Parenting during stressful times
"You can't calm the storm...so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself.
The storm will pass."
- Timber Hawkeyel -
In light of these tough times, many parents might be wondering how to help their worried children. What should I say? How much should I share? How do I protect them?
As responsible and caring parents, we are constantly moved to protect our children. We want to keep them safe and sound, and we aim to provide them with stable, predictable and caring environments. However, when tough times come along, our caring instincts share room with the lingering fear of the unknown. We then wonder "how do I protect my kids when I am not sure what is going to happen to us?"
Fortunately, you do not need many answers because YOU ARE THE ANSWER...
In times of uncertainty, children look up to their caregivers to see if they need to worry. They can perceive that everything is changing and activities are not as usual. People seem worried and there might not be a lot of answers. Hence, they might be wondering "are you going to still take care of me?".
To get them through this chaos we need to believe for them. We need to provide calm, safety, and hope even if we do not feel 100% calm or hopeful. We don't want to lie to our kids; still, the reality is that for kids to grow healthy, they need to know they will be taken care of. Children need adults to take the lead because, without this reassurance, they would feel lost.
Reassuring messages like "We can do this...we will get through this...we will be ok" do not imply that everything will remain the same nor they imply that we know how we are going to get through the tough times. Nonetheless, we have to believe that it is our calm and confident presence that will allow our children to handle whatever life throws at them.
As children need to lean on strong adults to feel safe, I encourage all parents and caregivers to find good sources of support and encouragement, to find humour and positive outlooks in spite of these difficult times. Reach out, connect, look for others' support. Isolation only happens when we stop emotionally connecting.