This year we’re facing a back-to-school season like no other. With tens of thousands of cases in NSW and around the country, it feels like we’re swimming in a sea of COVID-19.
And yet, school is set to resume as usual.
As parents it’s natural to feel anxious and worried about our children’s safety and to agonise over our decisions concerning their wellbeing. But this may just be the perfect opportunity for us to send them back to school with courage.
Face your fears
Perhaps the hardest thing about being parents this side of heaven is that we cannot keep our children safe 100% of the time. At some point, we have to send our children off into the big wide world, where we can no longer protect them. Sending our children into a school full of germs (COVID-19 or otherwise) is a fitting parable for what it’s like to raise children in a fallen world.
Know your facts
A good way to combat fear is with facts. It’s reassuring to remember that even if our children do contract COVID-19, they are likely to have mild symptoms and recover quickly. This recent article outlines some of the relevant statistics:
Make your decision
With the rollout of vaccines for children aged 5 and up, parents now have a decision to make. We all have to weigh up the risks—known and unknown—that come with vaccination against the risks—known and unknown—that come with catching COVID-19. None of us can see into the future; there’s no guarantee that we won’t come to regret our decision. Each of us is simply doing our best to minimise the risks to our children’s health, whether we decide to have them vaccinated or not.
Give it to God
It’s OK to feel overwhelmed by the situation we find ourselves in and to wrestle with decisions about our children’s health. Tell God about it. Give your children into his strong and loving fatherly hands. Ask him to help you decide.
But it’s best to deal with our own worries in private, rather than sharing them with our children, who are not old enough to carry adults’ burdens and dilemmas. Talk about your thoughts and feelings with your spouse or a good friend before telling your children what you have decided.
Send them knowing the truth
We all want our children to be brave. But unfortunately the only way to become brave is to face something scary. In the time that remains before school returns, let’s prepare our children to go back to school with courage. Let’s send them out knowing that:
- God will go with you.
- Your friends and teachers will be there to help you.
- There are things you can do to protect yourself (handwashing, mask-wearing, social distancing etc.).
- God is making you stronger and braver through this.
- God has good things for you to learn and do at school.
- God has a big purpose for you—to honour him and love other people—even in hard times.
- Even if you catch COVID-19, you will not be alone—God, your family and our health system will help you to get through it.
Send them with stories and songs
There are some great songs that we can teach our children to sing whenever they feel afraid, such as ‘Be strong and courageous’ (Colin Buchanan) and ‘Jesus, strong and kind’ (City Alight and Colin Buchanan). I know those two songs have helped me through some difficult times over the years!
And let’s tell our children stories about brave people, like the Old Testament leader Joshua. Let’s learn by heart the words that God said to Joshua, when he stood on the edge of the Promised Land, knowing that many frightening battles awaited him there:
‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go’ (Joshua 1:9).
Harriet Connor is the Content Editor for Growing Faith and the author of Families in God's Plan: 12 Foundational Bible Studies and Big Picture Parents: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Life (Wipf and Stock, 2017). She lives on the Central Coast of NSW with her husband and four sons.
Madison is looking forward to a play day at Grandma’s house—that is, until she sees Ferdinand the new dog. That’s when Madison’s belly starts to tremble like raspberry jelly! She keeps a wary eye on Ferdinand as she and Grandpa build towers and head out to the shaky shed for paint. But as a thundery storm takes out the lights, where is Ferdinand? Where is Grandma?
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