Three things your kids need right now – pandemic or not…
It sounds simple, but often your children just need you to be present. We are busy people. Our daily to-do lists are daunting. During the height of the pandemic, parents were maintaining their households with tasks like cleaning, laundry, and seemingly endless food preparation. You were managing your career from home as well as taking on the added stress of having to learn new technologies like Seesaw, Google Classroom, or Schoology, all while helping your kids navigate distance learning. Doing all of these tasks simultaneously isa heavy load during normal times, let alone during a global pandemic! And now we’re in and out of distance/flex learning, and the juggling act continues.
On top of this, many times parents expect to be able to execute everything flawlessly, thereby adding to the already mounting pressure. We are hard on ourselves.
Good news! Your kids do not need perfection. What they need is YOU! Flaws and all. There is great power in showing your children that they have a support system that is reliable and right there alongside them, in the trenches, daily. Parents, you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be present.
Wisdom from Winnie the Pooh:
I love this from A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh:
This sums up what your children need from you most of all, not only during this challenging time but always. As parents, YOU are the one sure thing that they have going for them. Having that reassurance as a child, regardless of age, is invaluable. They just want “to be sure of you.”
Throughout various phases of this pandemic, many of us have essentially been functioning as though we were stranded on a deserted island with our families.
It’s a whole lot of “togetherness.”
While we have a great love for our families, the thought of being essentially stuck with them all the time can be unsettling. Very often our own anxiety about the uncertainty of the current situation leaves us short-tempered and impatient with those we love the most. And on the surface, your kids may look fine, but deep down, they are working hard to process all of this themselves. Regardless of their developmental level, your children feel the same anxiety and the same uncertainty that you do, so remember that when they are sassy or short with you or their siblings. Offering a little grace during this time will go a long way, with your children, as well as your spouse.
The Little Teapot Analogy
Remember the “Little Teapot” song from your childhood? We’re all “bubbling teapots” right now, and your kids are no exception. Your children’s emotional loads are full to the brim, and uncertainty and anxiety are just brewing underneath the surface. Just one little extra drop – of anything really – one little harsh word or an extra push from a sibling can cause that little teapot to spill over. When that happens, do you respond with an added measure of understanding? And when you are about to lose it and spill over, give yourself some margin. It’s important for all of us to take a break from time to time. Find a quiet space, even if just for a few moments, to get your head straight and then get back to your family.
Whether you realize it or not, your children pick up on everything that you put out there. Parents, you are the heartbeat of your home; you set the tone for the environment. Children quickly notice your emotions, even when they are unspoken. If you are anxious and fearful, your kids can sense that and will reflect it in their own behaviors.
One environmental factor that can be easily overlooked (and easily fixed) is constantly having the news on in the background in your home. When there are pressing current events going on (a global pandemic, a heated presidential election) it is easy to find oneself in an endless news loop, even if it is just on in the periphery. The news is often a source of contention and even fear. Try not to let yourself get too wrapped up in it. Though you may think that your kids aren't absorbing what they see and hear on the news, it might surprise you to discover what they learn in a typical 30-minute newscast, let alone never-ending election coverage.
There’s a storm out there. Make your home a place of refuge.
This is a profoundly unique time in which we find ourselves. You have been given an incredible opportunity to show your children and those around you what it looks like to have faith in God when humanly speaking, nothing makes sense.
We currently have the rare gift of time to spend with one another that is largely uninterrupted. Use it wisely. Seize this precious opportunity! Wake up and live every day like you know and believe God is in control. Make a commitment to spend some time in prayer and reflect on Scripture each morning. Give every day over to the Lord and allow Him to fill you with a healthy mindset so that you can minister to your children in the right way.
I want to leave you with a statement that has become my “mantra” during these uncertain times:
Anxiety asks “what if,” but faith declares “even if.”
Model an “even if” home for your children. Here’s what I mean.
“What if” thinking asks: “What if COVID increases and our world continues to look different for a while?” “What if someone I love gets the virus?” “What if this political unrest continues to heighten?”
BUT “EVEN IF” THINKING DECLARES: “Even if all of this chaos continues and the world around me is seemingly falling apart, I will put my trust in Him.”
Even if. Even then.
**Photos courtesy of Natalie Roberson Photography.
Jena Snyder is the Director of Guidance Counseling for Legacy Christian Academy in Frisco, Texas, where she also serves as the Upper School Counselor. She received her undergraduate degree from Baylor University, went on to get her Masters of Education in School Counseling from Dallas Baptist University, and is currently pursuing her LPC. She is also a former teacher and has been in the education field for over 20 years.
Jena is married to the love of her life, Edward, and between the two of them, they have 5 children and 2 precious grandsons. She tries to look for the good in everything and believes that life is full and beautiful and sometimes messy! Through it all, her prayer is that the Lord will find her faithful.