Do you send your children to a Christian school, but are not a Christian family? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 20 Old 08-30-2011, 08:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I just want to say that we are a very open-minded, tolerant family and have nothing against Christianity.  It just doesn't happen to be our belief system.  Anyway, I have found a school for my children (we have been homeschooling, but my kids just need a little more academic stimulation and I can't seem to provide it) that I really like, academically speaking.  It is exactly what I wanted to implement in my homeschool curriculum but was never quite able to.  They are Charlotte Mason, Montessori and Waldorf inspired.  I love the fact that there is no homework, a four-day week and lots of gardening and nature study.  The only thing my husband and I are having a hard time with is the fact that it seems to be a deeply religious school, one that seems to expect that all of the families believe and follow what the school teaches.  I have no problem with my children being exposed to different religions, maybe we are afraid of our family being "outed" as UU's and it making it hard for the kids.  Also, I think it is just something they do to lead the kids to accept Jesus as their savior and we've always been the type of parents that want our children to find their own truth and path (whether that is Christianity, Buddhism, etc.) and not feel pressured from the outside.  I really hope I'm not stirring the pot here, I know that religion is a huge hot-button topic and I'm being sincere when I say that we are accepting of all faiths.  I'm just trying to figure out how to navigate our options and what we should do from here.  

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#2 of 20 Old 08-30-2011, 09:30 AM
 
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Can't speak to this as a mom, but I went to a Christian school for part of my elementary years, and it was fantastic. By far the best of the schools I attended--there were a few incredibly smart and dedicated teachers who loved  classical literature and grammar and it was really intellectually engaging in a way that I found in isolated classes afterwards, but not on such a large scale again until college. There were some families who were less than friendly to us as non-church-goers, but the teachers were respectful. I remember being one of two Democrat families in my grade, for instance. I did and do have a positive attachment to much of the church music and liturgy, which my parents did not intend ;) 

 

One thing I would do beforehand if you send them there is to go over what will happen (do they sing hymns, have chapel, take communion, pray) and explain (a) what it means, and (b) how to do it, and (c) how much of it your children should do. I remember making the sign of the cross (wrong) for months before someone showed me how (not mirror-image!), and then belatedly realizing what it meant. 

 

Personally, I also would want to make sure that the science and history were consistent with my beliefs.

 

HTH--

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#3 of 20 Old 08-30-2011, 09:56 AM
 
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I considered sending my children to a Catholic school, even though I am no longer a practicing Catholic.  Finances partly played a role into why we did not.

 

If you think the school is a good fit in other ways.....why not consider it?

 

I went to Catholic schools...we always had some kids who were from other/no religion.

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#4 of 20 Old 08-30-2011, 10:07 AM
 
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Much depends on the SCHOOL and how it handles kids of different beliefs. Based on our own experiences and our area, I'd really be hesitant to put my children into a Christian school where I would consider a Catholic or Jewish school if we were out of secular options. Christian schools in our area tend to be really touchy feely and make a point of every subject being a religious study. My nieces went to one where even their math word problems were religious. The Catholic and Jewish schools require religious study but they keep it seperate from their academic studies. They are also more apt to offer courses in other world religions.

 

Personally, I wouldn't do it but if you really love the school, make sure to ask in advance how they handle kids outside their faith.


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#5 of 20 Old 08-30-2011, 12:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much for your responses.  We live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area where there are many evangelical type churches.  The school does not disclose what denomination they are affiliated with, if any at all.  They do mention that they are accepting of all "denominations", but it does not say accepting of all faiths.  Maybe I'm getting prematurely freaked out.  From the information packet I received, it indicates that the academics are integrated with a Christian worldview and they specifically say that they introduce the students to "God's salvation through Jesus Christ".  At this point, I don't know what to do.  I am very impressed with their educational philosophy, but don't know how to operate within their religious beliefs.  It also doesn't help that my daughter (5) came to the realization last night that she will someday die.  She has been talking about it all day.  I really do respect Christians, but at the same time I don't want anyone to scare her into thinking that she will be damned to hell if she believes differently.  

On top of all of this, they have given my children a very generous scholarship.  What it will cost to send my kids there is my maximum budget for private school.  With the exception of a very few Montessori schools, I don't know of any other secular private schools in our area, especially one that would be willing to work with our finances.  My husband does not think we should disclose our difference in faith to the school and just wait and see.  I'm kind of scared to do that since in the philosophy statement it clearly says that parents send their kids there because they agree with their educational and spiritual goals.  

 

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#6 of 20 Old 08-30-2011, 01:26 PM
 
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Oh. I would absolutely *not* send her if it meant not disclosing your family background. That puts your DD in a very awkward position; there will be assumptions about her being part of a culture she isn't. You really do need to prep her for how to handle being a minority. Are they asking for a statement of faith? 

