Sep 7, 2010

Does due diligence require sending your kid to a private school?

Ten years ago, I carried him with one arm and anticipated his first word. Ten years from now, I’ll probably drop him off in college and help him lug his crate to his dorm. And then it’ll be practically over. Except for Thanksgiving and Christmas, he’ll be out there on his own with his life and whatever I’ve done to shape it.

With this in mind, I cherish every minute that I spend with him these days and try not to yell at him for every little flaw. Instead of ordering him around, I give him a hand with his chores and I ask him to ride with me so that we can have a conversation. That way, I get to understand what led him to punch his 7 year old sister the night before.

I am also spending my retirement savings on his schooling as I enrolled him in Catholic school this year. I figured, how can I enjoy my retirement if my son turns out to be a bum. He is just in middle school but I think it’s time to take him out of public schools. It’s the environment. Even if I opt out of having him take sex-ed, everyone else will be talking about how they did it. As a former educator, I am well aware of the tremendous impact of peers on kids his age.

Some people say that he’ll be exposed to that anyway even in Catholic schools. Even if that is true, the exposure is limited. It won’t be the culture but rather a deviation; in public school, it is the atmosphere. A speaker in my wife’s convention this year shared how he got lost in a public school restroom and found kids huddled together watching others engage in oral sex.

Others think that I am being snobbish and elitist but putting my kid there. They don’t have a clue that it is about faith not elegance or prestige. Still others consider that purity is overrated. They say just teach my kids about protected sex so they don’t get pregnant or masturbation is natural and is really no big deal. I guess they can only speak of what they know. Talking to them about purity, innocence and chastity is like casting pearls to hogs.  Then there's the all time favorite, "I went to public school and I turned out alright."  I am not much of a diplomat so all I can say to that is, "I want my son to turn out better than myself ... or yourself for that matter.  The mission that I have from God is to make saints out of my children and my wife.  Saints."
To St. John Bosco who produced almost a hundred canonized saints over the past 100 years, purity is everything. A chaste mind, heart and body is a practical submission of oneself to God, a faith lived out and the beginning of the love of God. The world and the tempter dismiss these as little things because, that is how people fall - little by little.

I have 5 kids. Catholic middle school is 6 grand a year and high school is 13 grand. We’ll take it one day at a time as the Lord’s prayer asks only for , “... our daily bread…”. And even if I end up never retiring in this life and shopping with food stamps at the end, then I’ll just retire in heaven. St. John Bosco used to say that.

Though I know I can’t shelter them all their lives, I sure will do everything I can so that at the end, I will have no regrets. I would have gone all out at this war for my children's salvation.  There won't any "if only I did this"  Besides, God will never be outdone in fidelity and generosity so who knows?

(painting by Norman Rockwell)


Anonymous said...

Have you considered home school? People thought we were irresponsible to home school our now 25 year old son...after all we had debts and only one income. We could only afford an apartment( and not a house) until I was 50. We drove old cars, never went on many vacations or out to eat very often. Greatest decision we ever made. My son just graduated with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree(on full scholarship), is a convinced practicing Catholic and will be marrying a beautiful Catholic young lady at our parish church next year. His younger brother is also being homeschooled. We have had a wonderful life...but not by this world's standards. Anne

Rick said...

Congratulations on your inspiring story. Homeschooling is indeed a viable option specially when one has 5 kids. We take it a year at a time. If next year, finances cannot make it, then these alternatives are definitely worth considering. Thanks for the advice.

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