Monday, March 13, 2017

Innocent or Ignorant? Part 3


Here is another thought in my continuing my quest to explain keeping children innocent or ignorant of sexual things. I've discussed the definitions of innocence and ignorance and the idea of "robbing" children of innocence. Now............

3. What messages are you sending about your child's body when you don't talk about sex in an appropriate time frame?

Ummmmmm, who wanted to talk with their parents about sex for the first time after about age 11 or 12?????? It was uncomfortable, like TOTALLY EMBARRASSING! My parents never talked with me about sex and I remember being mortified to ask my mother about anything when I thought I had started my period (I had learned about periods at school in a special health lesson, so I wasn't ignorant about what it was).  I finally went to my older sisters and they helped me. I was 12.

Lack of teaching to keep kids "innocent" is still teaching something. When you don't teach your children about sex, they are learning that it's not okay to talk with you about their body and bodily functions. They also learn that there is something secret and mysterious about sex that makes their parents clam up. This usually leads kids to believe sex is bad. Most things kept "secret" are things that are bad. I want my children to find me totally ACCESSIBLE. I want them to also realize that sex is okay to talk about in the proper context. I want them comfortable enough with talking about sex that they can talk to their future spouse about sex and feel comfortable with their body and all its functions.

Lack of teaching also inadvertently teaches kids that sex is all about babies. By not saying anything, parents are missing opportunities to teach kids about sex's role in a marital relationship as a strengthening and bonding agent. By the time you get to adolescence and try to talk to them about sex, even just talking about sex as a creation process is going to be uncomfortable. You aren't even going to get to the part about relationships. You may think your kids are different and you will be able to talk with them, but, to be honest, they aren't. Even teenagers I know that have great relationships with their parents don't feel comfortable talking about sex with them when the conversations started after age 11 or 12. These parents thought they were keeping their kids innocent too. Most of these kids respond to sex as "eewwwwww gross," rather than respecting it's sacred role in our lives.

One final point here.......talking about sex is not a one time occurrence. To truly establish a habit and pattern of OPEN COMMUNICATION about sex, conversations have to start before sex becomes totally relevant in a child's life (ie the body changes and is ready for sexual experiences.....puberty; also note that puberty readies the body for sexual experiences, but there is still a proper time for it). For example, before you send a child off to kindergarten, you prepare them. They already start learning how to count and recognize letters. They learn patterns and shapes. You want them to attend kindergarten ready for the experience of blending sounds into words and other skills. Now that your child's cognitively ready for reading, the preparation you have done ahead of time in teaching them letters gives them an advantage to understand how to read. You can't skip learning letters and try to teach a child to read by just giving them words. The pieces come together when the time is right. In teaching sexuality, you have to give your child all the pieces, one at a time. Then, when puberty hits, the pieces come together. Children learn pieces about sexuality, like body parts, respect for the body, pregnancy and birth, sex for making babies, sex for pleasure and bonding........and so forth. As an adolescent, when puberty hits, they understand each piece well enough that they are able to comprehend the whole.....desire and how to channel that desire............dating and how to act.............choices about sex and those affect your spirit and future................more salient things than just the pieces. If you wait to teach the pieces until adolescence, understanding about the more salient things will suffer as they try to learn both at the same time. It's like learning letters and learning to read words at the exact same time......pretty difficult.

So, I am
1. Not Taking Innocence, but Avoiding Ignorance
2. Not Robbing Childhood, but Giving Wisdom
3. Not Closing Communication, but Being Accessible

Friday, March 10, 2017

Innocent or Ignorant? Part 2



Dear family and friends,
Are your children innocent or ignorant about sexuality?
I am not usually this bold, but have felt prompted to share. It seems that when I am in a group setting, teaching a workshop or talking with friends, I have often come across a phrase that causes me some concern. The phrase is something similar to, "I want to keep my children innocent from sexual things," or "My kids are innocent."


I continue in my quest to explain another way of thinking when we consider keeping our children "innocent" from sexual things. Yesterday, I brought up how many parents feel they "rob" their children of innocence by teaching them about sex in a timely manner.

