This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Emily: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Emily, here with Laura, and we are really excited to kick off a 4-part series all about education and the gospel. This is something that has been on our minds and hearts to talk about for a really long time. We’ve been planning this for a very long time and it’s finally happening. We’re really excited.
Laura: We’re really excited. It feels like we didn’t know how to do it justice, but we’re hopeful that through doing this 4-part series, we can really run the gamut about education. Just a quick note: if you’re looking for any of our resources, or the interviews, head to risenmotherhood.com/education. That’s where you’re going to find all of our information that we’ve referenced on today’s show, or any of the future shows. That is going to be a learning page. We’ve created a special spot, so it’s really easy for you to find anything that we mention, talk about, or do on education.
Emily: This came out of the reality that Laura and I now have older kiddos – mine is five-and-a-half, and Laura’s is about to turn five. Over the last couple of years, we’ve really been processing education decisions. But it’s really on our doorstep now, and we, first hand, have to test all the different factors that can make this decision really challenging and scary at times. First of all, there’s a lot of options. Even if you get down to a specific category—let’s say you’re looking at homeschool—there’s co-ops, or there’s classical education. So even within a category, there’s a lot of options. That can be overwhelming.
Laura: And along with options, there are a lot of opinions. There are people that you love and respect and that you admire greatly in your life. Maybe they’re speaking into how you should educate your child, and maybe you disagree. Or maybe you agree. It doesn’t matter, but there are a lot of opinions, and they can come at you pretty fast.
Emily: There’s also pressure, even from the culture. The culture sends a message about our children and their education, and how critical it is for their survival in the world. But even Christian culture, as well, can put a lot of pressure on feeling like, “I’ve got to protect my kids in a certain way. Or I’ve got to bring them up in this certain way that feels like it conflicts with the culture’s expectations.” There’s just lots of pressure.
Laura: Then there are all of the different needs of your individual child or your individual family. There are learning differences and personalities needs. Some of our kids respond differently to peer pressure, extra-curricula activities, or all these things. Therefore, you’re not only taking in all of these outside things, but then you’re also trying to look at what is the best decision for my own children and for our family, while looking at their different needs.
Emily: Laura and I have personally experienced going through—even when our first child was born—kind of what we thought we would do and now, what we’re actually doing, and we’ve made different decisions along the way. One thing for us—I mentioned on a previous show—we kind of thought, “Oh, we’re going to homeschool.” Then a lot of different things in our lives changed, including having a child with special needs, who’s probably going to need to be in a public school environment where he can have a lot of adaptations and help, like special staff set up for him. Also, we have our hands more full than we thought, and we have a great private, Christian school in our community that does a lot of things that we’re doing at home. It’s just really interesting how with more information, time, and circumstance, we’ve had to take the decision—already—one year at a time. I think we will continue to do that over the course of our lives.
Laura: Emily, you’ve felt like you were pretty sure in your decision originally. Then slowly, every time, God has changed your heart through outside circumstances, unity with your husband, and things like that. For me, I am a little bit different, where I’ve always felt pretty loosey-goosey about school. Kind of like, “Oh, I don’t know, we’ll deal. I am open to all the options.” I mean, literally I’ve gone the gamut between homeschool to private to public, and I had a lot of stress about all the decisions. As it got nearer and nearer I felt like, “Oh, this is the deal.” Now I am really stressing out about it, and I wasn’t sure what to do. Actually, I am still not completely sure what next year looks like. We’re still not sure!
Emily: None of us are still sure. [laughs]
Laura: It’s just day-by-day around here. That’s just a small example from two moms who are seeking the Lord in our education decisions for our children. You can see how we’ve come at this from totally different perspectives actually.
