If you’ve ever traveled by airplane you have heard this announcement:

“In case of emergency, oxygen masks will drop down in front of you. Please pull the mask down toward your face and place the mask over your mouth and nose. If you are traveling with a child, please attend to yourself first, then the child.”

At first, this advice seems backward. A child in the midst of an emergency is vulnerable. A child in an emergency would be scared and disoriented and would need attention. A concerned parent would need to fight their natural inclinations in order to follow this emergency protocol.

But tending to the child’s needs first could be disastrous.

Why? Why would our natural instincts be wrong in a case like this? Why would taking care of the child first do harm to the child?

The answer is this: if the adult becomes disoriented, or loses consciousness, the child is left to tend to themselves. The adult must be alert, breathing, thinking, and acting, in order to properly tend to the child through the duration of the emergency. If the mask is given to the child first, all might seem well for a short time. But all’s not well. The responsible person in the child’s life is left gasping for air like a fish on dry land. If no oxygen is given to the adult, in the end both the adult and the child will suffer the consequences.

How does this apply to our homeschooling?

Parents must tend to ourselves in order to best serve and care for our children. Unlike the airplane announcement, it’s better to be proactive than reactive. It’s better to implement this protocol before an emergency rather than during one of life’s emergencies. There are things we need to do in order to care for ourselves that will ultimately benefit our children.

What things? What do I mean when I speak of caring for ourselves so that we can better care for our children? What air must we breath before we can put the oxygen mask on our children?

I’m not speaking about healthy eating or habits of exercise (although healthy parents are certainly a benefit to their children). And I’m not thinking of caring for our intellect by means of academia (although this can benefit our children also).

When I speak of caring for ourselves first I mean to say that we need to care for our souls. The oxygen we need, before we are able to care for our children, is the life giving power of God’s Word.

As Christian homeschool parents we desire to give our children a Biblical worldview. But do we have one ourselves? If not, what are we doing to grow in this area? How can we raise the next generation to think Biblically if we aren’t continually breathing in the air of Biblical thinking ourselves? Have we created the habits in our own lives that we desire to see in our children’s lives?

  • Are we reading God’s Word daily?
  • Are we meditating on God’s Word constantly?
  • Are we in fellowship with other believers who encourage and exhort us?
  • Are we sitting under godly leadership, Biblical teaching, and faithful preaching?

We need to be filled with the Spirit, filled with the Word, and filled with the knowledge of Christ. It will be difficult to put our children in a place to receive these things if we aren’t filled with them first.

Just as the child and the adult in an airplane both need oxygen, so the parent and the student both need the same life giving Spirit. Both are desperate for God; both are like fish on dry land. And both need to gasp for more of God’s Word, drinking it in like it was life itself. The wise parent will recognize the situation and make certain they tend to their own souls as the best means of also tending to the souls of the next generation.