Here is Part 2......

2. How is teaching children about sex "robbing" them of their innocence?

What are we robbing? Childhood? Do we rob a child of their childhood by teaching them about sex? Was your child robbed of their childhood because you taught them about smoking? Was your child robbed of their childhood because you taught them about bullying? No. The act of smoking and bullying or being bullied robs a child of their childhood innocence, NOT TEACHING.

Adults have a funny way of believing that everyone sees the world the way we see it. Children DO NOT see the world the way we see it. When I taught my oldest about sex at age 8, he STILL CONTINUED TO BE AN INNOCENT CHILD........gasp! NO WAY!!!!!! He doesn't understand sex the way his dad and I do. He sees it in its context in Heavenly Father's plan. He understands the purpose of it, but he does NOT feel that we TOOK SOMETHING AWAY FROM HIM! Robbing is taking something away from him. Conversely, he feels that we actually GAVE him something. We gave him the gift of knowledge so he understands the plan of Heavenly Father. We gave him the gift of knowledge so that when he has encountered inappropriate things he has known what to do. It's an awful feeling to know that someone is talking about something you don't understand and could be making fun of you for it, but you have no idea what you are supposed to believe or how to act because you JUST DON'T KNOW (aka ignorance). We gave him the gift of knowledge so that he has confidence and understands sexuality's purpose so well that he can't be swayed into believing worldly views. We did not ROB INNOCENCE, we GAVE WISDOM.

The first three years of a child's life are critical for cognitive, social, and physical development. The first eight years of a child's life are critical for spiritual development because they ARE NOT able to be tempted by Satan. They CAN'T be confused by the mists of darkness. You are actually teaching them doctrine during these years in pure form. If you wait to teach them when they are able to be confused by the mists of Satan, especially many years after those mists can begin (at the age of accountability), you are taking a risk that those mists have already started forming around your child. You may feel you keep your child well protected from the world. I am NOT taking that risk. I am not a thrill seeker or risk taker. A wonderful stake president I talked with shared with me that he felt he had protected his son, only to find that he had been introduced to pornography at age 9 and was having to do damage control. It CAN happen to you. Prepare like it is going to happen and your child will be protected. Don't prepare and you will be doing damage control.

One more example: a wonderful mother and friend of mine once had a conversation with me and was shocked when I told her that children should be taught most of the mechanics of sex, babies, and relationships by the age of 8. She felt her children were still innocent and that she would teach it later. I respect parent's right to decide for their children. I provide knowledge and conversation when it comes up and ask questions at times, but I absolutely respect that every parent decided what's best for their child. I let this conversation go and we didn't talk about anything related to sexuality for a few months. I guess our conversation must have made her think and consider things that were said by her oldest, who was 9, almost 10 at the time. She talked to me later and told me she realized the wisdom in starting conversations now with her children because she was starting to realize how much her son already knew by comments he made. When she assumed he was "innocent," she was not realizing what he was actually learning from his peers. The comments he made she immediately pushed into the "he doesn't know yet" compartment in her brain. When she really listened to what he was saying without automatically assuming he didn't know any of that because she hadn't taught him, her eyes were opened to what he already knew.

So, I am
1. Not Taking Innocence, but Avoiding Ignorance (Part 1, read here.)
2. Not Robbing Childhood, but Giving Wisdom


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Innocent or Ignorant? Part 1



Dear family and friends,

I have often posted material that is based on my experiences with my children. I mostly post dialogues about conversations regarding sexual topics. Usually, my intent as the author of this blog is to inform through personal experience. Sometimes, though, I feel compelled to do something more....This post is about something more.

I love talking about sex with other adults (in the teaching sense, how we talk to our children about sex and what other parents are dealing with in their children's experiences with exposure to sexual topics). It it fascinating for me to see how parents respond to their children's experiences and exposures and what these parental responses might be teaching their child.

