This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org.
This week, my oldest was supposed to go back to school for in-person learning, but the decision was made to keep the middle school virtual because of the rising COVID-19 cases in Nashville. He had started a new school this year and was eager to meet a few people in person, but alas, we will keep doing the best we can during this difficult time. As you can imagine, we all experienced a lot of emotions about the change, especially Elias. We had honest conversations, cried a bit and just gave space to discuss it all.
Parenting during this time is not easy, but the challenges we are experiencing… we are all experiencing them!
Responsibility.org, which encourages a lifetime of responsible choices about alcohol and a lifetime of meaningful conversations with our kids, had a Zoom chat with some writers and Meghan Leahy. Meghan is a parent coach, she writes the parent advice column for the Washington Post and she recently published a book, “Parenting Outside the Lines”. She gave some great insights about we as parents might be experiencing during this tough time.
This was one of the core issues Meghan talked about and it is so validating. Rupture is the meltdowns, the chaos, maybe some yelling, some tantrums and/or outbursts. Sound familiar? These things are happening to all of us. Experiencing these things means we are presentwith them. It's also important to acknowledge that everything isn’t perfect right now, and we might be struggling. That is okay and normal.
Curiosity is kind and makes room for mistakes. I talk about this in Stretched Too Thin. Being curious allows us to consider why we lose patience or yell, or helps us explore with our child why they might have lost control in a moment. It also shifts our perspective, cultivates growth and creates space to see what happened and how you can behave differently the next time instead of internalizing the shame. Furthermore, curiosity helps us understand patterns in our behaviors so we can recognize the causes (was everyone hungry?) and work towards avoiding the repetition of the rupture. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, it leads to an authentic apology, which is important for kids to hear from parents, just as it is for kids to take ownership of doing.
Being honest and curious, allowing for mistakes and apologizing and talking about them – builds trust, builds honesty and helps manage stress – all of which is the kind of role modeling we all strive for in front of our kids. I love when Meghan said, “We are raising people for down the road!” This is such a good and simple reminder. Also, stress management helps mitigate turning to alcohol as a coping mechanism, and building a solid foundation in our kids, families, and selves. These values will go a long way to making good decisions
This time is one we will never forget, in large part because it is helping us build resiliency. We are being stretched and refined. Anything that builds resiliency is going to be difficult at times, but that is when the most growth happens. Reminding ourselves and our kids of this truth is comforting. Take time to talk to your kids about resilience and what it means. Ask them to give examples of how they are learning it in their own lives.
Have regular family meetings (formal or informal) to give space for discussion, venting, and asking for help. This can also be an opportunity to plan something fun together, as intentional acts can be especially meaningful when things are out of balance. By giving everyone time to have a voice, respect is cultivated and honored.
I hope these ideas encourage you. We can do hard things and each of us is doing the best that we can, right now, in this. Your experiences are valid and real. Be patient and kind to yourself and your loved ones.