Despite the incredible pressure, this pandemic has put on families, there are things parents can do to keep themselves and their children with a measure of emotionally health during this time of instability and unpredictability:
1. Ask your children what they are thinking about and simply listen. Even if they say things that may alarm you because they might be true, don’t be alarmed or allow it to show on your face. Your children need a safe place to talk and an opportunity to express their feelings, and it is up to you to provide this space.
2. Set the example you want to be followed in your home. Take care of yourself spiritually, physically, emotionally and socially. Spend personal time with God each day, eat nutritious food, exercise regularly, drink plenty of water, get daily sunshine when possible, practice temperance, get fresh air regularly by walking outside when possible (keep social distancing), get enough daily rest (try to sleep at least 7.5 hours per night), keep trusting in God’s promises, practice thinking positive thoughts, and connect with friends and loved ones regularly by electronic means (e-mail, telephone, WhatsApp or Zoom).
3. Practice being patient and kind every day (1 Corinthians 13:4).
4. Live by the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23).
5. Pray with your children on a regular basis (have family worship every day). Allow your thoughts to be turned to God who has promised to never leave you (Matthew 28:20), to keep you in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3) and provide all your needs (Philippians 4:19).
Willie Oliver, a family sociologist, pastoral counselor and certified family life educator, is director of Adventist Family Ministries at the General Conference.
Elaine P. Oliver, a licensed clinical professional counselor and certified family life educator, is associate director of Adventist Family Ministries at the General Conference.