It is obvious our children are not oblivious to the change and news buzzing around them pertaining to COVID-19. When hard, uncertain, and uncharted territories come our way we can sometimes suddenly feel ill equipped or unsure of how to discuss these topics with our kids. Our children (well, heck really any of us) can tend to worry and fear more when they are kept in the dark. Fear is a dark, lonely, and cruddy companion where lies come to reside. Scripture countlessly reminds us that there is great freedom in truth. As the weeks go on and things are disrupted for longer, we are likely to get more and more questions. So how do we as parents navigate being honest with our kids without overwhelming them with the weight of the coronavirus?
- PREPARE YOUR MIND: I encourage you to first start with examining your own thoughts and feelings about the current state of our world near and far. Take some time to talk and process for yourself so that you are better prepared mentally and emotionally to be present for your child. It is certainly okay to be struggling ourselves and when we are aware of our own feelings and fears we can model dependence on Christ for our children.
- LISTEN, VALIDATE, and RESPOND: Hear your kid out. Start by asking them how they are feeling about what they are hearing or about the changes in their daily life. Validate their thoughts and feelings in order for them to continue to feel safe to share. Respond in truth and love.
- AGE APPROPRIATE: Obviously conversations will look different with a 6-year-old and 16-year-old. You know your kid best and how their brain is wired. It’s great to start with questions to see where their thinking is and what they are specifically worried about. Kids are ego-centric. They are going to be most concerned about themselves getting sick or someone close to them (i.e. parents, siblings, grandparents, etc.). Ask what they have heard, what they are thinking, and what they are feeling. It is better to stick to answering what they ask (age appropriately) and see if your answer suffices.
- PERSPECTIVE: How we look at our circumstances will greatly shape our experience of it. Help your child pull out the things in their own lives that they can see as good in this. What have they enjoyed about this change in pace, schedule, etc.? Have they seen people doing kind things or supportive things for others in this hard season? In no way does this erase or lessen the realness of this pandemic, but it can help us remember God’s character and love for us. It’s beauty from ashes.
- POINT THEM TO JESUS: We don’t have to have all the answers, but we can teach them how to trust the One who does have all the answers. You can take a look at different bible stories where people went through very hard, scary, or uncertain circumstances and help them see God’s love and faithfulness in and through it. It is not God’s goal this side of heaven to eliminate struggle. He desires for us to depend on Him in the struggle. This is a great opportunity for our children of all ages to see and hear how we are actively trusting God with our thoughts and feelings in this uncertainty.
- KEEP AN OPEN DIALOGUE: What our kids need most is assurance and security. Let them know they are always free to ask questions and to share their thoughts and feelings. Continue to periodically check in with your kid on the things you talked about.
I know we would all like to exist in a place where illness, uncertainty, and death were not a reality. This side of heaven, the only way to experience true freedom from our fears is to put our faith and trust in The One Who conquered fear. Our God is a living God and He is powerful God. His love, power, and truth have risen and set the sun, parted the Red Sea, conquered Goliath with a boy and a stone, and broke down walls (literally and figuratively). That same God is with you and speaking through you as you are having hard conversations with your child. You are fully equipped! There is hope because He is the same God yesterday, today, and for every tomorrow.