Parents, are you wondering what this unsettled and scared feeling is?

Are you living like a radioactive land mine just waiting to go off?

Many of us are feeling this heaviness and deep sadness that just won’t fade away. Some of us can identify it as grief. Some of us are living in anxiety. And indeed, there is an actual threat out there, not just an imaginary or potential danger.

We have all been stripped of our ways of coping. We have deleted many of the joys in our lives and poured on the stresses. Parents have experienced this stress acutely during the pandemic. We’re not only fearing for our health, but in our decisions with our kids we feel tremendous a great responsibility, caution and downright fear for their safety. The natural reaction to this kind of state WOULD BE fear. Rightly so! We have lost our time with friends, family and time away to recharge. We may have lost our jobs and lost our income. We lost our kid’s education, lost our health, lost support for the kids from babysitters and nannies. The natural reaction to this state WOULD BE grief. There are some big emotions lying under the surface for all of us! 

As parents, it can be so easy to let this stress impact our relationship with our kids. Emotions can cloud our judgement as parents. Especially when our kids are emotional- and I’m sure they are! First of all it’s important to remember all of your emotions are valid. The fact that you’re angry or anxious or grieving, is not a problem in itself. But it’s important that we pay attention to our own emotions during this time, so that those emotions don’t escalate with your kids emotions. Then we can be present and compassionate parents.

Here are a few tips to tend to your emotions and your kids emotions during this time. 

  1. Notice your emotions. Reflect on these last 6 months and see what you’re feeling most- be specific. If you feel mad, is it a sense of injustice? A sense of loss? Frustrated at the futility? If you feel sad, is it grief? Did you lose something you cared about? Etc.
  2. Talk to someone. It’s hard enough to connect with others authentically during a normal season, and now we have added barriers to that connection. Be intentional about your friendships and your relationship with your partner. If you have to, prep before meeting up with questions like: Are you comfortable sitting outside and chatting? Would you prefer masks on or off? Just be direct so you’ll feel comfortable when you’re together.
  3. Connect with your child’s emotions. Remember they’ve lost a lot too- their school year, their friendships, their summer! Remember kids are going to act out when they feel powerless (And don’t we all!). All emotions are ok, not all behavior is ok. Acknowledge their emotions so they feel validated. (Note: acknowledging their emotions is not the same thing as condoning their behavior)
  4. Name it to tame it. When you’re child is having a big emotion, sometimes simply naming it in a calm tone can tame their behavior. Try it, “I can see you’re really disappointed we didn’t get ice cream today.” “You don’t feel like it’s fair that I took the iPad away”
Learn about our parenting course
Morgan Myers, LPC is a family therapist in East Dallas and cofounder of @Motherlift (visit us over on IG) During this pandemic, she developed a parenting course to help moms and dads get a handle on parenting by teaching how to deescalate big emotions and have a more peaceful home. The Intentional Parent Mini-course is available now here.