Thought for the Day:
“Turn your greatest worries into your deepest prayers.”
Question for the Day:
Will you be praying for children returning to school?
Well, another school year is upon us and this year definitely feels different. Usually, I’m excited about my children returning to school because, first of all, it means the cable, light, phone and grocery bills might once again fall below the payment arrangement threshold. But beyond that, by summer’s end, I’m generally ready for them to get out of the bed, off the couch, out of the refrigerator, off their phones and unplugged from their video games. Listening to folks snoring and rolling over in their beds while I’m rushing out the door for work plays out pretty quickly. Though I don’t miss the hectic pace of the school year with its after school practices, concerts, football games and countless other responsibilities added to my to do list, I’m happy to see my kids get back out among their peers and teachers to learn, socialize, and return to a productive lifestyle. That is, until 2020 decided to dump a global pandemic in our laps.
COVID-19 has seemed to turn everything that summer break used to mean on its ear. There was no relief to be found as this “COVID summer” traded fun in the sun, road trips, and swimsuits for quarantine, masks and hand sanitizer. Not only that, but this year’s “break” started back in March for most of us with kids who were unable to return to school once the seriousness of this virus became evident. Talk about dog days of summer! It feels as if I’ve aged enough to qualify for AARP over the last few months. One of my favorite times of the year has been marred with anxiety, worry, fear and an overload of opinions, misinformation and a barrage of flatout lies from the orange man in chief. So now that him and our “Govna” here in Mississippi ,Tate Reeves, have decided that the (sh**) show must go on, what are parents who have challenging lifestyles to do?
I’ve observed plenty of heated debates on social media and there seems to be a sort of unspoken war between the parents who are sending their kids to school and the ones who have chosen to home school or do distance learning. I’m not sure why some parents find it necessary to decide what’s best for another person’s child, but I can tell you that distance learning and going to school will BOTH have their risks and potential consequences. I’ve counseled children in my office who are not doing well with being home after an extended period of time. Among my younger clients, there is a clear spike in depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior such as drug and alcohol consumption that many relate to being “stuck at home.” Children who are already prone to mental health disorders are struggling even more and when a troubled child has working parents who are unable to supervise him/her, it becomes even more difficult for them to cope.
In addition, I know here in Mississippi, the education system is already broken and many of the children who were sent home to work are simply not able to keep up and are subsequently falling behind. Many parents, including myself, are not educated enough to assist in some subject areas. Even with two degrees, I’m useless to my children if it has anything to do with advanced math or science. What do we honestly expect from the average parent who may not have gone to college and is just trying to work, put food on the table, and ensure their child is getting a decent education? Is it wrong to want your child to get the one-on-one time and attention they need to ensure they are absorbing the material properly? And let’s not forget the people who cannot afford to maintain internet services consistently in their home or who live below the poverty line. For those families, there is no guarantee that nutritious meals will be available on a daily basis. What about the single parents or those only earning minimum wage who depend on schools to supply breakfast and lunch to their kids every day? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, being able to fully support a child’s education in the home is a privilege and it does not accurately determine one’s love and concern for their child’s well being.
On the other hand, returning children to school brings with it real safety risks that are impossible to dispute. Most children are impulsive by nature and little children especially will have a hard time keeping a mask on all day. Young children are all about hugging, holding hands and sharing toys with their “friends,” so it’s gonna take some very aggressive classroom management to keep little ones six feet apart for an entire school day. And even the older children will be difficult to manage as most of them believe themselves to be invincible. Their stage of development almost requires them to test limits and challenge authority. Expecting a group of hormone-driven teens to keep their hands to themselves is a tall order and any handbook that sets forth those expectations probably needs to be filed in the fantasy section of the school library.
But here’s the thing, as a therapist I have talked to people in both situations and the only thing I know for sure is that there are no easy answers. For example, is it safe for a teenager who’s developed an addiction to pornography to be home all day learning remotely while his parents work? Is it a good idea for a child with a learning disability, autism, or ADHD to be sitting behind a computer all day without face to face interaction with his/her teachers or social engagement with their peers? I don’t know.
Is it best practices to send a child with asthma or some other underlying condition back into a crowded learning space? Is it wise to to send a child with a panic disorder and a fear of death back to school as positive cases continue to climb? Should a child with a stay-at-home parent or the means to work remotely still return their child to school? It doesn’t seem like it, but what if that stay-at-home parent is battling mental illness or there’s family violence or other issues at play that would still make going to school the best option? Again, I don’t know, and that’s kind of the point.
Instead of of wasting energy trying to determine who should send their children back to school and why, how about we just choose to pray for all of our kids whether they’re on campus or at home. Better still, let’s pray for all parents who are making difficult choices no matter what it is they’ve decided. Let’s release scrutiny, judgement and our opinions in favor of seeking God’s face instead. Let us pray.
We come to you now to ask you to be a constant shield of protection for our children whether they will be at home or in the school house this year. We ask that you cover them each and every day. Send your angels to watch over those who must return to the classroom. Help them to remember all of the things their parents have taught them about how to protect themselves. Be with our school teachers and administrators as they make decisions concerning our childrens’ safety. Give them wisdom to do what is right, safe and in order. We pray that they use good judgement when managing their daily routines so that our children will be kept out of harm’s way. We come against COVID-19 and it’s affects and decree and declare that even it’s sting is of no consequence when compared to your infinite power. We pray that you will keep our children, teachers, school staff and administrators in your hands. Give us discernment as parents to know how we can best support our children if they’re learning from home or going back to school. Show us where there is need for adjustment or a shift in perspective. Help us to seek you when we’re confused, afraid or in doubt over news reports and internet commentary. Bless us Lord and show yourself strong as we trust you with our children’s lives, education, hearts, and minds. It’s in the mighty name of Jesus Christ that we pray, Amen
“For the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective.”