Emily: Yes, we have, and it’s something that you bring all these factors together. What we want to do on this show is set the tone for these upcoming interviews. To say that there really isn’t one clear, biblical, superior choice in terms of schools, or certain types of private school, or public school, or homeschool. There are a lot of different options that can work and still accomplish our mission and our calling as parents. These interviews that we have coming up are really not to talk on the pros and cons, or to try to convince you of a specific option. But they’re more for you to see how different parents in different situations came to their different choices. Hopefully, at the end you’ll feel like, “Oh, they all had really different and good reasoning for what they decided ultimately.”
Laura: One caveat that we do want to make on this show is that we want to recognize that it is a real blessing to even have so many choices in the different ways that we educate our children. And like math, science, and reading, and all of those things, it’s a real luxury how we’re able to have a lot of different choices. We also know that maybe some of you don’t have great options around you. Or maybe you don’t have the resources to execute what your preferred option would be. Maybe you’re a single mom, or maybe both parents work outside the home. Or maybe you have a child with significant needs, like Emily was talking about, where it feels a little bit like the choice is being made for you. We just want to recognize that for a moment, and then also say that we still hope that you will get some hope from these shows from knowing that there is freedom in the decision that you make. Even if you feel like there aren’t a lot of options for you at the moment.
Emily: Even if you are a parent who’s felt like there is a “one way is the best way” we also hope that, as you’re listening through these shows, it’ll just give you a wider view of the way that people come to their decisions, as well as all of the different factors that are out there. When you’re conversing with a friend who’s made a different decision, maybe you’re a little bit more charitable in trying to understand where she’s coming from. Both of you can look together at, “How are we going to fulfil the calling that God has in our lives to raise our children in the Lord?”
Laura: Here’s who you’re going to be hearing from. You’re going to hear from Melissa Kruger about private education, from Irene Sun about homeschool, and Jen Wilkin will be back on the show—our first returning guest—to talk about public school. We’re really thrilled for these shows; we’ve already obviously recorded them and listened to them. We think you’re going to be very encouraged by what these women have to say about freedom in the gospel for education choices. Let’s jump in to see what the gospel really says.
Emily: First of all, I guess the Bible has a lot to say about how we educate our children in general. I am just using that as a broad sweep of all of the things that we need to teach them.
Laura: The most common verses that people look at are Deuteronomy 6:4-9, which talks all about how you should teach your children diligently to know the Lord. That one’s really common one, and most of you have probably heard those verses. You can look it up, and we’ll obviously include all of this scripture on our show notes. Another couple are Proverbs 22:6-9, “Train the child up in a way that he should go. Even when he’s old he will not depart from it.” And Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” But of course when we read the Bible, we read as it a whole, and we look at the whole story of the gospel. As we look at it from even an aerial view, we see that what we’re called to do is just to raise our children up in knowing God. We want to teach wisdom, things like how do you select friends, how do you do your finances, how do you make decisions, how do you resist temptation, teach what it looks like to walk in righteousness, what it looks like to walk in the path of destruction, and this is just simply discipleship. Then finally, we want to just teach the greatest commandments of loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and then to love your neighbor. We want to teach our children what the Bible says, who God is, and the great story and great plan that he has for our lives.
Emily: We’ve talked about this a lot on many shows; I think we touch on it in some way on every show. That the culture of our home matters, and that’s really how we are making disciples of our children—that it is what goes on with mom and dad. Or if you’re married to an unbelieving husband, even what you can do as a mom to pass on your authentic faith to your children and teach them to obey God. The reality is we are all called in some ways to give our children a Christian education in the sense that we should be passing along things of the Lord to them. The question is when and how does that happen? What does that actually look like in your own family? That’s going to vary and differ from person to person. Additionally, we have another question sometimes, which is, where are they going to learn math, science, social studies, reading, music, art? Some of those other things. That, again, may have a different answer for each family. Just because they go somewhere to learn their subjects doesn’t mean that they are not still getting their Christian education in the home, or that they’re still not being exposed to the things of the Lord. They can still be learning all of those critical things and hear about these other subjects in a lot of different ways.
