Should You Take Your Kids to a Funeral?

Since my husband is a pastor, my children have been to a lot of weddings and a lot of funerals.

My 8-year-old has already been to eight funerals in her short life.

Some of those people who we gathered to remember have been family members and some have been part of our church family. They haven’t all been close to my children, but some of the people were.

Should I take my kids to the funeral_

Just last weekend my husband’s grandmother passed away and my children knew her well. Last year a dear older man from church passed away. This man was like a grandparent to my children and my 8-year-old especially enjoyed sitting with him every Sunday at church. She didn’t sit with him so much as she snuggled with him before the service started and before she was dismissed to go to children’s church.

For our family, it has been valuable to include my children when we attend a funeral.

Why did we decide to bring our children along to funerals?

I shared in the Family Life Column at Pandora’s Box Gazette the advantages of taking your children to funerals so you can decide whether or not it is right for your family. Hope it’s helpful!



Fewer Choices, Less Stress for the Holiday Season

When my youngest child, Molly, was 5 years old, an elderly friend took our family to the Dollar Store. For Christmas, she wanted to treat each of our children to five things from the store; five things of their choice.

The day we met at the store, it was crowded with people getting ready for Christmas. Everyone was trying to get in and out quickly, but we leisurely browsed up and down each aisle so the kids could see all the choices. In the first aisle, Molly saw some pretty wrapping paper and bows and picked them up. When she did, I said, “Are you sure? Maybe you will like the next aisle better.”

The second aisle was filled with toys! By the time we were two steps into the aisle, Molly had picked three more things. She was excited about the five things she had picked out.

A minute later one of her sisters found something fun on the shelf and said, “Look Molly! Look at this! You should pick this instead!” She reluctantly chose that toy instead of one of the items already in her arms.

This pattern continued up and down every aisle. Either I asked Molly if she was sure, or one of her sisters persuaded her to pick something else. Once we had finished browsing up and down every aisle, we checked out, and went home happy with our purchases –or so I thought.

Read the rest of the story at Pandora’s Box Gazette.

Rachel Schmoyer writes a regular Family Life Column for Pandora’s Box Gazette the fourth Monday of the month. Thanks for reading! 

Easy Thanksgiving Journal for the Whole Family

Packed away in my tote of fall decorations is a little brown blank book that came from the dollar store. Warmth spreads through my heart when I flip open the cover and see handprints, doodles, and scrawled words inside.

Each year for the past 11 years our family has taken some time on Thanksgiving Day to write or draw what we are thankful for. Each family member gets one page. Even the babies and toddlers participate by having their hand traced. Then either my husband or I jot down a few things the little one is really into at the moment.


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How Tech-Wise is Your Family?

It’s tough to know how to parent when there are so many technological devices around. We can’t really look back to see how our parents did it or how generations before us handled iPhones and tablets and internet. In our house, my technology parenting questions are mostly a result of my son creating a YouTube channel and animating with Flash. Of course, he also wants to spend a lot of time watching and listening to things online. My girls like to watch things and play Minecraft or Prodigy or search for crafts on Pinterest.

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Shalom at Home


One late night coming home from Awana, my two oldest got into a fight. One blocked the door from the other which resulted in shouting and physical action. I yelled at them, sent to their rooms, and they lost their screen time for the next day.

After they were in their rooms for a bit, I realized, “Wait! I never really had them resolve their conflict!” Continue reading

Why We Chose Public School

After thinking and praying and visiting our school, we chose to send our children to public school. I do not think it is the right choice for everyone. But for us in this time and place, God made it clear this is where our kids should be.

Here’s why:

Time and Energy

When my oldest started Kindergarten I had three younger kids and my husband was working a lot since we were still relatively new at church and we were about to begin a building project at church. I already had trouble keeping up with normal housework. Both Christian school and homeschooling would have required more time and energy than we had. I could have quit doing some things at church, but God made it clear I was to continue to do them.

why-we-chose-public-schoolThe Resources of a Public School

Public school has a lot of resources and professionals to help children who need it. Initially, we chose this because we suspected our oldest would need the gifted/enrichment program. But what we didn’t know at the time is that our daughter would need extra reading support. If she were not in school, I would not have caught her reading issues until later and I would have missed out on valuable time. Some Christian schools may offer great learning support, but I did not find that the ones in our area had as extensive a program as the public school does.

We want our children to be missional.

