Being A "Good Parent" In This New Normal
Updated: Apr 9, 2020
The world is changing. It already has. The world our children will be adults in is going to be different than the world we experienced as young adults. In that world, success was measured by status. It was measured by hard work and perseverance. It was measured by the things we could show to others. It was measured by what we could point to and say, “Yes, look what I’ve done.” Success was measured by doing.
I’m not sure what this new world will look like. But I do know that the old one needed to change. Shit hasn’t been good for a long time. While change is scary and painful, it is necessary in order for things to get better. And what we are experiencing right now, it just sucks. And it’s scary. And I’m not looking forward to teaching my dyslexic, ADHD, autistic child how to read. I’m afraid. And that’s ok. It would be kind of weird if I wasn’t. It’s also totally ok for me to have all these feelings. Because I’ve never been through a pandemic before. I’ve never even considered homeschooling my daughter before. I’m experiencing a lot of what Brene Brown calls FFTs (F-ing First Times). So of course, I’m afraid and angry and overwhelmed and tired and sad. Yeah. We all are. Even those of us who don’t look like we are. Those of us who defiantly proclaim that we’re not going to let our lives be controlled by a “foreign disease”…even those people are scared.
What I need to hear right now is that while my daughter isn’t going to grow up in the same world I did, that’s ok. Right now I need to know that while I don’t know what her world is going to look like, I need to know that she’s going to be safe. And right now, no one can truthfully tell me that. There are no guarantees right now. And while teaching math and reading fan all of the flames of my imposter syndrome, I am pretty good at loving my daughter. And the values I most want to instill in her include honesty, authenticity, resiliency, and compassion. I can do that by modeling for her what it looks like to be scared and overwhelmed with honesty and resiliency. For me that’s going to look like admitting to her when I am afraid so that she can know what it looks like and know what to do when she feels that way. I want her to know how to have fear without hurting or blaming other people. I want her to know that it’s ok to be worried when things are uncertain because fear’s job is to alert us to danger. And uncertainty feels like danger. I want my daughter to remember that fear of the unknown is not a weakness. It’s a human-ness. It’s something every human experiences. I want her to know what to do when she feels afraid. Because when we do that, when we name our fears we begin to take our power back. Fear grows in isolation. When we admit to being afraid we’re not alone anymore. And it loses its power.
The opposite of fear is gratitude. My daughter needs to know how to shift from being afraid to being grateful. The only way she’s going to learn how to do that is if I show her and if her dad shows her. If she sees that skill modeled by the adults she trusts. And right now, I am so grateful for her. For her health, for her silliness, and for her creativity. I am thankful for her current obsession with Ninjango and her perplexing affection for snakes. (Where in the hell did THAT come from?!) I am grateful because even when I’m confused and frustrated with her behavior I am challenged to remain present. And that challenge gets me out of my head and forces me to practice all that mindfulness stuff I’ve been telling my clients to use. And that makes me laugh. Now I’m not so afraid anymore.