Back to School?

     When I was asked to write a blog for Back To School, I thought, “You're kidding? Already? That means summer is almost over!” It's hard to believe it's that time of year again. As I write this my grandson Weston had his first day at 4K. His parents took a picture of him by a birch tree outside their home. It was deja vu for me. We took pictures of all our children by a birch tree outside our home on the first day of school each year. Pretty soon those pictures were circulating via text messages throughout our family. 

     The first day of school for children always brings a mixed bag of emotions, especially for moms (but really for dads too. They just don't show it). There is a deep sense of sadness. I can't believe my child is this old already. I remember bringing him/her home from the hospital. Holding themand rocking them to sleep. And now, here they are, growing up. There is also a sense of excitement for this new adventure in their life. You are watching them learn and grow right before your eyes. Their excitement is contagious. 

     Back to school marks the end of the free and easy days of summer where you had endless free time to do unscheduled fun things with your children. Summer is a time when some great memories are made. Family vacations. Camping. Swimming. Learning to ride a two-wheel bike. Baseball. Picnics. Hopefully this past summer was a great time for you as parents to really connect with your children in different and authentic ways. Your bond with them grew stronger.

     Back to school also marks a new beginning. For some children this is their first time going to school. For others it means moving up to a new grade, a new classroom, and a new teacher. It is all so exciting – this newness, this freshness. God is in the business of making all things new. He puts a new song in our mouth (Ps 40:3); makes a new covenant with us (Jer 31:31); gives us new mercies every morning (Lam 3:23); gives us a new heart and a new spirit (Ez 36:26); new life in Christ (Acts 5:20); he makes us into a new creation (2 Co 5:17); and gives us new birth (1 Pe 1:3). In Rev 21:5, God says, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” A brand new. All because of Jesus. Sound exciting?

     Of course, back to school also means a new order in the family. New routines. There is homework, chores and bed time and getting up early for school. Not fun stuff. But it is very important that you establish good, healthy routines and patterns. Children need structure in their lives. They actually thrive much better emotionally and scholastically when they know what is expected, when it is clearly spelled out for them what the new routines are. Yes, there will have to be some flexibility from time to time, but if you and your spouse can be together on this and establish firm and consistent rules for your children. They works best for them and for you. Yes, of course they will buck, they will complain, they will test and try your patience. That's what children do. But you are bigger than them. Don't give in. And don't let them wear you out. Stay together as a husband and wife team. Establish firm and consistent daily routines for chores, homework, play time and getting ready for bed time. Your children will actually perform better in school and in life when you do. 

     No one gave you a set of instructions when your child popped out into this world. No one told you this would be this hard. But stick with it. Don't back done and don't ever give in. Your children will one day look back and thank you for raising them in a firm, consistent and loving manner. And most of all, they will thank you for passing on your faith in Jesus to them by your words and example. Ready or not, it's back to school time. Do the hard work now. You won't regret it later.