It seems that when I am in a group setting, teaching a workshop or talking with friends, I have often come across a phrase that causes me some concern. The phrase is something similar to, "I want to keep my children innocent from sexual things," or "My kids are innocent." On the surface, this appears like a really good desire. I understand the premise behind this desire for innocence. Many parents, especially religious parents, want their children to just experience childhood and to not be introduced to adult things until they are adult. These parents also want their children to remain untainted by worldly influences. Many parents also feel they are burdening their children with adult responsibility if they talk with their children about sex. They feel they are "robbing" their children of their innocence if they talk with them about sex. I understand these reasons for wanting to keep children "innocent." I've also met a few parents that are still assuming their children have not encountered inappropriate sexual stuff, or that their children don't understand what's going on in an inappropriate situation and that protects them. BUT, you knew there was a but, here are a few questions to consider:

1. What is innocence?

First, I think we often misuse the term innocence. We assume that innocent means our children DON'T KNOW about something. They don't know about sex, therefore they are innocent. However, innocent means "freedom from guilt or sin through being unacquainted with evil" (merriam-webster). Is sex evil? You better answer NO! Knowledge of sex is NOT being acquainted with evil. Sexual SIN is what robs us of our innocence, not KNOWLEDGE of sex. Knowledge is actually being acquainted with God. He is the one who created our bodies and spirits. He is the one who commanded us to have sex in a marriage for procreation and pleasure, the greatest connection with our spouse. Children are absolutely capable of knowing about sex and continuing in innocence. I'll give you an example; our son has complete knowledge of proper names of body parts. He has respect for these parts because of the way we have taught him. A couple years ago, kids at school were teasing about their penises and using made-up names that were inappropriate and unfamiliar to our son. He asked me about these names. He was INNOCENT because he wasn't engaged in a sin by disrespecting his sacred genitals or acquainted with the evil of disrespect. AND, he still had KNOWLEDGE about body parts and sexuality that allowed him to truly understand why we don't talk that way about our body parts. Read about the whole story here.

On the other hand, ignorance means lack of knowledge, education, or awareness. The scriptures clearly state in D&C 131:6, "It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance." How can a child properly combat the world and worldly influences if he or she doesn't even have knowledge of godly principles? They are actually MORE open to losing innocence because if parents aren't acquainting them with godly principles of sexuality, then the world can acquaint them with worldly principles of sexuality. Assuming your child is not going to hear things or wonder about what they hear because they are "innocent" is leaving them WIDE OPEN for the world to fill them with tainted and sinful views. Children crave knowledge and are learning every day. Are you filling them with the proper knowledge to keep them truly innocent, rather than encouraging ignorance?

Another example: Our children know that smoking is harmful to their body. We have been teaching them this since they were little. First, we were just teaching them that smoking hurts your body. Now they are old enough to talk about addiction. Are our children not innocent anymore because they know about smoking and what it does to a body? Absolutely NOT! They are innocent because they haven't been tainted by the sin of smoking. In fact, this KNOWLEDGE about smoking is helping them STAY INNOCENT! This is exactly how teaching children about sexuality keeps them innocent. They learn proper names of body parts, then add more information as they grow older (seriously, by 8 for intercourse). This knowledge will help them STAY INNOCENT as they encounter pornography and homosexuality and other sexuality topics at home/school/work/play/internet/with friends...........

Just a note: I hate using the smoking analogy because unlike smoking, sex is something good, but that is the best illustration for staying innocent.

So, I am
1. Not Taking Innocence, but Avoiding Ignorance

Stay tuned for part 2.....


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sensational Skin



Our four-year-old was getting dressed in his room. He was naked lying on his floor and did a sort of preschooler push up. He realized that he could feel the carpet against his penis and held his body for a second where he could continue to feel it. I was rifling through his closet to get his clothes and encourage him to get dressed (the kid loves to be naked). He looked up at me with surprise and said,

Z: "Mom, how can I feel the carpet on my penis when I don't have a bone there?!?!"
Me: "Well, do bones feel?"
Z: "Yes."
Me: "Remember, bones are inside your body and help you move. It holds the shape of your body. Muscles and bones work together to help you move. Your skin is for feeling touches. When you want to feel something what do you use?"
Z: "My hands."
Me: Yes, we feel with our hands, but it's our skin that feels the sensations like hot or cold, soft or rough. Your penis has skin, so you can feel with it."
Z: "Oh wow! I didn't know that!"

