Parenting is hard. This is a statement that rings true to anyone with children in their home on even the best of days. What about when crisis strikes and the circumstances change? What happens when all the other people to whom we have been entrusting the care of our children are all of a sudden not able to be present in their lives? This is exactly the parenting predicament in which we find ourselves in the world of COVID-19 and the Shelter-in-Place regulations. Suddenly, we as parents find ourselves learning how to be the teacher, coach and counselor in addition to being a 24/7 parent.
While this all feels overwhelming, there certainly is much good that can come from this circumstance. Trusting in God’s goodness, sovereignty and wisdom in these times leads us to the hopeful conclusion that He has some amazing plans in store for our families. For me, personally, this truth has provided a necessary heavenly perspective that points me to what He has in store for my family during this time.
How Can We Lead Our Families During This Time?
Here are reflections on how the Lord is at work through this trial to make our families more into his image:
We can grow closer together (not just in proximity). I have found over these first weeks of spending more time together that I have learned a great deal about my children (and how I relate to them) than I have previously. As we spend time together, we can see how the Lord uniquely made and gifted each member of our family. We can learn to appreciate the quirks and tendencies each child brings to the table. The challenge here is that these things can often be points of annoyance or contention. We need to fight this tendency by humbly choosing to “learn our neighbor” in order that we might love them well.
We can learn to better lead each individual in our families. Getting to know our children better during this time will invariably lead to seeing how they handle trial and difficulty. Each of us responds to these circumstances in different ways and our children are just as unique in their responses. Learning to see each of our children’s unique make up and how they individually respond to the COVID-19 outbreak allows us to apply the grace of the gospel to each one individually. Like everything else we face in other-focused ministry, we must approach each person individually with the unchanging truth of the gospel.
We can establish healthy discipleship rhythms. Personal growth in the spiritual disciplines is something that every follower of Christ desires. At a time when idols are being stripped away, we can place Christ in his rightful position at the center of our lives. As we are given the gift of more time to spend in Christ’s presence, let us take it for the gift it is and embrace it as much as possible. When our utter need of God is put before us with this level of clarity, let us learn to depend on him for our daily provision of physical and spiritual nourishment. This is true not only for each of us individually, but also for us as we lead our families. We find ourselves in a unique position in which time and schedule offer far less of a roadblock to faithfully leading our families and raising our children in the Lord. Let us take full advantage of this gift the Lord is offering us.
We can learn to walk together through the trials and disappointments of life. As we are intentional in pursuing the spiritual disciplines more fervently as individuals and families, this will hopefully lead to pointed conversations about the times in which we are living. The trial we face has implications not just for us as parents and leaders, but it also impacts the lives of our children in ways that are real to them. Our children are learning to cope with the loss of face-to-face interaction with friends, a disruption of routine and the loss of other activities they were looking forward to enjoying. All of these things are very real in the lives of our children and we have the joy of helping them face these challenges with faith. Recognizing the reality of this impact in their lives and walking through the challenges and disappointments together is an invaluable opportunity the Lord is giving us to practice putting faith in action along with our children.
These are but a few of the good gifts that our heavenly Father is presenting to us in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. Admittedly, it is easy for us to be inundated with the news of the day and the needs within our congregations and communities during this time. Let us not, however, miss the blessing before us at the dinner table with the gift of added time and opportunity to invest the gospel into our closest neighbors.