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.