 

I also would be hesitant to take a big financial aid package without being open.

 

For us, I can see possibly making my peace with examples that come from a Christian cultural background in math class (Juan gives 10% of his allowance to charity, how much is left for a bicycle), but a Christian-oriented US history class, for instance, or non-evolutionary science would not be a fit for our family. It sounds like maybe this school tilts more toward the latter. Do you know, or can you get connected with, any parents, to suss out your mutual comfort levels?

 

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#7 of 20 Old 08-30-2011, 03:10 PM
 
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My girls go to a christian school and we are actually atheists. I was really nervous about it when we when first came here but it has turned out not to be an issue for our family at all. For us, the school was the best option for my kids. They offer a creative learning environment with lots of extras that the public schools can not do like weekly outdoor wilderness education. My oldest is dyslexic and they have done everything possible to cater to her needs. The big difference that I can see between our school and the one that you are considering is that very few students in our school attend the church, the school is actually Seventh Day Adventist and is attached to the church. I'd say a decent number of students there are christian but there are also quite a few that are not. Our school does warmly welcome anyone of any faith and while they do study the bible daily, religion is not forced on the student. I have attended the weekly chapel and am ok with what they cover in there, mostly just bible stories and respecting others, etc... I also really like the pastor of the church. 

 

Good luck in your decision. 


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#8 of 20 Old 08-30-2011, 04:07 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iloveaidan&finley View Post

 My husband does not think we should disclose our difference in faith to the school and just wait and see.  I'm kind of scared to do that since in the philosophy statement it clearly says that parents send their kids there because they agree with their educational and spiritual goals.  

 


This would totally change my mind.  I'm not sure that I would send my kids to a religious school (mostly because DP is so anti-religion) but I would be open and I think there are some schools that are simply excellent for almost anyone independent of their religion.

 

There are others, though, that are really disigned to be supportive (and evangelical) of only their specific religion.  It sounds like the school you are looking at is this kind of school.  I would be uncomfortable sending my children there and would feel dishonest saying I agreed with their "spiritual goals" if I did not. 


 

 

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#9 of 20 Old 08-30-2011, 04:22 PM
 
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I would never send my children to a school where I (or they) had to worry about being "outed" and where they would be required to lie low - essentially to lie by omission - in order to blend in. That's not good parenting, imo. If the school isn't cool with people of other faiths attending, don't send them there.

FWIW, I would consider sending my kids to Catholic school (we're Jewish) if the public options were unacceptable and that was a low-cost alternative. As a pp noted, Catholic schools have kids of differing religions attending as a matter of course. And I know a non-Jewish family who sends their kid to a local private Jewish school - for the academics and the convenient location - and that's not a problem, either.

Despite the great nature stuff and no homework, a school that expects all its families to toe the Christian line and explicitly states that they teach kids to be saved through Jesus sounds like a poor fit for your family.
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#10 of 20 Old 08-30-2011, 05:16 PM
 
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Originally Posted by zinemama View Post

I would never send my children to a school where I (or they) had to worry about being "outed" and where they would be required to lie low - essentially to lie by omission - in order to blend in. That's not good parenting, imo. If the school isn't cool with people of other faiths attending, don't send them there.


That can be very limiting though. We are atheists and you pretty much worry about your kids being "outed" everywhere because the reaction of some can be incredibly damaging. My youngest was outed in 3rd grade and agressively bullied all year because of it and this at an international school that taught multiple languages, learned about different cultures and had kids of all faiths attending. Thankfully, his school didn't support the opinions of some of the families but DS was never treated as an equal by this group of kids. I was stalked and threatened in college because the wrong christians found out about my beliefs (or should I say disbelief) and I ended up transferring schools because no one could really guaruntee my safety. I agree that I wouldn't put my kid in a program that sold itself as a religious school and then try to conceal the fact that we are atheists. However, I've certainly taught my kids to be cautious when neccessary. I don't feel this is "bad parenting" at all. It's keeping them safe.


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#11 of 20 Old 08-30-2011, 07:07 PM
 
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That can be very limiting though. We are atheists and you pretty much worry about your kids being "outed" everywhere because the reaction of some can be incredibly damaging. My youngest was outed in 3rd grade and agressively bullied all year because of it and this at an international school that taught multiple languages, learned about different cultures and had kids of all faiths attending. Thankfully, his school didn't support the opinions of some of the families but DS was never treated as an equal by this group of kids. I was stalked and threatened in college because the wrong christians found out about my beliefs (or should I say disbelief) and I ended up transferring schools because no one could really guaruntee my safety. I agree that I wouldn't put my kid in a program that sold itself as a religious school and then try to conceal the fact that we are atheists. However, I've certainly taught my kids to be cautious when neccessary. I don't feel this is "bad parenting" at all. It's keeping them safe.


