Parenting in a Pandemic

by Will Peycke

 

I’ve often heard it said that kids don’t come with instruction manuals. But parenting during a pandemic? There is definitely no playbook for this! If you are a parent with kids at home, you’ve likely been thrown into a unique set of challenges that no one saw coming or prepared you to handle. In fact, you may even feel like this guy:

 


Let’s face it: family is hard, even under “normal” conditions. Being stuck together under one roof with no outlet? A sudden switch to working from home… while helping your kids do school at home? That’s even harder. Given the option, we all might be tempted to choose “B” sometimes!


I am reading a (super-short) book right now by a fellow Indiana dad named Todd Wilson. The title: Family Is Hard. Deal With It! Todd writes,


The whole world can offer emotional silver bullets, family cure-all pills, and belly fat erasers, but they don’t work. They never have and never will. So why do we keep looking for that ‘one thing’ to make parenting, marriage, LIFE… easier? And, why do we feel betrayed and isolated when we think we’re the only ones who don’t get it? 


Everyone else looks happy. They have easy kids and an easy marriage. What do they do to make it all so easy? There must be something… something I can do. 

You want the honest to goodness, unadulterated truth?
Marriage is hard. 
Having an infant is hard. 
Being surrounded by toddlers is hard. 
Raising teenagers is hard. 
Having in-laws is hard. 
Having grown children is hard. 
Having parents is hard. 
Friendships are hard. 
Church relationships are hard. 
Life is hard. 
Family is HARD!! 


So, DEAL WITH IT!! BUT, IT IS ALSO GOOD!!!!! And you will reap a reward if you do not grow weary and stop.


That last phrase comes from the end of Paul’s letter to the Galatian church: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9 ESV). This was one of the first verses I remember impacting my life as a kid. I was in 6th grade and had to memorize a bunch of Bible verses… and I wanted to quit because it was hard! Thankfully, one of those verses was Galatians 6:9, and I realized its relevance and kept at it. As a result, I am still reaping the reward promised in that verse today. 


Parenting is a lot harder than memorizing Bible verses. And parenting in a pandemic is even harder still. But instead of trying to avoid all that hardness, keep hanging in there in the middle of it. In God’s upside down economy, the hard things are the good things—even if they don’t look or feel that way right now. Don’t grow weary of doing good: keep looking forward to the reward you will reap by persevering.


In the meantime, I want to pass along some resources that might help with the “hanging in there” part. No, there is still no playbook for parenting during a pandemic. Thanks to a host of family ministries, however, there are a ton of great resources to aid you in this season. Here are a few that have landed in my inbox over the past week or so:


  • For a simple framework to guide your parenting, check out these 4 Tips for Parenting During a Pandemic.
  • Does increased bickering between your kids have you pulling your hair out? Connected Families is offering their 5-session Sibling Conflict Online Course for a donation of any amount. 
  • Wondering how to incorporate special family nights into your new “stay at home” schedule? Download A Parent’s Guide to Family Nights.
  • For parents of teenagers, this 10-page pdf on Coming Together During COVID-19 includes links to tons of free resources along with plenty of simple, practical ideas for your time together at home. 
  • For fun, upbeat Scripture songs you can play at home—complete with hand motion videos and accompanying family devotions!—check out Twenty Verses in 2020 from Seeds Family Worship. (Something like this sure would have made my 6th grade Scripture memory work a lot easier!)


As I’ve tried to adjust to this unique season of social disruption myself, it has reminded me that parents have always been God’s design for discipling the next generation. The church’s role is to partner and support families in that calling. This partnership looks different right now than it did two weeks ago, but that’s OK! My prayer is that this time of fewer “church activities” will result in more family-based discipleship. 


Toward that end, if you find yourself exercising parenting or discipleship muscles you haven’t used recently, you can expect to feel a little sore at first. But keep at it! In the long run, you and your family can come out stronger and with a renewed vision of God’s work in your home. 


But right now, I need to go resolve a conflict with two of my kids. And then I'm going to sign up for that sibling conflict course