. The Bible does say what one believes is right and does not do it. It IS sin. Not that it is sin for everyone else. I never said that anyone else would be making a convenant relationship. I said that is how serious we believe it is and it affects our choices…. period. If you are implying anything else, you are putting words in my mouth.

        Paul discusses whether or not to eat meat sacrificed to idols and holy days. (Romans 14)He never says you must believe that what the other does is right. He says you must be convinced in your own mind. Those are reasons that we are convinced in our mind. You do what you do hopefully convinced in your own mind.

        4Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.

        I have never said we are not under submission to authority. They didn’t choose that authority, they were under it. I was saying that a teacher is an authority you CHOOSE to put your child under…. that is all. If a teacher walks into church in a church setting they don’t have authority over my children, just because they are a teacher, because their authority is in the context of their classroom. You don’t have to view the relationship with the teacher the way I do; actually I think my belief should have no affect on your choice. I would pray your beliefs come out of a strong faith and a walking intimate relationship with God. I allow you with no condemnation the freedom of that.

        Since you brought it up. Yes we would submit to authority in the workplace. We would not go into a partnership with an unbeliever. I think that is a better word than covenant with the teacher… I believe it is more of partnership, but doesn’t really change our view of the importance of that influence.

        I have never said I thought others thought they were disobeying God’s Word. I fully understand your beliefs in it. I am not in a hole in the ground. I have stated even some of our closest friends are not hsed. Many don’t even have the same belief in doctrines we hold. That doesn’t matter.

        So I must allow you the freedom to believe, but I am not granted that same freedom. Interesting paradox.

        Hindsight, I wish I never said anything about our beliefs and just let is ride that we just tell our children (however untrue and ridiculous) that our they are economically privilieged (they would have a hard time believing that … oh those years of scraping by on library and garage sale finds and free internet worksheets, holes in the jeans etc), more loved than those poor public schooled kids and other sweeping generalized comments were made about hsers. Though I wonder how many hsers in the midst of how many hsers someone has come in contact has actually heard “we love our children more.”

        • I have been told by HSing parents that they love their children more than me. And I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but you have said that “While I do not think a person is in sin for putting their kids in school, I don’t think it is wise” and “Homeschooling is best.”

          How, exactly, am I supposed to take that when you say your convictions aren’t for someone else.

          • Alaina I am very sorry you have had parents tell you that. It is ridiculous and hurtful.

            I do believe it isn’t wise and I do believe hsing is best. It shapes our choices as a family, but in no regards should have any power over your choices. I wish I could repost my first post and made it clearer. I could have worded it so much better, but I am not perfect. I can see by several responses it wasn’t clear. Even though it was worded badly, I have taken several posts now trying to clear up the confusion with it. So I will say it a last time. I believe that. I also don’t feel you have to believe that. Also, you not believing that doesn’t change my view of you. I believe you have freedom to believe as you wish.

            I don’t have parenting down. I am not perfect. I am too busy worrying about my own choices, decisions and mistakes as a parent to worry about yours. I am done with this conversation. I feel I have stated that same thing many times and it isn’t or doesn’t want to be heard. That is fine. I have no hard feelings. I wish everyone the best in their choices. It is something between you and God.

        • I am listening to an old school Michael Card song that sums up our unity well for me. Maybe it will for others. We are ONE BODY and many parts. We work together for Jesus. Lyrics to ONE FAITH:

          By faith one was commended
          For the sacrifice he made
          Another out of holy fear
          Built an ark the world to save
          Another left his homeland
          and as a stranger he’d reside
          But none received the promise then
          And so, in faith, they died.

