One of my biggest fears was that on the first day of Kindergarten, my child would be asked which bathroom he preferred to use. Boys or Girls? I pictured little giggles erupting from the group of little ones as they consider which door looks most fun. Then I thought to myself, “By the time our baby is ready for Kindergarten, he will want to be a “nice dragon” when he grows up, but that bathroom door isn’t available to choose from.” Sounds ridiculous, right? Except, here’s the thing, the very thought of potential scenarios like that terrified my husband and I as we were faced with deciding whether to choose public or charter school for our firstborn. We immediately RAN away from the public-school system fearing the worst. We desired to avoid scary situations; and surely running from public school would resolve that issue – or so we thought.
Eventually we would move to Katy, Texas. We high-fived each other as we embraced our new “conservative community.” In our minds, this meant that the public schools were safer, right? And, if we couldn’t trust the school system to build a moral foundation for our kids, what were we going to do? Figuring out how best to school our kids was difficult and felt so scary.
Fast forward some years and now we have two in the public-school system, and we love our teachers and staff. And we have realized something very important through the course of our wrestling with “how to school.” At the end of the day, no matter where our kids were headed for school (charter, home, public, classical, hyrid, etc.), it is not the educational system’s job to set a moral foundation for our children, it is ours! WE are the primary influencers and faith trainers of our children. Therefore, setting a foundation of faith is our responsibility as parents and it helps equip our children to face the world head on.
Facing Parenting Fears
As we accepted our responsibility and faced our fears, we began to recognize that the sinful world is not something new and, in fact, is shockingly like today. As Paul tells us in Romans 1:28, “And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong. They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil greed and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving and unmerciful.”
Therefore, we as primary faith trainers of our children, have the opportunity to set the foundation for our children’s faith and worldview with a Truth that is foundational instead of beliefs which is fluidly changing with culture. We must build this view on the Biblical truths of our Heavenly Father which are found in His word, the Bible.
Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
If you are facing fears about sending your children out into the world, whether it be their first year of kindergarten or their first year of college, here are three keys to helping them build a solid faith foundation as they go.
Key #1: Foundational Truth Comes From God’s Word
“Mom, I believe in Jesus—I mean I know he is real…. But how do I really know?” Sitting in my 9-year old’s room before bed, we can get into some deep conversations. This one took me by surprise. I thought about it for a minute and then welcomed the question. See, when our children start questioning their faith or have big questions about God, this is the point when they start taking ownership of their faith. Meaning, it becomes less “mommy and daddy said so” and more “this is what God is teaching me”. I pointed at his Bible and said, “Bud, you find the answers in there”. He asked if we could sit and read the Bible together at night from start to end. I silently did a cheer, as I didn’t want to embarrass my son in any other way than existing. I readily agreed, put him to bed, and then I ran downstairs doing a happy dance and told my husband immediately.
Parents, we must dive into God’s word to humbly learn His truths. Our children need to be in God’s word daily as well. The Bible is full of adventure, battles, promises, and most importantly, the story of God’s love for us throughout time. For my son, I love the Action Bible. It is designed like a comic book full of word bubbles and awesome images. The Adventure Bible is wonderful too. Kids can read the books of the Bible and then explore various “Discussion Questions” highlighting big themes or points.
Therefore, set their feet on God’s word as they start their school day. Read a chapter in the morning while they are eating breakfast. Take turns with sentences or helping your younger ones sound out words. Try to apply it to their day as they walk out the front door. When they get back and relax after school, ask them to tell you about their day. How did God show up? Read the same chapter you read in the morning again in the evening. Try Psalms, Proverbs, the Gospels, Romans…. The Bible is endless in amazing truths.
Key #2: Authentic Conversations Strengthen the Foundation
Before it got blazing hot here in Texas this summer, we took the kids to the zoo. We saw plenty of wonderful animals and some that I had heard of but never seen, like “Furries.” For those who may not be aware of this trend, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes a “Furry” as a person who identifies with and enjoys dressing as an animal especially as a member of a subculture devoted to the practice. I saw a group of teens dressed as such, some with collars and leashes attached, and prayed that my kids wouldn’t notice. I wasn’t ready to explain this new cultural trend. Encounters like this can be uncomfortable and awkward, but they are a great opportunity to have authentic and real conversations. Kids are naturally curious so be ready for questions.
Kids these days can ask some hard questions that we might not know how to answer. Many times, we feel the need to shield our children from these tough topics by changing the subject or sugar coating the answer. Be prepared to give truthful, age-appropriate answers, so that your children know they can come to you for the truth. If you don’t tell them the truth, they will try to find the answer somewhere else. We want to make sure that we answer the hard questions in our home by opening the Bible, looking together for the answers, and training our children how to do the same. Teach them how to be discerning at an early age so that they will have that skill for their whole lives.
Right now in our home, we are reading the Creation story in Genesis. I really like to reinforce the story of man’s creation.
So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.” (Genesis 1:27)
When we go to the Bible for answers, we can clearly see truth written within God’s word. Male and Female. I will stand on the word of God for answers to the confusing questions of identity that my children may come across.
Key # 3: Friends Can Help Support or Tear Down the Foundation
I was recently speaking with my son about his friends and I asked him who he felt was the best influence. He named off a couple of his close friends. Then, I asked him who he felt was not as good. He named off a couple. I wanted to get him thinking about how his friendships affect his own behavior. It is time for him as a fourth grader, to begin to critically think and make decisions about his friendship circle.
As we are starting a new school year, classes often get mixed up in schools and new friends will be on the horizon. This is great! We love new friends. However, we need to make sure that our children know how to be discerning in choosing friends that will help them in their journey with the Lord. This does not mean they can’t be kind and gracious to everyone. However, we know the old adage- you are who you hang out with. Encouraging our children to choose friends who will build them up, who are respectful, kind, and love the Lord is important to securing their foundation on faith.
We’re in This Together
I don’t have all the answers and don’t pretend to. Whether our kids are heading out of the house or staying at home for school, we are all trying to navigate this world of school and beyond in the best way we know how. Sometimes we mess up and sometimes we get things right. I ask for you to come alongside me as we enter this new school year to pray for our children. As they head out into the big world, let us pray, that their hearts and minds be protected from the enemy. Let us pray for their schools including the administrative staff and teachers. Let us pray for the other children that our own kids will interact with. Pray that our kids would reflect the love and grace of God towards the people they encounter. May the foundation of faith that is being built give them a firm place to stand knowing who they are — God’s beloved creation.