Last week, we learned to get ready for our kids to go back to school by 1) developing our own personal contentment and 2) passing on conviction to our children. But that is not all we need to offer our children. Consider three more gifts we must give them.
We have worked on giving them conviction. Now we need to help them develop courage. I Peter 4:3-5 says the worldly will wonder why we don’t do what they do. Our kids will face that full-scale at school. Sadly, all too often, instead of teaching our kids to take courageous stands about modesty and morality, we crumble ourselves on issues like school dances and dress, making excuses about how these are once in a lifetime opportunities or rites of passage as they grow up.
We need to teach our children to have courage about putting God first and their commitment to Christ’s church above their commitment to school. What good will acing Spanish do them if they don’t know Christ’s will because they stayed home to study or work on school reports instead of assembling with the saints.
We need to teach our children to have courage to stand for the truth even when assaulted by error whether from teachers or students. This, of course, will only happen if we are passing the truth to them.
Our kids’ peers are going to give them all kinds of counsel. Very little of it will be good. I remember one of my high school friends counseling me to beat up my dad because my dad wouldn’t let me do whatever I wanted. Our kids need a place to go to get good counsel. Just read Proverbs to see the need for parents to be great counselors.
Regrettably, we often think this is our kid’s responsibility. We’d give them good counsel if they would just come ask us for it. The problem is we often act like people that no one would want to get counsel from. We present ourselves to our kids like people who never made any mistakes and then act like our kids are rotten when they make mistakes. We lecture and browbeat until they whimper out “Yes, sir” or “Yes, ma’am,” but then they go off and don’t heed a word we said.
We need to let our kids know that mistakes are part of life. We’ll still love them when they make theirs. We need to let our kids know that we are people they can trust with their questions, concerns, doubts, fears, relationships. We must not dismiss their problems as petty, their questions as baseless, their fears as unfounded. We need to let them know they are valid and we are here to help them grow through all these things. We need to be people that are approachable to ask for counsel.
Sadly, all too often, now that we have grown and entered the “real world,” we forget how real school was to us. We forget how serious it was when our friends made fun of us. We forget how heartbreaking it was when the person we liked rejected us. We forget how scared we were when we messed up big and were afraid our parents would find out. Our kids are going through all of that.
We need to be a place of comfort for them. Just like Paul encouraged Christians to comfort one another in II Corinthians 13:11, we need to comfort our children. That is especially true when they come to us admitting mistakes and seeking forgiveness (cf. II Corinthians 2:7). They need to know that they can bring anything to us and we’ll offer our understanding and our love. Now here’s the hard part. They need to know that will be the case even when we disagree with them and even if we have to discipline them.
It may be our kids that are going to school. But we need to prepare as well. Let’s give our kids what they need so they can go back to school on a positive note.
I just got off the phone with my good friend Terry Francis. We were working together on a sermon idea he had about getting parents ready to send their kids back to school. I thought I’d share with you what we discussed.
Often when we hear something about “Back to School” we think of the kids. However, we parents need to think about what we need to give our kids so they can be ready for the school age experience. What are some things we need to give our kids so they can go back to school in a healthy way?
I’m not talking about making our kids content. I mean the very first thing we need to offer our kids is our own personal contentment. We need to be healthy emotionally, mentally, and spiritually before we can help our children deal with all the facets of growing up and going to school.
Philippians 4:11 says, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” We usually relate this just to material things because that is the direct application Paul made. However, I believe this principle should govern so much more of our lives than just our finances. We need to be content in our own skin. We need to be content with the job we have, the achievements we’ve accomplished, the spiritual state we are in. If we are discontent about any of these things, we need to work on ourselves instead of expecting our kids to fill the gaps.
Too many parents live vicariously through their kids. Their self-esteem comes from how their children behave. When their children are on pedestals, the parents soar with self-esteem. If the children are not doing so well, the parents are crumbling themselves.
It will be impossible to help our kids where they need help if what we’re really hoping is they’ll be the help we need to feel good about ourselves. There is a place to brag for our kids. However, if we constantly have to show off our kids because we are really trying to show what great parents we are, we’ve got problems. There is a place to discipline our children. However, if we are disciplining them because they’ve made us look bad, we’ve got a problem.
When we are content within ourselves, we’ll be able to rejoice with our kids when they rejoice and weep with them when they weep. We’ll be able to support them in what is right and correct them in what is wrong. But if we don’t have our personal contentment our kids will never get us there and we won’t help them get there either.
When our children interact with the world, they are going to come face to face with error. They may be taught something that is wrong. They may witness actions that are wrong. They may see attitudes that are wrong.
Too often, we think we need to isolate our children from all this error. Instead, we need to inoculate them. We need to offer them conviction. As Joshua said in Joshua 24:15, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” We need to have that conviction and we need to pass that on to our children.
We need to teach our children what is right. We need to support them in what is right. We need to listen to their questions and give solid answers instead of just dismissing them and disciplining them for questioning. We need to help them develop a conviction about the truth that will not be tossed about by every wind of teaching that blows across their path (cf. Ephesians 4:14).
Let’s not just think about what our children need to do to be ready for school. Let’s think about what we as parents need to do to be ready for them to go to school. Next week we’ll continue to see how we need to prepare for our kids return to school.