He did another push up and got dressed. It was a matter-of-fact learning moment for him. He loves learning about how his body works.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Kiss and Tell



I had an interesting conversation with our 10-year-old son last night. He had a field trip yesterday and sat next to another boy on the bus (for 2 hours total), Brett (name changed). While I was doing dishes last night after his dad left for a meeting, he came and asked me a few questions. His little brother and sister were in the room.

K: Mom, can I ask you a question?
Me: Sure!
K: Brett said sex takes an hour.
Me: Really?
K: He also said that they kiss each other's private parts. He said he's had sex and he and the girl kissed each other's private parts.
Me: You know, I will talk to you about this, but your brother and sister are right there. Let's talk about it where we can have a more private conversation.

About 20 minutes later the younger two children were occupied with a game in another room.
Me: Hey buddy, we can talk about that now.
K: So, does sex take an hour?
Me: Well, I suppose it could. A man and woman's bodies take some time to be able to start responding to certain touches for sex to work the way it should. It may not take as long as an hour, but it's a process that doesn't just happen really quickly usually. It depends on the man and wife.
K: Okay. Well, what about kissing their private parts?
Me: That is something that a husband and wife decide if they like. It just depends on the couple. Some husbands and wives may like that kind of touching, but other husbands and wives might not like it. It's private and decided between husband and wife how they like to touch each other and be touched like that.
K: So, do you and dad ever kiss each other like that?
Me: I am more than happy to answer your questions about sex and help you understand it, but when it comes to the private parts of my relationship with your dad, I am going to keep that between me and your dad. I can answer your questions about sex, but I also want to keep the details of my relationship with dad special and between us. Things like how often dad and I have sex or what we like to do are private for us. Every relationship is going to be different.
K: You and dad still have sex! You are done having babies, though! (He caught the present tense of my language I guess. Also, WHAT??? We've had this conversation about the other reason for sex multiple times.......I guess this is another good reminder. Maybe it will stick this time......)
Me: Do you remember the other reason for sex?
K: Oh yeah! ( I guess he just needed a reminder) It's because it feels good.
Me: Well, yeah. It strengthens the relationship between a husband and wife.
K: That's what I meant. Mom, is kissing private parts wrong? Is it against the commandments?
Me: You know, it's not against the commandments, but it's definitely private. It's something you decide with your wife when you are married.
K: It's just gross!
Me: I know it sounds gross now. It may not sound so gross when you get older. Any other questions?
K: No.

Our oldest is moving into this stage where he doesn't always believe me or his dad over his friends. For example, this clown killer thing has had the kids talking at school A TON. Our son has been worried. We tried to reassure him, but he was insistent that the kids at school had really seen some things on the internet that gave them more credibility than me or dad. I finally asked him to pray about it and ask Heavenly Father to help him discern the truth so he could feel at peace. That helped. Having him come to me and believe me over his friends regarding sex was very comforting to me. He came to me with the attitude that I knew more than his friends because we've been talking about it so long and we've been open about it. He realizes that his friends are often misinformed. I also realize that his friends must be seeing some pornography or hearing some really inappropriate things from the adults in their lives. It is not typical for a 10-year-old boy to know about oral sex.

Soon, I will be defining this for our son as oral sex. I didn't use the term yet, but I want to make sure he understands this "kissing" for what it is. Many youth justify some of these types of behaviors because they aren't really "going all the way." We want him to understand and know things for what they are. This was his first introduction to oral sex, so I didn't define it for him yet. I took the conversation where he needed to take it. We'll follow up soon and see if he has any more questions. Whew! What is middle school going to be like next year??????

