North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL


September 3, 2013

Danielle Cater: Let your kids know you’re on their team

COMMENTARY — Whether it’s your last year of college, you’re finishing off your masters or you’re walking through the halls to your first grade class, the first week of school is an exciting time.

Everything seems better the first week. The new hasn’t worn off yet and it still has that new book smell. While dropping my girls off at school last week, I realized how nice it smelled. The football players and volleyball players haven’t even had time to make the walls smell like sweat yet. You can tell that new notebooks and pencil bags are fresh and ready to be used.

There is something exciting about writing the first few words in a fresh new note pad. Maybe I’m the only freak who finds that riveting, but I love it. After about three weeks of school I usually start to remember why I hated school the year before and couldn’t wait to get out of those halls. The truth is, I never hated school. I hated test days and the stress of homework after long days of school and sports practices, but I never really hated school.

Some kids go through school and never even have to crack a book. I was never blessed with that gift, but I got really good at not cracking a book until the night before a test. I would postpone all work until the night before it was due, then I would stay up ungodly hours stuffing facts and figures into my skull to have on recall for the test the next day. This worked well for me since I graduated valedictorian of my class. But that didn’t come without lots of hard work.

I had the privilege of going to Tabernacle Christian School, so we got to be involved in several sports and extracurricular activities on top of our school work. My senior year, I was on the volleyball team, softball team, cheerleading captain, drama team and even ran a little track and field. I played basketball my junior year, but it was such a sad sight I decided to give everyone on the team a break and not try out for that again.

The school year can be a rather busy time in the life of your child, so it’s important to put it all in perspective. Yes, go to their games, sit through their practices and go through their homework with them if it helps. But don’t forget that they should have a life outside of the school also. It would be really simple to go through the next eight months just going to work, letting the kids go to sports activities and then everyone come home in time to jump into bed. In fact, that would be the easiest thing to do, but that will eventually leave your child wanting. You see, kids get a lot out of school. They get correction, education, friendships, athletics and even mentors from their days in those school hallways. But your child needs your love, and they can’t find that in any other place than your home.

If you get too busy to just sit and talk with your babies (of any age) then you’ve gotten too busy for your own good. Stop for a minute and ask yourself if you’ve had any time to have a deep conversation with your child this week. Did work and school eat up all of your one-on-one time with the little people who mean the most to you in the world?

There’s a biblical statement that basically says, “What good does it do you to gain the whole world and lose your own soul; or what would a man give in exchange for his soul?” Nothing, nothing good comes from doing everything around you and missing out on the most important things.

Your children need you, especially these first few weeks of the school year. They need to know that even if the work load seems unbearable, the friends seem mean and the teacher seems to be picking on them, their parents are in their corner. You should be your child’s biggest fan and the only way for them to know that you are rooting them on is to let them know it. Make sure you tell them how proud you are of them and that they are loved. If you are a Christian, pray over your child, their classmates and their teachers every day. Believe me, I was a teacher once, they need your prayers as much as your children do.

This column isn’t being written from the perspective of a mom whose children are excelling in school and thus making it easy to write such things. No, to the contrary. This is a momma whose daughter went to the first four days of school with the teacher having to send home three letters, two emails and a phone call about her behavior. We will never arrive as parents. There will never be a time when we can just sit back and say, “Wow, look at what a good job I did at raising my kids, they can take it from here.” No, parenting goes on for the rest of our lives.

I know there are still days when my momma sits back and looks at me and says, “Where did I mess up with that one? Surely she knows better than that.”

But as parents, it’s our job to support, love and help our children especially when it seems that no one else will. Show your children how much you love them today by spending a little extra time with them. Do something they like to do and make sure they know that you are rooting for them in this school year. You’re not the enemy, you’re the cheerleader. Let them know that you think about them in the day, you pray for them every night and that no matter what happens, you will love them to the ends of the earth. They need to hear these things from the people who mean the most to them.

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