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Parenting During Coronavirus

From Focus on the Family

When COVID-19 (Coronavirus) first ramped up, two weeks at home with my husband and kids sounded exciting, cozy — a great way to reconnect. But now that the timeline is extending, it just seems like an overwhelming challenge. One question seems to be at the top of our minds for adults and kids: How are we going to make it?

As a mom and licensed counselor, I get it. That first weekend, my family came through the door weighed down with schoolwork and work-from-home tools; we were ready to put on our game faces and get busy. But one honest look into each other’s eyes told the real story: The truly heavy loads in our backpacks and briefcases were questions, worries, and unfamiliar feelings.

Before we could set goals, routines, and fun activities for the weeks ahead, we needed to unpack the burdens of our hearts. We needed to remind each other that we are going to make it. My family is, and so is yours.

The main message every family member needs to hear right now is simple: You’re not alone. We’ll get through this together and we can come out the other side even stronger than when we went in.

Give the following suggestions some thought as you parent during coronavirus,  navigate uncharted territory, and nurture peaceful, unified hearts.

Activity: Stick Together
Remind each other of your family bond and reinforce God’s truth: “One person could be overpowered. But two people can stand up for themselves. And a rope made out of three cords isn’t easily broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12, NIrV).

Have everyone race out to the yard and choose a small tree stick or twig. (No yard? Bamboo chopsticks, wooden popsicle sticks, or blunt-tipped shish kabob skewers will work!)
Come back in and sit around the table or in a circle on the floor. Ask each person to break their stick into as many pieces as they want, then set the pieces in the middle of the circle. (Help your smallest kiddos so that splinters don’t spoil the fun.)
Have Mom or Dad bundle all the pieces and tie them together with string, yarn, ribbon, craft pipe cleaner — whatever you have on hand.
Starting with the youngest, let each family member try to break the bundle into smaller pieces.
It’s nearly impossible, right? The analogy is obvious: Alone, you can easily break. Together, you’re stronger. Stick together.

Decide as a family where to display the stick bundle so everyone can remember your connection to each other and the Lord. Kids (and adults!) benefit from tangible reminders of abstract ideas, especially in times of stress and anxiety. You might even consider repeating the activity so every person in your household has a stick bundle reminder.

Guide Your Kids’ Emotions
As a counselor, I can say with absolute certainty that children experience a wide range of emotions that require caring, careful attention — and that’s on a “normal” day. Add in media hype and misinformation, long-term separation from friends, possible illness, fear about Mom or Dad’s job and parents could be in for rough ride.

What can you do as a parent during coronavirus? Yes, talk to your kids about the coronavirus calmly and with age-appropriate facts. More importantly, listen.

Ask them what they’re experiencing, what they’ve heard, what they’re feeling inside, and try to see it from their perspective — especially young kids. Young kids are gonna really feed off your own emotions.  DANNY HUERTA, FOCUS ON THE FAMILY’S VICE PRESIDENT OF PARENTING AND YOUTH

Some children, whether 4 or 14, worry that a question is “dumb” or that Mom or Dad will think less of them or make fun of them for asking. Make sure your children understand that they can talk to you about anything. Keep an open-door policy and prioritize their questions and feelings. If you can’t talk right away, schedule a time with them later that day — and make sure you keep the appointment! This is key as you try to parent during coronavirus.

Remember, too, that kids need help to interpret and handle their feelings; it’s a learned skill. Looking for some pointers?

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