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Confessions of A Public School Parent


Six Reasons My Husband and I Choose to Put our Children in Public School

6. Exceptional Examples

In the school system, there are a lot of children who often make poor choices and/or have poor behavior. Then, there are children who regularly make good choice and have good behavior, but make poor choices regularly as well. Last, there are children who rarely exhibit poor behavior and make good choices often. Our children are not perfect. However, they generally have good behavior and make good choices, especially when they are at school.

As representatives of Jesus Christ, we encourage our children to make choices that reflect our beliefs. Our oldest son had a peer in 3rd grade who was often in trouble with his teacher. He was also not very nice to other children. My husband and I talked with our son and decided that maybe the boy was jealous he didn't have any friends and didn't know how to appropriately make friends. Our son befriended the boy. Over the course of the year, the little boy's behavior in class improved, as did his interactions with his peers. He did not become an incredibly great child in class. He still misbehaved and taught our son a few things we had to discuss. But, ultimately, we felt like our son had been a good example for this boy. Our son was also able to see the effect of his example on a peer.

I want my children to understand what it's like to be a good example for others and recognize bad examples. We talk about it at home and church, but I feel our children's experience with example is most noticeable in the school system. They can be an example to their siblings, but our children mostly get along and see only a limited number of behaviors that their siblings may emulate (whether good or bad). They also interact with many children at church who are all making an effort to exhibit similar examples. In the school system, my children have been able to see a wider variety of bad examples and choose not to follow those. They have seen a wider variety of good examples and learn from those. They also have been able to be a good example and see how they can affect those around them for good. The examples they set for their peers are also different every year as they have learned and grown. In the public school system our children see how a variety of people are examples, whether good or bad, in a variety of circumstances. We want our children to understand how they can learn from those around them and influence those around them. We feel this experience is more salient for our children when they are surrounded by a wider variety of ideas, a wider range of people from different backgrounds, thus a wider variety of examples to provide our children with a practical understanding of how to interact with and learn from others.

5. Balancing Boredom

I have never been in a job in my life where I have been entertained or busy the ENTIRE job, including meetings. I have been incredibly bored at times in my life. When I worked at Subway as a youth, there were slow times with no customers and an already spotless kitchen, serving area, and dining area. I am a busybody, too. I have to be working. I don't know how many times I scrubbed the floor at Keva Juice when I worked as a night manager there because I was bored. Meetings, though necessary, can be incredibly boring at times. Some classes in college were boring................very boring...........to the point where I celebrated when I was able to stay awake the entire class period. There are even times when............gasp..............I'm bored at HOME! Certainly there are things to be done, but I'm bored of cleaning and laundry and cooking and teaching............

We want our children to learn how to be effectively motivated by boredom. Some children may get in trouble more often if they are bored, but I don't find that to be the case very often. Our children have rarely been in trouble at school, but often have times they tell me they were bored. I've also seen children in classrooms (I volunteer a lot in my children's classrooms) where the teacher has something for the children to do that is important learning work, but the children are off misbehaving. They weren't bored, just misbehaving because that's the choice they were making at that time. We want our children to realize when they are bored and be able to refocus if they are in an important learning time. We also want them to be able to figure out how to effectively use their time. If they get all their work done at school, they are able to read or find something to do to keep themselves occupied. They are much less likely to get bored at home because they are more free to move from one activity to the next when they feel done with something, thus giving them significantly fewer opportunities to figure out how to deal with boredom effectively. This entire summer I only remember our children twice saying they were bored.  

When our children get a job, we want them to be able to be self-motivated to find things to do if they find themselves getting bored. We feel that at home, it's harder for them to be self-motivated. At school, they can't always ask the teacher what they can do when they're bored. They have to figure it out for themselves! They learn to think ahead by bringing a book from home or look around at school for something effective to do, like getting ahead on homework. 

