Back to School
By Stephanie Barbee | Aug 16, 2022
These three words hold so much power over people’s emotions, with good reason. Between the variety of systemic issues that exist in most of the schools I’ve heard about around the country, the severe mental and emotional needs of our children and teachers, and the resulting violence that has only continued to increase within the school environment, back to school can evoke feelings of terror, fear, anxiety, or even guilt. On the flip side, give me a “woop woop” if your refrigerator is ready for some recovery!
So, as we see, back to school can bring up a variety of feelings, maybe even some feelings that seem to be the opposite of what would be expected. Personally, I have children going into 3rd grade, 6thgrade, and 9th grade. I am terrified, excited, encouraged, and did I mention, anxious as hell. Each of my children has a unique limitation. One has a learning different ability, one is navigating pre-teen attention seeking, and the other is navigating social anxiety and a strong desire to leave my house in the next 4 years. While I’m excited to see them grow, I am also concerned about:
- Their safety
- Their mental/emotional/physical health at school
- Getting school supplies
- Having a conversation about bus stops and school shooter safety
…and that’s just the tip of that iceberg at 5:30 am 3 weeks before they’re even scheduled to step their first foot into their schools. So, if you’ve been feeling similar, you are not alone. Let’s look at what I plan to have as my foundation for the school year.
3) Spiritual connection
Compassion – This is important in the world we live in. Everyone is dealing with something (yes including your mental health professionals). People are almost 2.5 years into the pandemic and trauma responses change over time. Being aware of this and having a base level of assumption and concern is my #1 priority.
Communication – This is a goal for everyone, especially my kids. I don’t do super good at organizing the day in advance or saying out loud how much I love and have pride in my kids. That changes this year. They need to know, daily, that they are smart, powerful, worthy, lovable individuals who are going to make amazing future citizens, despite other messages they may receive from the world.
Spiritual connection – This is an individual journey, but foundational. This might look like attending an organized religious service and being an active part of an organized community that is intentional about prayers for the children. This might look like going to a prayer corner, rug, or closet during the day to say a special prayer for the school environment. This might be lighting a candle of protection, increasing offerings to ancestors, or whatever other practices support your spiritual connection.
I know that it can be hard to navigate all these challenges as adults. Parents, please make sure you are taking care of yourself as much as possible. It’s hard out here in these parenting streets and back to school is the ultimate mixed bag. You GOT THIS!
*Sending a special prayer out to all the readers of this post and your children and loved ones. May you be protected from seen and unseen negativity and be reminded of your core enoughness from the elders to the adults to the babies. Thank you!
About The Author
Stephanie Barbee is a Clinical social worker in Missouri. She serves Black people across the sexual identity and gender identity spectrum seeking to approach therapy from a holistic (mind-body-spirit) perspective or explore spirituality more deeply. She can be found on the clinicians of color directory here: https://www.cliniciansofcolor.org/clinicians/spectrum-of-healing-llc/