Laura: Something that Emily and I have talked a lot about is the tension with all of this. It can feel very heavy when selecting a school, even though we see that there’s freedom in the gospel. On one level, there’s this big burden about feeling like, “Oh my goodness, school matters too. Is it enough? Is what I am doing at home enough? If they’re out there, exposed to all of these other things, or if they’re homeschooled and exposed to all of my sin and failure.” It doesn’t matter what direction, but it feels so heavy about, “How am I going to do this, and invest well in my children on the one hand?” But at the same time, we know there is a freedom from the law, and from feeling like we have to get everything perfectly, or else our kids are going to turn out terribly.
Emily: That’s a tension that we’re learning to hold—that the gospel doesn’t diminish either one of those. It doesn’t say God’s laws and standards don’t matter. The gospel says, “Jesus came to fulfil the law.” He came to be perfect and to take the punishment on our behalf, and to give us full righteousness before God. Because that’s the way we’re operating, then out of the gratitude in our heart and a desire to love the Lord, we want to obey him. Even though it’s still really hard, and there are still challenges. These two things are real, and you may feel them as you’re listening through the rest of the shows and interviews. Just remember that the gospel has an answer to that tension.
Laura: I think, too, it’s good to look at Romans 14; we talked about this more in-depth on Episode 56: Freedom with Food. But we see how Paul is talking to the believers in the early church all about how we shouldnt be quarrelling about differences and opinions. He’s specifically speaking about food. How you eat does matter to the body; there is an element of, “You need to be careful about what you eat.” But at the same time, food isn’t what makes us clean or unclean. It isn’t our identity. It’s something that we can apply to education; that the way we educate our children in the math and sciences and different things like that is really important. But it’s not the end all, be all. It’s not where we’re going to find our identity or righteousness.
Emily: It’s not what we put in us from the outside that defiles us. It’s what’s inside, and we talked about that on an episode we did on influences. If you want to go down that path a little bit, then what really makes us clean is Christ. We don’t need to rely on a certain method of education, or a certain way of keeping what we think is a righteous law in our lives to make us right before God.
Laura: When we hold that, and we understand the place of education in a Christian’s life, we don’t need to feel this sense of superiority or even a sense of inferiority, based on the schooling method that we choose. Especially when, at home, that child is receiving—as we were saying—the Christian education which is the baseline that the Lord is charging us with. We don’t have to look at a certain education style as being sinful, wrong, or unwise. It’s important to acknowledge strengths and weaknesses of course, and every option has strengths and every option has weaknesses. But that doesn’t mean that we are allowed to snob our nose because someone’s picked something different, or that there is something so inferior and beneath us.
Emily: Going along with that, we don’t have to make decisions out of fear. I know something that I’ve wrestled with a lot in the schooling choice is of being afraid of how something is going to impact my child. We can be aware of it, and we can know that there are implications of every choice you make, but God is sovereign over that, and he can work for our good and his glory in the midst of whatever thing we choose. I love that Jen Wilkin is going to bring this up: “We’re the parent. We can change our minds if there’s something we feel is impacting our children down the road. We deal with that and we take that to the Lord.” It’s just so important for me to remember that we need to fear God, not our schooling choice, or the people around us and what they’re going to think.
Laura: I like that point Emily, how there is freedom to change. We talked about that on just our previous episode, Changing Our Minds in Motherhood. How commonly that can happen both in little things and even in big things like this. Whenever we trust in God and in his plan for our lives, things are going to happen. We can’t foresee the future; maybe you’re going to move, maybe the charter school you have chosen has closed. Maybe you end up needing to work when you had previously wanted to homeschool. I don’t know all the ways or all the different things that might happen in your life, but you might be surprised by some of the decisions you have to make. It is therefore important to hold that very loosely.
Emily: No matter what we decide - our theme for this year is unity in the gospel. It’s to remember even within our own church body, or friend group, that people are going to make different decisions. We want to look at it like, “What is our mission as moms? How can we encourage our sister in Christ—that general term ‘Christian education’—to be discipling her child? How can we come alongside each other in that instead of dividing and kind of judging?” Just assuming the worst of somebody’s choice when you don’t always know all the ins and outs of what went into their decision. We can do a lot more of encouraging each other to walk in grace and to obey God in whatever our circumstances are, rather than trying to pass out what’s the best way for all of us to do it.
