01 March 2010

The Homeschool Holy War

I dunno that there is one. But this old post on an Assemblies of God blogring I came across makes me wonder if some people in the ministry might just be taking parenting decisions of others a liiiiiiittle too personally. A children's pastor states that homeschoolers often come in with this haughty, elitist attitude and don't let their kids "mix" with the other kids.

Oh! Her words of advice go vaguely sorta like this: "If you're a homeschooler, you need to be supportive of the church leadership. If the church leadership provides a children's pastor and has children's programs, you should show you're 'supportive' by sending your kids off to them. If you don't like the children's ministry, you can leave the church... but don't take any other families with you! That would be most un-Christlike of you, because those people belong to us. We own 'em."

I'm sorry, there's a line that oughtn't be crossed around here somewhere, even if it is a bit blurry. I think people need to butt out of the parenting decisions of others unless they're specifically asked for advice. Tell me I *need* to support the children's programs at the church? *Never* say anything bad about staff? Um... no. Though I will certainly agree with her that we should pray for our church leaders and not say things about them we wouldn't say TO them. And even beyond that, I think there should be a certain level of honour and respect the title of "pastor" should carry. With very few exceptions, we should disagree *respectfully* with people who have followed the call to ministry.

Not that I've arrived at this mythical place where we always speak the truth in love. But it's a nice ideal. I know there is a balance between total rugged independence and being "accountable" to leadership. The former leads to whatever-you-want- ism and the other leads to finding yourself a member of a cult in ten years and addressing some other chick as "sister-wife."

I can "get" where someone like this blogger is probably coming from. No doubt pastors deal with a wholllle bunch of backbiting and gossiping and that sort of thing, and for my part, I'm glad I don't know the half of it. But maybe let's let me be the parent of my own kids. If I don't want them hanging out with the worldly kids in Children's Church, then they won't be hanging out with the worldly kids in Children's Church. If I have a criticism, I usually try to take it up with you, but I'm certainly not obligated to shut up if I don't get my concerns answered to my satisfaction.

By the way, my children will not be going to Children's Church for the forseeable future. But did anyone ask me in the last several months about how the program might be altered a bit to accomodate my children? Hey, it's a small enough church, and my kids have enough special needs that it probably isn't asking too much on my part to expect a phone call or short conference asking about how we could make the area more Elf and Emperor- friendly. Do you even know the real reason we aren't sending our kids to Children's Church? It has nothing to do with homeschooling; I can tell you that much!

One of these days when I think the CP is ready to listen, I'm going to have a few things to say. I don't think either of us will enjoy the discussion, and a discussion isn't going to necessarily change things for the better. I'm afraid it might make things worse, and so I keep putting it off. I have soooo much conflict in my life already right now that I'd hate chancing a blowup (on my part!) and my having to leave. Siiigh. And yet he isn't a bad guy on the whole. I just have a bad temper when I feel my kids have been wronged and don't trust *myself* very well yet to be calm about things. And odd as it sounds, I don't feel "led" to discuss it with anyone just yet. That is... not a usual feeling for me. I'm usually pretty forthright, and I probably will be much more so with you, dear reader, once I feel the issue is addressed (or not addressed) and I've given the CP a fair chance to address it.

But suffice to say, it isn't the worldliness of the other kids or the fact that the NIV is used that keeps my kids with me in "big church." Not that I like the worldliness of the other kids or the fact that the NIV is used. That's just not the reason.

If you're a pastor, and you're finding that your church's homeschooling families are leaving in droves, it isn't *necessarily* because they're overly picky about the other congregants, or even because of anything whatsoever to do with homeschooling at all. Though sometimes the pickiness of parents can come into play, it's true. Don't take it personally, but several families leaving for similar reasons should clue you in to a problem that's beyond their "pickiness." It's either your problem or theirs, and you can only do something about your own and pray for the people at the next church who will inherit theirs...

But while I'm on the subject of picky parents, I feel the need to mention that it isn't just homeschooling parents who can be perceived as bossy and overinvolved with their children. It's those crazy GenX parents of public schoolers as well. Those GenXers are bossy, nasty people who don't just take the status quo for their kids. They have unrealistic expectations. They're totally unfair. Blah blah blah.

Really.

You can't win, folks. I'm thinking the best you can do in any situation is to try to look at it from another viewpoint and "manage your expectations." And while I think parents ought to try to be reasonable folk, parents should have the last say-so on what goes on with their children. Why do I think that? Because I'm the MOM; that's why. :)

5 comments:

  1. You go, Mom!

    Not two seconds before I got online and read this I was talking to a friend about a sticky situation she is dealing with at church that directly relates to this topic. We were talking about how sometimes culture interferes with faith (my friend is Japanese, but is married to an American).

    After reading the article and your comments I realized that it's not just cultural. The same kind of things happen in churches here just like in the US. Maybe it's an industrialized country phenomenon? I have a feeling Christians in China, for example, have a lot more to be worried about than whether or not someone is justified in keeping their kids out of youth group!

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  2. Sorry, I shouldn't have said that the problem might be one of industrialized countries, and then used China as an example. I guess I should have said industrialized and FREE countries!

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  3. I get this all the time. My children are still toddlers and everyone has an opinion about what my children should be doing and what I should be doing. It's a human phenomena not just a church one, but it seems far more personal in church. We expect "better" from "Christians." Sadly, we are all just people. I hope you do talk to your CM and as a pastor (former CM and YM) you are not asking too much. Even in the church it is becoming typical to minister to the "beautiful people" and forget the rest. Don't you imagine that makes Jesus so sad!

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  4. Sue, it is NOT just cultural. It can be generational or just a lack of understanding parameters sometimes on the part of both the parent and the church leaders. The blogger in question seems to think the church a higher authority than the parent as to how one will decide where to send a child during church time. And I guess if you are volunteering to be a member, and that's a condition of membership, that's a different story.

    But thanks, I like a little autonomy with my own family. It's obvious right from the first paragraph that this woman doesn't really like homeschooling.

    Probably not a place I'd be happy if that's her attitude, though there are many factors in deciding on a church home. I find that staff can come and go and even church doctrine can change entirely! I used to be a member of a Presbyterian USA church and can tell you that for a fact. So it's best not to get too attached to a church or a program in the first place. You really can't trust anyone but God... and even God you can't trust to look out for your interests in this world (just the next in some mystical way and we're supposed to be joyful about it no matter what).

    Bonnie, I'm blogging about this issue now because things are going *well.* Or at least until Pastor reads this. He has my blog address, but I don't think that he or his wife actually visit. Anyway, the church is doing an awesome job with Woodjie at present, and there is no dedicated nursery staff member. Whyyyy isn't that the case with the elementary kids? That's the only level at which there is a dedicated staff member.

    I think there is a difference between expecting things to be perfect and having a genuine gripe. I think right now that this is where we need to be as a family. Even if the CP issue is not resolved, so long as Woodjie is cared for, I'm going to be ok with it.

    Woodjie is a big, big factor in things as you might imagine.

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  5. I can't stand bossy mommies! There is many ways to parent yet every mom seems to think their way is the only way. I deal with that with my own mom and my MIL. Can be tough at times.

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)