Being Reshaped Through Crisis
by Kathy Slattengren, M. Ed., Priceless Parenting (sign up for monthly parenting newsletter and receive 20+ printable charts for kids and parents)
(listen to article read by the author)
How is your family being reshaped by the pandemic? The pandemic has shaken apart what once seemed solid and left a mess of broken pieces. Schools and daycares have closed. Some work has migrated from the office to home. Jobs have ended. Lives have been lost.
Times of tremendous upheaval produce a rollercoaster of feelings. Hundreds of webinar participants were asked how they were feeling during this pandemic. The responses ranged from anxious, exhausted, numb, surviving to hopeful, adapting, learning, grateful.
How are you feeling right now? What’s going on when you feel your best? What are you doing when you feel your worst?
Paying Attention to Your Feelings
Feelings provide powerful information about what is going on within you. Your feelings follow your thoughts. When you are thinking about how much you love your children, you are likely to feel gratitude and appreciation. When you are focusing on the chores your kids haven’t done, you may feel anger and irritation.
Feelings are not right or wrong. They reflect what you are thinking about. When you recognize what you are feeling and what is triggering that feeling, you have the power to make different choices. Dwelling on thoughts that make you feel anxious will produce more anxiety.
During times of turmoil, there are plenty of opportunities to dwell on stories of struggle and tragedy. How do you feel after watching the news? If you find yourself feeling disturbed, you may want to limit your news intake. You might find it better to read the news instead of watching it.
When do you experience peace of mind? Perhaps it’s first thing in the morning before you get out of bed. Maybe you find yourself feeling quietly content late at night looking at the stars. Striving for more of these experiences can help you through tough times.
Expressing Empathy to Your Kids
Your kids are also experiencing big feelings during these challenging times. During this pandemic, their schools have been closed, sports have been cancelled and social gatherings are not allowed. How are your kids handling these major disruptions?
Jessica is the mom of two elementary school kids. At first her kids were excited to be home instead of going to school. Now that school has changed to remote learning her kids are blaming her for having to do schoolwork. Although she’s explained this is a school requirement, they see her as the reason they have to continue doing schoolwork that they prefer not to do.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is acknowledge their feelings. While you may not be able to change or fix the situation, you can always show empathy. Jessica might say to her kids “I hear your disappointment about having to work on math instead of playing outside. It’s hard to be working when you’d rather be playing.”
shows that you understand how your child is feeling. Although you aren’t changing the situation, you are helping your child feel heard. Empathy puts you alongside your child to face a difficult problem together.
Being Outside Your Comfort Zone
Turmoil is a time of uncertainty. Things you could absolutely count on are no longer true. Not knowing what the future holds is unsettling.
You do know there will be various changes to accommodate the new reality. Many of these changes will feel uncomfortable. Some changes resulting from the pandemic include:
- Wearing a mask in public spaces.
- Getting your temperature taken before being allowed to enter somewhere.
- Signing in at businesses for contact tracing.
- Staying a certain distance away from other people.
- Greeting others with a wave rather than a hug or handshake.
- Limiting your travel.
What you left prior to the pandemic is not what you are coming back to. You and your kids will be spending more time outside your comfort zones. How has this crisis stretched you? What have you learned?
Your family will be reshaped by how you go through this crisis together. May navigating through this pandemic help you see your strengths and the depths of your love.