That's terrible! I'm sorry you and your kids had those experiences. I agree that there can be bullies at any school, no matter what your faith. And if you've had bad experiences because of it, then naturally, teaching your kids to lie low might seem to make sense.

But I maintain that deliberately putting non-Christian kids into an evangelizing Christian school with the idea that their lack of faith won't be discovered is putting those kids in a very tricky position, and is not responsible parenting, imo.
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#12 of 20 Old 08-30-2011, 07:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My kids are little, and don't have a "faith" that I know of.  They're little.  They just happen to have parents that are not Christians.  I would never send my child to a place and expect her to lie.  I posted this to see how non-Christian families deal with being a part of a Christian school.  I agree that not being upfront would complicate things, hence my apprehension.  Living in Texas among so many Evangelical Christians, it is hard to decipher fundamentalist whack jobs and just plain old loving Christians.  One of my dear friends sends her children to a religious classical school, and is an atheist.  She just explains to her children that the school holds different beliefs and they need to respect that.  She has not disclosed her faith to the church/school and it really hasn't been an issue.  I thought maybe this situation would be the same.  I hate to be on the defensive about religion, I really do.  I thought maybe I was just getting prematurely worked up about all of the info I received, but upon closer look I really do think we need to look elsewhere to protect the kids.  Unfortunately in our area, there isn't much in the way of secular private schools. 

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#13 of 20 Old 08-31-2011, 05:48 AM
 
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I think it depends on whether they expect you to be believers or not. Some religious schools knowing accept outside the faith and make accommodations for them. The school you are considering apparently isn't one of those schools. I wouldn't put my children in a religious school if they had to keep their "non-faith" secret.


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#14 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 08:11 AM
 
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One of my friends just started her 3rd grader at a Catholic school. I am not sure if she is atheist but I think her husband is, I guess we have never talked about it much! But at any rate, she was up front with the school that they do not attend church, her son has never been baptized, done first Communion, etc. He's been there almost 2 weeks now and is crossing himself and telling her she is a bad Christian, etc. It doesn't seem to bother her but I think it would bother me. She has said she will take him to mass if he wants to go, just like she would take him to baseball practice or whatever. I do not see attending mass as the same as watching your kid's baseball game but obviously it's none of my business. 

 

Anyway, this is just a second hand account of a brief experience so take it with a grain of salt! I hope things work out well for you. Is there a reason why you can't send your children to public school?

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#15 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 08:23 AM
 
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IMO there is a difference between being "open-minded and tolerant" and wanting one's children evangelized. You may not share the prevailing faith of the school, but that doesn't mean they won't be actively trying to bring your children into the fold. Are you OK with that? Do you feel they're old enough to make these sorts of decisions for themselves? If so, then go for it.


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#16 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 11:10 AM
 
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We are Christians and send our kids to a Christian school (although we're not against non-Christian schools). I agree with previous posters that if I were sending my kids to a school that differed in beliefs, it would really depend largely on the school itself. Just like public schools, prep schools, etc., all Christian schools are not alike. Some are very open minded, some are not.

 

We prefer the schools that say, "These are our beliefs. This is what your child will be taught. We ask that you sign this paper stating that you understand what our beliefs are and what your child will be taught." That way, you have complete freedom to be the family you choose to believe, without the fear of being "outed" and having that become a problem with the administration. Even though we are Christian, DH and I really don't like the schools that say, "These are our beliefs. You must believe these, too, in order to have your child accepted. Please have your pastor sign off that you attend church regularly..." etc., etc., etc. That kind of wording- to me- is not Christian at all.

 

In looking at various Christian schools we have seen such a huge variance in that area, so I would suggest you and DH request a meeting with the principal and just be straightforward and completely honest about your beliefs. That way, there are no surprises, no uncomfortable "outings", no worries. Plus, you will probably have a much better sense of whether or not the school is right for your family  : )

 

I would imagine it might be very difficult to not have your child(ren) understand and be open about your beliefs because typically in a Christian school there is a lot of emphasis on core Christian beliefs. They will most likely have chapel where they will be doing "praise and worship" songs and possibly dancing to them. Prayer time every day. Memorization each week of bible verses and prayers, that you will need to help them study for. Possible memorization of "the pledge to the Christian flag" (I've always thought this was kind of weird, even as a Christian, but it seems to be common practice) that they will say each morning. Prayer requests. Discussions about what salvation means, and possible discussion about what it means if you're not saved, etc., etc., etc.

