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.