Often when we think of school, Sunday school, daycare, childcare, etc., we think of a place we send our children because education is compulsory, because we need personal time, or because we need to go to work. We consider these people to be the “experts” and assume that the teacher should best know how to handle our children during that time. Then, the event (school, Sunday school, childcare, etc.) is over, maybe we get some minimal feedback “they did great today”, here’s an A for spelling, etc., and all too often we leave it at that and move on.
What is Responsibility?
Having worked in various corporate jobs, there were often times when my boss would assign a specific project to me. However, this didn’t mean that I had to actually do the entire project MYSELF; it meant that I was responsible for ensuring the completion of the project, whether that meant doing it myself or delegating some pieces of it.
Similarly, as Christians, we’ve been given the mandate (a.k.a. a project) by God to “raise up your children in the way they should go and when they are old, they will not depart from it.” (Prov 22:6). However, it has never been possible (either now or in Biblical times) to fully fulfill this mandate directly. We’ve always needed help. This has taken the form of neighbors, teachers, older children helping raise younger children, extended family members, etc. However, ultimately, spiritual authority, responsibility, and the mandate from God have always been given by God to the parents.
In our modern school society, the teacher still has no spiritual authority or explicit mandate by God. That lies with us as parents. However, we delegate a portion of our responsibility and authority to the teacher to help with the God-assigned project of raising God-fearing, world changing children, just as a project manager might assign the electrical work on a building to a master electrician but still be responsible for the overall project. This means we need rigorous inspection systems in place for everything that we expect the school to teach our children, because “people don’t do what’s EXPECTED, they do what’s INSPECTED” – Bob Harrison. Is it important that our child learn how to interact with peers…get an update. Is it important that they know how to honor and respect authority…need an update on that too. I could go on.
How to Inspect
Absolutely, we can and should attempt to get some of this information from our children. However, if we view the school not as “the expert” that TAKES OVER raising our children from 8am-3pm, but rather as an expert that we’ve delegated some of our responsibility and authority to, it’s essential that we get regular updates on the progress of the school in assisting us with our God given responsibility. This takes many different forms:
- Read the report card. If it doesn’t have enough detail, ask the school about adding more (see #3)
- Go to your parent teacher conference. Ideally mom AND dad if you can. Bring your own questions, discussion topics, etc. Recognize YOU are the boss at this meeting; these are your children. Even when they sit you down in a mini-chair, you are still the one doing the delegating to the teacher. This is your opportunity to get the updates you need.
- Show up for the PTA meetings so you can learn how the school is teaching your child. Again, ideally mom AND dad. Take notes; ask questions; don’t be afraid to challenge the strategies, ideas, and plans. Remember, just like the school is made up of experts, you and the other parents in the room are also experts! They’re your children!
- Schedule extra meetings with your school’s leadership as needed. We’ve done this twice now and both times the leadership was extremely positive, receptive, and thanked us for scheduling the time. The first time was to discuss our public school’s approach to Welcoming Schools and addressing LGBTQ+ issues. The second time was after our child had an injury on the playground and we didn’t feel it was addressed appropriately. In both cases we were very pleasantly surprised by the responses we received to our concerns. Like in many life situations, the actual facts were much better than what we assumed or the rumors that had circled among friends.
In conclusion, as parents, let’s remember: these are our children. While we may delegate some of our responsibility and authority to others in their lives, God will hold us accountable for raising them. Make sure those to whom you delegate are giving you the information necessary to be able to stand before our ultimate “boss” one day and give an account for the project He assigned us.