Managing Back-to-School Guilt Before It Becomes All-Consuming

Gold Brush Stroke

This week  I will focus on Back-to-School as it’s fresh in my mind and the minds of many of you I’m sure. Today’s post looks at guilt as it relates to school time. Wednesday’s post will address letting go (as I will once again be waving goodbye to my boy). I pray you are encouraged. 

I’m also thrilled to announce that I’ve climbed over 2,000 in my Joy Dare challenge (see below for the gifts that sent me over the threshold)! This has been a life-changing practice for me, rekindling a joyful ember whenever it threatens to be snuffed out. Thank you Ann Voskamp for your inspiration behind the count. 

Guilt unmanaged will consume even the most infectious joy. 

I dread school every year. I always have. 

While other mothers beat feet to the nearest discount store come mid-July to stock up on those precious back-to-school supplies in eager anticipation of the cherished start of school, I hide from even the ads. 

While parents across the country are breathing a sigh of relief as their munchkins march to the bus stop on the first day, I drag out each minute of morning prep time, wishing it didn’t have to come. 

Andy Griffith Ron Howard Andy Griffith Show 1961 backtoschool

{Public Domain}

It’s not because I’m some superior mother who dotes on her children’s every breath or because I know there is something dreadful about school. While I do miss my kiddos when they are gone and there are some issues at school, my biggest problem with back-to-school time is guilt. 

Yep, plain old guilt. When it comes to education for my children, guilt rears its ages-old ugly head once again. 

My issue is I’ve never felt settled about where and how our children should be educated. I’ve always had the desire to home school but was the only one in the entire family to feel the pull. We tried a tiny Christian school for our oldest’s kindergarten year, but it then closed. So for 13-plus years, our three sons and one daughter have been in the local public school system. 

And, really, they’ve thrived in many ways.

But guilt weasels in and says, “But what about the inappropriate language they hear day after day on the school bus?” “What about the lies they are being taught about creation and evolution and God?” “Where is there any mention of Jesus throughout their day?” “You should be their primary influence; why pawn them off on strangers?”

With all the boys loving the Lord and doing wonderfully in school and Rachel being supported and challenged, you’d think I’d be comfortable with our education choice by now. But whether you home school your children, send them to a Christian school, or choose the public school system, guilt lurks in the wings, trying to convince you it’s a poor choice. 

The truth is, there are positive and negative aspects to all forms of education. There is no right or wrong for everyone. Each family must be in prayer about which option is best for them. 

But arm yourself, once you make that decision–whichever it is–Satan will hit hard, in the form of doubt, which turns into guilt. Our children are our most precious possession and where they’re concerned, emotions run close to the surface and are easily stirred up. 

Yet if we sit back and let guilt run rampant, it will consume us, robbing us of the joy found in the now. Share on X

Therefore it’s important to manage guilt, all guilt, even back-to-school guilt: 

  1. Pray about each education choice. Let God guide your decision.
  2. Thoroughly research each option. Understanding the pros and cons of each one will help you feel comfortable with your decision.
  3. Remain active in your child’s education, whichever form you choose. Being a part of your child’s Christian or public school will build relationships, provide opportunities to create memories, afford times to speak up about concerns, and help ease your uncertainties. 
  4. Pray for your children during their school time. 
  5. Purpose to be present when your children are home. Especially that first hour after they get home. Provide treats and time with you. Save the majority of distractions for earlier in the day.
  6. Remind yourself that you are doing what you feel is best at this time. Your choice isn’t permanent. Re-evaluate it monthly, semi-annually, or yearly.

Unfortunately, for me at least, back-to-school guilt is real and strikes yearly. But that doesn’t mean I have to let it consume me. And you don’t either. 

The Lord’s grace covers all and redeems all. Let it bring you peace during the back-to-school rush as well and open your eyes to the blessings found in your decision. 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Reflections: Do you/Have you ever felt “back-to-school” guilt? What are some other ways to assuage that guilt?

I would love to stay connected with you on a more personal basis. Click here to join my mailing list and receive exclusive content and fun freebies. (Be sure to follow through with the confirmation email.)

Linking with Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience in 2013 with my Joy Dare list for Multitude Mondays (#1998–2018, read the entire list by clicking here):

  • Rach’s delight in my difficulty photographing Pronghorn; Mountain Goats–upclose & personal;Walk w/ Dan thru Keystone SD
  • Visiting Mt Rushmore; Making a long drive tolerable-even stopping at Corn Palace;At Spirit Lake-our old stomping grounds
  • Visiting old friends; Playing GaGa ball w/ my clan (it really is fun!); Reliving past memories & sharing them w/the boys
  • Safely at hubby’s mom’s–last vacation stop; Spending time w/ 3 precious nephew babies & others; Protection for Zach
  • Home, sweet home!; A productive garden–even after 2 wks unattended; Rach’s immitation of a pig–too funny!
  • Doing household chores after being gone 2 wks; 3 colors of beans (purple, yellow, & green) fm the garden–how fun!; Iowa
  • Teens engaging w/ one another after worship; Assurance of Jesus’ love; Badminton w/ all 3 boys–just like old times

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Also linking with this wonderful site:


By His Grace,



  1. Susan Beth Breuner on August 19, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Thanks for your gratitude list – I came from Ann’s looking for that, and after three clicks you were the first one I found with an actual list.

    As a mom of one who is on his second Christian school, having been emotionally harmed at the first one, I completely get the guilt thing. I dream of homeschooling, but it is not the heart of my husband, and his reasoning is good. So I can relate in many ways.

    • Julie Sunne on August 19, 2013 at 9:58 pm

      Loving the opportunity to share Ann’s list.

      I’m sorry your son had to endure such a horrible experience, Susan. No child should have to deal with that.

      Oh to homeschool…. Hmm, perhaps we are, just informally and around traditional/Christian school.

      Hang in there and keep praying. Take the steps necessary to keep guilt from robbing you of this moment and the next.

  2. Mari-Anna Frangén Stålnacke on August 20, 2013 at 1:52 am

    Julie, thanks for such a transparent post. Romans 8:28 echoed in my heart as I read your post. When we give everything to God, he is able to make all things work together for good for those who love God. So we can rest in his grace and praise him in everything and trusting God for taking care of our children. Blessings to you and yours!

    • Julie Sunne on August 20, 2013 at 7:59 am

      The Lord always provides what we need when we give it to Him. Thanks for the encouragement, Mari-Anna.

  3. Cecelia Lester (Quiet Spirit) on August 20, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    For the years K-7, I worked out of town. I really didn’t have any option except public school. I really didn’t about having any other option until after I resigned my job. and was home a while. I have two friends who have home schooled their children. One of them had her two in a Christian school for a few years. I admire those who can homeschool and those who can manage to send their children to a Christian school.

    • Julie Sunne on August 20, 2013 at 7:58 pm

      I completely understand your sentiment, Cecelia. Some of us have few options. But we can squash the guilt bug no matter what school our children attend.

  4. […] I’m focusing on Back-to-School. Monday’s post addressed a real issue (at least for me), “Back-to-School” guilt. Today, I’ll focus on the difficulty, necessity, and, yes, beauty of letting go. If you are […]

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Julie Sunne

Hello, I'm Julie, an imperfect wife and mother of four. Life in this broken world is not always easy. Yet, joy can be found in each day through the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I find it's easy for our day's blessings to get lost in its happenings. But God's "mercies never end" (Lamentations 3:22) and His "grace is sufficient" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

May the posts and pages on this site offer you a measure of peace and encouragement.

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