With the start of the new school year, parents everywhere are struggling to know how to love and raise their kids well in the midst of this COVID pandemic. Maybe you’re heading back to face-to-face school, maybe you’re moving into virtual learning, or maybe you’re still just trying to figure out what’s going on. In any case, here are a few tips we can all follow to love our kids even better this school year.
Pray. Every relationship is dependent on good communication, including our relationships with God. God speaks to us through Scriptures and through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. But God is also calling us to engage with Him through prayer, which is both when we bring our hearts to Him and when we open our hearts to hear what God has to say to us. Prayer is especially important for parents because prayer itself is an act that requires admitting that we can’t do it all. In fact, most of the things we want for our kids are beyond our abilities. But the hopes we have for our kids aren’t beyond God. So let’s bring our hopes and dreams to God, and while we’re at it, let’s include our children in our prayer times so they can learn what it’s like to talk with God.
Study. When your kids are in a hard class and there’s a big test coming up, what do you tell them to do? Study! Well, it turns out that life is a hard class, and parenting brings new tests daily. So just like kids should study, we should study before our testing moments. While there’s not a book of the Bible specifically dedicated to parenting or family needs, Galatians is a great book for parents to explore the gifts God brings into our lives as we follow him. Northland’s bookstore is also full of great resources, including Bible studies you can do with your kids.
Give. Jesus gave us two great commandments — two practices above all other that we’re supposed to build our life around. Both are based on giving: Love God and love your neighbors. There are lots of ways to give, just like there are lots of ways to love. Find ways as a family that you can engage in habitual giving. Some of that giving can be to each other. Also look for ways your family can practice generosity as a family, whether in the form of helping neighbors in need or taking part in community care.
Rest. After 6 days of creation, God rested on the Sabbath. Sometimes it’s easy as a parent to spend all our time finding new creative activities or clubs for our kids. But it’s important that families pause and rest as well. Of course, taking a family Sabbath will provide much-needed rest during stressful times. But that Sabbath is also the time to pause and reflect on the creative work God’s already completed. During a family Sabbath, you can spend time together writing down the ways you’ve seen God at work in the week, as well as the places you’re hoping to see Him show up in the week ahead.
It’s going to be a strange year, full of unexpected turns and difficulties. But we’re not alone on this journey. Proverbs 3:26 tells us that in hard times, “the Lord will be at your side.” So as you enter into this new school year take advantage of the company you have with a God who is right there with you. Remember - one of the greatest gifts you can ever give your kids is showing them what it means to live a life of faith. With these tips, you’ll find yourself following God more closely as a family. And you’ll find yourself on a Proverbs 22:6 journey, directing “your children onto the right path” as an extension of your own faith.