The first instinct of a parent is usually to shield their child from any harm. It’s easy to believe “ignorance is bliss” and the best way to protect our children is by not telling them anything, but children are often intuitive. They pick up on things, emotions, and can tell when their parents are carrying a weight whether they can vocalize it or not. As the COVID-19 crisis has unfolded and has altered many of our children’s routines it has caused children to wonder, ask questions and maybe even worry. Similar to adults, children too worry when they are left in the dark. Therefore it’s important, before a child seeks answers else where, for parents to become their safe haven by discussing with them the impacts of the virus while reassuring them in a way that doesn’t cause worry. Here are some ways to have a conversation with your child about COVID-19.

Be available to answer any questions

With so much unknowns going on around your child he or she is bound to have some questions. However it’s wise to ask this question first, “What have you been hearing about the coronavirus?” This question will help you understand what they might already know or clear up any false information. Then create a space for your child to ask questions by opening up the conversation with, “Do you have any questions about the virus?” Give your child an opportunity to be heard and to understand the facts. Encourage your child to ask any question they may have but if they ask one you don’t have an answer to, help them accept uncertainty. Even though we may not have all the answers we serve a big God who knows all and who offers us hope and peace. Remember this truth, “ For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7 NKJV).

Be comforting and speak calmly

Before engaging in a conversation with your child about COVID make sure your own anxieties are in check. If your child senses any fear and panic they too will begin to take on your emotions.  Be sure to be calm and collected when discussing the virus with your child. Reassure your child by explaining that most people who get sick have cold or flu like symptoms and that it’s mainly adults who catch it. Speaking calmly will give your child a sense of peace and comfort knowing “if mom and dad aren’t too worried, I don’t have to worry either.” Be honest and truthful to your child and bring comfort if any fear or worry rises up within them. Let them know you are here for them.

Give your child a sense of control

No matter if you are an adult or a child it is always comforting when you feel like you have a little bit of control of something. So offer this control by teaching children how to protect themself and why certain mandates have been put in place. Teach them that getting plenty of sleep and regularly washing hands especially before eating can help there bodies stay strong and healthy. Explain that washing hands for a solid 20-seconds or the length of Happy Birthday will not only protect them but others as well. Another way to keep yourself and others safe is by wearing a mask. Reassure your child that hospitals and doctors are prepared to take care of people who are in need and that scientist are working diligently at developing a vaccine. Encourage your son or daughter that all the changes that have been happening are to keep everyone safe. 

It is normal to feel a little stressed when a lot of changes happen all at once. However for a child having the comfort of a parent can make all the difference. Keep the line of communication open; make yourself available for your child. As you walk alongside your child stand firm on this truth, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Some of the best things about being a teenager is finding different ways to socialize, whether that’s hanging out with a friend group at school, being apart of sports, or shopping for the next school dance. Being with friends is a huge part of being a teenager, not to mention all the milestones a teenager looks forward to, like driving, prom, and graduating. Once COVID hit all of this was stripped away and many of the activities a typical teenager enjoys was either postponed or cancelled, limiting, what teenagers do best, socializing with their friends. Being confined to their home, many teens have been impacted emotionally; feelings of depression, anger, and even boredom have begun to weigh heavy. So let’s discuss some ways you can best parent your teenager during these hard times.

Emphasize Precautions

Teens often feel invincible, which may make it a bit difficult for them to comply with new mandates. Therefore it is important that they understand that social distancing, wearing a mask and regularly washing their hands apply to them too. These mandates are in place to not only protect them but to protect others as well because it’s not really a matter of how you are feeling and that you may feel fine. The danger is when a person is asymptomatic and they are carrying around the virus without knowing it. Even though your teen may be comfortable taking the risk of getting sick, to be with their friends, help them see that if they end up getting COVID they will have possibly infected everyone they interacted with that they did not social distance from or wear a mask around, which includes their family. Even though your teen is young the coronavirus is still unpredictable and affects people differently, from mild to sever symptoms, no matter the age. Therefore it is vital that your teen has a clear picture of this virus and it’s important that, you as the parent are there for them to answer any questions, bringing them comfort.

