Parenting at the Time of a Pandemic

Dear parents, 

If this lockdown is so difficult for us, it would be even more difficult for our kids, who have much more untapped energies than we do. They would be temperamental. They would be more difficult to handle. But it’s not them. It’s the situation.

They cannot go outside, play like they normally do, meet their friends like they normally do, study like they normally do. Things have changed.
In fact, everything is changing. We are trying to find newer ways to deal with novel problems. The offices giving the option of working from home. The businesses focusing on items of necessity rather than a luxury. Similarly, our children will also have to adapt to changing times. Let me assure you that they can do it in a better way than us, provided we let them. Children are creative and problem solver by nature but sometimes we curb this instinct of theirs by becoming control freaks. The best thing we can do at this is to let them find their independent way of resolving their problems. Let them be aatm-nirbhar (self-reliant). 

There has been a certain message forwarding on social media which I am sure most of us received. It said that we ” must” come from this lockdown as more productive, read more, write more, acquire new skills. Seems like our rat-race mentality has sustained this crisis. NO, there should not be targets at a time of the pandemic. There is enough stress already with all the news about the virus spreading and infecting, our incomes reduced, our mental health affected. We can not put an additional burden of being productive. We can try to be productive, not denying that. But health, both physical and mental is our utmost priority. We ‘should’ try to be productive. We ‘must’ not be productive. 

The same goes for our children. We cannot pressurize them to do things that they might not be in a mental place to do. They would be missing their friends, their schools, normal life. They may not be able to communicate their thoughts as well. At such a time, to burden them with academic goals or any such goals of self-improvement would be unfair. We have to give them time to asses the situation. Maybe spend some days playing ludo and PubG, and I am sure when they would be bored by these games, they will come up with more inventive solutions than we can offer them. In an absence of classroom learning, online learning apps and YouTube channels might work better. Learning from real-life situations and examples, (something which should be done anyway) would become a necessity rather than an option. The teachers would be forced to be innovative. again something which was lacking all this while. 

It is difficult to say when exactly will the schools reopen. While we focus on educating our children in some other way, the larger question would be how can we help them deal with this crisis emotionally and mentally. Schools are not merely for learning mathematics, science, and languages, they are also mini societies which give us moral lessons and help us socialise in the world. No matter how much we criticise the performance of schools, they play an overall role in our development. In a scenario like this, our biggest challenge as parents and elder siblings would be to fulfill this missing link from the life of our children.  We have to perform the role of their teachers as well as their friends. They would rely on us for solving many problems, sharing stuff, and yes, for fun as well. We cannot be control freaks in such a situation. We cannot expect them to not joke when we teach them at home and grasp everything in the first go.

Teaching requires patience and repetition. It also requires an understanding of what the child is going through, how ready he or she is to grasp things at the moment. At home. We cannot be just the teacher, we also have to be their friend and classmate. We have to help them express their ideas and feelings. 

Instead of the rat race, the focus should be on spending time with our children, empathising with them. Empathy means putting oneself in the situation of others and then act. It is the highest form of care. It would require patience on our part to be able to do so. But for the good of our children, we must. 

Another important thing we can do is to create memories. That’s the best thing we can give to our children, something that will live on forever. Whether its playing games with them, sharing stories, etching films with them, or any other activity, the purpose is not just to pass time but to create memories that would last. 

To conclude, don’t fall into the rat-race of being productive, create memories instead.

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