Whether it’s a health pandemic, an act of violence, or a personal crisis, when the unexpected happens, we want to lead our kids through it well. Parenting in the midst of a crisis can be challenging, but there are simple ways to communicate with your kids that will give you the best chance of reaching them and showing them you’re there for them no matter what.
1. Talk About It
It may be easy to NOT talk about what’s going on—your kid or student might even act like they have no interest in discussing anything that’s happening. But don’t let that be the end of it. If you believe they are old enough to comprehend the situation, be intentional about the changes you’re facing and what that means for not just your family, but families everywhere. Big things are often made less scary when we talk about them. Discussing their fears with you will let your kids know that they aren’t alone in all of their thoughts and feelings.
2. Validate Their Feelings
While they might not be saying a whole lot, it’s almost guaranteed that your kid is feeling all kinds of emotions. Depending on their age and personality, they might express these feelings in different ways, like acting out, being extra silly, or asking a lot of questions. Even if you believe your child is too young to understand what’s going on, there still may be changes in routine or your own stress levels that may cause them to act differently, even unknowingly.
No matter how your child is reacting, make sure to validate their feelings when you can. Ask questions like, “Can you put into words what you’re thinking or feeling?” or “How are your friends handling this situation, do you feel that way too?” Whether or not your kids open up, giving them room to express how they feel will make them feel safe when they’re ready to do so. Check out these Crisis Conversation Guides from Parent Cue for specific guides created for your child’s age and phase.
3. Rest in the Known
During times of crisis, we have the opportunity to lean into what we know to be true: that we have a God who loves us who we can pray to, rely on, and trust no matter what. Use this time to lean into those truths with your kids, reminding them that God is always in control and we are never alone in what we’re going through. We can rest knowing that whatever is happening, God is bigger.
4. Pray for the Unknown
While we rest in the known, there’s still unknown out there in every situation. Use this opportunity to encourage your kids to pray. These are different prayers than the usual thanks at dinner and before bed—intentional prayer for a crisis may seem overwhelming at first, but set an example of how we can pray for big and scary things without living in fear. This may be the first time your child is praying for people outside of your family or close friends, and it’s a great time to talk to them about how we can pray for people and situations that we might not even fully know or understand. Don’t miss the chance to deepen their faith by praying for the unknown.
As a parent, you always want to do what’s best for your kids. Leading them through a crisis may be one of the hardest parenting situations you face, but your kids will remember how you cared for them in the midst of it. Stay updated with resources and ways to parent well every day with Parent Cue’s Resources on their app and website, and for teens check out this Parent Guide from Axis.