Perfectly Imperfect! Pt.2
GRACE UNDER PRESSURE
Part 2 of a 3 Part Series About our Kids and Families Fighting an Epidemic.
Let’s begin again with the obvious. Parenting in Crisis is stressful beyond words! Parenting during a global pandemic? Well, that almost defies description! As a young single mother with a passion to really help families in meaningful ways over time I was labeled by some as “solution girl”. A term of endearment claimed proudly because it meant that there were answers out there for building relationships within families that were real and useful! And being a part of that meant in a small part some of my personal goals were being met! But those were different times, unlike today. When there are no guardrails or tried and true methods to improve upon. We are all in the same place.
Well-intentioned advice proceeded by phrases like “It will be ok” and “you will get through!” or my personal favorite “Just fix it, get it, buy it, Do it, etc.” are the expected response to today’s version of parental angst. My guess is most of us reply in our heads “Yeah right or if I could!”. Thus, ending most productive dialogue. Just to add another layer to this, words like this can often stir up feelings of inadequacy and dread! Not particularly useful when problem-solving. Not to mention potentially damaging too. Wine anyone? Though the intention may be to motivate, encourage, and make the problem seem less overwhelming, right? It all depends on how you look at it. When faced with challenges big or small. The strategies that we choose can make all the difference. Parenting during a pandemic is like walking a tight rope with no net! Families are being forced to face challenges head-on in real-time with limited resources, financially and emotionally which is a big game-changer when trying to problem-solve or resolve conflict peacefully. The good news? We are all in it together and together we are better!
When breaking down a problem that needs attention, it is helpful to first allow yourself time to take in the information. Usually before the wine kicks in. Give yourself a pause even if only for a second or two before reacting. This allows the brain and heart a moment to get on the same page so to speak. A moment’s pause can change perspectives and outcomes dramatically. Time is a valuable commodity that is often undervalued. Pandemics have a way of stopping us in our tracks and forcing a pause, time to reevaluate priorities and for some a Mind Shift! How do we come out of this crisis a better version of ourselves? How do we give our children the tools that they need to not only cope with their new situations but come out stronger! More resilient… confident capable. Ready to contribute first within our own families and later when appropriate within their peer communities.
What do we mean by resilience? What does it look like in the real world, in times of crisis? We often hear sayings Like “Community Strong” or “Smith Family Strong” which when we hear them gives us feelings of belonging and strength! Knowing we are not in it alone can boost our courage to face what comes as well as provide a sense of relief that we can make it through whatever obstacle was in our path! We all need encouragement to keep us moving forward! We just need to take that saying and give it life, meaning, and depth when we are dealing with our children during a crisis! Here are a few suggestions that can help build competence and emotional well-being for both our children and us.
Parental Resilience is defined as the ability to constructively cope with and bounce back from all types of challenges. Creatively solving problems, knowing when to reach out and seek help when needed, building trusting relationships, and maintaining a positive attitude. The last part is particularly challenging when our go-to comforts are not available for us to draw upon. As resources dwindle and human beings are being pushed to the brink of exhaustion. Words without concrete support to hold them up or actionable next steps to take toward resolution have a real-life boomerang effect that we must recognize for what they are. Our new responsibilities. Words without actions are empty because they are out of reach, out of touch, and often anxiety-producing. Creating a mind shift by facing parental stress head-on with constructive tools that build strength and mental toughness is the only solution!
Working closely with families of essential workers through this crisis has taught me things that I will never forget. My families are a daily reminder that how we respond to stress is more important than the source of the stress when it comes to determining healthy outcomes. Our children are watching! If you model proper safety practices like healthy eating, proper handwashing routines, work/play balance, open communication, and rest/ relaxation your child will mimic you in most cases and reap the benefits! These are the building blocks that allow our children to become independent leaders while learning the process of helping others deal with new situations positively. Children are missing the comfort of predictable daily routines and human connection as are we. They are looking to us for answers and support as they try to cope with so much change, loss, and grief. So questions are inevitable but also a sign of trusting relationships! If a child feels acknowledged and safe? They will ask questions!
Some children may need some help along the way as they search for words to express what they are feeling. Keep it Simple and answer what is asked as best as you can. Try to resist the urge to elaborate whenever possible. By not elaborating we respect the child’s natural curiosity and avoid the “landmines” of opening a conversation which your child may not be ready for at this time. Trust your parenting and have faith that your child can deal with new and unfamiliar situations with you as their “go-to person.” Family Strong!
Dianne Galante former Infant/ToddlerEarly Childhood Program Development Specialist. NYS Health and Safety Curriculum Approved Trainer. PITC and Touchpoints Community Trainer. Former Contributor to LI Parent Magazine. Nanny and a Mama!