4. Incalculable Intelligence

My husband and I, like most parents, want the best for our children. We want them to be smart and successful. I do feel like our children would progress more quickly through the subjects they are learning if we home schooled them. But, intelligence, or IQ, is not the greatest predictor of success. Check out this 6 minute video from Angela Lee Duckworth - Ted Talks on "Grit." One of the greatest predictors of success in life is "grit." This is perseverance, passion, stamina, and so forth. Our children may progress more quickly at home in their intellectual understanding of subjects, but I don't know that it's the place our children are learning the most "grit." 

Our oldest son is a natural at perseverance. He does what it takes, how long it takes, to reach his goals. He doesn't quit when things get hard. He tries harder. Math especially does not come easy for him, but he works hard until he understands. At school, he has to use more perseverance as he learns math because it's not one-on-one. He struggles with math in a group setting. When I teach him at home and help him with his homework, he catches on more quickly. Of course we want our children to grasp difficult concepts more easily and have one-on-one time, but we also feel that they need to be able to learn how to work hard and persevere when things are more difficult. 

Our daughter is more easygoing. She doesn't quit easily either, but can sure learn more about perseverance. School work comes more easily to her. At home, with the student-teacher ratio of 3:1, our children wouldn't have to wait so long for help or try to figure as many things out for themselves. When I teach them at home, I try my best to let them do things on their own. But, if they came across a problem that is difficult to solve, they are more likely to come to me more quickly than their teacher at school, who has 18+ students to help. They learn to try harder on their own at school before they ask for help. When they really can't do it, they ask their teacher or bring it home for me to help them. 

I don't feel like our children are geniuses or better than average in their intelligence. But, I do know that our kids have a greater likelihood of success in life as they learn to persevere. Our children are learning to persevere in greater degree in the course of a regular day at school than they would at home. We feel that if we believed our children were too smart for school and we wanted to focus only on their educational intellectual-IQ type growth, we would be depriving them of other types of intelligence, like social intelligence and other behaviors exhibited by resilient children. We feel our children's success is measured not only by IQ, but also by social and interpersonal skills, and other valuable characteristic traits like perseverance. It's much more difficult for our children to develop some of these traits at home because neither my husband, nor myself, excel at everything and can only be an example for a limited range of characteristic traits. 

3. Empowering Exposure

Our children live in a society rich in inappropriate things. Some children are very disrespectful at school. Some talk about things that are inappropriate in a school setting. Some use inappropriate language. Belonging to a church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) with a unique perspective on appropriate and inappropriate adds extra challenges. Our children often hear language that is okay with many families, but not with ours. They hear discussions about sex or other topics we believe are appropriate in a family setting, but not in a public setting. They see children being incredibly unkind to other children. They hear endless talk about things we believe are a waste of time, but are fine with other families (e.g. video games for hours and such). They hear students talking back to adults. There are a lot of inappropriate things that happen at school.

I don't like it. But, I believe it's also been beneficial for our children to see the world as it is. We have been commanded to be in the world, but not of the world. We want our children to be able to know how to navigate the world around them and decipher which roads and voices to follow, or how to lead. Now, if the environment they are in is too pervasively negative that they aren't able to function, we would certainly pull them from that environment. But, some negativity and inappropriateness are opportunities for our children to develop positive qualities. Heavenly Father even tells us that he allows bad/hard things to happen to us for our growth and learning. We certainly don't want to put our children in situations where bad or inappropriate things can possibly happen, but we know as we're prayerful about the decisions we make in behalf of our children Heavenly Father will help us. Heavenly Father allowed Satan to do some awful things to Job. These trials made Job stronger. Last year, our oldest son had a very rough environment in his school class. It was hard for us to allow him to suffer through the year, but we felt he needed to stay where he was. During the course of the year, a friend in his class did something inappropriate. Our son stood up for the right and told the teacher. He lost a friend for a time, but he also learned something important about himself. He learned that he could do the right, even when it wasn't popular, and the consequence was feelings of confidence and joy. He also learned what a true friend was. (If you're interested in reading the whole story about this event with our son click here.)   

