I will never forget an experience my wife had years ago as a college professor. She was the adviser for the school’s honor society. One day she was called out of class to the President’s office. The parents of a student who failed to get into the society came to the university to complain and intervene to try and get their daughter admitted. Wow! I told myself at the time I never want to be that parent!

Many of you know that I’m a big fan of Dr. Tim Elmore who writes regularly about parenting and education. I think he traditionally offers very practical, real-world advice that helps all of us navigate the challenges of parenting children through their years of schooling. Every once in a while, I try to re-read a post Dr. Elmore wrote in 2020 that helps guide me as a parent when I decide how involved I should be in my son’s education and extracurricular activities. You can read the post in its entirety here. I would encourage you to do so as we start this new school year together.

Dr. Elmore writes eloquently about how we should strive to guide our children through their education, not rescue them. We need to work collaboratively with the other adults in our children’s lives (teachers, coaches, etc.) to help our kids be accountable for their own work and achievement – regardless of age. The goal is to raise young men and women who are problem solvers who have ownership and agency of what they say and do – not victims who we need to swoop in and save. It’s tempting to want to “fix” things for a child by confronting a teacher, doing their work for them, or excusing them from their responsibilities. However, none of those things truly help a child grow and mature into an independent person who can think and act for themselves. As Dr. Elmore concludes, “Love is a gift, always free from us to you. Success is achieved, something you earn.” I’m trying to take that to heart because I know that “loving first” with my child sometimes means letting him fail or flounder so he can grow and become the man God has set out for him to be.