 

Anyway, I know this was meant for non-Christians, but as a mom with experience in several different Christian schools I thought it might help  : )


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#17 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 03:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Milly_P View Post

We are Christians and send our kids to a Christian school (although we're not against non-Christian schools). I agree with previous posters that if I were sending my kids to a school that differed in beliefs, it would really depend largely on the school itself. Just like public schools, prep schools, etc., all Christian schools are not alike. Some are very open minded, some are not.

 

We prefer the schools that say, "These are our beliefs. This is what your child will be taught. We ask that you sign this paper stating that you understand what our beliefs are and what your child will be taught." That way, you have complete freedom to be the family you choose to believe, without the fear of being "outed" and having that become a problem with the administration. Even though we are Christian, DH and I really don't like the schools that say, "These are our beliefs. You must believe these, too, in order to have your child accepted. Please have your pastor sign off that you attend church regularly..." etc., etc., etc. That kind of wording- to me- is not Christian at all.

 

In looking at various Christian schools we have seen such a huge variance in that area, so I would suggest you and DH request a meeting with the principal and just be straightforward and completely honest about your beliefs. That way, there are no surprises, no uncomfortable "outings", no worries. Plus, you will probably have a much better sense of whether or not the school is right for your family  : )

 

I would imagine it might be very difficult to not have your child(ren) understand and be open about your beliefs because typically in a Christian school there is a lot of emphasis on core Christian beliefs. They will most likely have chapel where they will be doing "praise and worship" songs and possibly dancing to them. Prayer time every day. Memorization each week of bible verses and prayers, that you will need to help them study for. Possible memorization of "the pledge to the Christian flag" (I've always thought this was kind of weird, even as a Christian, but it seems to be common practice) that they will say each morning. Prayer requests. Discussions about what salvation means, and possible discussion about what it means if you're not saved, etc., etc., etc.

 

Anyway, I know this was meant for non-Christians, but as a mom with experience in several different Christian schools I thought it might help  : )


I really appreciate your perspective.  We have decided that it will be really hard for the children to be a part of this school.  We will just have to find something else and it may take a while, but that is ok.  Like I said, I don't have a problem with my children being exposed to Christianity, but I don't want them to feel bad about who we are as a family or for them to become frightened in any way.  With the way this school is set up, I think they will be put into a position to live a dual life and I don't think that is healthy.  

 

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#18 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 03:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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One of my friends just started her 3rd grader at a Catholic school. I am not sure if she is atheist but I think her husband is, I guess we have never talked about it much! But at any rate, she was up front with the school that they do not attend church, her son has never been baptized, done first Communion, etc. He's been there almost 2 weeks now and is crossing himself and telling her she is a bad Christian, etc. It doesn't seem to bother her but I think it would bother me. She has said she will take him to mass if he wants to go, just like she would take him to baseball practice or whatever. I do not see attending mass as the same as watching your kid's baseball game but obviously it's none of my business. 

 

Anyway, this is just a second hand account of a brief experience so take it with a grain of salt! I hope things work out well for you. Is there a reason why you can't send your children to public school?

 

That would definitely bother me and that is exactly what we are afraid of.  It is one thing to learn about Jesus and his teachings, but it is at the core of all of the curriculum and that will create confusion for my kids since they don't live that life at home.  

Public school isn't an option for our family because we want an environment where they are valued as individuals and are encouraged to discover their personal talents and what not.  From our experience with the school system here (Fort Worth, TX), we don't see that happening.  Aside from that, we refuse to put them in a place where so much emphasis is put on passing standardized tests.  

Thank you for sharing your input!

 

 

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#19 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 07:20 PM
 
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I don't know how to say this without it sounding all wrong. I am a Christian and I live near you. I'm not the typical Christian for this area, I am a  more left leaning politically, focus on love, focus on service kind of Christian. With how a lot of the churches and attached schools are here, I am not sure I would want MY child to attend a Christian school in the area. We're homeschoolers so it's not an issue, but a lot of the Christian culture here is very strict, very pushy with the way they think is the only right way, very, very political etc. I would worry about what they were being taught. It may be a great school and not be that way at all. I found an awesome church (with no attached school) that so fits the bill for our family.... so there very well could be some more relaxed Christian schools in the area, but I would really investigate them. It feels so wrong to say that as a Christian, but the culture here is sooo overbearing...  I hope you find a good school for your kiddos! 


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#20 of 20 Old 09-02-2011, 04:38 PM
 
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I'm sending my DDs and DSD to Catholic school when we move to the city next year. Secular private schools are hard to come by in Australia, and I don't want my kids to be in the usually-very-anarchic public school environment.


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