Sympathy, care, and concern for others, that’s the definition of compassion. And that’s the feeling we need to practice now more than ever.
As parents, you are facing challenges you never imagined just one year ago—the start of school may have felt hectic as you made those last-minute trips for school supplies and lunch boxes and felt the pressure to get the photo of your child with the cute “first day of school” sign to post on Facebook or to send to grandparents.
But this year, nothing compares to the uncertainty of virtual, in-person, or hybrid instruction (part virtual, part in-person). If you are a working parent, it’s possible that you still haven’t figured out how to meet your own work responsibilities, whether at home or at your workplace, while supporting your child’s in-person learning or supervising your child’s distance learning or the prospect of distance learning. Let’s face it, even those schools that have opened with children in class could face closures if there are virus outbreaks in them.
And even if you have come up with solutions, it is crucial to expect the unexpected. It is not realistic for your child to adapt to this new normal of mask wearing and social distancing without some struggle, and that is where compassion comes in. There may be more tears, eating or sleep issues, and more oppositional behavior, (all signs of stress).
And just as you need to remind yourself that this is hard and you aren’t going to always get it right, you need to remind your child of those same sentiments. Being compassionate toward yourself and your family members is all-important right now. It doesn’t mean that you are lowering your standards; it means that you need new standards for these new times.
Here is the conversation you need to have with yourself, your partner, and your children: “I know that this is hard, that we will all make mistakes sometimes, but we will get through it… together.”
It is also important to remind family members that you love and appreciate them…now more than ever.