By Tammy Skipper, Contributing Writer
Back to school. Backpacks, lunch boxes, and bright boxes of 64 colors.
This year our back to school list looks a little different. This year we are thinking about tuition, books, and fees. This is the year our oldest child starts college. We are fortunate that he chose a school a few hours away and will be close to extended family. He’s already begun working in the area and building his new life there. We are very proud of him.
However, the last year was also one of the biggest periods of adjustment in our entire marriage.
Our children truly are on loan to us from God. The closer the day comes for them to leave, the faster time seems to move. Many evenings were spent in discussion about which college to choose, how to pay for it, and whether or not enough job applications had been submitted. It was easy to get tangled up in the details of course credits and curfews, but the real work was the same as it was from day one.
Shape the character of our child while keeping our marriage at the top of our priorities.
How do we do this as parents in the midst of a year that brings almost as much change in our child as his first one did?
1. Recognize this is a season that will pass.
Senior year is busy for your high school student. Whether your child is in public school or home school, there are a lot of demands as preparations are made for life after high school. College, scholarship, and financial aid applications seem never-ending. Fees for every book or photo or event seem to hit the budget weekly. Formal dances and final exams. This doesn’t even consider time spent at a job, sports team, or church. Go to your toolbox and put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven”
2. Protect your time together as a couple.
We found ourselves constantly discussing the needs of our son. Parenting can be hard work, but it cannot come before your marriage. Plan time together regularly. We found it vital to plan time apart from our teens at least twice a month. It may have been a date night or relaxing at home when our teens were attending events. Most often it was simply finding a way to have lunch together when things seemed particularly hard. Whatever you do, make a point of focusing on the needs of your spouse instead of the demands of your teen.
Ephesians 5:31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”
3. Plan for the future.
Ultimately, we do not know what choices our son will make. As he progressed through his senior year, we did not even know which college he would attend. As it turned out, we moved across the country in the middle of it all! It is true we never know what tomorrow holds, but it doesn’t mean we are simply along for the ride. After our children have grown and begun their lives apart from us, we will still have each other. We remembered those long term dreams and goals were the framework in which decisions needed to be made.
Luke 12:42-44 “And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions”
We are doing it all over again this year with our daughter who graduates in May. Do you have a high school student this year?