As families across the United States and around the globe say goodbye to the easy-living days of summer and hello to a new school year, there are many tasks we have in common; acquiring new school supplies, new schedules, even new shoes top the list! But with the increasing availability of schooling options, the traditional school-day preparations of years gone by are becoming more and more diverse. Depending on whether your children attend public, private, or home school, a mother’s “to-do” list this time of year may look very different from that of her neighbors and friends.
The choices before us when it comes to raising our children are unprecedented, and that can be both a blessing and a curse.
Throughout history and still today in many places in our world, the opportunity to simply secure an education was and is the end goal. But with all the options we have today, the type and quality of the education have become paramount. With so many variables (cost, time, jobs, etc.), choosing between these various options becomes a decision that requires much consideration. And there is no lack of opinion when it comes to how to educate our kids. But the bottom line is, every mom wants to give the best she can to her children. She wants to do it right.
Among the many questions moms have regarding schooling:
"Should I be working outside the home so we can afford private school?"
"Will my kids be harmed by their peers?"
"Would they be better off at home or at school?"
"Am I depriving them socially, of sports, or a better education if we homeschool?"
"I wish we could afford to send them to private school."
"If only I had the confidence to homeschool."
"Are we making the right decision?"
Not only is the decision about where and how to educate our children logistically demanding, it can be emotionally draining as well. With all these options, we moms can easily find ourselves feeling isolated and unsupported.
The truth is, our schooling choices do make a big difference in our family’s lifestyle. And there isn’t a one-size-fits-all easy decision. It makes sense that there is tension in regards to a decision we’re so heavily invested in. Each school choice comes with its challenges as well as its own propensity to lead to guilt, fear, and even jealousy.
When asked if they felt this tension, moms from varied schooling choices expressed the following:
I often have other moms question and openly criticize or express concern over homeschooling to me. (homeschool mom)
Sometimes moms think I’m weird because we homeschool. They also feel like they need to explain that they could never do that! Funny enough I also feel judged by homeschool moms when I tell them my special needs son is in school. I find myself feeling the need to explain why! (homeschool and public school mom)
There are times that I feel like I am a bad mom because I didn’t make that choice [homeschooling] for my kids even though I know it wouldn’t have been good for them or me. (public school mom)
Sometimes [I feel] judged and looked down on for not sending them for a Christian education or homeschooling. (public school mom)
Formal academics are a huge part of our children’s lives, and they are an extremely important part of a Christian child's discipleship. While God is clear about the duties of parents to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, the Bible doesn't tell us where to educate our children.
Public, private, and home schooling are a means to discipling our children, and in the hands of surrendered and prayerful parents, each one of these has the potential to be an effective and fitting tool in a family's life.
I think we need to stop judging and comparing. I am happy with my choice. I work full-time outside of the home and am happy about that too! (public school mom)
I think different people are led by God different ways and as long as you are doing what he has put on your heart and is right for your child and family, then who am I to tell you otherwise? I love diversity and uniqueness, and feel that this is another way of fostering growth in the best possible outcome for different families. (public school mom)
There is no room for educational arrogance among sisters in Christ, particularly. (homeschool mom)
As Christian parents, our methods may vary, but we share the same goal: to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Keeping that common end goal in sight enables us to stay focused and determined as we walk out all the ups and downs of our education choices. Moreover, it frees us to support our fellow moms in their choices.
And if there's anything that fills our sails, it's encouragement. << Click to Tweet
Encourage one another and build one another up, ~1 Thessalonians 5:11
Here are some ways moms are doing just that:
Moms who DO support us best don't act like we belong in a different "camp" and our children play with each other often, we are still invited to their children's school concerts and events, and we talk as equals about what our kids are learning, even if in different environments. (homeschool mom)
I guess I just ask them how their kids are doing, how school is going, challenges, celebrations as they ask me the same. So we support each other based on the season of life we are in, not focusing on different paths we are on. (public school mom)
For the most part, I think it’s pretty important to just let other moms know that you’re not threatened by or upset by their choices and that you’re willing to help them or listen to them in whatever situation they are in. (homeschool mom)
Each of us can trust God’s guidance in our life and acknowledge His many ways of accomplishing His purposes in the lives of His children. Compassion and a willingness to be vulnerable will go a long way toward encouraging and supporting one another.
Instead of debating the issue, let’s talk about the unique challenges of our choice and encourage moms who have chosen differently without trying to persuade them to do it our way.
Can you think of a mom or two who have made different choices than yours? How might you intentionally support them over the next couple months of schooling?
A simple note with the message, “I think you’re a great mom!” might be the very thing they need to hear.
Kim Hyland is a writer and speaker, the founder and host of Winsome, an annual retreat for women, and the founder of Five-Fifteen, an organization fighting human sex trafficking through corporate prayer. She is also Jeff’s wife, a mom to five sons and one daughter, mother-in-love to three, and Amelia and Eli’s grandma! Kim’s passions are to love her family and friends well and encourage women through speaking and writing about her imperfect path and God’s perfect plans. Connect with Kim at her blog Winsome Woman and on Facebook & Twitter.