Preparing Fatherless Kids for Success in School 

I love all things back-to-school, even though I didn’t necessarily love school myself. In fact, in college, I chose a major in the Home Economics department because all I wanted to be was a wife and mother! When I think of my school days, several things come to mind, plaid dresses, Saddle oxfords, walking to the bus stop in the dark, marching band, and my favorite classes (sewing, cooking, and typing).

As a mom, there are many factors to consider deciding where your children will go to school. Yes, there is so much more than education happening at school. Belief systems are formed, identity is challenged, temptations like alcohol, drugs, sex, and bullying knock, and choices are made that impact the direction of their life…no pressure, right?!

Moms need to understand that the foundation of their children’s lives is being built day by day, moment-by-moment with every word spoken and action modeled at school. It’s tempting to put our heads in the sand and give up, but we must actively engage every day with intentionality while also looking at the big picture.

Will you home educate your children, invest in private education, or send them to public school? Home school and private education are not always realistic for the single mom. This is not a light-hearted decision but one that requires wise counsel and much prayer. Because I had a lot of children, soon after my husband died, people felt confident that my best option was to send them off on the yellow school bus. And while this is the option many moms choose, be diligent to make sure this is God’s best for you and your family. 

As a single mom raising a house full of fatherless boys and girls, Christian education was one of what I call the five pillars of grace my family experienced. Things God used to impact my children in a positive way. Thankfully for me, a hybrid school was available, offering the perfect balance of having my children at home and also in a classroom environment. They attended school two days each week and were home three.

For the mom of fatherless children, it is important to understand that grief is foggy, so be careful to have realistic expectations of your children, especially when the loss of their father is new. Your child wants to feel normal, so even though they are grieving and need to grieve, don’t make grief the main event every day. As best as you can, give them a happy childhood.

6 ways to make schooling a success for fatherless kids

(I always like to use this memorable acrostic that spells out “school!”)

Send them off in peace  

  • Prepare for the next day the night before, as much as possible. I know you’re tired, mom, but this makes for a better start to the day for all. 
  • Eat breakfast together, even if it is a simple bowl of cereal.
  • Pray a blessing over your children before they leave home every day.

Call on others for support

  • Prayer – ask others to pray specifically for your children. Pray that your child has at least one friend that would be a positive influence in their life.
  • Mentors often surface in the school/sports environment. Watch for lifelong mentors (coach or teacher) that God may bring into their lives. Be intentional about asking them to invest in your child.
  • Teachers – ask them to speak into your life and to be aware of grief for your child.
  • Sports – ask people to come to help you cheer your for your kids.
  • Connect your kids to an active body of Christ. You will both need this critical community.
  • Put safe adults around them. Find people that will keep physical and prayerful watch over them. 

Help them succeed

  • Prepare in advance for school events that could trigger your child
  • Suicide stories/books if this was their daddy’s choice
  • The family tree activity in elementary school
  • Dads and Donuts or other events like the Daddy Daughter Dance
  • Sporting events
  • Gather supplies. Make sure they have what they need. And remember, life isn’t about keeping up with the Jones’s, but if possible, make sure they have a fresh outfit and a backpack.
  • Find a tutor if necessary. Student tutors are often available and less expensive, while also being more effective.
  • Believe in them and let them know that they can do well.

Observe and overlook mistakes 

  • Be aware of their surroundings and what has influence on their lives?
  • Show compassion for their emotions and be aware of yours, you are doing a very hard job!
  • Check on kids who may appear to be okay. The straight A student who is doing everything to perfection might be performing so well because they are hurting so bad, so make sure you even check in on them. 

Open the door for conversation 

  • Make time around the dinner table a priority where the highs and lows of the day can be shared.

Live with an eternal perspective

  • The most essential teaching takes place in the home. Send them to bed with God’s word or read a devotional or Proverb for the day together and take time to discuss. This doesn’t need to be a huge Bible study, but a time to talk about God together.
  • Understand that your child does not want to be reminded often that they are different, but they are. They are not less than because they don’t have a dad. Keep directing their focus to God as Father.

Mom, you are doing a great work and have been entrusted with a very hard job! So let me ask, who is teaching and investing in your life? Do you find social media taking the place of God’s word? Do you have a spiritual mentor? If not, consider finding someone who will mentor you, a woman who is further down the road in mothering that can disciple you. The gift of an older woman in your life is one that will impact not only you but your children.

“You are the helper of the fatherless” (Psalm 10:14).

“All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace” (Isaiah 54:13).