Christian Mom, Public School Parent (it doesn’t have to be an oxymoron)

So you’re a Christian parent…who sends her kids to public school?

Me too.

I know, it’s not an easy decision. There’s a lot of pressure out there to do the “right thing.”
Maybe public school wasn’t your first choice.
Maybe you’d love your kids to be in private school, but it’s too expensive.
Maybe you wanted to homeschool but it just didn’t work out.

Or maybe you’re in a good public school but you feel that pressure, the pressure that says, “How am I going to raise my kids to be Christians if they are in a public school classroom?”

I get it. I know that pressure.
My parents felt it too and they responded by homeschooling me for 12 years, along with my siblings. They were intentional.

I made a different schooling decision than my parents. But I’m intentional too.
And you can be too.

Here are Four Lessons I’ve learned in the last five years of being both a Christian Mom and Public School Parent.

1.Trust the Holy Spirit to do his job

When I was a teen, I was super concerned about the spiritual condition of my boyfriend’s heart. Yeah, he said he was a Christian, but was he doing his devotions every day? (I’m rolling my eyes so hard at my teenage self). In good Christian girlfriend fashion, I nagged him about it until one day, my best friend said, “What are you doing? Are YOU his Holy Spirit?”

We should pray for, teach, and remind our children each day of God’s love and truth, but ultimately, we need to trust that God has their best interest in mind and loves them even more than we do.

2. Sheltering vs. Shaping

So often we think that the World is a dark, scary place and fear that public school will corrupt our kids. We want to hide them away, shelter them where it is safe. But, the truth is, the sinful nature starts in the heart. Environment can have an influence (good or bad) on a child’s decisions, but a decision to make bad choices ultimately starts in the heart.

My kids are sinners (some days more than others) who need God’s grace, just like every other child in their school.

I can’t control the hearts or actions of all the other kids, but I can work on shaping the character of my own sons. We all want to protect our children, but we have to work inside the heart if we ultimately want to protect them from bad influences.

3. Take the lessons as they come

I was a bit stunned when my second grader came home from school one day and asked, “Mom, is there a bad “F-word?”
And I thought, Are we having this conversation already? In second grade?!

Was I ready for this?
Was he?
Was now the right time?
But if not now, when?

Ultimately, it was a gift, an amazing, awkward, halting, hilarious gift of a conversation. It may have come earlier than I wanted it to, but his innocence meant that he wasn’t embarrassed to come ask me about something he had heard at school.
After all, as his parent, I am also his first teacher, and I am going to take the lessons as they come, however surprising, unexpected, and premature I think they may be.

Because, if not now, then when?

4. Be Intentional

While it may seem “easier” for Christian school or homeschool families to integrate the Bible, theology, or alternative historical or scientific narratives within the framework of their school day, public school families are just as able to provide this type of education to their children as well.

You just have to be intentional.

In our family, we integrate our faith through daily prayer, memorizing verses in AWANA, listening to Bible music CDs every night, weekly church services, and by talking—all the time—about living like Jesus, loving God, and loving others.
We took our church’s baptism class TWICE before my son was baptized in 2016, just to make sure he was ready for this big decision.
We talk about evolution AND creation.
We talk about kids at school who don’t have dads, about marriage, sex, about loving others, and God’s plan for families to be healthy and strong.
We talk about all kinds of things, intentionally.

No matter what educational system you choose for your family, true education of the heart and mind takes effort, as well as the mindset that often times, the best learning takes place outside of the classroom.

Are you a Christian public school parent?
Me too.
It’s ok to raise your hand and admit it. We’re in this together, walking this path, making good choices for our kids, teaching them to love God and love others with intentionality.

God bless you, mama, both today and the rest of the school year.

What about you?
What educational choice did you make for your children? Why?
What fears do you have about public school (or private school or homeschool?)
How are you being intentional today to help your kids grow, learn, and thrive?

Share your story (or questions!) below!

More:

I can’t raise my children to be Christians
Homeschooling didn’t stop me from being a jerk
The Day I Taught my son the F-word

8 Comments

  1. leigh ann breckenridge

    Brittany, I loved this…Seems like I am always having to answer to my Christian friends who put their children in private Christian schools. I have had all three of my children in public school (except for a brief stint with Micah). Public schools have been awesome for my children. I too have used their experience to open conversation. I want my children to learn how to walk in a world where not everyone is a Christian. I want them to learn how to love the Muslim child or the child who does not have a personal relationship with the Lord! They have learned how to ask children to come to church. They have learned that they can pray in public school. Our football team prays before each game and after each practice. Additionally, I have had my child with Aspergers learn to negotiate the world. His world will not always be protected-like I would like it! It is/was difficult at times, but looking back…I would not have changed anything. What I have found out is that many times the challenges that children in Christian schools face are also present in private schools too (drugs, drinking, bullies). Thanks for letting me share.

    • LeighAnn, thanks for taking the time to read and write such a thoughtful comment. I really appreciate you sharing your experience, especially since 2/3 kids are grown up. I love your perspective about being a Christian in “the world.” Love you!

  2. Larissa

    Thank you so much for writing this. My son will be starting 1st grade in a public school this year, and I have received so many opinions on how I’m not making the best decision for my son. I was raised in a Christian home and went to public school and I remember learning how to stand in my faith in the midst of a dark world. My parents were essential in grounding me in the faith from an early age and my husband and I are already doing that with our son. I want him to learn to stand strong in his faith and to be a light to those around him. What better place to do that than in public school?

    • Larissa, indeed! What better place than public school! Good luck to you and your son! Thank you for reading and for taking the time to comment

  3. Merry Joy DeCarmo

    I went to Christian schools all of my life…6 different ones, actually, and I was a mean girl in 9th grade. I used my “christian” status to look down on everyone else…really until I went to college and had to admit that some non Christians are more loving and selfless than a lot of people I had known in my Christian schools and churches. I chose public school for my kids and sometimes it’s been really hard. My daughter got pregnant at 17 with her one and only boyfriend. Some people say that if she had gone to Christian school or been home schooled that wouldn’t have happened. That’s not what I have seen in my experience. People are people and they make hard mistakes, but reconciliation, mercy and grace are lessons that can only be learned when we admit that we are sinners like everyone else. Sometimes, when we are kept apart, we start to think that we are somehow special…that we don’t need the same mercy and salvation that “they” do. Sometimes, that makes it even harder to need a Savior or be servants like Christ was and is.

    • Merry, I loved hearing your story. I am really familiar with the “us” vs. “them” mentality. Sometimes I still find myself slipping into it ::cringe:: but I really fight against it. It sounds like you have a grace-filled perspective about people and the schooling choices you made for your children. I hope your daughter is doing well. God bless you all. Thank you for reading and for taking the time to comment. <3

  4. Becca

    Thank you for this! I am surrounded by beautiful and loving families that homeschool. We have not been called to do that. I have had to have some conversations with others about the perceptions they have of Christian families and public school. God’s grace doesn’t stop at the school gates and I know God ultimately holds my children in His capable hands. We’ve had a lot of discussions about language, cultures, special needs, sex, homosexuality, divorce and how we are to respond as Christians. My children attend a very diverse school, and for that I am grateful. I have also committed to be as involved as possible and I love interacting with the kids and faculty. I pray every day that we can be a light and that my kids will be kind and compassionate and show God’s love. It has been an amazing journey!

    • Becca, I loved reading your story! God bless you and your kids today and this school year. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. <3

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