Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Open Letter to All Parents during the Age of COVID

As a child therapist, I have never seen so many families in crisis, as I have seen since the COVID pandemic began several months ago. The stressors families are enduring right now are many. We are all concerned about jobs, our child's education, trying to balance work demands while taking care of our children's' needs, and much more. How is it possible to meet work obligations while teaching math to your child? The answer: It's impossible!   

That being said, parents with children with the most serious issues are experiencing the greatest challenges. There are plenty of challenges for families with cooperative and motivated children to cope with the pressures COVID has created. For parents of children with the greatest problems, the challenges for parents may seem insurmountable. Unlike in normal times, the challenges you are experiencing may be insurmountable. In other words, your assessment may be totally accurate. 

Under current circumstances, I don't think any recommendations or advice any therapist could give you about managing your child's behavior or other problems would make that much difference in the short-run. Counseling techniques for families with children assume the child's home environment is conducive to the child's improvement, or at least headed in that direction. 

Although many environmental changes are within the scope of parental control during normal times, parents cannot change what is out of their scope of control. For example, school districts determine the educational options available to your child. Many factors contribute to your job situation. It may seem like everything you once controlled has spun out of control, and you are left in a helpless situation. Again, your assessment may be correct. That is because many things are out of your control right now. 

What can parents do during the age of COVID? First, solve problems within your control to provide your child with the best home environment possible. This would include implementing and continuing to use techniques and methods of helping your child learned in therapy. 

For problems outside your control, such as dealing with the impossible task of working a full-time job while teaching four kids at home, parents have no choice but to let it go, do the best you and your child can, and use the coping skills that have worked for you in the past or learn new ones.   

When faced with circumstances outside my control, I try to keep the following quotes by Victor Frankl in mind. 

"Our greatest freedom is the freedom to choose our attitude."

"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves."

                                                                                               Victor Frankl

With Great Humility,