Before my children started school, when I was a stay-at-home mother, I recall an issue that I felt passionately about: would the lower cost of sending my children to a faith-based school be enough for me to enroll them in one? As an atheist, I struggled with this, but ultimately came to a decision which I thought was unchangeable; I would not send them to a religious-based school. I believed it was in my children’s best interest to wait until they were older to teach them about religion through an academic lens rather than introducing them to an experiential form of religious indoctrination by way of primary schooling.
Life unfortunately had other plans. As a result of becoming a single-mother, I had to arrange my priorities in a different manner. My ideals became secondary to my financial limitations, which was a huge adjustment.
When looking at pre-schools, price became the number one determinant of my choice. My search brought me to the conclusion that in order to ensure quality childcare and affordable prices I would have to enroll both of my kids in a faith-based institution. So I did it. For the past two academic years, both or one of my children have attended Christian schools.
Instead of lamenting my somewhat forced change of decision, I turned my perspective around a bit. When my children come to me with questions concerning God and Jesus, I calmly present my point of view, and remind them that there are many different ways of looking at the world. I outline my basic beliefs just enough for them to understand that mommy does not believe in God, but that does not make me a bad person; I have my own beliefs about the world, as do millions of others. I also explain that their opinion on the existence of heavenly beings does not influence my feelings of them at all; I love them regardless of their beliefs.
The opportunity that these talks have presented allows each member of my family to openly express the way that we feel about the subject of faith and religion. This is something that would not have happened so soon if not for their enrollment in the schools that they have attended. The excellent level of care that my children have received also speaks in favor of this internal compromise that I had to make.
Although a faith-based institution was not my ideal solution, the conversations that have been sparked from this decision, plus the love and attention that my children receive from their teachers, have made one of my most difficult parenting decisions to date turn out just fine.