Why I Am Weighing In On Some High School Controversy

This post is a little different than normal. To some of you it may seem irrelevant, but I hope you will read it anyway and consider how it might apply in your own corners of the world.

To set the scene, a month or so ago a friend told me to go on our high school website to find the names of the books my daughter will need for her sophomore English class this year.  There were three titles; one I am unfamiliar with, the other two I loved when I read them in my book club in another city. In fact, one of them is an all-time favorite so when I recently noticed another book by this author on the New York Times bestseller list, I put it on reserve at my local library, which coincidentally I just picked up today. Needless to say, I was excited these were the books my daughter would be reading.

A couple weeks later another friend wanted my opinion on the controversy over the sophomore reading list.  What? Controversy? I was surprised by this so she forwarded to me the email on the same two books that I really like to get my opinion on why the fuss.

Throughout the email, paragraphs from the books containing profanities and adult situations were pulled as examples to support why these books should not be read by our high-schoolers. If reading these excerpts was all you knew about the books I see how one would be alarmed.  I also understand why many adults prefer the sensitive nature of these topics not be discussed. However, having read the books I believe the language periodically used and the situations addressed are pertinent to the character development and overarching themes.

More significant to me is giving my kids the proper lenses to see the sinful broken world we live in and its desperate need of a Savior.  A world where sadly the particular issues of rape, alcoholism, neglect and abuse have or will effect people that my children are friends with.  As a Christian parent, I want to discuss these issues and implications (at the right time) with my teenagers while they are still in our home.  I want these opportunities and conversations to be used to help shape their worldview, instill compassion and give them the tools to be a light in the darkness all around us.

So I sent my dissenting thoughts back to my friend and then quickly forgot about it… until yesterday.

Yesterday, I was at the equivalent of a PTO meeting and heard our principal address the controversy. It was apparent the grief and stress the book issue had caused him was much greater than I had realized.

And as I listened to him speak I just sat there thinking, “I know how he feels”.  You see, my husband being a pastor also has to deal with a lot of issues that distract him from his primary calling to preach and teach. Sometimes he gets attacked or inundated with complaints and controversies that weigh him down and suck the life out of him. It effects him personally and therefore effects us personally.

Now please hear me, I am not saying we have to bite our tongues and shouldn’t ever speak up for what we think is right or weigh in on suggestions or ideas we may have (sometimes that is absolutely necessary and may even be me).  All I am saying is that too often someone like a pastor, principal or teacher only hear the bad stuff and the complaining.

But what about all that is good? What about letting them know how what they said or did impacted you?

They need to be encouraged! 

And that is why I write; just simply compelled to give my support to the principal, school and education my kids are receiving and to let the administrators know that this Christian mom (and pastor’s wife) is proud of our schools and the leadership!

th-2 th-3

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8 thoughts on “Why I Am Weighing In On Some High School Controversy

  1. Amen! Praise those teachers and administrators, pastors and staff who work so hard and yet do endure quite a bit of criticism. Thanks for the reminder!

    And I do think it’s wise to expose our high schoolers to a fair dose of the problems of the world that they live in. It helps them know how to process what they’ll be exposed to on some level in our society/media in their own personal life. Hopefully it teaches them compassion and GRACE for the hurting world around them. God never commanded us to insulate ourselves and our kids from the world around them, but rather teach them how to live in the midst of it. If they are unaware of the dangers, the hurt, the pain and sin in our world, then they will be easy prey when they encounter it. Also, knowing how “offensive” every bit of bad language and behavior is to their parents, teens are much more likely to hide their own sinful behavior and learn to be masterful pretenders rather than authentic, grace-filled, imperfect believers. (And the really good pretenders can only keep it up maybe into their 40’s when it wreaks havoc on their lives and families.)

    Obviously there is a balance here…there are extremes to avoid. But ironically I’ve found that the parents who are the most vehement about some of these issues in novels, etc, also have students who have smart phones, computers, TVs that have little or no form of filter. Plus, parents of older teens are kidding themselves if they don’t realize that our kids are being exposed to lots of “stuff” on a daily basis. It is exhausting to engage our kids on these issues in a meaningful way more than, “drugs are bad and the people who use them are bad…so don’t do them”. But it is important and necessary! In that vain, I will highly recommend “Grace-based parenting”, by Tim Kimmel if you’re not sure what this looks like. Our family is still very much in process, but this book (and seminar) has been very helpful in applying biblical principles to our family!

    • Thank you, Marley! I love your thoughtful response and affirmation. Too often Christians are viewed as judgmental and hypocritical because quite frankly that is what is portrayed. But when we see ourselves rightly (sinners in need of a Savior) and see our Lord rightly (a God who has bestowed his righteousness and grace freely on to his children) then we will be more compassionate knowing that we all struggle in a broken world. Blessing to you and your family as you head back to the hectic schedule of school & activities!

  2. Kristen, You are such an amazing writer. I love how you are able to put situations right in line with the bible. You give me such inspiration to be a better parent. I feel that allowing our children to read books and explore the real world while in our homes is of huge importance! I don’t want my children learning things from others who might lead them in the wrong direction. The more I can teach them about life when they are young will make them more confident adults and able see life through the eyes of Christ.

  3. Kristen, thank you for this post and for sharing your heart! It is so refreshing to read the words of a parent, who first seeks truth amongst the chaos and second has grace for those in charge of calming the masses. I would like to add it is very easy to trust in you and what you write because as a teacher I have personally felt appreciated by one of your EPS students! I was thanked almost daily at the end of every class and the simple words of gratitude make a HUGE difference in others’ lives though we may not realize it. So THANK YOU for molding the next generation to encourage and appreciate the people God has placed in their lives!
    Have a fabulous, fun-filled, lotsa learning school year!

    • Oh Jamie- thank YOU! Yes, Rebecca loved having you…maybe you’ll soon have my middle child. He’s an incoming 6th grader. Rebecca and I just remembered and can now laugh about the time when she was in 8th grade and an inappropriate term was brought up in class and we had to talk! 😉 But it is so comforting knowing that my kids are sitting under teachers like you who also seek truth and extend grace & love!

  4. Well, as one of the sophomore English teachers at Edmond North, I greatly appreciate this response and the excellent way you presented an intelligent perspective. I couldn’t agree more-and as a mom, a teacher, and a Christian myself, all of these issues come to play every day as I teach students and try to help them navigate through the intricacies of this crazy world that they will soon be facing on their own. Our job as educators is a tough one, but I truly believe that my most important task Is to help my students not only be the good, but see the good in the world and in themselves. We cannot do that if we put blinders on and pretend that there aren’t tough situations where goodness and resiliency can prevail. And, I believe we are doing our children a great disservice if we do not equip them with the power to exercise discernment and compassion daily in as many forums as possible.

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