The lights, the decorations and the music all speak to a time of festive joy. But it’s also a time of year where many Christian parents just want to go into hiding, and I think it’s because after several months of constant bombardment from other Christians, we are ready for a rest. Consider the following timeline:
- September: It’s back to school time. The debate wages over whether or not kids should be home-schooled, private-schooled or public schooled. My kids, like many others, go to public school. Gasp!
- October: Welcome to the front lines of the Halloween battle. Again, Christian parents are assailed with reasons not to celebrate Halloween, or how to celebrate, or what’s permissible and what’s not. You guessed it, my kids dress up for Halloween. You may commence with the head shaking.
- November-December: It’s time for the Santa wars! Should we let our kids believe in Santa or not? Does a belief in Santa threaten a belief in Jesus? At least there’s one thing we can all agree on, Elf on the Shelf is creepy. And surprise, my kids believe in Santa.
Whew! I guess you can take away my parent of the year award now, because surely no good, Christian parent would send his kids to public school, let them dress-up for Halloween and allow them to believe in Santa Claus, right? Wrong. And it’s time that we as Christians stop bickering with each other over such trivial things. Parenting is hard enough without every choice being scrutinized by the very people who are supposed to be praying for you and encouraging you.
How your child is educated is an important choice, and one that only you can make (with your spouse’s input of course). What works for some families may not work with others. Also, what works for some kids might not work for others. I know of families who home school one child while the other child goes to public school. But, and this is the important thing to remember, it’s their choice. We send our kids to public school for a plethora of reasons that I may blog about in the future. But we also have had our kids in private Christian school, and if our present life circumstances would change, we would not rule out home-schooling. But it’s our choice. My advice to all parents concerning education has always been be involved. Ask your kids about what they are learning. Read their textbooks. Talk to their teacher, especially if you’re married to her. Education begins and ends in the home. Don’t bow out of your responsibility just because you send your kid away to school, whether it be public or private. And home-schooling parents, don’t look down on those of us who have chosen a different path for our child. We are just like you in the sense of we want what is best for our child.
As for Halloween and Christmas, again, it’s the parent’s choice. Halloween does have a darker side to it, and I fully understand why some parents wish to avoid it. But for many of us it is nothing more than a kids’ holiday where children get to celebrate imagination and make-believe. If you’re uncomfortable with the whole Santa thing, then by all means don’t do it. But if you decide to let your kids believe, make sure when they are old enough to figure it out that you teach them who the real St. Nicholas was and that it’s his God-inspired generosity that lives on forever. The important thing to remember for both holidays, and every day for that matter, is lift up Jesus as Lord.
Yes, I’m the bad parent. My kids go to public school, eat Halloween candy and look up in the sky for reindeer. But they also love Jesus, are incredibly generous and follow hard after the things of God, and those are things I desire most for them. Parenting is hard. Let’s stop judging each other and begin helping, encouraging and praying for one another. After all, we are raising the next generation of Church leaders. If we can’t get along, how can we expect them to?