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Misconceptions of: The Public School Mom

misconceptions of a mom with public school children

 

This is installment three off a multi-post series on the misconceptions of women.  Everywhere we look we see women in roles or seasons of life that get stereotypically categorized as this or that. Perhaps you are one of these women or perhaps you have never stopped to understand these women.  This series is meant to expel some of those stereotypes and give you a different perspective of women who sometimes get a blanket judgement. 

So far we’ve looked at the private life of a pastor’s wife and a homeschooling mama. Today Shannon is sharing her heart about the stereotypes that she encounters as the mom of children who attend public school.

The Public School Mom

I’ll never forget the first time I realized that other moms had an opinion about what I was doing with my kids for their schooling. My first brush with it was actually in the blogosphere when a well-meaning (I hope!) homeschool mom posted two links to sermons or articles bemoaning the evils of the public school system. One of the sermons went so far as to intimate that a Christian parent who puts his/her kids in the public school system is basically turning them over to the devil.

Wow. I remember sitting in front of my computer screen just sort of shocked.  And, honestly, a little hurt. Teary-eyed, I wrote and rewrote several comments in response before finally just deleting them and moving on. But the seed was planted and I found myself doubting our decisions.

Of course, being the people-pleaser that I am, it also messed with my own issues of wanting to be liked and understood. I wanted to explain myself and defend our decision. Thankfully in recent years there has been some more discussion about moms supporting each other instead of judging each other. I think we still have a long way to go, but at least the discussion is taking place.

I know that we moms are pretty passionate about our kids and we try to do our best by them. Naturally we feel emotionally invested in the choices we make – on issues ranging from cloth diapers to working away from home to schooling.

I have recently started working part-time in an office setting but for most of my parenting experience has been as a stay-at-home mom whose kids went to the local public school.

As such, I’ve definitely been misunderstood or stereotyped over the years. Let me share four of the most common ones with you. Perhaps you can relate to one of these:

I must not understand the dangers of the public school environment

The assumption here is that if I were just a little more educated, I would choose differently. In truth, I think all of the schooling options – public, private, homeschool, and some sort of homeschool hybrid – have their pros and cons.  There isn’t one that is a silver bullet for producing perfect children. My husband and I made an informed decision, weighing all of these options. We are well-aware of the risks involved in sending our kids to a place that doesn’t necessarily share our value system – both in the administration/teachers who influence them and in the children who surround them daily. (Please note that in our case, the school district is very welcoming of parental involvement and is not using an extremely liberal curriculum. So for us, it was workable. I realize that that is not the case everywhere in the U.S. If I had lived in another district, I might have chosen differently.)

It must be about the money

This misconception assumes that either (a) I am in a hurry to get back to work and make more money or (b) I don’t have the money to pay private tuition but that I would if I could. The truth is that I wasn’t in a hurry to get back to the working world. We live in a small home with a small mortgage payment and live pretty simply. I chose not to homeschool even though I was a stay-at-home mom.  As well, we could probably find a way to make private school tuition work. We have been blessed with some very good Christian schools in our area. Our choice not to send the kids there has nothing to do with money. It’s a philosophical decision not a financial one.

I’m letting someone else raise my kids

It is true that my kids are out of my home for a good bit of the day. But, it is my firm conviction that every parent should be a homeschooler in a way. The development of my children is my God-given responsibility and privilege. I have deputized the school system to teach them reading, writing, and arithmetic. Just like I have deputized a lacrosse coach to teach my son that sport or a dance instructor to teach my daughter beautiful lyrical moves or a Bible study leader to lead their small groups at church. Does that mean that I am no longer involved in their academic, social, physical, and spiritual development? Nope. It can but it doesn’t have to. It’s all matter of perspective.

I’m settling for a second-rate education

This is probably the most compelling one for me. I know there are times when my kids are bored or could be challenged more if they were in a smaller setting. And, I am intrigued by the classical education model. I don’t love everything about the way public schooling has evolved in recent years. Furthermore, teachers in the public school system are required to juggle more because they have every kind of kid – not just the ones who have been selected. But, we are in a great school district and, with the exception of one year for my son, my kids are getting a good education overall. Truth be told, much of learning is what you make you make of it. We backfill anything we feel like they are missing – for example, our kids will be learning logic this summer.

How about you? What sorts of misconceptions or stereotypes have you experienced in your schooling choices?

 

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Comments

  1. As a fellow public-schooling mama, I appreciate your candor. You did a wonderful job of handling a controversial topic! I hope that all of us will continue to grow in our support of one another rather than criticizing decisions that are very difficult to make in the first place.
    Jen 🙂

  2. I appreciate your perspective on why you chose public school for your children. I’ve seen a lot of parents speaking out about choosing public school. Our own school district is a bit iffy, so I’m not sure where we’ll be sending our son yet! But I certainly thrived in public school and agree, it’s completely what you make of it.

    From the title, though, I thought this would be about misconceptions about you, staying at home all day while your children are gone! My mom stayed at home even though all three of us attended public schools, and I guess some people think that means you’re just not doing anything, but that’s not true. The scheduling freedom that afforded her meant she was always available to chaperone field trips, volunteer at the school library and as a tutor, volunteer with teacher-care groups that met to pray for the teachers and do things for them, volunteer at church, and help with our various extracurricular groups. It meant she was always home when we got home, making sure we did our homework and stayed out of trouble. And it meant she had plenty of time to make sure we ate dinner together as a family every evening, without having to rush around at the last minute when she got home from work.

    Moms who are home while their children are at school (public or private) fill a crucial need in helping keeping things running!

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