We are experiencing a massive “Pandemic of Family Time”
What gems have you learned about being a family?
I love playing with the definition of words and broadening my thoughts around the ways a word can be used. For example, for the next several decades, we will be quick to associate the word “pandemic” with the COVID-19 virus. However, because my work is to support families, and because turning a negative thought into a positive one, just feels a heck of a lot better, I choose to think about the word pandemic as it relates to the amount of “family time” that has been given to us. Think back over the time since your kids were born. How often did you say or think, “I wish I could have more time with them”? Well, as the old saying goes, “be careful what you wish for.” Who would have guessed your wish would be granted. We have had an overabundance of “together” time with our family. We can all, no doubt, attest to the phrase that there is “too much of a good thing.”
Because of COVID-19, families were thrust from a scarcity of family time to an abundance in just 24 hours. Watching Moms in particular navigate what had been thrust upon them, reminded me of the days of watching my daughter play basketball. Their ability to step with one foot while keeping the other foot at its point of contact with the floor, in this case, their family, was worthy of the MVP award. Parents have learned a lot that is worthy of reflection. More than they realize, they are not only a parent, but a teacher and a student too.
Because of its importance, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) for students has come to the forefront in schools. However, the real lessons on SEL over the last ten months have been a “lived experience” in households everywhere. From my virtual time supporting families, I assure you it is an SEL extravaganza full of gems. The skills parents learned from the pandemic of family time, are worthy of reflection and attention. What parents have told me of their experience taps into every SEL competency taught in the classroom. See if it sounds familiar:
Self-Awareness – “I have it hard but others have it worse”. “I feel bad for teachers, this is so hard for them”. “Health care workers deserve more”. “I have had enough screen time.” “I’m exhausted.”
Self-Management – Wow, this was a biggie! “I am feeling sad for him, I have to pull it together right now”, “I am worried but I need to be strong in this moment”, “What are we going to do”, “Is it safe, should I say yes or no”, “I am trying really hard not to punch him”.
Social-Awareness – “I’m feeling worried, sad, afraid, hopeful, exhausted.” “I can do this.” “We’ll get through this”.
Relationship Skills – Cooperating and offering grace to others was abundant. Speaking and listening came into balance. Asking for help became more frequent.
Responsible Decision Making – Weighing consequences and making decisions that put the best interest of their family first was a daily occurrence, as well as taking into consideration their ethical standards, safety concerns and social norms.
For fifteen years we have been helping families connect with their teens with our Talk Early & Talk Often workshop. Since last March, our now virtual workshops have become an even more intimate “gathering space” for parents to support them in raising a family during COVID-19. We have several Talk Early & Talk Often workshops coming up in February and March. If you are a parent, I invite you to join us. The workshops are free!
The brilliance that surfaces from parents when they are given time to reflect is awe inspiring. We all learn from each other. They have struggled, survived, felt pride and despair, have given and received inspiration and welcome our strength-based support. This is why I love and support parents!
Founder Parent Action for Healthy Kids