With schools closed, churches not physically gathering, and activities cancelled, the daily rhythm of our kids has dramatically changed in a short amount of time. The structure and of the week has been completely disrupted. While there were varying opinions about talking to kids about the Coronavirus while school was in session and activities were still occurring, the changes mean we must talk to our kids about the Coronavirus now. Otherwise all these changes won’t make any sense to our kids at all.
So how do we talk to our kids about the Coronavirus?
Kaye, my wife, and I sat down with Morag Webb, a family therapist in Orange County. Morag is highly respected for her work with children and adolescents so Kaye and I wanted to gain wisdom from her on talking to our own kids. You can watch the video on here, but here are three actions Kaye and I are taking after talking with a family therapist about leading our girls in this season.
1. Stay emotionally healthy: not being ruled by emotions is helpful for our kids.
Kids are not served well if they see their parents continually freaking out. And there is plenty to freak out about. If you read every Coronavirus update or constantly watch the news, you will be continually pulled in a plethora of directions. God created us as emotional beings. Emotions are real, but we don’t need to be ruled by our emotions. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ insight is incredibly helpful in a time like this. He taught that instead of listening to ourselves, we should preach to ourselves. He wrote:
“The main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression in a sense is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self. Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself.”
Kaye and I are working to preach Christ to ourselves. By doing so, we hope to stay emotionally healthy for our kids.
2. Discuss wisely: explain to our kids that these actions are a precaution.
Morag helped us understand the importance of explaining that the actions we are taking as a culture, from social distancing to staying at home, are precautionary and helpful for others. Kaye has drawn “the curve” for our kids and explained that by flattening the curve we help ensure people can be cared for medically. By explaining all the actions as a precaution we can do our best to ensure them that people are taking actions with people’s best interest in mind – including theirs.
3. Design a daily rhythm: Build structure for our kids.
Kids need structure and thrive on structure. Structure provides children a sense of consistency, normalcy, and safety. The structure can be simple, and our kid’s structure looks like this currently: school work and reading, outside play, inside games, family dinner, online church activities, and then ending the day with television show (if they obeyed throughout the day).
This is a challenging time. It is also an opportunity for great conversations with our children. Our kids will remember this season for the rest of their lives. May they see our faith in Christ and our love for others as the dominant themes in our lives.