3 Truths This School Year Taught Us as Parents (That Have Nothing to Do with Homework)

May 28, 2024

Joanna Teigen

Our kids’ years of learning have been a complex soup of homeschooling, public and private education, tech school, and early college courses. But whether they study in the classroom or the living room, they come out of each school year with a whole new batch of knowledge and skills.

Our kids learned how to solve equations. Express themselves in a paragraph. Dissect frogs and name the state capitals. Read a musical scale and the periodic table. Yet while we’re grateful for teachers and curriculum, some of the most important lessons haven’t come from a book. 

This year, our kids learned to be patient with others and themselves. They let down their guard and leaned on other people. They learned that the anchors in their life hold firm in a storm. That they’re stronger than they knew. That kindness is powerful. And that the darkness of yesterday can’t steal their hope for tomorrow.

But our kids weren’t the only ones who grew and learned. For Rob and me, the past nine months held some challenges and struggles that tested us in ways we never saw coming. It was hard. Yet God brought unexpected gifts that we wouldn’t trade for an easy-breezy school year. Here are three parenting lessons we learned that had nothing to do with homework.

1) Parenting Takes Guts

We found again and again that a “wait and see” approach just wasn’t going to cut it. As parents, there were boundaries to be set and changes to make that needed to happen now. This meant radically limiting screens for one child. It meant supporting our daughter in exiting her university. It required scaling back some commitments so we could be present at home. We had to be willing to be uncomfortable and to pivot for the well-being of our children.

Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

When we hit those points of decision, it was hard to feel brave. It’s not fun to say “no” to our kids. Walking away from dreams and plans brings its share of grief and disappointment. Stepping away from activities that give us joy is a sacrifice. But as we’ve reached the end of this school year, we’re glad for this: God gives strength to do hard things.

And in God’s economy, courage isn’t something we have to generate on our own. Instead, He gives us his constant help and presence to build us up for whatever comes our way. As we’re promised in Scripture: “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). In this school year and in the years to come, He’ll be by our side. He’ll give us what we need. With Him, we’ll make it through.

2) Parenting Takes Humility

We’ve been a mom and dad for 30 years now. But this year was proof that we’re still a work in progress! Our emotional triggers were exposed. We had to admit how much we tied our self-image to our kids’ success. We had to apologize–a lot–for letting our stress ramp up our kids’ anxiety even higher. Instead of going it alone, we had to ask for help. And in our marriage, we needed to honor one another’s insights and emotions and choose to trust each other. More than ever, we know what we don’t know.

But the beautiful thing is, it’s in humility and weakness that God can do the most. When we stop pretending we’ve got it together or we can figure it out, we’re finally ready to run to God and place our kids in His hands. Humility postures our hearts to listen to the Word and depend on God 100-percent. It gets our self-sufficiency out of the way so we pray like everything depends on it.

“When we surrendered to God’s work of breaking us down and humbling our hearts, He met us like never before.”

When we surrendered to God’s work of breaking us down and humbling our hearts, He met us like never before. He brought help from unexpected places. We were gifted the prayers and encouragement of other believers. As a family, we’re closer and more tender toward each other. We pray more confidently. God proved His Word true that when we are the most weak, then we can be strong in Him (2 Cor. 12:10).

3) Parenting Takes Faith

If we can say anything about this year, it’s that we tried. (Are you a try-er too?) We paid the tuition. Bought the vitamins. Studied the experts. Scheduled the therapies. We built rapport with school staff and kept an active message thread with the pediatrician. We created space for quality time and got to bed at a decent hour. But no matter how diligent we are in caring for our kids, we simply can’t shield them from pain.

When our kids hurt, we hurt too. Yet struggle and difficulty are inevitable in this life. After all, “in this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). To think otherwise just compounds the shock and disappointment we feel when things go wrong.

When our kids were blindsided by problems this year, our faith was put to the test. We had to ask,

Is God who He says He is?
Does He listen to our prayers?
Is this issue broken beyond repair?
Should we give up hope?
Can we really find peace and joy in this?
Have we blown it as parents?
Will we get through this?

Like all suffering, this school year would either shake our trust in God or help us to know and love Him even more.

As we’ve seen again and again, faith does not disappoint. God kept his promise to be “our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). He didn’t let anything separate us from His love (Romans 8:35). He did His faithful, refining work in us “to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). We were never abandoned. He provided help right when we needed it. When our kids were vulnerable, He kept them safe. We placed our kids in His hands and He carried them through.


Summer will go by fast. We’ll face another school year before we know it. But because of lessons learned this past year, we’ll be a little more brave. A lot more aware of how much we need Jesus. And we’ll carry a fresh sense of peace knowing God is in control.

Our kids are His, and He is good.


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