We all know parenting is a hard job, 24/7 35 days a year. We want to see our children grow, thrive and prosper. EVERY parent wants that for their child but we aren’t all on the same path and we will face different challenges. Right now parenting during a pandemic, while socially isolated, homeschooling, trying to make ends meet and overwhelmed with the state of the world is a lot. As it has been said we may all be in the same storm but we are not all in the same boat.
I don’t have the answers, I wish I did. I wish I could tell you how this chapter of our lives turns out but we have to ride it out. I hope that this is the part of our story where the plot changes, that we have all had enough of the “old normal” and our “new normal” focuses on what truly matters, being good humans.
It is really easy right now to be angry and to feel helpless. There are no shortage of things to feel angry and frustrated about and honestly watching the news can leave you with little hope for change. COVID-19, politics, the economy, protests, riots, public shaming and that’s just in this last week. It is hard for any adult to digest and understand, so how can we begin to explain what is going on to our kids?
As parents we want to protect our kids. We want to keep them safe. The only issue with that is that we need them to see, listen and discuss what is going on in the world, how can they grow up to be good humans if they never leave their own bubble? In order to have those conversations as parents we need to do the work first. We need to see what is going on and check our facts and sources. We need to acknowledge that we don’t know what we don’t know. We need to dive deeper, ask questions and understand that we may never truly understand someone else’s journey but we can listen, advocate and stand up and be heard. It is not enough to be indifferent, we need to teach our kids that being a good human means our family supports other families. The only way to do that is by example.
Start a conversation – Depending on the age of your kids the conversation will be a little different but the important thing is to have an ongoing conversation. Talk about race, socioeconomic disparity, politics, populations and cultures around the world, neighbourhoods in your city, Police, COVID-19, money, personal safety. Don’t be shy, rock their little boat a bit, it should feel uncomfortable to discuss these topics, they aren’t easy, they aren’t simple and they aren’t something they should be sheltered from.
Seeing is believing – It’s natural for your kids to question you and your prospective, especially our teens. They have their own experiences that they use as reference points. It is very difficult for anyone to feel empathy towards someone they don’t know, they can’t see and that they don’t understand or relate to. If possible give them the opportunity to understand the world around them first hand. When we see with our own eyes someone else’s pain, someone else’s fight, someone else’s challenge it will stay with us, it will start a conversation and it will add a new perspective to our view of the world. Show your kids your actions, vote, amplify voices, donate, volunteer, write lawmakers, use your voice.
Be Kind – This should be the easiest thing for every parent to teach their child but it is much harder in reality, because it requires YOU to show kindness and this seems be very difficult these days. Stress, anger, frustration, fear, uncertainty are very common everyday feelings right now and it can be easy to forget our kids are watching. They see how we react to a driver cutting us off, a homeless person, a person not wearing a mask / people wearing masks, a black man, a white woman, elderly, servers, neighbours and even family and friends. They see it all, and we all know we can do better. We can show kindness in so many ways everyday the most simple ways are to listen to understand, consider people’s intentions, acknowledge privilege, advocate, respect and be empathetic.
When we don’t know what to do ourselves it is easier to just let it go, change the channel, keep scrolling. We’ve ALL done it. We MUST stop, acknowledge and respond, it is the ONLY way change will be made. Not to add to your parenting stress, we all have enough of that right now, think of it as an investment. An investment in our kids, our family and our community of good humans.
Image credit: IG: @ohhappydani