This August our family enters a new stage of life. The stage where both kids are in full day school. It is a totally new season we dipped our toes in two years ago when my oldest started, but in just a few short weeks, we are jumping in with both feet.
Like anything in the parenting realm, the feelings are mixed. There is a taste of freedom just ahead that is nearly palpable. And a sense of sadness, that a stage of life I have spent nearly eight years in, a stage that I imagined and dreamt about since I was young girl myself, is about ready to come to a close. And with every stage change, and phase shift, this one included, there is the lingering feeling, “did I do it right?” and then, “how do I make the most of what’s next?”
I am definitely feeling the pressure this summer as time goes barreling towards what’s just ahead. Because it feels like I have the chance to get this really right, to have as few regrets as possible, and who doesn’t want that?
I have very specific goals of what I want to be praying for and praying about at the start of this season, things I have already started to pray for them both—and things that are unique to each child’s age and personality.
I am praying for their peers, and the friends they find themselves drawn towards at the beginning of the school year. Praying they have confidence in picking friends, being a positive influence on others and that they show leadership in making good choices with these friends.
I am praying for their teachers. That as they spend eight hours a day under the care of another adult—who may like them a lot, but I’m pretty sure doesn’t think they hung the moon, like I do— that their teacher will have insight into what makes them tick, what makes them excited to learn, hesitant to try, fearful to do and energized to practice. I’m praying that their teacher has this insight into my own kids, but also the other children in their class, to best be able to lead the tribe entrusted to their care for the next nine months.
I am praying for them to be challenged but that their confidence isn’t dismantled. For them to be stretched but not broken. Some of my prayers are driven by fear, some by hope, and all with possibility.
When my oldest started kindergarten I remember wanting him to have an idea of the things I was praying for him—without overwhelming him but also while cluing him in to the intention I had for the hours he would be spending away.
So our family settled on a phrase. My husband and I asked ourselves the question: What are the most important things we want to our kids to know when they leave the house everyday? What do we want to stick? Because I couldn’t quite give a transcript of the prayers I was a praying every day, but I wanted my boys to know what exactly what I was hoping for them—and even more than that, the role they could play in making it come to fruition.
So we landed on three things. Every day as we would head out the door, or as they got out of the car, my husband and I would call out three things to the kids. The same three. Every day.
“Be brave!” we yelled.
“Be kind!” we called.
“Be wise!” we encouraged.
Those were our three things. The things that dominated our praying and our conversations and our hopes and intentions for the little boys we were responsible for raising, but who we were passing off into the hands of other adults to be educated in other spaces.
We wanted our kids to know they can be brave. Braver than they probably think they are. That courage means speaking up for the kids who aren’t picked right away for the team, and for trying things they think they won’t be good at right away.
We wanted our kids to be kind. To teachers. To peers. To themselves. To not allow untrue messages they may hear from others, or may tell themselves over not doing as well as they wanted, to control their thoughts or dominate their behavior. To remember each person they engage with is a human with feelings, who was made with God’s image in them, and to treat them accordingly.
We wanted our kids to be wise. To try hard things—but not stupid things. To learn the subtle difference between the right thing and the smart thing. To know that just trying to avoid wrong is the lowest bar possible, and we expect more. That being wise means thinking more and taking your time, but it’s always worth what is asks of you.
There are hundreds of other things I have in mind for my boys this coming year. Hundreds of things I will add to my prayers about what I would like their experience at school to include. But I’ll clue them in to these three every day. More than once day. And when I see them miss an opportunity to do those things, I will remind them of the values we strive to demonstrate. And when I see them do it well, I will point it out so they can see where they are winning.
Every year is a chance to feel overwhelmed and under equipped to handle a new season of life. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It can be a chance to re-center your goals, refocus your hopes and clue your kids into the things that matter to you and your family, and then begin pursuing them together.
Get the entire How I'm Praying for My Child blog series.