Support a Healthy Routine

No matter what age you are it is can be frustrating to change up your routine. However it’s important that your teen plans out a new schedule and routine that helps them maintain a healthy lifestyle that keeps their mind and body engaged rather than letting time aimlessly pass them by. Your teen will be able to cope better during such a stressful time if they are getting adequate sleep, eating healthy, and regularly exercising. This will help your teen maintain a positive mood and fulfill academic expectations. Encourage your teen to get active, whether you go on family hikes, walks, or bike rides. Maybe this is an opportunity to get active with your teen, maybe try running together or take an online workout class, regardless remind your teen sleeping all day is not an option, it’s important to remain active. 

Include social connections within your teens schedule by allowing time to connect via Zoom, Facetime and social media. Even though screen time should be monitored it’s also important to know this is their way to feel connected. Encourage your teen, during this “down time” to learn or do something new like finding a fun recipe and making it for the family. A new routine can include new memories and precious moments together. 

Be Mindful of your Teen’s Mental Health

If sulking about being home with parents and siblings becomes a regular occurrence with your teen a conversation may be helpful. Acknowledge their frustrations, and maybe sharing your own feelings, may help your teen not feel alone. Listening to their heart and validating their feelings can have a positive impact on your teen. Help them understand that you want to work together at making this situation more bearable. Regularly check in with your teen asking them how they are doing and how they are feeling in their low moments. Be mindful of any emotional changes such as: acting out, irritability or being tearful, changes in sleep or eating, and if they are isolating more often. Have direct conversations with your teen about their mood and mental health.

As difficult of a season this is…this too shall pass. The best thing you can do as a parent for your teen is to simply be available.

When your normal routine consists of lots of hustle and bustle, from working all day to running errands and really only coming together as a couple in the evenings, then everything coming to a halt, can take some major adjusting. You may have been used to coming together mainly on the weekends, while the week was hit or miss. For some couples being locked down in a home together may be a dream, while for others it may bring some hardship and difficulty. Although, after several weeks go by, even the most devoted and healthiest couples may find the extra togetherness a bit overwhelming and begin to feel a little stir-crazy. However being in a pandemic and having to quarantine with your spouse doesn’t have to be a nightmare, in fact it could be an opportunity to strengthen your relationship. So lets discuss some ways that your relationship can remain intact while maintaining harmony.

Seek God first

With so many uncertainties and unknowns all around, fear can become all consuming, whether that fear is wrapped in the possibility of getting COVID or that there won’t be any toilet paper left in stores when your family needs some. So the best thing a person can do for themselves as well as for their relationship is to cling to the unchanging source of love, peace, strength, and comfort; God. A pandemic can bring a new weight to our shoulders and the only way to lift that burden is to run to God’s truth and promises. “ He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings” (Psalms 91:4). The time is now to not worry about anything but to pray about everything and then be thankful (Phil. 4:6). The best thing you can do with all the free time you now have is to seek God first: spend time in His word, pray together with your spouse, walk through a devotional with your kids but above all else run to God. 

Communicate Needs

Communication is always a vital component to a healthy relationship, however when quarantined together it becomes crucial. Take time each day to really listen to one another. Share your concerns about the crisis, being quarantined together and expectations. Discuss with your spouse how you both can give each other enough space while still being a team. Ask questions like: How much alone time do you need? How can we strengthen our marriage during this time? How can we grow closer to God together? What are some goals we can pursue during this quarantine? When you are starting to feel overwhelmed or frustrated don’t push your spouse away, rather come together, share all you are feeling, and work together at solving any issues that may arise. Confide in each other, be vulnerable, and have compassion towards one another. You will both be processing this time differently so empathize and practice active listening. Respect each other with what is needed. 

