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Parenting on Lockdown

By Nathan Decker

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountain and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.”

-Matthew 5:1-2a

With the COVID-19 virus pandemic, possibly the most amazing and horrifying things are happening at homes all across our world. Parents are spending time with their children. Whether as substitute teachers doing homeschooling lessons or as activity directors on a cruise to nowhere – kids are getting much-needed time with mom, dad, etc.

One meme I saw says it all: “Homeschooling is going great! Two kids suspended and one teacher fired for drinking on the job.” Being a parent while social distancing can be very difficult, but here are some tips to help make our time of self-captivity in the snowless blizzard of 2020 better.

Go Outside. No matter what age the kids are, sign them up for a family team sport. No matter what classes they think they are enrolled in – make time for PE. Make memories by taking a walk and actually talking with the little humans who live in your home.

Do a Project Together. This doesn’t have to be hard, but it does have to be something in which the kids take interest and ownership. My boys like easy science experiments, so recently we grew some crystals. We have plans to do a little woodworking together. All of this will not only grow our fondness for one another, but it also may save us from killing each other.

Unplug. Turn off the television. Take away the cell phones. Pull out some board games.Find a deck of cards. Throw a football or shoot some hoops. Any of these will relieve your stress and theirs.

Don’t compare yourself to other parents on social media. So when you see the Jones family doing something amazing with all this time with their kids, do not guilt trip yourself. You are not as bad a parent as you say you are. And people rarely show their worst family moments for all the world to see and share. Sure they’ve been eating breakfast together after their morning family walk, and this afternoon they’ll be flying kites just as soon as they finish doing that amazing project no teacher has even assigned. Don’t stress yourself out competing with people who are trying to make themselves feel good about their lives by sharing it with strangers.

Breathe. Give yourself time to just be. Take a Sunday drive, even if it isn’t on Sunday. Park down by the river with the windows rolled down and just listen to the Blackwater roll on downstream. Everyone is under unique stress right now caused not only by the virus and fear but also by grief over lost events and perhaps even lost loved ones.

Lastly, Love. Our love as moms and dads is a reflection of God’s deep love for us. During times like these, that love can be eroded by pet peeves or hidden behind anger, frustration, and sorrow. Love helps us keep passion in our work and play. Love defends us from the detrimental disease of apathy or rash tempers. Love gives understanding and a second, third, and even seventy-seventh chance. While we are all cloistering ourselves away to lower the curve and beat COVID-19, remember to love. After all, it’s what Jesus would do.

I came to parenting the way most of us do – knowing nothing and trying to learn everything.”

-Mayim Bialick, Neuroscientist