Written by: Courtney Redman.
Being a parent has been described in numerous ways as both challenging and rewarding, grueling and joyous, heartbreaking, and full of love. Many parents wonder if they are “doing it right”, if they are giving their children what they need, if they should be doing more, or less, or completely different things than they are doing now. The list of ways to be a “good” parent could be endless. Entire sections of bookstores are dedicated to experts claiming guidance for how to achieve this ever-elusive goal of “good” parenting.
But what on earth are the rules for parenting in a pandemic? And if you don’t know the rules, then how on earth do you know if you’re doing it right?
Worrying about screen time, social time, school time, relaxation time, and overall development are continuous factors that may be on a parent’s mind and adding the complication of so many resources being closed and inaccessible while also trying to balance finances, work, health and safety of friends and loved ones, and personal support can make it feel like an impossible task to make sure your child’s needs are met.
To give parents as much space to feel supported and capable of showing up for kids as possible, here are some reminders/resources to start with:
- Do you have a small network who can share childcare and help balance the responsibilities?
- If not, what are some small ways throughout the day to create moments to recharge? This could be creating space to have your entire first cup of coffee uninterrupted, or even having shower supplies with soothing scents. Nothing is too small or unimportant.
- Explore tools that can give you more support: If you usually have regulations around screen time, does allowing your kids to have another hour with a TV show or video game give you enough time to manage a meal or finish up work without distractions? Does it give your kids a little opportunity to socialize? Give yourself some grace with the resources you have.
After doing whatever is accessible to you for support as a parent, next let’s look at meeting needs for your children.
- If your children are able to express their needs verbally, start with checking in about how they’re feeling. Opening up a conversation to show your kids that even if you can’t change things, you still care about what’s going on for them can be an important way of showing support.
- Get curious about how they are trying to get their needs met. Do they spend more time on social media or gaming because it gives them ideas of creative ways to occupy their time around the house or because it is their primary access to the outside world?
- After you show a desire to understand their experience and their needs (and if it’s age appropriate) try collaborating about setting reasonable boundaries to find some balance. Explore alternatives that they are willing to try to help with the balance.
- When kids act out (because they’re kids and they just will) try to slow down and get curious about if it’s because they are so overwhelmed that they can’t control their emotions, or is it from a desire to control their surroundings? Different reasons for behavioral conflict may require different responses.
- Not being able to control emotions because they are overwhelmed may need a softer approach to slow them down and understand their emotions.
- Acting out of a desire to control their surroundings may require quick and clear boundaries to create a sense of certainty.
As the rows of parenting books will tell you, there is no magic way to be a good parent. Doing your best to show up for yourself and for your kids can look many different ways, so don’t forget to give yourself some grace and be open to adapting your approach to find what fits for you and your family.
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