It’s back to school time, and, if you are like me, you feel both excitement and dread.
I’m excited to have made it through the summer with the children at home, bored, arguing, tracking in on my freshly mopped floor, eating a months worth of groceries in a week, and constantly, well, there and under foot.
However, I’m also feeling dread. The dread of early morning mayhem, homework, arguing, parent meetings, fundraiser, sporting events, new learned attitudes and habits to deprogram and just the lost feeling of security by having my little family constantly… there and under foot.
Amid the bipolar feelings of joy, sorrow, peace and angst, perhaps the most notable concern for me is the effect this year will have on the spiritual health of my children.
Here are a few things you can do to help prepare your child for school and nurture their spiritual health:
Pray. I know this seems obvious; but, prayer is truly the most valuable tool we have as parents. We can’t always be with our children whispering wisdom in their ear; but, God can. There is nowhere they can go to be out of His reach and that alone is invaluable. Pray with them before they head to school each morning and invite them to pray with you. Encourage them to voice their concerns to the Lord with a thankful heart. Intercede for them while they are at school and school functions. Pray over them at night while they are tucked in their beds.
Educate. Run through scenarios of possible temptations or problems and help them think through how to handle them in a godly way. The hardest part on this one is balancing the information with sensitivity to their psyche’. Sometimes running scenarios can create fear and anxiety. Provide Bible verses to back up doing the right thing and making wise choices. Two verses I use constantly with my children are
Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Luke 6:31 “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Combine Forces. It is much easier to stand firm when you have at least one buddy. Connect with parents you know hold the same values you do and brainstorm proactive ways to prepare your children, together, to withstand problems. Make sure the children know they can depend on each other at school and have each others backs.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Communicate. Be in constant conversation with your child. I know this can be the most challenging part, especially if you don’t have a good relationship with your child. However, it is vital that your child knows that you care enough to ask every day and you will love them no matter how that conversation goes. Keep pointing them towards Jesus and help them make wise choices. If you aren’t sure how to get through to your child, pray! Ask Jesus to give you wisdom, understanding, and boldness to communicate truth to your child.
Also, communicate with their teacher, school staff and other parents. The more you are present in your child’s school environment, the more equipped you will be to respond to situations or even head them off.
Now, I’m not saying to be, “that parent;” but rather, be present by means of helpful and available. Your positive input into the school and classroom will help you gain credibility with the teachers and staff. When you voice a concern or have a suggestion, you are more likely to be heard instead of dismissed as yet another parent who is never there but always willing to tell the teacher how to do her job.
Bottom Line: No matter how much we prepare our children, teach them to do right, take them to church, abstain from certain shows, words and people, ultimately, it is still up to them to choose the right path and make this faith their own. Sometimes, unfortunately, it is the bad choices that nurture the strongest faith. Just keep giving them to the Lord, stand firm in your beliefs and values and love them through it.
I pray that as you continue to nurture your child’s heart for the Lord, He will bless you with a bountiful return for your labor. Have a great school year!