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Beyond Backpacks: 5 Questions I am Asking as We Prepare for the Back to School Season

Usually this time of year, I am peppering my kids with questions, asking them if their backpacks are still good from last year? Do they need new shoes? When are they going back to their college campuses? What is their new schedule?

This year feels different.

 

COVID has cut the fluff- who cares about backpack conditions and whether you have a study hall?  What matters is: What do we believe? How will we act? More than what will we do in this next school year, it’s who will we be?  With that in mind, my school routine and questions sound a little bit more like this:

 

  1. Where are you getting your information? When they come home or get off their phones and start with “Did you hear?” my first discipleship opportunity is asking where they learned what they are passing along. Is the source reliable? Do they have an agenda? It’s a skill I want them to carry with them the rest of their lives- discernment of truth seems like a precious gift God can cultivate in us during this season if we are open to it.

 

  1. Are you thinking about others above yourselves? We all have preferences and opinions, but at the end of the day, our guide, the Word of God, teaches us to die to self, and to live with the interests of others in mind. When I am tempted to complain, I remind them and myself: this is a season of “we” over “me.”  Whatever might be perceived as inconvenient is a chance to put on display a supernatural nature of unselfishness.

 

  1. In who do we trust? When bad news comes (something is cancelled, a beloved friend is sick, another expectation is dashed) we get the privilege of asking God to reframe our thinking. He asks us to trust if He’s written a story, there’s something in it for us. Things will not always be as they are now.

 

  1. How are you feeling about that? Empathy is a critical skill in interpersonal relationships and I want my kids to learn to say how they are feeling and ask others to do the same. When someone shares a fear, or hard news, I want them to ask a little more, and lean in to their friends and family. The resulting gift is more meaningful connections.

 

  1. Do you know I love you? Am proud of you? There is a temptation at the start of the school year to ask questions about behavior and performance- questions about grades or athletics, a reminder of did you do your homework? Why are you going out again? Are you going to wear that? What if my questions were a reflection that I see each day as a gift and they the best parts of it? What if I didn’t know what tomorrow held and my question reflected what was most important for them to know?

 

 

I’ll admit: we are focusing a little less on homework and a little more on connection around my house. We are following up on nudges to reach out and cultivate a sense of belonging and attachment. This past season for all its disruption has clarified a few things for me:

 

People matter.

Children are worth sacrificing for.

God is in control.

Today is all we are promised.

(So use it, and all its gifts, for His glory.)

 

 



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Beth and her husband, Todd, live with their family in Cincinnati, Ohio where they serve as Co-Executive Directors of Back2Back Ministries. After graduating from Indiana University, the Guckenbergers moved to Monterrey, Mexico where they lived for 15 years. Between biological, foster, and adopted children, they have raised eleven children.


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