Friday, August 21, 2009

Cairns - School Stress on Marriage

What does going back to school have to do with marriage? A lot. The Back to School season can actually put a lot of stress on the two people who sign on the lines on the emergency contact cards or the "intent to home school" cards. It also poses unique stress for single parents who go it alone through the gauntlet of starting a new year. Today I want to talk about how hard the start to school can be on "Dick and Jane," also known as Mom and Dad.

  • School adds stress to parents who feel financial strain when they pay ALL THOSE FEES! When a married couple has to spend their evening "together time" talking shop fees, lab fees, curriculum fees, band fees, or uniform costs, the tension can build to "food fight in the cafeteria" levels. Take a reasonable amount of time to both get informed about what costs need to be paid, and be sensitive to timing when discussing it. At the end of a really long day at the office isn't a good time. This goes for separated parents, also, since they have to navigate and negotiate sharing of costs from a distance. Pick your time like you would your seat at a lunch table. Never has sensitivity to discussing and understanding financial requirements of school been more important than now, when so many folks are feeling every penny.
  • School adds stress to parents because our schedule can become a prisoner to the school calendar, almost like your conversation revolved around wedding cakes and bridesmaids after we were engaged. It can be a little bit of a monster. Take heart that the wave will pass, usually around the time that apple cider starts to show up. :) Until then, communicate about your family priorities, so you're on the same page concerning your time, commitments, and decisions. Do not allow a difference in perspective divide you.
  • School adds stress to parents when they feel a gap in the information they share. One parent may feel like the "informed" one, and the other one may feel like the "disconnected" one. Make sure that you are both involved in this huge part of your children's lives. Don't allow a difference in the roles you play in your children's lives to become a root of bitterness. They don't need two parents who are the same. They need what each of you brings to their guidance, growth, and development. You are a team.
  • School adds stress to parents as they strain to see the education and life of their children the same way. Whatever way you school your children, keep in mind their education does not trump your marriage in importance. The best thing you can do for your kids is to have a strong marriage. It will outlast algebra and drivers ed and phonics and composition! The start to school is a great time to plan to meet for coffee or lunch; make each other a priority. Use the time to communicate about school, yes, but also about the two of you and how you can pray for your family. On the first day of school & co-op, Jeff asked me to meet him for coffee to just connect about our kids' "stuff" and our own stuff. I felt so encouraged and reassured just to have had 45 minutes of "us" time.

Did you notice I repeated COMMUNICATION in overcoming each area of stress? With so many other people trying to communicate with you, don't miss making and taking time for the earthly relationship that matters most.

... See grown up Dick and Jane happy in the house on the hill by the tree. :)


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