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Supporting your child’s emotional well-being during a pandemic

I think a valid reaction to the title of today's blog post maybe how can we concern ourselves with supporting our child's emotional well-being during this pandemic when we have problems caring for our own emotional well-being. All kidding aside, this pandemic is more than just about a virus that has health consequences for us and for our children. By now everyone understands what we need to do to keep ourselves and our children safe and healthy as best we can. Washing our hands, keeping an appropriate social distance from one another and wearing masks or have all been prescribed by health officials. We may look back in years and say that some of these methods were more or less effective than others. For now, though this is what we have been given by the people that we trust to lookout for ourselves and our children.

You will see a lot of places right now talking about how it is OK to feel overwhelmed. I think the popular way to say that is it's OK to not feel OK. Basically, this boils down to how it is not inappropriate for you to feel like you don't have all the answers and that some aspects of your life are beyond your control. For some of us, this may be a welcome reprieve from the feeling of having to have all of the answers all of the time for everyone in your life. Putting pressure like that on yourself can be a daunting burden to carry every single day. If you read enough newspaper articles and watch enough television you will be convinced that the entire world is looking to you personally do your part to slow the curve, help your neighbor and help your child. 

I have to say that in my personal life this is something that I feel is inappropriate to put on all of us. There is enough pressure on all of us on a day-to-day basis beyond talking about this virus that to add any more pressure would be demanding too much of each of us. When every argument is framed on a macro or global level it can begin to feel very overwhelming in terms of the fate of the world or at least of our community being on our shoulders. I think there are more effective ways to approach this situation from an emotional perspective that can benefit ourselves and our children. 

Control the controllables and assess risk 

The virus that we're all dealing with may be called a novel virus but the concept of managing risk and controlling the things in your life that you have direct control over is anything but novel. When we go to the grocery store it is not uncommon to hear announcements over the loudspeakers every 10 or 15 minutes reminding us to wash our hands and practice safe social distancing. I don't know about the rest of you, but I have always made it a habit to wash my hands in to keep a distance from the people that are shopping near me. In fact, I can't think of one time, but I saw anyone at the grocery store making physical contact with another person. These are not new concepts and we should not be made to feel like there is any particular pressure on us to obey these sort of commands. 

Take a step outside your home and look around. Odds are you will not see anything different now then you did last June or the June before that. That is not to say that there is not been humongous changes in the world since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Most notably hundreds of thousands of people have passed away. That should not be lost in the discussion of this topic. 

However, in our little corner of the universe it is very unlikely that you will see any demonstrable changes when you step outside your door. That is one of the great things about living in the United States, in my opinion. Presidents come and go; trends of all sorts pass us by jobs are won and lost and yet our world remains fairly consistent year over year over year. I'm willing to bet that your life is that way right now. 

If you don't feel that way and you feel like your life is spiraling out of control or that your children's health and well-being is at risk I invite you to take a moment to seriously think about why that is. Again, I invite you to go outside your front door wherever that is and take a look around and honestly tell me if what you see at your door is any different than what you saw at your door in January of this year or in June of last year. Again, I'm willing to bet you that you don't see much of anything that is different. 

Next, think about the last five conversations you had with your children, your friends, and your family, if any of those conversations discussed the pandemic I would ask you if those conversations involved actual, first-hand knowledge about the virus in its impact on someone that you know. It's possible that you know someone who has the coronavirus. It's possible that you know someone who knew someone, etc. that has the coronavirus. You may even have the coronavirus or have recovered from the virus. 

However, your firsthand or secondhand knowledge of the disease or a person that has been impacted by the virus is probably pretty small. If your first and secondhand knowledge of the virus is limited that is a good thing. We don't want to be in a position where everyone and their cousin has the coronavirus or know somebody that does. If you have developed opinions and concerns over the virus at this stage in the game, it is likely that you have consumed those opinions from others who are providing you with third- and fourth-hand knowledge of the virus and its impacts. 