Balance Responsibilities

The responsibilities that worked well before may not work as well while being quarantined. When one person feels like they are left to do all the household chores, work tasks, and childcare while the other does whatever they want, this can become a source of argument. So to avoid this conflict redefine, renegotiate, and divide up what needs to be done. Decide who will take on what when it comes to the household and what your children may need. With everyone in the house together, and much more consistently, responsibilities need to be balanced out to keep a person from feeling burdened with everything 

Make New Memories

Find ways to laugh together, play games, cook something new, redecorate, or tackle areas of your home you haven’t previously had time to do. Whatever you end up doing, do it together with the sole purpose being to draw you closer. Learn to be more affectionate, give longer hugs, kiss no less than ten seconds, take walks together while holding hands and begin to dream together. Treasure this “slow down” time and allow yourself to fall in love with your spouse all over again. 

As the world around you crumbles create a safe place within your home, a place full of love and grace. It is then that your relationship will come out on the other side not only intact but much stronger.

The pandemic has not changed a person’s desire or need for human connection but it has changed the way a person must go about it. With “shelter in place” orders, social distancing that requires people to stand six feet apart and a mask mandate; it can seem nearly impossible to connect with someone. This for a single person desiring a relationship can be discouraging. However even though it is wise to be safe and heed to all precautions it doesn’t mean all chances of meeting someone is lost, if anything, it’s a chance to get to know someone in a different way, which can be just as meaningful. Remember God is bigger than the coronavirus and if it’s His will for you to meet someone and pursue a relationship even during a worldwide crisis, it will happen. With that said, let’s discuss some wise ways to date during Covid-19. 

Become a Better you

Often times it’s easy to enter into a dating relationship hoping a person is everything you want in a mate but forget to stop and think, “Am I the person that someone I desire would want?” The best way a person can set himself or herself up for dating success is by bringing into a relationship a healthy you. Before embarking on a dating adventure take this time to take inventory of your own healthy emotionally and spiritually. Be willing and intentional to take steps that will ultimately make you a great spouse one day. As you get to know yourself you will become more aware of what is a good match for you. 

Use Online Platforms

Even if meeting someone over Zoom, Skype, or Facetime doesn’t seem ideal or the most romantic, thankfully technology has allowed us to interact with others in the middle of this pandemic. It has given two people an opportunity to meet and get to know each other with out having to worry about whether or not you should kiss on the first date. It’s a chance to connect with someone while enjoying your favorite drink or meal without having to deal with waiting times or a loud crowd around you. Use creative conversation starters or as the relationship progresses watch a movie together by choosing the same movie and pushing play at the same time. Make the best of what technology offers, remove the pressure of figuring out an extravagant date and simply enjoy hearing the heart of another person. 

Take Precautions when meeting Face-to-Face

As the relationship continues to progress you may come to a place where you feel comfortable meeting up in person. However before you set a place and date be sure to lay down some ground rules on how you will interact to keep one another safe. Find a place that offers appropriate space to maintain adequate social distancing, wear a face covering and ensure you are both symptom free, or better yet, get tested for the coronavirus. Respect one another and do all you can to keep each other healthy and free from the virus. Even though you both have chosen to meet up in person still take your time in getting to know each other, don’t become desperate because you’ve been cooped up in your home. Be smart!

Dating ideas COVID style

Even though the coronavirus discourages touch it doesn’t mean romantic pursuits have to be, it just means you may need to get creative. But really, if there is good conversation and lots of laughter you can’t go wrong. Some ideas include: going on an outdoor picnic where you can sit six feet apart, find a drive-in theater, or have a game night…through a window (you may want to choose a warmer evening for this one since one of you will be outside), plan a romantic scavenger hunt, go skiing or snowboarding, walk around a local park or go through your favorite coffee shop drive thru and set out for a nice long drive enjoying new scenery. Simply being together should be the highlight of any date.

Covid-19 has brought its challenges but there are ways to overcome and conquer them. God has the right person in store for you and a pandemic won’t stop God from bringing that right person to you. Be patient, get creative and have fun!

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