Even if our children are exposed to some pretty terrible stuff at school, we feel like the things they have gained from these experiences have made their spirits stronger. As I watch our oldest son begin his 5th grade year, I can see a change in him from things he learned last year. He's already being proactive in his search for appropriate friends. He also recognizes when he should help someone in need that is being mistreated by another student. Our daughter has gained confidence as she has helped those that needed an extra hand. With all the inappropriate exposure our children experience at school, they are also exposed to the true nature of who they are and what they are trying to become. 

2. Discover Diversity

My husband and I try hard to be open and loving to those around us. We befriend our neighbors and truly enjoy our neighborhood and community. However, even though we try hard to be involved with a variety of individuals, our circle still seems to lack some diversity. We have a few friends that believe differently from us and even fewer friends of various races. In essence, we are surrounded by like-minded people. We don't believe this is bad. We like to surround ourselves with people who enjoy the same things we do. But, we feel that our children also need to experience more diversity: of religion, race, language, ethnicity, thought, political views, socioeconomic status, teaching style, personalities, and so forth. The circle of people we surround ourselves with provides only minor opportunities for our children to interact with people in varying circumstances. Chances are, they will have to interact with a wider variety of individuals as they go to college, serve missions, and begin a career. It will be much easier for them to integrate into diverse situations if they have experience interacting with a variety of individuals.

It makes me think of Christopher Columbus. He was surrounded by a group of like-minded individuals. They all thought the world was flat and he was crazy. No one would fund his quest for a long time. If our children believe the world is flat and are surrounded by people who think the world is flat, they are missing something! Our son had a black teacher for first grade. He'd hardly had any interaction with blacks until that moment in his life and was quite afraid of her for a short while. She turned into one of his favorite teachers. Our daughter just had the same teacher without any of his initial fear because our circle was widened and she saw her brother's experience. As our children encounter different ideas at school, they bring them home and discuss them with us. We're able to regularly talk about respecting other's ideas and beliefs. We are also able to discuss what we believe and how what they learn fits into the circle of their widening world. Our children also have to learn about different teaching styles and how to learn in a variety of ways. They also learn how to interact with a variety of personalities as they are placed in groups for group work. Our daughter had to learn how to work in a group with a child that misbehaved. Our son had to learn how to work in a group with a child that didn't want to do work. These kinds of things will happen in the workforce as our children grow and get jobs, or they may have these experiences in college. These experiences in grade school will give our children experience to know how to handle these types of situations. We believe our children need this diversity and we just don't have ample opportunities within our regular circle to provide that for them. 

1. Spiritual Sense

This is the NUMBER 1 and MOST IMPORTANT reason my husband and I have chosen to put our children in the school system. Every year, we pray about what is right for our children. Should they stay in the public school system, or should we home school them? Every year we have felt that they need to be in public school. This year was very hard because our son had such a rough year last year with the students in his class. It was a great balance for him to have such a fantastic teacher. Our daughter had an incredible year last year, but we also feel she could progress more quickly at home. We decided we would pray about it for weeks and see how we felt at back-to-school night. As we went to the school with the children, everything felt right. Our daughter's classroom was happy, bright, and her teacher oozed with enthusiasm and love. She has the same teacher our son did in second grade and this teacher has been his favorite since (although he's had some great teachers). Our hearts felt light and right. When we went to the 5th grade hall I wasn't nervous (as I thought I'd be). His teacher seemed okay, nothing awfully special. But, as we left the school I felt light and happy. This is where he's supposed to be as well. All the praying and fasting that there would be appropriate boys in his class this year are going to be answered. 

I hear so many reasons for why parents home school their children. I rarely hear why other parents choose to put their children in public school. But, it is a choice. For us, it's an important choice that we don't take lightly. I'm sad to see my children leave me for hours every day when summer ends. But, I feel like they are also gaining the experiences they need for their own growth and development. Our daughter has had opportunities she wouldn't have at home, like helping a peer with their morning work. She also has a minor level of anxiety in large groups. Being in school gave her the opportunity to be in a large group in a classroom without the craziness of unexpected movements and noise. This has helped her learn to manage some of her anxiety. She's less fearful of groups and no longer hides in a quiet corner if she's at a birthday party with kids running all over. She still doesn't like the noise and craziness, but she is also not afraid of it anymore. Our son has been able to learn to speak up. He was incredibly shy as a young child and refused to talk to anyone other than family or close friends, until his kindergarten teacher helped him learn how to speak up with unfamiliar people. That was something we could not do because he was always surrounded by people we knew. We couldn't force him to talk to the checker at the grocery store to just say, "hi." But, his kindergarten teacher's gentle encouragement helped him start trusting his voice. 

