Start of the School Year
What was your favorite new thing as you started school each fall? Was it the new box of sharp crayons? New shoes? Freshly sharpened pencils that still had their erasers? Books with pages that had never been written on or crinkled? A new haircut? The word new is certainly fitting at the beginning of the school year. New classrooms, new lessons, new friends.
The launch of the school year is also a great time for new habits and new routines. As your family begins the 2019-2020 school year, what new habits and disciplines do you hope to establish? What do you want your family life to look like this year? If you haven’t already done so, take some time this weekend to think about it. Maybe there are routines from the past that need to be revived. Maybe there are some areas of the day that are stress laden and need to be reworked. Maybe you have some vague goals in the back of your mind that need to be made specific. Do you want your children to have a bedtime? A waking up time? Would you like them to eat something healthy for breakfast? Pack a lunch? Do their own laundry? What about homework? When and where should it be done? Will your child be allowed to watch TV or play video games on school nights? As the parent, you get to decide and set the rules. These things are important to a successful academic year, but as Christian parents, we have a bigger end goal than raising our kids to be good people or responsible citizens.
If the “chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” (Westminster’s Catechism) then that end should shape the most important goals of our parenting. So the million dollar question is, how so we raise children who glorify and enjoy God? I am so thankful for the grace of God. It is by His grace that He, in love, softens our children’s hearts and turns them toward Him. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have any responsibility, however. “Train up a child in the way he should go…” (Proverbs 22:6) If God is at work in your child’s heart, you can encourage habits that give the Holy Spirit opportunity to work. Is there a place in your child’s routine for personal Bible reading (or listening to the Bible read)? What about prayer and Scripture memory? How do the habits in your home cultivate kindness, cheerfulness, gratitude, and other character qualities that glorify God? God gave us the Bible, not as a set of rules to live by, but as a guidebook for life. If we want our children to enjoy God forever, we need to help them see God, their Savior, as the One to be sought above all others, and we need to train them to live life God’s way.
It can be easy to take the school year one day, one challenge at a time and forget to look at the bigger picture. Take some time to think and act intentionally. What do you want your child to be like when he or she grows up? What do you want to motivate them when they get up in the morning? Don’t let these precious training moments slip through your fingers. Rather than let the days roll by without solving the stresses or establishing the routines to point your child to Christ, seize Monday and start something new!