“Back to school” is a phrase that both creates excitement and strikes fear in the hearts of children and parents alike. Vacations and camps are in the rear view mirror, and the road ahead promises a return to a more regular routine for most families.
While this transition of season demands a shift in schedules, the priority of parent as a disciple-maker does not change.
The Lord’s instruction for parents found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 does not include a pause button just because school teachers or other caregivers may assume a more prominent role in children’s lives. In fact, parents need to be even more intentional to engage their kids when they have limited time together.
The stress of back to school for children can be increased even more when a grade change includes a school change, and the big fish in the little pond becomes a little fish in a big pond. Children need parents who will be available to talk “when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Here are a few things to consider as you engage with your children during this time of transition.
Deuteronomy 6:7 conveys an “as you go” engagement strategy. Our jam-packed schedules often create barriers, so intentionally structure your schedule and responsibilities to create quality time with your kids. Give them undivided attention, and encourage them share their joys and frustrations. Kids need a safe place to express their feelings.
Deuteronomy 6:6 reminds parents that “these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” This verse serves as an important spiritual foundation for the strategy described in verse seven. If we want to point our kids to God’s plan, instruction and encouragement, we must first be walking in His truth ourselves.
Listen to what your children have to say. Take time to hear their heart about what’s really going on before offering advice. Resist the temptation to offer a quick fix, and allow God to work through the situation.
Share stories with your kids about your experiences when you were young. Let them know about the good (and not so good) times you had, and encourage them that they too will survive the difficult circumstances.
Finally, just be a parent. Remember that parenting is God’s design, and He has a plan to use you in the development of your children. Don’t lose sight of the big picture. It’s not just trying to survive the situation at hand. It involves the overall spiritual development of your children.
As Michelle Anthony and Megan Marshman remind us in their book 7 Family Ministry Essentials, “spiritual parenting is not perfect parenting, but rather imperfect parenting from a spiritual perspective. This means parenting with eternity in mind.”
God will provide what you need as you engage your children in these important days of transition.