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April 21, 2020

To the Parent Who Feels Like a Failure

When COVID-19 hit, it hit hard. Suddenly life came to a complete halt. What will happen with my kid’s schooling? Will my daughter be able to finish her senior year? How am I going to work, run the house, make sure my kids are doing their homework, cook meals, stay in touch with friends, keep going to church, and be faithful to the Lord in all of this?

It’s all just too much. I feel like I’m failing.

If you’ve ever said words like that to yourself, please know this: You are not a failure. No-one was prepared for this. Not a single person was prepared to fight over toilet paper, to hunker down for weeks with no end in sight, to have to worry about whether they’ll be laid off due to a completely unpredictable virus. We didn’t know this was coming, and it’s probably safe to say none of us really feel like we know what we’re doing.

You might be a single dad or mom, trying to learn how to corral multiple kids while simultaneously working from home. You might be divorced, struggling to find the best way to communicate with the other parent so that both of you get to see the kids while remaining safe and healthy. Or you might be trying your absolute hardest to work with your spouse to create some semblance of a routine during this crazy time, but all you’re doing is getting on each other’s nerves.

No matter where you’re coming from today, we recognize your struggle, and more than that, God recognizes the struggle, and He values the work we do that others might not acknowledge. Even when the kids don’t do their homework, and the dinners aren’t as fantastic as you’d like them to be, and the laundry piles up, and the house is utter chaos, and your work is difficult to do at a time like this, we bet you’re succeeding more than you think.

What if success looks like finally being able to make time for your family? This is an opportunity to connect and spend unfettered time together like none other. We have the chance to spend time with our kids without the distractions and stresses of normal everyday life. One parent we spoke with has discovered the true value in this time with her teenage kids.

Honestly, I feel like this has made my ability to try and be a good mom easier. Having baseball and dance and tennis canceled for my kids along with every other activity has given me so much more time to invest in them. I don’t feel stressed about making time for walks and talks. I can just do it. Additionally, having them home so much gives them time to help with the household in terms of cleaning and helping organize closets etc. So that is also a win!

Our process for school is that they can do what they need to in their own timing as long as it gets done daily. That has also reduced stress because they aren’t so limited as far as what time they have to be finished by. 

The one concern I have that has created some stress and fear on my end is helping them with the emotional aspect that COVID-19 has on them. My two older kids (17 and 19) express sadness over having no social plans and thinking friends will forget them. They lack closure in regard to the school year—no prom, ceremonies etc. They express worry over the job market for summer and how their learning right now will reflect in their next level of courses next school year. For all of my kids, they worry about if this will happen again in their lifetime. 

Maybe I am unique, but I consider this all to be a major blessing in the way of being a mom. I definitely realize that I may never have this much time and undivided attention with these people again. I am trying to spend as much quality time hearing them and getting to know them as I possibly can because I know it won’t last forever! I think parents who feel like they are failing might expect too much of themselves.

So, what about you? Do you expect too much of yourself? There’s a lot of pressure coming from everyone on the internet, telling us that now is the perfect time to write that book, accomplish your life goals, and do all the things! Sometimes, just having a meaningful conversation with your kid is enough. Take some pressure off of yourself, give yourself some much-needed grace, and remember: You are not a failure.

(P.S. Check out our Parent’s Guide to Shame-Free Parenting.)

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