Throwing Salt in the Hallway

For the first time in weeks, I was able to have a date night with Derek and we were able to talk for so long about so many different things. One of my favorite parts about our relationship is that we talk about everything, whether it’s a current issue, a remote possibility, embarrassing, frustrating or exciting. While sometimes these talks can be very intense, they definitely help us to learn a lot about each other, and I appreciate that honesty in our relationship.

Probably the most discussed topic that night was children – whenever either of us got married, when would we want to have children, how many, what names did we like and most importantly how would we want to raise those children. This is a hard subject for me to wrap my mind around. I have seen many different examples and outcomes of parenting styles and ways of raising children and I could tell you countless things that I am certain I do not want to do when it comes to raising my children. However, when it comes to thinking of ways I’m certain I want to raise my children, it gets a little harder. I want to be the best parent that I can be and I want to raise my children in a loving, Christian home and to train them up in the way they should go – down the path of righteousness. And I want it to become their faith and not just mine and my husbands. But how do I do that? I’m definitely not going to have all the answers right now, but that won’t stop me from seeking, reading, searching, praying and discussing the possibilities.

Fellowship With Others

Every single one of us is different from the next. Some relate better to those older than them, some younger, some the same age – and some are just good at relating to everyone. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong with this. If I have a kid who takes more of an interest in talking with older people than spending time with kids their own age, I will encourage that. If I have a kid who gets along better and is happier with children a little younger than they are, then I’ll facilitate that as well. However, I don’t want to separate my children from those who are older and wiser. I want to encourage their interaction with other adults besides me and my husband and I would make it a point to ensure that this happens regularly. As Derek put it the other night, I want my children to begin receiving the wisdom that those who are older than them have obtained as soon as possible. This doesn’t in any way mean I am taking away my kid’s childhood – nor do I intend to. I want my kids to play with other kids. I want to take them to the park and hear them talk with their little friends about the crazy adventures they are going to have discovering the caves of the playground and traveling through their imaginations together. I just want to help them be able to relate to adults and learn from us at a young age – not thinking we’re just some untouchable weirdos that are old and fartsy. : )

When I was younger, I didn’t always get along with kids my age. I usually ended up playing games in our church with kids who were much younger than me. I enjoyed my time with them hiding out in forts, playing tag and creating our own fantasy worlds outside in the snow, but I took it very hard when kids my age or a year younger would look at me like I was nuts and wouldn’t want to play with me. It wasn’t really until I got through my junior year of high school that more people my age wanted to spend time with me and would seek me out to go to the movies or what have you. By then, I had gone through so much alone and didn’t feel like I knew how to connect with anyone – it was definitely a slow learning process of what true friendship really meant for me.

As a pastor’s daughter, I also spent a lot of time around adults. Whether it was a bible study taking place in our parsonage or a family night in the church gym or a prayer/breakfast meeting early in the morning, there were always more adults around that we could talk to. They all felt like family – aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins… It just seemed to fit that they would look out for me and wanted to take care of me and help me in any way and I loved them for that. I learned a lot from them and I’m grateful for that.

Looking back to various points in my life, I can tell you that if I had one good friend, whether they were a Christian or not, just one who was there for me to talk to during those times my life would have been so much different. I know that certain spots of my life wouldn’t have been so painful. I had always wanted friends my own age and really felt a natural desire for their company – not that the friends I had (older or younger) were not good enough, but I was naturally drawn to kids my own age. Things are still like that for me. Relating with others my age comes naturally and I love getting to know and spending time with them. But, through interactions with adults when I was younger and the things I’ve learned throughout the years being continually involved in environments where adults were present, I’ve also come to love talking to those who are older and wiser than I. It wasn’t something I was always good at or always enjoyed, but I was encouraged to keep practicing and I love what I’ve been able to learn.

So, to reiterate, each person usually feels a natural ease of relating to a certain age group – sometimes this changes with time – and I don’t want to stifle or stop that tendency when it shows up. I want to ensure that my children know how to access the wisdom of those older than them and not be afraid to interact with them or ask questions. I don’t want my children to feel afraid of adults or that there is nothing to learn from them.

The Great School Debate: Public School, Christian School or Home School?

This is a tough subject for me, especially since I have attended all three types of environments as well as witnessed countless varying outcomes of children who have attended each. My sisters and I attended public school in Maine for my elementary years before being brought out to homeschooling for 2 years of middle school. (I “wandered” too much in school because I finished the assignments too fast and got bored – they weren’t challenging me. And my younger sister was involved in a few crazy bullying situations.) Then, we moved to Connecticut and were all back in public school – quite a shocker for us, especially me since I had just spent two of my middle school years (where you usually mature quite a bit) homeschooled and in Maine where the sense of humor and fun was drastically different than that of Connecticut. After two years in a public school in Connecticut, we moved to New Hampshire where my younger sister and I both graduated from a public high school. I chose to attend a private four-year Christian college outside of Boston where I graduated from in 2009. Lots of different experiences for me which factor in to how I feel about schooling.