Laura: In light of this, we’ve actually put together a document. Emily and I have worked pretty hard on this document to bring together a bunch of questions that you can work through. Our hope is that maybe you work through this with your husband, or maybe with some other believing moms friends, or some other couple friends. This will be something that will help you at least get the conversation started and to think about, “What does scripture says about education? What do our current lives look like? What are the options that we have around us?” Maybe we should jump into a couple of the questions. But before that, I want to say you are going to find this @risenmotherhood.com/education. It’s a free pdf; we want all of you guys to be able to access this. Head over there if you’re intrigued or you’re thinking about the school option. But let’s jump through a few questions as a little teaser.
Emily: First off, we walk through some questions like we did on the show of, “What is God’s Word say about education? What are his expectations for us as parents, and how we’re to raise our children?”
Laura: I want to say here, don’t take our word for it.
Emily: Go find out for yourselves. [laughs]
Laura: Yes! You guys, don’t just listen to our podcast like, “This is what the Bible says.” If you’ve listened to Risen Motherhood long enough, you know that we want you to double check us and to be make sure that this stuff is true and really biblically aligned.
Emily: Then, thinking about the vision for your family. Or maybe thinking about the unique culture that you have in your homes, and how you are going to help align your education method with the culture that you have in your home.
Laura: Other types of questions that we have on there are thinking about, “What are some educational options that are even available to you?” Like we talked about, not everybody has the privilege of having 15 different types of methods that they can choose to educate their children. Looking at idols: are you holding anything too tightly or are you not considering a very valid choice? Even thinking about, “Hey, let’s think about our children—what are some strengths and weaknesses? What are their needs?” As Emily and I have talked about a lot, we have kids with special needs, and that’s something that really impacts our decisions.
Emily: Even holding that intentionally like, “What are the whole family’s needs?” and saying, “Is it okay? Is there something creative that we can do here?” Also, have you even considered the strengths and weaknesses of what you are choosing? Maybe for whatever reason, you are a person who’s like, “Well, I don’t really have a choice right now.” You can still look at that education decision and say, “What are some areas I might need to fill in a gap as a parent because that school, or that option, isn’t going to offer that?” And, “What are some things that are really strengths that that style has that we can play to and be excited about?”
Laura: We hope that you guys will check out this entire pdf, and we really hope that it will serve as a launch pad, or a springboard, for further discussion in your own homes. Also, we hope that you will tune in to all of our subsequent interviews that we have coming up. These women are so wise, they’re down the path farther than us, and they can offer a lot more. We hope that you’ll tune in to all three, even if you feel like, “Oh no, I am naturally gravitating towards this.” As we said, it’s not about, “Hey, here’s why you should choose this schooling method.” It’s all about freedom in the gospel, and how different families come to different decisions for their own way of educating. So head over to risenmotherhood.com/education for all of this stuff. We’ll be continuing to add to it throughout the month as we have more interviews released or more blog posts. If you like stuff like this, we want to ask if you’d be willing to contribute and support us on Patreon.
Emily: This obviously takes a lot of time, and we use a lot of different equipment. There’s a lot of coordinating and just a ton that goes into something like this; not just our regular show, but to do a special 4-part series. Again, that would be really helpful to us as we continue running Risen Motherhood, doing new things, and investing so that we can continue to reach moms with the gospel. You can find that @patreon.com/risenmotherhood.
Laura: There are also other links from our sites; it should be very easy to find that. We’d really appreciate it as we’re entirely funded by our community at Risen Motherhood, and we’re very grateful for that. Head over to Risen Motherhood, and follow us on social media for more stuff like this, @risenmotherhood - Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and we will see you next week with our very first interview with Melissa Kruger.
Emily: Thanks, guys.