"I know homeschooling is best, but I just can't...."
"If I had it to do over again, I'd do private school..."
"If I had it to do over again, I'd do homeschool..."
These are the things I have heard over the past few years. No joke. And now that I am venturing into the third option of education, having attempted the other two (private and homeschool), I have been pondering the whole debate once again.
It is easy to get defensive about your choice. Actually, it is ridiculous that we even have to defend our decision to others, but that's how motherhood has evolved...into one big debate over who parents better than who. Everything is sucked into this debate: breastfeeding vs. formula, crying it out vs. attachment parenting, pacifier vs. thumb, plastic bottles vs. glass, disposable vs. cloth. And isn't it true that whichever side you camp on, you secretly think you are either, the best, or settling?
Because I am an extremely competitive person, I am to blame for participating in the above arguments. I admit it! And because I have made the choice for public school this year, crossing over that "vs." and camping on a side I thought I'd never be, I have come to make sense of this whole debate.
Yesterday, I sat across from a home-school mom and sat next to two public school moms. All of them are very Godly women. Their hearts are centered on Christ, and their whole purpose in life is to build into their children so they become strong Christian men and women.
Because I am so black and white sometimes, and because I am the person who wants to be part of the best group, I struggled when one of the public school moms said, "I know that homeschooling is best, but I just can't get my act together."
Ouch! Thanks for that. Really, do I need to hear it two days before school starts? Especially when I am a new camper, unsure of what it all looks like? But then I looked to the other public school mom, and I thought of the wonderful things that have happened because of public school, because her kids are learning life lessons from the beginning, and how they THRIVE there.
It all hit me at once, an important lesson I learned in a Sociology 400 class in college (the first part below), and then of course, I gathered the last part from more Christian sources:
It's ALL about the parents [tuning in to God's calling.]
Yep. It's true. I am starting to believe that God equips each of us specifically for our children. And he also equips our children specifically for their path. When God calls a parent to educate their child one way, it's because he knows what is best for the outcome of that child.
Even if that path has bumps and detours along the way, if a parent prayerfully considers and finds peace in God's response for their children's education, then they shouldn't question their calling. God knows best!
I've decided that when I hear an older parent say, "I should have homeschooled," or "I wish I chose private school", they are thinking back on their own insecurities as a parent, and regretting time lost. It doesn't mean that they were called to do it differently, just means that they didn't do it the way they wanted and are blaming it on the type of education instead.
I also believe you can miss your calling. Perhaps someone is called to homeschool their children, but they let fear and selfishness get in the way. The regret they feel later in life might be valid.
But that doesn't mean their children are messed up for life! Only God can change hearts...not school, not parent's choices!
It is easy for Christians to get black and white about issues. And there are some issues that remain that way for a reason. But, as far as education goes, God didn't give us a straightforward manual. Actually, He has some examples for two types of schooling (thanks to one of my mentor moms for pointing out Moses!):
Private: Hannah gives Samuel to the priest, Eli, as soon as he is weaned, to learn God's way.
Secular: Moses' mother gives Moses to Pharaoh's family, to be raised in a non-Godly place, but with faith that God will keep him safe.
And as for home-schooling, He has Scripture all over based on the parent's responsibility to instill His principles in His children.
The greatest thing for me to remember is that I am a unique child of God, and so are my children. If we didn't have a personal relationship with Him, then sure, He might cookie-cut our lives to play out exactly like expected. But He doesn't. He is more creative than that, and more caring. He wants each of us to follow our unique bent, just like in Proverbs 22:6 "Bring up a child in the way they shall go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Happy First Day of School to Everyone! Be confident in your choice!