Realities of Returning to School
Back to School! Wow! It is that time of year again. What does it mean to us? There are a variety of answers to that question. Let me propose a few and then suggest some courses of action to bring glory to God and benefit your marriage and family.
- For many parents, especially elementary and junior high school, returning to the school year spells relief. Single Moms, dads, and working couples have scrambled to keep their children occupied and out of trouble. For some, this has meant additional expenses since the babysitting effect of the school environment had to be replaced by full-time daycare or extended periods of summer camps. Even though these are great experiences for kids, they crunch the budget.
- For parents of rising high school students, it is a time of anxiety. How will Jack or Jill do with adjusting to this new school environment? This is justifiable angst for the parent of the timid child. Or the child must ride the bus to a school on the other side of town. Or another angst is when a child must attend a school where the leadership has a reputation for supporting a radically different understanding of the American dream.
- For some parents whose child will be entering the world of higher math. This can stimulate fear—who will help my child since I cannot?
Ok, you get the picture. This is but a sampling of the emotional landscape. Interview a hundred sets of parents in various venues, and you will likely develop a much longer list.
Where to Begin to Handle the Angst
Rather than beginning at the beginning, which is prayer, I recommend you read my friend, Kevin Carson, blog for the morning of August 12. You will find his blog at https://kevincarson.com/2023/08/12/back-to-school-prayer-guide-2023-edition/
What to Do Next
Honestly, this is probably the first; however, prayer and this one, trust, are so tightly interlocked that the order is irrelevant. I have often told counselees that next to the good news of the gospel (salvific verses), Proverbs 3:5-6 are the most important verses in the Bible when it comes to living the Christian life. While the English translations are linguistically accurate, they do not catch the impact of the antithetical structure of the Hebrew thought. Hence, here is my translation which hopefully captures that intent.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
Trust not your own understanding
In every detail of life, acknowledge Him
And he will direct your paths straight.
Are you sending your baby off to school for the first day? You are excited, and you have angst. Every parent does. But you are the parent; you must trust the Lord, not your inclination, to protect them from every tough spot in life. Teach them how to process tough experiences.
Are you watching your freshman walking into the jungle of high school? Rather than displaying angst, listen to their angst and bring Jesus to it by walking them through appropriate Scriptures.
As my son will this week, are you moving your daughter into a college dorm? Do three things. First, be sure you have developed an open communication channel and assure your young adults that you are there for them. Second, connect them to a solid college campus ministry. Third, pray with them that child as you are ready to depart and leave them. Dad, you lead the prayer and then assure them that you will pray for them daily.
How to Prepare from Birth Forward for the Return to School
- Walk with Jesus daily.
- Study the Scriptures daily.
- Lead the family in cooperate worship regularly.
- Serve in the Kingdom as a way of life.
- Listen and talk with your children as a pattern of life.
- Teach them how to defend their faith (develop an apologetic).
- Most evenings, have family dinner, and talk about all dimensions of life.
- Witness and counsel others in your children’s presence.
When my daughter was five, pre-kindergarten, we had a summer intern living with us. We were church planting. This intern and a second one married and drove in each day, canvasing the surrounding neighborhoods. We all ate lunch at my home daily, including my daughter. The summer was over; she began kindergarten. She did what she heard and saw modeled. She witnessed. A schoolmate told her, “That Jesus, he is a fool!” My daughter was undaunted as she requested, “Daddy, is there such a thing as a children’s track?” We ordered some pre-Amazon, of course, so it took a couple of weeks. In the meantime, she queried Mom daily if the tracks had arrived.
On one of those occasions, my wife asked, Honey, do you realize your heart is black with sin, and you need Jesus to cleanse it? She replied, “No, Mommy.” At that moment, she trusted Jesus to save her soul. Then, three years later, she led her brother to Jesus at age five.
This is likely the sweetest set of memories I have and keeps on producing precious memories as we have watched them walk with Jesus as well as modeling and teaching for their children whom we have observed, though like the rest of us, not perfectly, yet as a pattern (or as my friend Jim Baird used to say, the trajectory of life) of life be witnesses by life and word.
As suggested above, preparing from birth lays out the primary ways of implementing the return of your children to school triumphally this year and every year. Though implied in the above list, what is not included is the necessity and value of a biblical marital relationship. Such a relationship glorifies God, provides security for husband and wife, and is an appropriate security in which children can learn how to walk with Jesus.