          Others conquered kingdoms
          Quenched the fury of the flames
          Some made strong in battle
          Some were raised to life again
          But many more were martyred
          Midst the crowds loud clamoring
          By faith they would not bow the knee
          Nor kiss the emperor’s ring

          CHORUS:
          Faith understands and offers
          It assures and calms our fears
          It can shut the mouths of lions
          And make sense of scars and tears
          We persevere in hope
          And with conscience clean and clear
          We walk this fallen wilderness
          With Salvation’s Pioneer

          Being sure of what we hope for
          Seeing what is yet unseen
          A universe from nothingness
          New life where none had been
          The known made from unknowable
          And hope for the comfortless
          Who hear and hold on firmly to
          The faith that they possess

          So fix your eyes upon the Champion
          As you seek to run the race
          Understanding that He cheers you on
          As you long for His embrace
          So hold on and do not grow weary
          Of the faith that you profess
          Remembering that you are ringed around
          By this cloud of witnesses

          CHORUS
          Songwriter(s): Michael Card
          Copyright: Mole End Music

  12. Maralee, thank you for taking the time to respond. I’d like to reiterate that my issue isn’t with the idea that homeschoolers shouldn’t make the effort to season our words with much grace when discussing the choices that we make and I certainly welcome the reminder to do so. My issue was that a series centered around the idea of supporting and loving each other as fellow believers, no matter their schooling choices, in the name of unity seemed very heavily focused on the failings of one side over the other.

    As for my own blog, which serves as more of a record of memories for my own family than an informational resource, I’ve actually been mulling over a potential post for the last several weeks that explains our educational philosophy. It excites me and I want my children to understand why one day. But I’ve refrained from writing it for the simple fact that I have many, many friends who have made a different choice and I don’t want to run the risk of making them feel like my passion for the subject causes me to think less of them for their choice.

    I am in no way “circling the wagons” in response to a critique. I agree with the ideas you’ve presented. I guess I was just hoping that you would also be open to being made aware of how your presentation might be alienating instead of unifying.

  13. Wow. Maralee I give you props for diving into these deep waters. I generally avoid reading posts about this topic just because I find it’s better (for me) to focus on my own little family and not everyone else’s opinions in this area. All I want to say is that no matter how you school, please consider how your children might be viewing the other “camp”. I’m not even going to say how we school but over the years our daughter in particular had other girls question why she wasn’t being schooled in another fashion than they were. They made hurtful comments under their breath and in essence asked her to defend us, her parents, and our schooling decision. It was a struggle for all of us for a long period of time. The parents of the other children may have been shocked to hear the comments being aimed at our daughter had they known. And I’m not saying the parents were exhibiting the same attitudes about our schooling choice. We all have convictions and valid reasons for the way we school as we do. Just remember to talk to your kids about extending grace. Even if you think “they would never”, have the conversation. It could do a lot for the cause of unity.

    • Karen,
      Thanks for your feedback! I agree with it word for word, which I why I wrote the post that went up yesterday on this topic :) Go ahead and check it out (it’s titled “The Homeschool Debate: Oh be careful little ears what you hear). Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone in those concerns. And thanks for reading!

  14. my addition as a formerly-christian-schooled-then-public-schooled mom of a 3 year old who just did a year of 3 day/week preschool at a local church (whew!) is that what reaction you get toward your schooling decision very much depends on the local culture you are in.

    For instance: I grew up in an evangelical church where many of the members were affiliated with small private christian university. Nearly all of them also sent their kids to public elementary school, but very strongly preferred christian college. I think my mom caught some flack for sending us to a small christian school through junior high, and I remember having people question my decision to attend a state university for undergrad. I don’t think we had any homeschooling families at the church, but I suspect that they would have been given a lot of grief about their decision.

    I’m currently living in a small southern town and a part of the reformed/evangelical circle where I’d say homeschooling is much more the norm, or christian schooling. Public schooling is much more rare in this crowd. I *feel* like everyone is fairly grace-filled around here in their discussions about school choice, but I can also imagine that a public-schooler might feel much more ostracized because what they are doing is more rare.

    We’re about to move to LA and be a part of a church of mostly younger professionals with a high percentage of Asian americans. At that church, public schooling is definitely the norm. When I was discussing the fact that I had gone to a private Christian school with one of the other women, she asked me if I had been prepared for the rigors of public school. It kind of surprised me, but the culture out there is very, very pro-public school, even at the PCA church.

    I have really enjoyed this series. I think that as a kid I probably made some disparaging statements about public schooling and public school kids that may have been hurtful as well as some hurtful statements about home schoolers, only to have similar comments made to me when I decided to go to a public college. I’m definitely of the “decide what my kids need each year” camp right now, so I’m not sure where we’ll end up, but hopefully I can be encouraging no matter where I go.

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