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Parenting essentials during the pandemic

What is essential? This concept is under hot debate currently, many of us at odds about what is truly essential to life given the threat of COVID-19 transmission.

What is essential when it comes to parenting our children? Our roles have been seemingly transformed by the pandemic, suddenly finding ourselves as teachers in addition to the already long list of responsibilities of parenting. Many are breathing sighs of relief now that “home” schooling is finally wrapping up.

But I’ve also heard from many parents with serious undertones of angst about the learning that “should have” happened over the past three months. Guilt over the unfinished assignments. Worry that their child will be behind when school is back in session. Regret over the raised voices, obvious exasperation and quick discipline administered during remote-learning struggles in homes-turned-classrooms. Feelings of overwhelm at the prospect of a long summer of trying to manage already-stir-crazy kids at home for three more months.

Here’s the good news: Essential ingredients to positive parenting haven’t changed!

Even in a world that seems to be in flux day by day, our role of parents is truly the same as it always has been: to love our children, keep them safe and model for them what it means to be a human contributing to the good of society. Will we do this well every single day? No! And that’s what it means to be human. We are imperfect creatures, subject to the flaws of humanity. We won’t get it right every time, and that’s okay.

Mostly right is right enough

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But what if we feel we really missed the mark over these past few months? What if our homes have become filled with tension, quick flashes of anger and combative behavior? What if at some point during quarantine we figuratively (or literally!) threw up our arms and said to ourselves “I can’t do this anymore!”

First, it’s important to know: You are not alone. I’ve talked with parents across the country who have and are continuing to experience a glut of difficult emotions in their roles as mothers and fathers. We are all in the same boat, navigating these unfamiliar waters warily.

Second, give yourself grace. The pandemic is not going to be the defining theme of our sons’ and daughters’ childhoods. Yes, they will remember. They will be telling their children and grandchildren stories of how people fled to the stores and hoarded toilet paper. Stories of a masked America, donning surgical masks in grocery stores and curbside food pick-ups. Stories of a time when governors were at odds about how to keep their citizens safe.

But they will also have stories of how their parents kept them safe. How their parents’ strength in this time of uncertainty made them feel protected and unafraid. How they learned to see that their parents aren’t perfect, and that they don’t have to be either.

Lastly, be proactive in the narrative. Think about the stories you would like your grandchildren and great-grandchildren to hear about your resilience during this crisis. Think about the legacy you want to leave – how not to be consumed by negative media, how to refrain from feelings of guilt over unmet expectations, and how to look for a silver lining. Think about what you want to model for your children which they can, in turn, model for your grandchildren and great-grandchildren: Expressing gratitude even in adversity, loving unconditionally and giving grace.

Give your children the gift of modeling that it’s okay to not always get it right. Give them the gift of imperfect parenting, the gift of being at peace with being human. Give them the gift of allowing them to be imperfect, too.

About the Author

As a professional and credentialed coach, Amanda Shevette works with moms and dads who want to embrace a greater level of harmony at home. Amanda holds the PCC-level certification from the leading coaching authority International Coaching Federation and Parent Coach certification from Pathways to Success. With offices in Greer SC and Rutherfordton NC, Amanda specializes in working with parents of children with ADHD and other challenges. As mom to three teenagers, parent-tutor for dyslexia and ADHD, and member of a blended family with five years’ experience as a single mom, she knows a bit about the challenges of parenting! Contact Amanda at amanda@leadingpurpose.com or visit her website, LeadingPurpose.com.

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