I teach seniors, and so in May, I walked with my students through the reality that their last year of high school would end way different than they had been planning. We wrote a lot about COVID and cancelations and what to do next.
Here’s what I learned from reading my students’ essays: so much of how they handled the daily disappointments came from what they saw their parents doing. Their families had a unique opportunity to walk through an actual crisis with their near-grown children. Believe me, the lessons my seniors learned last spring will stick.
Parents, we have the same opportunity with our kids right now. No one asked for a Corona-complicated year, but here we are. And our kids are watching.
The biggest lesson our kids will learn will not be how to properly sanitize a table, or how to write the perfect five-paragraph essay, or how to navigate Google Classroom. The biggest lesson our kids will learn is how to deal with situations outside of their control.
Here are three truths your kids need to learn this year:
- First, show them how to give yourself way more grace than you ever thought possible. You are learning a lot right now and that means you have to kick perfectionism out of your life. This year will be so messy and ugly. Keep showing up. You’re learning deep flexibility. You’re innovating. Teach your kids to see their mistakes as proof they’re trying.
- Rules are not your Savior. We need standards right now, but they are not meant to give you security or inspiration or love. Life in 2020 sounds like a terrible melody of treble notes—-scarcity, panic, and complaining. But our souls need the bass notes. We’re all craving real truth and encouragement. Pray with your kids. Look to the Bible to see how generations of God’s people have handled crisis. Teach them that real security comes from knowing Jesus’s love.
- Be truthful with yourself about your bad habits. And do better. Your kids hear you constantly complaining. They’re learning toxic jealousy when you compare yourself to someone “doing it better.” They see you numb yourself with alcohol or binge-watching or shopping or hustling. Hand them a better toolbox of skills. Teach them that every season offers a chance to grow. Change is painful—but God will equip you with what you need.
Fellow parents, please hear me that you are doing sacred work here. Masks and social distancing and online learning will feel traumatic. Treat these next few months as a very unique chance to teach your kids how to rely on God.
Their lives will be filled with so many things they can’t control–everything really. This is our chance to show the next generation what real grace looks like.
And that could make all the difference.