Ask an Older Woman #19: 4 Mantras for Back to School

Editor’s note: In this series, women on our blogger team respond to questions from our readers. If you have a question of your own, you can share it with us here

Perhaps you’ve seen the meme that summarizes our back to school options in three bewildered faces. I think I’ve sent it to every mom friend I know. 

Whether our kids are preschoolers or college students, this year’s back-to-school decisions are extra complicated. Beyond just deciding where to find the best deal on school supplies, we now have a long list of serious questions to contend with:

  • Does sending my child put them at greater risk of contracting the coronavirus?
  • Will complying with mask mandates cause psychological strain on my child?
  • How can I prepare for the likelihood of school closures due to infection spikes?
  • Can my child thrive with online learning options?
  • How can I meet the demands of work and home with my children home more often?
  • Should we sit out from extracurricular activities to minimize risk?

After months of isolating at home, my four children are eager for a return to “normal,” but our school recently released their back-to-school plan, and there’s not much normal about it. If you’re a mother who, like me, feels like you’re navigating through uncharted waters without a paddle, here are four mantras that are preserving my peace as I consider sending my children back to school. 

1. I have everything I need. 

Consider 2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.”

Did you race through that passage? If so, take a second look. Zero in on the word all.

We are not left to throw darts toward difficult decisions hoping we hit the target. We have the Word of God and the Holy Spirit to give us everything we need to navigate life, even life in a pandemic. 

This promise does not change the challenges of our circumstances. We still have a tough decision to make. It does however, quiet the inner voice who screams, “I can’t do this!” It gives us the fortitude needed to make decisions with confidence that we can rely fully on the Lord for strength.

Sending our children to school has risks and challenges. Schooling our children at home has risks and challenges. But God has given us everything we need to make a wise decision and then execute that decision well for the good of our children and the glory of God. 

Speaking of wisdom . . .

2. I have access to generous wisdom. 

I am so grateful I have trusted friends who I can talk to about the decisions I make for my children. I am blessed to live in a school district where communication is clear and easily available. It is smart for me to gather as much information as possible about what the school options are for my children, but my paramount need is for wisdom, not information. 

Listen to James 1:5–6, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”

Making good parenting decisions requires wisdom by the dump truck load. God’s promise is so simple, it almost seems too good to be true, but there it is in black and white, recorded for us in God’s Word. If we need wisdom, we should ask for it, and God will give it to us generously. 

As our family discussed our back-to-school options, I realized we had put the proverbial cart before the horse by seeking to make a decision before asking the Lord to give us wisdom. We sat down with our older boys and committed to all setting aside some time to pray and ask the Lord for His guidance. He has kept His promise (of course!) in giving us heaping amounts of wisdom to help us make this decision.

3. My children are God’s children

While God has granted us the incredible responsibility of caring for our children and training them to know and love Him, we are not required to replace His role in their lives. God has promised:

  • That He will never leave or forsake our children (Heb. 13:5). 
  • That He will love them no matter what (Jer. 31:3).
  • That He will work all things for their good (Rom. 8:28).
  • And that nothing (no virus, no policy, no challenge) can take our children from His loving hands (John 10:28). 

Our children are God’s children, and He is attentive enough to them to count the very hairs on their precious heads (Luke 12:7). As strong as our love for our children is, God’s love is stronger (John 3:16). As much as we want to see our children thrive, God’s wants that even more (John 10:10)! 

God has never promised that our children will not struggle, get sick, or even die. Because we live in a sinful and broken world, there is no school option that can insulate them fully from these things, but we can rest knowing that our children have a heavenly Father who loves them and cares for their needs. 

The events of recent months have worked like a spotlight, illuminating areas where I was looking for hope in error. Masks cannot save my children. School systems cannot save my children. Hand washing cannot save my children. But Jesus can! When anxiety wraps its tentacles around my momma heart, I recount God’s great love for my children. 

How you school your children is an important decision. It is not the most important decision parenting we will ever make. I find a little perspective goes a long way toward loosening my grip. 

4. She is a good mom. 

  • There are loving, attentive, wise moms who will choose to send their kids to school this year. 
  • There are loving, attentive wise moms who will choose to homeschool this year. 
  • There are loving, attentive, wise moms who will choose to do online school this year. 
  • There are loving, attentive, wise moms who will try one method of schooling, discover it does not work well for their families, and change course midstream this year. 

Every mom needs a firehose of grace this year. Your sister-in-law, neighbor, or best friend from church may not make the same decision as you. That is neither a commentary on your parenting or on hers. 

I am convinced that the enemy’s agenda is to cause widespread division in the Church by any means necessary. Whether that is social distancing restrictions, mask requirements, or school choice, the Enemy wins when we go to the mats over issues that are ultimately fleeting. 

We can push back the armies of darkness with one simple sentence, “You’re a good mom.” Stand beside other moms who make the same school decision as you. Champion the ones who don’t. We are bound together with the common reality that this isn’t going to be easy, but that we can also trust the sovereignty and goodness of God. 

May we heed Paul’s words recorded in Romans 14:13, “Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” 

I’ll go first. 

Momma, the responsibilities you are carrying are great. I see you facing them with grit and grace. I know you love your children. I know you want what’s best for them and I know you will do everything possible to give them a fruitful school year. I see you taking your worries to the Lord in prayer, knowing that is where the battle is truly won. I couldn’t be prouder of you. You’re a good mom. Let’s roll! 

Did you discover God’s Truth today?

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About the Author

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

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