Public School: The Happy Years

I enjoyed elementary school despite the being bored with schoolwork stuff. I had two best friends my age and we played with kids younger than us on the playground. Sometimes it made me sad that the other boys and girls my age didn’t find me interesting or cool enough to be their friend, but I didn’t have any big problems. I can remember in 1st or 2nd grade telling another girl in my class that dinosaurs didn’t exist because the Bible didn’t talk about them. We were in the library in the middle of a lesson on dinosaurs. Just about everyone told me I was wrong, but it didn’t bother me at all. I felt great because I was sure Noah didn’t put dinosaurs on his ark – they would have most definitely eaten him and there would have been something about the T-Rex in the Bible. I mean, c’mon, he’s T-Rex. (Yes, I know there are verses about various beasts in the Bible. I was 7 or 8 years old. I didn’t know everything, but I knew enough to stick up for Jesus and the fact that those things weren’t billions of years old.)

Homeschool: The Lonely Years

I didn’t really like homeschooling (sorry, mom). The few friends I had from school I didn’t get to see anymore, and the kids at church never really liked me as much as they liked others… Eventually we found a homeschool group in the area and we did a gym class with them from time to time and I started to make friends again, but it wasn’t the same. I remember spending a lot of time at home, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I got bored and lonely easily. I loved my family and spending time with them, but having friends outside of my family was something I longed for – my sisters had friends they saw frequently, but it wasn’t like that for me, and it wasn’t because my mom didn’t try. She definitely pushed for birthday parties for me with kids I knew from school and some from church and some of them came and we had a decent time, but we didn’t really spend time together other than that. And even as a kid, feeling that lack of friendship really took its toll on me. It wasn’t my family’s fault or anything and I don’t blame them at all. But it didn’t sit too well with me. I love people, and I didn’t really have people to connect with.

Public School Take 2: The Worst and Best Years

The two years in Connecticut were two of the worst for me. I had missed out on a lot of maturity stuff and didn’t enjoy the same things that everyone in my class enjoyed. And it was a small school, so I didn’t have too many chances of making friends. My freshman year of high school, the only people who accepted me were the outcasts in the school that no one else really cared for. It was good to have friends so I wasn’t completely alone, but it still wasn’t good for me. I was depressed, angry, rude, lazy… I tried to pretend I wasn’t as smart as I was so that people wouldn’t pick me out anymore. I just wanted to blend in at that point and let it all just pass me by.

We moved to New Hampshire where I finished high school. While I definitely had some down times when I first got to Kingswood, all I can say is thank God for friends like Magon – she was the first person to talk to me there. And she was a Christian – my first Christian friend in public school in years. It took me a long time, but by my senior year, I had burst through my depression and was losing my anger and wont for separation from everyone and everything. I started to be who I really am. I began to make more friends, become more social, be happy. I loved going to school my senior year, despite some of the drama that arose, because I was happy and felt loved. I was good at listening and helped a lot of people through depressing times by listening and being there no matter who they were or  were friends with or whatever.

Christian School: The Uncomfortable Years

I chose to go to a four-year private college outside of Boston. I made some great friends, had some great experiences, learned a lot and had a lot of my spiritual life changed – but not by the school. For me, I felt like I was being babysat and didn’t really feel the love of Christ for all people. While I know it was never intended to come across this way, it didn’t seem like our community would receive those in need with open arms – single parents, addicts, homosexuals… While we are not supposed to condone these types of behaviors, it is not our job to condemn them. How else are they to see the light if we are not showing it to them? I didn’t feel at all like I would be prepared to enter “the world” outside of my college’s gates when I left the Christian bubble we were all in. We were required to go to chapel, which I had a problem with. It didn’t give me any responsibility for my faith… Anyone who knows me well will tell you that if I am told to do something and that I have to do it, I have the tendency to not want to do it at all because I have no choice in the matter. I like being able to do things of my own volition. Like I mentioned, I had some great experiences, learned a lot about myself, got an excellent education, had some wonderful friends and learned some interesting things about Christian history and theology, but for the most part my faith was not enriched. This is just my experience, and I know many people who have gotten so much in their faith from the same school or other Christian school, but it is important to know that not everyone will have the same experience – I know of others with similar experiences to mine as well.

So, What About It?

