No matter who you are and where you come from, we can all agree that our lives have all been affected in some way by COVID-19. Navigating this new reality while parenting has been complicated to say the least. For many of us, having the opportunity to spend so much uninterrupted time with our families has been a blessing but the stress of grappling with an uncertain future can be hard to process. Especially when the realities for some of us may look different than the reality for others of us. Let's explore how we can how we can be more effective at parenting during a crisis.
From the beginning of COVID-19, we as parents did not have the luxury of minimizing the gravity of the pandemic in the same way some of our childless counterparts have. Schools and child care were one of the first entities to be affected by the pandemic on a major scale. And for those of us who have been working on the frontline and for essential businesses, we had to live with the fear of bringing this virus that there is very little information about back home to our children.
For those of us who are Black, Hispanic, and/or Native American parents, we have to watch in fear as our communities are affected the most by the transmission of the virus. Our neighbors and family members are dying at higher rates in major cities across the US because of the virus. We also have to watch on social media how people who look like us are being treated with less care and more hostility. But this isn't new. We've always known about the disparities in the health care system, so much so that Black Maternal Mortality was a main stage issue for 2020 Presidential candidates. We always understood that our interactions with law enforcement can end in our death. How do we process this as a family?
Processing the crisis
Before we attempt to assist our children in processing this new reality with all the added layers, we have to process it for ourselves. As a country, we haven't experienced anything like this in generations. There have been many times that I had to sit with the fact that I felt uncertain about what's next. I felt uncomfortable with all of the changes. I felt hopeless about how this crisis was affecting people who look like me differently than everyone else. I felt weak because I didn't quite have a plan for my family. I felt anxious because I didn't know how long I would be able to sustain my family through this crisis. Then I breathed.
How do you feel about all of this? How has the crisis affected your thoughts? Your demeanor? How have you been interacting with your loved ones? How have you been sleeping? How have you been breathing? Take the time to really think through each of these questions because you can't help someone else process anything if you aren't honest with yourself about how everything has been affecting you.
When helping our children process everything, we are now able to be vulnerable and empathize with how they feel because we are feeling the same way. My daughter has been frustrated to say the least. Her life and reality have been disrupted. She's isolated. She can't have human interaction outside of the people who live with us. And I feel her pain. It's easier for me to hear her feelings and not give a surface level response like "it's going to be okay". Because the truth is, I don't really know if that's true. What I can say is I hear you, I feel you, and I empathize with you. We will make the best of now and what's next. I allow her space to talk about her thoughts without offering any opinions. When she's over home schooling, I allow her a break and when she fails at it at times, we have a conversation about why she's struggling to keep up and create a plan on how to stay on track. When she wants to play with me, I stop even for a moment to give her my undivided attention. and when she cries, I let her. I comfort her. Because I truly understand. I'm going through a lot of those same emotions.
I think the overall point is, there is really no guide on how to be successful at parenting through these uncertain times. The only thing we can do is evaluate the facts and use wisdom on whats best for our family. Because the truth is, all of the guidance given from people who we are supposed to listen to doesn't always seem to be prioritizing me and my family's well being. I feel its more important now than ever to be in tune with the people I love most so that we can move in unison towards what next for us.
How have you been parenting during this crisis? What would help you during these times? Let us know in the comments.