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Back To School? Start Right In Christ

With the school year back in the swing, it would be easy

1. Find a good church where the whole family worships together and attend every week.

Deep teaching, sincere Christ-focused worship (as opposed to simply entertaining), and participation in Sunday school, catechism, or other family-oriented Bible training helps greatly. It’s best if the whole family worships during the service together. (Of course, nursery aged children may be an exception.) Over time, even though you may not think so, the rhythm of regular, weekly church attendance tells your children “Christ is important to us, just like He is at your school.”

Remember, Christ’s bride is the church, not the school. If your church has membership, JOIN! If you don’t think your church is deepening you spiritually, look around and find one that does.

2. Eat dinner together every night.

Establish small, simple traditions: for example, a bell to ring everyone to the table and a job rotation setting the table. Setting the table with all of the utensils may seem unnecessary on pizza night, but the habit forms a love of family in its own small way. Find a liturgy (a regular habit) in your prayer for the meal. For example, in our house I always say the prayer, but the kids each get a turn to thank God for at least one thing. It’s easy to let busyness disrupt normalcy in our homes. The correlation between intentional stability in the practices at home and steady kids is clear. If your schedule is too hectic with all the sports, music lessons, etc.—simplify.

3. Model a love of great things.

Parents who enroll their students in a classical school but shrug and say, “That stuff is too complicated for me; I’m a regular Joe,” send a mixed message. Be honest. If you don’t love Shakespeare, Dickens, or Milton, tell your kids you are working toward loving it. And show that you are.

Some tips: Have a family reading time where everyone sits in the family room and reads their book. (Any book, it doesn’t have to be a classic.) Simple.

On the musical side, with an Amazon Echo and Prime, stations that play great top-100 classical, jazz, blues, and other genres are one voice command away.

4. Invest in your marriage.

I’ve seen some single parent situations produce some of our best graduates. But, I have to be honest: Sound marriages generally correlate with sound children. When students go through tough times in 7th–10th grade, mom and dad, united and steady, provide the keel and anchor for the storms. Dad: Be the spiritual leader. Drive the family to get ready for church, lead the prayers, read scripture at the table. Get together with other dads for book clubs, or Bible studies. And, love your wife. God honors generationally, so your love for Him will be reflected in your kids. Mom: Establish a household that reflects the order, goodness, gentleness, and beauty of God.

5. Love the way Christ loves.

Remember, our Father encourages and chastens those whom He loves. Parents should, too. Demanding parents, balanced with grace, turn out the best kids. It’s hard these days. Every model we have says, “Turn them loose and encourage them.” “Chasten them” is not popular. The best families I encounter demand much of their kids, and they love them greatly.

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