You can’t turn the TV on or walk into a grocery store without hearing about the Coronavirus. Being a divorce parent, I know how upsetting it is if you are the parent without your children during a time of crisis. Sometimes it works out that they are with you and other times for reasons out of your control they are at your ex’s. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are parents and going through a crisis such as we are faced with currently.
As much as you feel anxious being away from your child, so do they. If you are the lucky parent who have them to ride out the storm or the virus in this case, you feel relaxed because they are with you but your child might be feeling anxious because mom or dad are by themselves. Talk with them and let them know the other parent is safe. Arrange phone calls and facetime between them. If you are the parent on the other end of the line, keep conversations light. Younger children don’t need to be brought into adult worries. If they do ask about the situation, just let them know mom and dad have it under control and they are protected.
If the children are with you, keep routines the same as familiarity makes a child feel safe and secure. This is also a time to engage your children in creative thought since you will be housemates for a bit. Build tents in the family room, have them help you make meals, set up art stations or private little nooks where they can retreat. Keeping little ones occupied is difficult under ideal conditions so be patient. Everyone is getting use to the new normal, at least for a while.
Keep the TV and radio, as well as conversations, out of earshot. No doubt you are nervous but can you imagine having to tackle your anxiety along with a 6-year-old? Also, bear in mind that classes are online and monitoring what they are taking in as far as news is important. I’m not convinced there is any value in letting a 7th grader know the amount of deaths caused by this virus. As parents, it is our job to protect our children first and foremost, which brings me to my next tidbit of advice.
Having been through a very contentious divorce, I get how hard it is to come together on things but now more than ever, your children need both of you. Please put aside your feelings for each other and show your children unity. They need to feel that they are safe and how safe can one feel if they see their parents fighting? This is a time to teach your children resiliency, kindness towards others, and how to be able to put bad feelings aside to work towards a common goal. In case you are still wondering what the common goal is, it’s the mental health of your children during a crisis. Now is your time to shine as a parent!