While not wanting to sound very dire, the underlying message is very pertinent for us during the present times when we are bombarded with messages and memes, theories and advice, news – real or otherwise – from all directions. And this assumes much greater importance in our role as parents. Never before (after the toddler stage perhaps) have so many of us had to spend so much time with our children…and our children with us!
Children are like sponges and in this situation what we as parents say or do, advertently or inadvertently, can have a deep a lasting impact in shaping their thoughts and behavior, or in how they process the world around them. So, parents/adults need to keep a few things in mind:
- Be mindful of what you discuss in front of children – You may be having a discussion with your spouse or just sharing some jokes or forwards. The two of you in this conversation may know that this is not to be taken seriously. However, your child may construe an entirely different meaning out of it. So, we need to be mindful of the conversations we are having in the vicinity of the child and not just to the children themselves. On a lighter note, while children may sometimes seem impervious to what’s being said to them, they have this uncanny ability to pick up titbits not actually meant for them.
- Model positive behavior – Children also pick up a lot from what they observe grownups doing or how they react to a situation. So, let us take this as an opportunity to model to children how to deal with such a situation sensibly but positively. This could also be the opportunity for us to underscore how fortunate we are in comparison to so many others, and this could be a pathway that leads them to greater empathy and compassion.
- Create spaces for open sharing – Having done or not done any of the above, it is still true that we will have many worries or apprehensions. So will our children. It would be good to create some dedicated time and space for open sharing within the family where both parents and children can share what’s on their minds. This will give parents an idea of what’s playing through the children’s minds (may surprise us sometimes!) as also demonstrate to the children that it’s ok to feel vulnerable and to express it (“hey not just me…even Mum Dad can feel like scared sometimes”!)
So good luck to us parents…who knows we may actually emerge from this having forged much stronger bonds with our kids and they with us!