Parents provide support, safety, care, and trust. All of which helps to guide kids as they grow and develop. In order to provide these things we must first possess them. That can be challenging during a global pandemic where emotions and stress run high. After all, many of us believed that we would be through this hard time months ago, only to find ourselves still in the midst of it. Add that to the varying beliefs of friends, family, and neighbors and it’s no wonder that parenting in a pandemic can be increasingly difficult. Especially as we lean into a new “normal”.
Here are some helpful tips and tricks to increase support, safety, care, and trust within ourselves. As a result, we can also offer these gifts to our children.
First you must trust yourself
Every family has different beliefs: masks, no masks, vaccination, no vaccination. We have to know that regardless of the opinions of other we can stand in our own conviction. When we move with integrity and confidence regarding our choices we teach our kids to trust themselves and their thoughts and opinions. We don’t all have to agree, and that is okay. In addition, it may be hard to disagree with others or to stand up for our beliefs. However, when we do this respectfully we teach our children how to problem-solve in tough situations as well.
Leave judgement at the door
An important part of trusting yourself is to allow others to do the same. This means that while we want to respectfully have our beliefs, it is important to let others have theirs. When we stand in judgement, discuss negative beliefs in our home, or ridicule others for their beliefs we create feelings of distrust and lack of care in our children. As parents we are models in our home. One way to overcome the mental health impacts of a global pandemic is to release fear and be kind. Through kindness we create communities that feel supported. In turn, we create villages within our extended family, neighbors, and schools. These become places where kids feel safe in their development regardless of our differences.
Set expectations clearly
Think about setting expectations clearly for your children regarding summer break. This season may look different from your typical plans. What you will allow, as well as what you will not allow, will most likely impact your kids emotionally and socially. Knowing ahead of time what the summer rules and regulations will be with regard to outings, social distancing, and down time will help your kids to prepare for what is ahead. While you cannot control how your children feel about your expectations, you can help them to have structure. This creates safety and allows needs to be met.
Continue to validate
Kids need a safe place to share feelings, vent, and release stress. If your kids are challenged by another summer that may not feel normal you can continue to connect with them by listening to their struggles. This increases a sense of support in difficult times. We may or may not agree with their perspective, and it is important to note that we don’t try to change their perspective or offer advice unless requested. Often our children just need a caring, listening ear. As parents we set a standard of teaching our kids to value themselves. One of the ways we do this is to validate them. Try to use words like, “I see this is hard for you” or, “I understand what you are saying”. Sentences like this help our kids to feel seen, heard, and valued.
Being a parent is not an easy job. It is filled with mistakes and pitfalls, and completely unexpected events like the COVID-19 outbreak. Be kind to yourselves as you navigate these rough roads as parents. In turn, you can provide kindness to your children and peace within your home. If these tips or tricks are not enough, consider reaching out to someone at Covenant Family Solutions. We offer individual, couples, or family therapy, as well as BHIS services that can be implemented in your home. We are here to help. You are not alone.