This season of navigating our families through COVID-19 has been so many things: unprecedented, surreal, scary, uncertain, and challenging. But there have also been moments of joy, peace, and memory-making as we’re all home and spending more time together. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions for everyone in the family, right?
Navigating change and difficulty with our families isn’t always easy or fun, but it’s inevitable. Right now, we’re all going through it together because of COVID-19, but we also experience it in other seasons, like moves, loss of loved ones or relationship fractures.
A few years ago, my parents divorced, and I was devastated. I barely knew how to navigate the circumstances for myself and was uncertain about how to share or process with my children. I learned the following strategies along the way that I think are valuable to us as we help our kids through this pandemic:
Give Age-Appropriate Information
Kids don’t need to know all the news going on right now. As parents, it’s our job to screen information and share age-appropriately with our kids. It’s easy for us as adults to become overwhelmed and afraid by too much news, it’s the same for our kids.
A good general rule is that the younger the child, the less they need to know. The older the child, the more they can know. (But they don’t have to know everything.) How we deliver news is just as important as the news itself. Don’t just give kids the information and walk out of the room. Ask if they have any questions and have a conversation with them about what you’ve shared.
Allow Each Other to Grieve
Right now, we are all experiencing losses. School and school-events are canceled. Sports seasons were cut short. We’re not able to have parties or visit with groups of friends. Just as we feel frustrated by the changes and our lack of control over our circumstances, our kids feel it too.
Giving each other time and space to grieve as it comes is important. And that’s the thing about grief: it sometimes turns up expectedly. My son was struggling with getting started on his online schoolwork a week or so ago. I started to scold him when he said, “Mom, I just want to go back to school. I miss my friends.” I gave him some grace and allowed him some extra time before starting his work for the day.
It’s also okay for us as parents to allow our kids to see us grieve. We shouldn’t look to them to hold us up, but we can model grief authentically and responsibly.
We can say, “Mom is feeling really sad right now about ___________, that’s why I’m crying.” Or Dad can say, “I’m really frustrated by what’s going on, that’s why I’m not my normal self.”
We can then model helpful strategies, like prayer, reading the Bible, journaling, or hugging each other as we grieve.
Demonstrate Faith Over Fear
It’s so easy for us to get caught up in fear during uncertain times. But what better opportunity to live out the faith we profess than a pandemic?
We can show our kids what it looks like to rely on God for our provision, health, and peace:
- We can be honest about our fears by taking them to God in prayer.
- We can read Bible stories about people who were afraid, but trusted God anyway. (Hebrews 11 is a great chapter for this.)
- We can memorize verses together about combatting our fear.
- We can show our kids how to trust God because He is still in control, even if life around us seems out of control.
I hope these strategies are helpful to you as we continue to navigate COVID-19. Praying you and your families are healthy in every way—physically, mentally, and spiritually.