ParentWise: The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Published: 6/1/2021 2:51:45 PM

I came across this article, that I titled “There’s a Crack in Everything” written a little over a year ago soon after Covid hit. I focused on the opportunities that the pandemic could potentially provide and how to find the light coming through the cracks of the shutdown. At this point, I know that so many of you are worn thin and mental health issues have soared. I thought it might be good to revisit this and to see if any of these opportunities were taken advantage of. Where are you now compared to where you were a little over a year ago? How have you and your family fared? Did you find cracks that let the light in? Do things feel lighter now? Many of the unknowns are still unknown. We are still in it. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. That is if your tunnel has not already collapsed.

April 2020: These are dark times even though it’s getting lighter outside. None of us ever imagined – even a month ago – that we would be sheltered in our homes, fearing the coronavirus, learning daily the frightening number of new cases and deaths, unable to get together with friends and family, wearing masks when food supplies must be refilled, and disinfecting mail and groceries.

Who knew we would either be lucky enough to be home with children scrambling to figure out how to homeschool and keep them occupied or unlucky enough to be an “essential worker” unable to be home with children out of school for who knows how long? Or to be alone. Or to be sick.

The unknown is frightening. When will Covid-19 be a thing of the past? Will it? When will we feel safe to send our kids back to school? Will we have a job, a business, a salary when this is over? Will town businesses, restaurants, and theaters reopen? What will life be like?

My favorite Leonard Cohen song is Anthem. I get a chill every time I hear, “There’s a crack, a crack in everything. That’s where the light gets in.” What an image for this time. There are cracks in this darkness and the light can come in when we see those cracks. But we have to look for them.

Here are some of the cracks I’m seeing:

■We share this coronavirus with everyone on earth. We have never known such common ground. There is togetherness in that.

■We have learned that the reason we must stay inside is not only for our own safety but the safety of others, even those we may never know. By staying inside, we are saving lives. By staying home, we are being productive.

■We have been thrust into the present moment. Each day we are forced into the now more than ever before. There is so much we cannot do; so much we have no control over. There is calm to be found in that.

■Parents typically catastrophize imagining fears for their children’s lives and futures, most of which are unrealistic and a waste of energy. No fear found the image of this pandemic. The lesson here is you never know what’s coming. So just stay present.

■No school brings opportunity for thinking outside the box and connecting with children in brand new ways. Many can start each day with cuddles instead of rushing to get out the door on time.

■No school gives your children opportunities to learn differently. Worry less about the schoolwork to be done and focus more on the sponges they are when allowed to direct their own learning. It may take time – and trust.

■When you watch, you will find new capabilities in your children. Call on them, give them projects, find new responsibilities they can meet. They can learn so much more now about running a household.

■We are finding new ways of being together as a family. The screentime we have tried to keep our children from is now our window on the world. Our screens offer the connective venue we have with loved ones as well as a font of knowledge and information for both learning and entertainment. Imagine if we didn’t have our screens.

■We are learning new ways of connecting with the outside world. Work from home is dependent on connections via screens. This will likely alter our future.

■We are more aware of our universal human fragility, no matter rich or poor, no matter gender or race or nationality. This virus knows no boundaries. We are learning how important it is to take care of one another. Compassion has an enormous opportunity to grow within each of us.

■Gratitude is abundant these days. There are so many essential workers out there risking their health and lives so life can go on as smoothly as possible for the rest of us. Naming specific workers each night at dinner time is a wonderful way to teach children gratitude for what they take for granted.

■The earth is getting a breather! Skies are clearer all over the world. The hole in the ozone layer is getting smaller. In the big picture, perhaps this virus is a correction rather than a disaster.

Of course, none of this is meant to diminish the sadness and grief at the loss of so many. This pandemic brings daily news that we are unfortunately getting used to. The numbers are getting blurry. We must keep focused on our families and what we can do within the microcosm of the macrocosm so when this is over – god willing – we can emerge from our isolation stronger than ever.

We can choose panic or presence and patience. We don’t know what is ahead or when this will end. But one thing is for sure. All of us have fear and most of us have hope. What is essential is that we care for our fears and those of our loved ones so that we can get to the hope. If we try to be stoic and stuff all our emotions whirling inside, fear will surely turn to panic and that helps no one.

To avoid panic, we need compassion – first and foremost for ourselves so we can find compassion for everyone else. These are the times more than any other to give yourself and your children a break. These are the times to practice Being More, Teaching Less.

Each day, think:

What can I let go of today?

What can I do for myself today?

How can I connect today?

What can I forgive today?

What can I do for someone else today?

How can I let my child self-direct and learn today?

What fear of the future can I drop today?

We are all in this together. We know that these cycles come and go. This too shall pass. Stay well and stay safe in the meantime.

Be sure and check out Bonnie’s podcast Tell Me About Your Kids wherever you find podcasts. Episodes are 1:1 sessions with parents like you.

Bonnie Harris, MS Ed, director of Connective Parenting, is a child behavior and parenting specialist. Her two books are When Your Kids Push Your Buttons and Confident Parents, Remarkable Kids: 8 Principles for Raising Kids You’ll Love to Live (Toadstool and Amazon). Bonnie offers individual parent counseling, parenting workshops, professional trainings and speaking engagements internationally. Bonnie founded The Parent Guidance Center, now The River Center, in Peterborough where she teaches. To set up an in-person or online coaching session, email her at bh@bonnieharris.com. You can sign up for her email newsletter on her website bonnieharris.com.




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