I’ve noticed something on social media during the past few weeks that concerns me. As if it isn’t difficult enough for families to be quarantined, or at the very least to be limited in movement outside the home, I understand tensions can run high in family dynamics. That being said, I also think parents need to be parents during this crisis rather than friends.
I understand our children are stressed about not seeing friends, and believe it or not, not going to school every day. It is an upheaval of their daily routine for which they turn to parents and other adults for help. What has been disturbing me lately on social media is the high numbers of adults almost encouraging a sense of self-pity in their families.
I understand that as parents we are concerned that our children have the positive experiences of their youth that so many generations have had before. Prom, end-of-year award ceremonies, and even graduation are unknowns currently, but seeing parents lament over the possible exclusion of these events won’t prepare children for adulthood.
As adults we have come to understand that life isn’t always what we want it to be. We can’t always do what we want when we want it, and eventually our children need to learn that lesson. You might be tempted to say, “They shouldn’t have to grow up that fast!” My response is, “Why not?”
For generations, adulthood began in the teen years. At eighteen men went off to fight World Wars. At seventeen, or even earlier many women became wives and mothers. At age thirteen my grandfather left his mother in Greece, never to see her again, to begin a new life in America. Our children are capable of much more than we expect of them.
During Great Lent, we are expected to increase our fasting, increase our prayer life, and increase our almsgiving to help others. These spiritual disciplines help us to learn how to love others more than we love ourselves, and that sometimes we must “put on our grownup pants” and act like adults. That is part of growing up. That’s part of becoming a mature Christian. That is also quite similar to the message of yesterday’s Gospel. We are expected to serve others, not our own self interests.
During this final week of our Great Lenten Journey, I invite you to help your children cope with the stress of the Coronavirus (COVID19) Pandemic, by helping them realize that sometimes you “just have to push through” and make the best of a situation. Obviously, we want our children to enjoy their childhood, and they still can, even if that means skipping prom. They will look to us as adults for guidance. If we portray the attitude that their childhood has been forever ruined by this crisis, they will believe us and act as if they have nothing left. If on the other hand, we show them through our positive responses to the crisis, that this is just another experience that will shape our future for the glory of God, they will believe that too. It is time for us to be parents!