This the most important reason we want our kids in public school. Being in the public school gives them so many opportunities to share Christ with those who they may not otherwise meet. Nathaniel is now in 6th grade. One of his friends is an atheist. And this friend knows Nathaniel is a Christian. We will see as the years go on how the Lord uses their friendship to open his heart to the gospel. Molly, a first grader says, “If I weren’t in public school, I wouldn’t know anyone to tell about Jesus.” Of course, iffirst-day-of-school you are intentional, you can do this with your neighborhood and others you meet and there are some amazing parents out there who do that. But for us, this works both in having us meet people who need Christ and to give our children a chance to do the same on their own.


There are some draw backs to the public school.

Our particular school is weak in history and science. So we make that up at home with the things we do and watch and talk about and research and look up and what we check out at the library. And just because this is true of our school, doesn’t mean it’s true for yours. My friend in Texas has her kids in a public school that has science as a top priority even employing a teacher specifically for science at the elementary level.

And obviously since it’s public school, there is no Bible education. And although many teachers have been Christian, not all of them have been. Being faithful to attend church and Sunday school and talking about Scripture at home has given our children a firm foundation for a Biblical worldview.

Regardless of where we send our kids to school, ultimately, it’s up to the parents to make sure our children’s education is complete.

What do you do for your child’s schooling? What made you decide to educate your kids that way?


7 Steps for Picking the Right School for Your Kid

This week is National School Choice Week.

We are blessed in America to have the choice of where to send our kids to school. But it’s not an easy choice. How much did your school setting impact you as a child? Immensely.

How can you make this overwhelming decision?

Here are 7 steps for choosing your child’s school:

#1  The first thing to do is pray! Pray constantly as you investigate your options that the Lord will make it clear to you what is best for each one of your kids.

#2 Pick a good time for discussion. Let your husband know ahead of time: “I’ve been thinking about what to do for our kid’s schooling. Can we talk about it tomorrow night after the kids are in bed?” Give him a chance to think and pray about it instead of just springing all your fabulous ideas and questions on him. If your child is in high school, let them in on the discussion, too.

#3 Visit each school option yourself. It’s okay to ask around for your friends’ opinions of different schools. But nothing will be as telling as you going to visit the actual classroom to meet the actual teachers and principals and secretaries. Our media culture makes us panicky when we hear about something terrible happening in a school in another state or in another city. When we hear the news, we imagine the situation also applies to our local school. But schools are not like McDonalds. They are not the same in every location. They vary greatly depending on the district leadership, community, parent involvement, and principal. Homeschooling also comes in many varieties. If you are thinking of homeschooling, ask a homeschooling friend if you can come over for a day to see how she does it. Leave your kids at home so that you can quietly observe to see what an actual day looks like. Ask her to show you the paperwork she needs to turn in to the state. If you didn’t love her style, find another homeschooling friend to observe.

#4 What should you look for when you visit?

  • When you call to schedule the visit, are the people kind? Are they respectful to you?
  • When you visit the school, how is the security? Do you have to show ID? Are the doors locked?
  • When you walk in the hallways is there artwork on the walls? Then you know the kids aren’t just doing worksheets all day.
  • How are the desks set up? Are they all lined up in rows facing the front? Then they probably expect a lot of independent work. Are the desks in little clusters? That may indicate they allow the children to work together. They understand children are social and they harness that energy for their learning rather than trying to squash it.
  • For younger elementary, do you see boxes of manipulatives in the classroom? Or do you see centers set up around the room? Then there is hands-on learning that allow children to use all their senses.
  • Ask if they have recess time. How often? What do they do when there is bad weather?
  • Ask about the curriculum they use. See if you can flip the textbooks, or write down the name and search online to check out the content they will be learning.


#5 Think about how the school will encourage good character or godly character. In one of my children’s public school classrooms, the class rule poster hanging in the classroom was “do to others as you would have them do to you.” Sound familiar? The Golden Rule! The teacher was using Scripture as the guiding rule for her class just without the Bible reference. There are also school wide behavior programs that promote respect, responsibility, kindness, trying your best. All these are part of Godly character. At the public school, they do not reference the Bible, but I connect this at home. “Oh, they are talking about kindness! God says to be kind in Ephesians 4:32!” Look for this in Christian schools, too. Memorizing Bible verses is not the same thing as developing godly character. Look for how they are applying God’s principles for daily classroom life.

#6 Ask about enrichment or special education services. If your child were to need special help or extra challenge, is the school equipped to help?

#7 If after much discussion and prayer, you and your husband disagree on what to do, he wins. We are called to submit to our husbands. That’s the way God has structured our families. If you believe that he is wrong, God will take care of it. He will be responsible before God for the decision. You are responsible before God to obey your husband.

After thinking and praying and visiting our school, we chose to send our children to public school. If you want to know why, I explain it here. I do not think public school is the right choice for everyone. But for us in this time and place, God made it clear this is where our kids should be.

How do you school your kids? How did you decide that was right for you?