Everywhere you look these days, parents’ roles are challenged. They’re not acting as just parents, but they are their children’s teachers as well. And then they’ve got their own challenges too. Zoom meeting, client calls, completely new ways of doing business. They may barely be hanging on. Parents are their children’s safety valve, a child’s safe haven. So now what happens when the parent is running low on answers?
This week I lead a parenting group where parents shared that their older elementary school children were struggling to keep up on their Zoom meetings, to stay focused, to do the work. Then, my grandchild, who is a first grader, had a Zoom meltdown, and an old friend of mine told me her ‘tween had hit the wall as well. I’ve noticed that the older a child is, the more they are challenged by the Zoom world, and by these new versions of social interacting. Children need more than family members in their social lives and they’ve become more aware of how much life has changed. Screens for school and socializing may have been exciting at first, but the novelty is wearing off, and yet this is how we are required to connect. For now.
All of the children who melted down this week wanted to be able to talk, to get their turn, and to have some intimacy with school friends and teachers. Waiting on a screen grew tedious this week. So what to do?
Here is what we can do. First we can talk. Acknowledge your child’s feelings, share that we, as parents, have the same emotions sometimes, and that their friends do too. It helps you to connect to them, regardless of how they are acting in the moment. Once they know you are on the ride with them, they can hear you, and your words will move them forward.
Next, try forgiving yourself. There’s no perfect way to pull this off. And there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to decide what’s best for our families. And take a breath. Maybe two or three. It’s okay if you don’t do it all. It is. Really. Just breathe.
Then take a break. If something feels insurmountable, schedule another time to revisit it. There are no emergencies in distance learning. Missing a meeting, even a day, is understandable. Having a safe and loving person in your child’s corner is far more important. You can be that person. When they know that, you know that too. Being safe, being loved, being heard, all matter more than the 10 AM Zoom.
For our Safer at Home practices:
And for parenting in general: