This year is unlike any other in my parenting journey. That’s because both of my children, ages four and two, are going to school. As I reflected on and prayed about the needs of children and teens as they go back to school, the Lord brought to my attention the necessity of equipping. Our children are stepping into a pluralistic society, which oftentimes does not reflect our values and beliefs and into some environments where they will be met with hostility. We have to equip them so they can safely and effectively navigate these circumstances when they’re not in our protective care.
This idea of equipping should not be foreign to us as believers in Jesus Christ. A major part of our spiritual maturation and preparation for Kingdom work is “the equipping of the saints” through the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:11–12 says, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (NIV). In the same way, God has deposited gifts, talents, and resources in us as parents so we can equip our children to handle different situations and people when they enter the world. Also, please note that “equipping” is an active verb. That means we must take an active role in teaching and guiding our children so they can make the right decisions. The Greek word for “equipping” in Ephesians 4:12 is katartismon and it means complete furnishing, adequacy, and perfecting. God requires us as parents to equip our children and teens so they’re completely furnished or armed to adequately address the people and circumstances they might encounter in life.
As a result, here are some key areas we should address when preparing our children and teens for back to school.
- What we believe as Christians and why. The legalization of homosexual marriage and transgender issues have been hot topics this summer. It is naïve of us to think these issues will not come up in school with our children – even in elementary school. Elementary school teacher Omar Currie resigned this year after he read his class King & King, a book about the homosexual relationship of two princes. There is a television show on TLC about a transgender teen called I Am Jazz. These are just two examples of why we need to reinforce to our children our beliefs as Christians and why we profess those beliefs. Children and teens are impressionable. We want to make sure they have a solid foundation so they won’t be swayed by naysayers and contrary ideologies.
- Self-esteem and self-worth. #BlackLivesMatter has been a recurring theme this year as a result of the African Americans who died at the hands of police or while in police custody. Although controversial, the sentiment is important for our children and teens to understand. Their lives do matter. They might encounter bullies in school or online who try to strip them of their worth and value through insults, isolation, etc. It’s important for us to teach and reinforce to our youth that they are made in the image of God and are precious in His sight. We also want them to know they are precious in our sight. Our intentional and steadfast affirmation and praise of our children will serve as the armor they need to stand against negativity and attempted character assassinations.
- What to do in case of an emergency. Sadly, we live in a time where we have to prepare our children for mass shooting scenarios. There have been many incidents of school shootings since Columbine. Make sure your child or teens knows what to do in case of an emergency. Equip them with telephone numbers and a plan of escape. Meet with their teachers and principal to discuss these matters. Also, teach your children how to handle the inappropriate behavior of teachers and adults. Many videos have surfaced of teachers acting inappropriately with students. Equip them by outlining inappropriate behavior in the classroom and on the school bus. Teach your children to report anything that doesn’t feel or look right immediately!