A recent incident with my daughter at school has reminded me of the importance of keeping the lines of communication open with our kids. I am thankful that my daughter goes to a good school and has a good teacher. However, even in good schools, our kids will deal with a wide range of issues and we (parents) need to make every effort possible to be informed so that we can address those issues with our kids and the school if it becomes necessary.
Here is what happened. My seven-year-old daughter loves God. We are a Christian family and we do talk about God all the time in our home. She has a friend in school that shares her views and the two of them were talking about God during recess. Two boys sat in front of them and somehow got involved in the conversation. However, those two boys do not share the same respect for God that my daughter and her friend do. They started making fun of Him. For my daughter, it was the equivalent of making fun of me, her dad, or her little sister. Because she was so upset, she went to talk to her teacher about it.
After the conversation with her teacher, my daughter left with a certain impression. She did not believe that she could talk about God at school anymore. My daughter's teacher is an exceptional teacher and I do not believe that is what she meant. However, the important part is what my daughter believed about what she could and could not do and the worse part about it is that initially, she did not think it was important to tell me!!
Thankfully, I did find out several days later because my daughter and I came across the subject in a book we were reading together. Only then did she say, "Mom, I am not allowed to talk about God at school." I have come to realize that there is a lot that goes on at school that I do not find out until much later --if I find out about it at all, and I happen to have a very good relationship with my daughter.
You are probably now wondering how I responded to my daughter's statement. "Honey, if you want to talk about God with your friends all day long, you go right ahead. No one can tell you that you can't. Sometimes people won't always like it. Sometimes people will make fun of it, but we must always do what we feel is right in our hearts because our rewards come from God. Also, know that your daddy and I support you and we will fight anybody and anything that gets in the way." (Yes, the mama bear came out a little bit) Of course I also talked to the teacher and addressed it with her. I wanted to make sure that the school did not have some sort of policy that infringed on my daughter's first amendment rights. Had that been the case here, this very quiet parent would become very vocal and would do everything in her power to make sure my daughter's rights were not being trampled on.
If you are wondering what rights kids have to talk about God in school, I should tell you that they have every right. As long as they are not interrupting a lesson plan, or speaking out of turn, kids can talk about God all they want and they can tell whomever they want. They can even bring their Bibles to school if they so desire. Believe it or not, schools and teachers have tried to discipline kids for talking about their religious beliefs and have tried to institute policies that prohibit free expression of religion. All those policies are unconstitutional and would not stand a chance in court as students' rights to freedom of speech/religion have been upheld by the Supreme Court. For more information you can visit: Sharing Your Faith.
In the end, neither the school nor teacher were trying to silence my daughter. The misunderstanding, however, led my daughter to think that she couldn't talk about something she felt so passionate about. Without continued conversations between with my child, it may have been months before I would have found out if at all. It was a great reminder to keep the conversations going so I can help her navigate all the issues that may arise in her life.
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Labels: Christianity, My Family, Parenting and Pregnancy