A while back we received this question from a single mom. The father is, in her words, “far from being a Christian.” Here is her question.
My little guy will be 5 and entering public school. He has not ever set foot in a school as of yet. I have a fear of sending the lamb to the slaughter. He is so precious. He was a preemie born at 1lb 10 oz. My little miracle… You guys had each other. What do you recommend for those of us that are single parents? There aren’t any groups in my area at all and the churches are seriously lacking.
Recently there was an article in Relevant magazine titled, “Public Schools aren’t the Enemy”, written by Liz Riggs. While I believe she makes some good points, I did cringe at times over things she said and more importantly, the way she said them. So, before I answer this mom’s question let me make one grand observation. The question of school choice is not an easy one nor is it one we are going to all agree on. My prayer and my strong plea is to not let our choices divide us as a Christian community or a community at large. If someone asks me why we chose what we chose, then of course I’m going to share all of the advantages and things I love about our choice. If someone is asking for my opinion based on their situation and their options, then of course I’m going to share the factors we’ve taken into account when making the same decision. Unfortunately at times I’ve caught myself feeling insecure in our decision. When that happens, rather than focusing on why I like my choice, I can begin poking holes in other peoples decisions. I would love for us to be able to disagree and yet pray for each other and support each other regardless of the choice we’ve made. Let’s celebrate what others are doing and pray for God’s blessing and best for them. Each of us need to follow what the Lord is asking of us, and we’re the only ones who know what that is. OK – enough with my rant!
Let me offer three things for this mom to consider in her situation.
- Go with him. When we made the decision to put our kids in public school we heard people use the illustration of sending them into a minefield. I’ve spent enough time in public schools to know that visual isn’t inaccurate – school can definitely be riddled with mines to avoid. What we’ve always said is we aren’t sending our child into a minefield. We are going into the minefield together and we’ll come out together. There are great lessons in those minefields. But in order to have a teachable moment we need to know about them. So don’t think of it as sending your lamb to slaughter. Instead know that you are going into what can be a “slaughter house” together so your son won’t get chewed up. It doesn’t mean some tough things aren’t going to happen. It DOES mean you will be there when it happens. I’m not suggesting you will physically be there at all times. But you will stay connected and aware of the challenges they are going through. And keep reminding yourselves; God will ALWAYS be there.
- Never give up the role of being the first and best discipler of your own child. Regardless of whether we are talking public school, private school or even Sunday school, you will always be the most important teacher in your child’s life. Don’t abdicate that role and never let anyone attempt to take that away. Nothing out there will ever have the influence of you the parent. It does require you to be proactive.
- Get a good children’s bible and make the time to read with your son.
- Be willing to do the hard things. I know sometimes as a single mom it’s hard to discipline your child, but you hurt him twice when you shy away from “discipling” your son.
- Meet with your pastor and see if you can’t find some men in your church that might be willing to be a part of your son’s discipleship. it can be simple things while he’s young but as he moves into the teen years it will be important for some Godly men to mentor your young son.
- Start a group. As you get involved in your child’s school you will discover needs. Some of those needs are being addressed, some aren’t. God might be calling you to lead the charge in finding a solution. It might be as simple as gathering some parents to pray for your school (i.e. Moms In Touch). It might be more involved, like starting a community action group something we did several years ago. One thing we’ve learned over the years, when we show up to serve a teacher or a school, the doors are flung open.
The bottom line is, God is for you on this journey. Trust in His goodness and His sovereignty. He’s not afraid of your child’s school. One line in Liz Riggs’ article I had to agree with was her last, “What if, at the end of the day, it isn’t actually about us at all?” Could it be that God is doing a work in you and your son is simply God’s way of getting that work done?
What school choice did your family make and why? Is there anything the rest of us could pray about for your child and their schooling?