Where is it that we get these opinions from? Opinions are not being dropped from the sky by airplanes. Nor are they being broadcast through speakers set up at the end of your block. Rather, we learn the opinions of others through television, the Internet and the radio. If anyone has benefited from the coronavirus it would be the news media. With so many people out of work, afraid in with other avenues of entertainment limited because of the virus people are beginning to look to the news as a form of entertainment. This is scary to think about in my opinion in his harmful for your emotional health.

What can you do to protect your own emotional well-being during the pandemic? 

At the beginning of the pandemic I was probably a lot like many of you. I would read the newspaper articles and watch television reports regarding the virus and its dissent on Southeast Texas. Every new diagnosis of the virus and each additional death would seemingly catch me by surprise. After a while it became obvious that this virus was one that was not going to go away quickly but was one there could be managed through behavior in properly assessing risk in your daily life. Then, I began to realize that this was true not only of the coronavirus but of any virus or any sickness at all. The same techniques that we have used to mitigate the coronavirus thus far but also be effective most likely at mitigating the flu. 

If this is the case and what we're dealing with is not something completely never seen before and that we are unprepared to deal with. While the beginning of the pandemic. Was met with runs on toilet paper and paper towel I think we can all find as much of both of those items in the grocery store now then we could have prior to the virus. I think this is a sign that wow these are not typical times it is important to know that life will go on. I dare say that life has to go on despite this virus. 

We should consider ourselves fortunate to be alive right now during the time of this virus rather than to have had this virus impact us 10 or even 20 years ago. Consider the advances in medical technology in communication technology since those days. We are better able to share information that is valuable to saving lives and improving the quality of life of those of us who did not have the virus but are still impacted by our societies changes in the face of the virus. More much of the information that we absorb on a daily basis regarding the virus is not helpful in my opinion, much of it is. 

One thing that I think many of us read into in our busy lives is the desire to only read the headline of an article or a social media post and not to actually take the time to read what we are being told. There are multiple topics associated with this virus that I think we can all agreed having dramatized in order to get our attention. However, if you are truly concerned with the scope of the virus in our area there are many resources for you to reach out towards that can provide you with factual, and objective information about the virus and its impact in our community. Rather than rely on a journalist accounts of the virus why not take a look at the actual numbers themselves? You can see for yourself the growth of testing, the virus and where our hospitals are in terms of seeing patients with coronavirus. 

How can all of these steps help you support your child's emotional health? 

Children take their lead from their parents. More is caught by our children than taught to our children. Meaning, that we can spend all day and all night telling our kids at everything's going to be OK or telling our kids that the world is ending. But they will watch our behavior and learn from that more so than any lesson we give them verbally. So, you should be mindful of how much time you have spent with your nose glued to your phone or with your eyeballs focused on the television. 

Your kids will take their cues from you as far as behavior during this time. If you want to show your kids that in the end, we're going to be OK you should model this behavior for them. Go about your life as normally as possible, practice the basic tips we've already shared in terms of caring for yourself and then. Your kids will observe your behavior and act accordingly. Do you ever wonder why the wild and rambunctious kids either have parents who are wild and rambunctious or have parents that simply don't discipline them? The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. 

Caring for your kids’ emotional well-being during this pandemic does not have to be something that is your all day, everyday focus. Rather but you should do is care for yourself, manage your own inputs as far as media and understand the actual risk presented to you and your family. Do not rely on social media or traditional media to be your only source of inputs. Seek out independent information and make assessments for yourself and your family accordingly. If you do not cede control of the while being every family to others you will feel more in control and more knowledgeable about this subject. Your children will observe this in their own well-being will be positively impacted.

Questions about family law during the coronavirus pandemic? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material shared with you in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week. These consultations can be had in person, over the phone or even via video. Our objective is to serve our community the best we can by providing quality an effective representation and whatever family law matters are impacting you in your family.

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