Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

I do my best to raise my children. Is my best ever good enough? Honestly, good is never enough! There has to be something more! Writer and speaker Jennifer Schuchmann faces the sobering truth: she could never perfectly protect her son.  Jennifer wrote the following for a project she and I developed to help parents pray for their school-aged children. Jennifer and I have also written two books together, Six Prayers God Always Answers, and Nine Ways God Always Speaks.  Jennifer is also the author of the New York Times best seller, First Things First, a collaboration with Kurt and Brenda Warner.

When I ask my friends what they fear most for their children their worries are often very specific.

I can’t protect my second grader from the flu that’s going around her school.

I’m worried about what my 12 year-old son does at his friends’ homes. I think he may be looking at pornography on the Internet.

My daughters fight every morning in the bathroom they share together and they know just what to do to hurt each other. I worry that they will never be able to get along.

The school thinks my son might be ADHD but I’ve heard bad things about Ritalin. If I do something, I fear I could mess up his brain, if I don’t, I am afraid he will fail.

I can’t control my teenager and I fear that she is using drugs.

If I were to admit it, I would have to say that sometimes I get so angry at my child, I am afraid I will hurt them.

This may sound stupid, but I’m afraid that the food I feed my family might be making them sick.

I can’t stop my son’s fits of anger.

 

Many of our fears translate into fears about the future. We believe that our successes as parents now will translate into happy, healthy, well-adjusted adults later. Likewise, we fear our parenting failures will cause future problems. So we do what we think we can.

 

We take control.

 

While I quickly learned that I couldn’t protect my son from illness or injury, for a long time I believed that I could control his future. I thought getting him into the perfect educational environment would ensure his happiness and life’s fortunes. That delusion caused me to obsess over schools for years before he was old enough to enroll.

 

While Jordan was still in preschool I observed several changes in administration in our local public school and watched the exodus of good teachers. Concerned about the declining test scores, my husband and I decided to look at alternatives. We considered home schooling but knew that wasn’t the right fit for Jordan’s social personality or my temperament. We investigated a few faith-based schools only to see that the credentials of the teachers in our area weren’t always equal to the best private schools. We narrowed our search to about a dozen private schools.

 

For the next two years, I obsessed over the best way to get Jordan into one school or another. I sought advice from teachers, other parents, and educational professionals. I hired a tutor to help bring up his language skills. I spent many Saturdays touring classrooms. I had Jordan tested by the best psychologists in Atlanta in hopes that his raw intelligence would be enough to gain admission to a coveted school. 

 

I felt the right elementary school was critical. It would lead to admission in the right junior high school and eventually a prestigious high school where he would graduate with honors and gain admission to the college of his choice. This would then guarantee his future success in the workplace. If I could just control the school he got into, I could single-handedly ensure his happiness, wealth, and success in life. If I couldn’t do that, I feared for his future.

 

Ten years later, he is in a wonderful private elementary school and getting a fabulous education, but honestly, I am the one who has learned the most. Despite my efforts to manipulate his educational environment in an effort to affect his future, I’ve learned that every school has good and bad teachers and I can’t control which one is teaching him. Most days I can’t even control whether he finishes his homework and turns it in on time. Ultimately, he has more control over his education than I do.

Raising children is an exercise in humility: the quicker we learn how little we control things the easier it is to release our obsession with managing outcomes to the only ONE who truly can manage outcomes – God. Take a moment now and release the future of your children – once again – into God’s hands.

 

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