My husband and I have seven children by birth and adoption. Seven. We think it was the perfect number to call our family complete.
Recently, sitting in our youngest child’s high school senior year orientation, I found myself reflecting on how long we had been doing this. With no reasonable explanation, I most vividly remembered our eldest son’s pre-senior meeting in the then futuristic year of 2000. Does Y2K make anyone else feel a silly innocence now?
Perhaps it was because our older three, all daughters, were constantly in a whirlwind of activity and plans for the future, that their school years disappeared like wafting vapor, and then were over. We sent them to a private Christian school until high school, then to a suburban public school where they thrived.
Our son, however, resisted leaving me when he went to kindergarten. One sweet memorable conversation ended with him informing me that we needed to have another baby and name him Nathan ̶ his name ̶ so that someone would be home to take care of me while he was at school.
Before we registered him for school, we had an intense inner struggle about where we should enroll him. At the beginning of each school year, we would assess whether or not we were doing the right thing to prepare each of our children for their future. For our son who was a creative introvert, it was like making the decision for the first time every year.
Can anyone relate?
As school districts across America are announcing reopening plans for this fall, I can only imagine the weight many parents feel when trying to make that decision for their child. Smack dab in the middle of making school decisions, the COVID-19 pandemic has only added a weighty health and safety dimension. We already felt like we were navigating uncharted waters and now, the unwelcome storm has surrounded our ship.
Looking back, there are a few things I wish someone had shared with me.
First, as Believers in Christ, we do have an advantage. 1 John 5:14 clearly tells us, “And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that If we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.”
God desires our children to know Him and follow Him as much as we do. Asking God for guidance to make the best education decision for our children is according to His will.
Ask questions and research the best options. Proverbs 1:5 says, “Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and the discerning get guidance.” If none are exactly tailor made, we can step out in faith that God will rescue and save our child if something goes awry. (Just assuring you, He did that for us.)
Make a decision about what is best for YOUR family. It’s difficult when your neighbor or family member chooses something different. They may have different circumstances, almost certainly a different perspective, and a different child.
God will be with our children as they either head off to school wearing a mask, or sit at our kitchen tables with a parent-produced planner and a hodge-podge of materials and resources. I am not advocating that we don’t pray and plan, but rather spend the time committing our activities to the Lord, and our plans will succeed (Proverbs 16:3).
One of the most important lessons I learned with our children is that no matter what, I could not save them. Only God can. Though we could seek Him for the guidance to give them the best possible start to train them in the way they should go, we had to trust Him to show each of our children the plans that He had for them.
The days our children are in school, whether public or private, or homeschooled, may seem long ̶ because they are. There is a lot of work to do to raise a child to responsible adulthood. However, ask any parent of adult children who now say the time was short, whether being anxious about their decisions ever helped. I’m certain there will be a collective and resounding “no.”
We ended 12 years with a combination of private Christian school, public school, and homeschool for our oldest son. Every path had advantages and challenges. The little boy who didn’t want to leave home graduated from a large public high school and went to our state college for eight years. Today, he lives a thousand miles away, works in a profession he loves, and is married to a lovely young woman. They have three sons, and they homeschool.
If you’re currently struggling with, or simply seeking God, about where or how to send your children to school this year, I’d like to pray for you.
Father, You know what each child of every family will face in their future. Your Word tells us that You know the plans You have for them; to give them a hope and a future. Lord, I ask that every parent reading this will be able to cast the care and anxiety concerning what to do this school year on You, because You (already) care for them. I pray that You will provide the resources, wisdom, and strength to carry out the right decisions. I pray against fear of the future. Grant each parent peace as they safely trust in You. I bind each child to Your will for them in the everlasting name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.