There are certainly great reasons to home school, but there are drawbacks as well. There are great reasons to put children in the public school system, but there are also drawbacks. There is no perfect system for educating our children in a well rounded way. I am very grateful for the wonderful teachers my children have had in their schooling. I may still home school at some point if it ever feels right. But for now, I have a confession...............I am a public school parent!

Note: I hope you realize that these are very personal for me and my husband and our children. Every parent needs to decide what is best for their child and some children may have different needs than our children. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Confessions of a Public School Parent


I have a great many friends who home school their children. In fact, most of my friends have home schooled their children in the last few years. My friends have given me an assorted variety of reasons for homeschooling, but there are a few common threads. I listen to these reasons and fully understand (even desire to home school my children for some of these same reasons). However, this post is to explain my reasons for putting my children in the public school system. There is so much on the internet about homeschooling and why people do it....I wanted a voice for those of us that choose the public school system. My husband and I have 6 basic reasons our children are in public school. 

Why My Children are in Public School: Reason Number 1

Spiritual 

This is the NUMBER 1 and MOST IMPORTANT reason my husband and I have chosen to put our children in the school system. Every year, we pray about what is right for our children. Should they stay in the public school system, or should we home school them? Every year we have felt that they need to be in public school. This year was very hard because our son had such a rough year last year with the students in his class. It was a great balance for him to have such a fantastic teacher. Our daughter had an incredible year last year, but we also feel she could progress more quickly at home. We decided we would pray about it for weeks and see how we felt at back-to-school night. As we went to the school with the children, everything felt right. Our daughter's classroom was happy, bright, and her teacher oozed with enthusiasm and love. She has the same teacher our son did in second grade and this teacher has been his favorite since (although he's had some great teachers). Our hearts felt light and right. When we went to the 5th grade hall I wasn't nervous (as I thought I'd be). His teacher seemed okay, nothing awfully special. But, as we left the school I felt light and happy. This is where he's supposed to be as well. All the praying and fasting that there would be appropriate boys in his class this year are going to be answered. 

I hear so many reasons for why parents homeschool their children. I rarely hear why other parents choose to put their children in public school. But, it is a choice. For us, it's an important choice that we don't take lightly. I'm sad to see my children leave me for hours every day when summer ends. But, I feel like they are also gaining the experiences they need for their own growth and development. Our daughter has had opportunities she wouldn't have at home, like helping a peer with their morning work. She also has a minor level of anxiety in large groups. Being in school gave her the opportunity to be in a large group in a classroom without the craziness of unexpected movements and noise. This has helped her learn to manage some of her anxiety. She's less fearful of groups and no longer hides in a quiet corner if she's at a birthday party with kids running all over. She still doesn't like the noise and craziness, but she is also not afraid of it anymore. Our son has been able to learn to speak up. He was incredibly shy as a young child and refused to talk to anyone other than family or close friends, until his kindergarten teacher helped him learn how to speak up with unfamiliar people. That was something we could not do because he was always surrounded by people we knew. We couldn't force him to talk to the checker at the grocery store to just say, "hi." But, his kindergarten teacher's gentle encouragement helped him start trusting his voice. 

There are certainly great reasons to home school, but there are drawbacks as well. There are great reasons to put children in the public school system, but there are also drawbacks. There is no perfect system for educating our children in a well rounded way. I am very grateful for the wonderful teachers my children have had in their schooling. I may still home school at some point if it ever feels right. But for now, I have a confession...............I am a public school parent!