Proverbs 22:6 says “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” As a parent, it is first and foremost your job to train up your children in the ways of God. This needs to be the most important thing you think about when deciding what to do about school for your child, and this is what led me to my current feelings about schooling.

Christian School

If you are considering enrolling your child in a Christian school, I would tell you to ask yourself one question: why are you enrolling them in a Christian school? If the only reason you are sending them to a Christian school is because you want them to learn more about God than they currently are, there is a problem. Christian schools are no substitute for a parent’s biblical responsibility to guide their children along the path of righteousness. I have heard other reasons for why parents choose Christian schools, such as saving their children from the terrible ways of public school and better academia and friendships.

I’ve realized that I personally would not be inclined enroll my children in a Christian school (unless God had otherwise to say about it all). If I am going to immerse my children in a Christian educational system, I would want it to be done by me and my husband. This is not to say that I don’t trust Christian teachers or Christian educational institutions, but that if I feel my child needs more Christian education in their every day studies, I would prefer it be done at home where I can train up my child in the way they should go myself as this is my responsibility as a parent to begin with. I would not use Christian schools as a way to “escape the dangers of public school”, nor would I choose it based on better academia or friendship possibilities. Students in Christian schools can still get into the same amount of “dangers” as can public school students, they just find more creative ways to do so and can become better at hiding it. It’s true that some schools (public or private) have better academics than others, but it’s not true that all Christian schools have better academics than other private or public schools, and it’s up to the parent’s encouragement and student’s discipline to pursue those academics studiously. And as for better friends, just as in any situation, choice of friends remains the child’s responsibility in all situations, though parents can help guide these decisions, and there is no “safety-net” just because it is a Christian school with mostly Christian students. Christian school would not be a choice for me unless God guided me otherwise, and that’s just my personal inclination. If the choice were between homeschooling and Christian school, I would choose to homeschool.

Public School

I have had mixed experiences with public school as you have read (and if you are still reading, my, you must enjoy reading). I am not against my children attending public school despite the things that are present there. If it were God’s will, I would love for my child to be a light in the ever darkening hallways of public school. With more and more parents pulling their students out of the public school system to either private school or homeschooling, those who remain, whether they have any spiritual knowledge or not, are slowly being left behind with no light at the end of their tunnels. In Connecticut, I didn’t see a single true shining light for Christ walking the hallways of the schools I attended. How terribly sad this is. We are called to be in the world and not of the world, but to be protected from the evil one (John 17:13-19) and I would be proud to have my children be the light in the darkness, the salt in the hallways to those attending public school. As Derek mentioned, it would take a tremendous amount of discipline and prayer and study as a parent with the children that they would be as prepared as possible to face the things they would see on a daily basis with the fire of God in their hearts and the love of God on their lips, but I know that God would guide me and my husband in the way we need to go that our children could do just that. I’ve seen some Christians attend public school and crumble, but I have also seen a number of Christians attend public school and triumph, bringing with them new additions to the Kingdom. Between Christian school and public school, I would choose public school.

Homeschool

As mentioned, I was not too fond of homeschooling. I know many people who were not and an equal amount of people who were. I’ve seen families get closer with homeschooling and families distance themselves. If God were to call my husband and I to homeschool our children, I would be continually praying that I would do things properly so that only the best of outcomes could result. I don’t have all too much to say about homeschooling right now, to be honest. Homeschool and Public School would be the two choices that I would go between were it only up to me and my husband. God will always be the deciding and guiding factor in any decisions made, so who knows, he could have a Christian private school in mind for my kids or a mixture of public school and private school like what I had. I will say that while protecting our kids is important, if we protect them from too much for too long and they don’t get to see it and make the choices on their own, they will be a lot more shakey-legged when it comes time for them to stand on their own without their parents.

When All Is Said And Done

My current #1 for schooling my kids would be public school. And I would do whatever I could to raise my child to be a light in that darkness, salt in those hallways and a warrior for Christ, winning over lives of those whom Christ already loves and died for. My younger sister by the age of 8 had already brought her best friend from public school to know Christ – and her best friend’s entire family. They all attended our church in Maine. I’ve always envied that. And I would love it if my children could follow suit and see their friends change and then their friends’ families change.

Well. I’ve written a lot and I could probably go on forever. I love kids and I love thinking of the future. I’ve probably gone in circles in here at some points where as in other points I’m sure I confused you or didn’t say things as well as I meant to, but there you have it. : ) My current thoughts and beliefs on raising children. Hope you all are enjoying your week!

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2 Comments to “Throwing Salt in the Hallway”

  1. GREAT title (and article), but the title caught me – it is so creative and thought provoking…you must have had a good teacher for at least a few years ;-P

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