Essential Life Lessons Kids Learn From Social Distancing


Family / Friday, May 8th, 2020

If social distancing has left you feeling like the meanest mom in the world, I hope to encourage you with essential life lessons our kids can learn in this season.

Maintaining boundaries with children is a hard job. One that requires perseverance and sometimes thick skin. Our children are fairly young, so most of our boundaries are driven by safety concerns but I know we’ll run into more moral and financial driven decisions as well as the kids get older.

Lately maintaining boundaries has felt harder than usual. A 14 day voluntary self-quarantine due to my husband’s recent international travel morphed into state-wide shelter-at-home orders that continue to be extended with no definite end in sight.

Maybe, like me, you had never even heard the term social distancing before 2020. If it’s hard for adults like us to adapt to the closing of schools, parks and activities, of course our children are struggling too! Nothing like this has ever happened before to any of us. Our days, once full of routines and schedules has changed quickly and drastically. For our kids, time with friends, teachers, coaches, Sunday school teachers and more has been systematically, and intentionally removed from their lives. Kids, like the rest of us, are still adapting, grieving, and reeling from the rapid changes.

We’re in this together, but it may look different

With these changes comes the reality that not every family is dealing with these unprecedented circumstances in the same way. They can’t. Each family is doing their best and each family is affected differently. Some are sending their loved ones into harm’s way as real-life super heroes. Doctors, nurses, sanitation workers, postal workers, delivery services and all those in the supply chain of food and medical supplies have families too. Some families require childcare. Other families are coping with job loss, some are grappling with caring for loved ones, and some are figuring out how to work and school from home. Many families are dealing with loss of loved ones through the current pandemic or other reasons and struggling to grieve in a world that demands no physical contact. There’s no room for judgement.

We are all juggling.

All adapting.

In each home, parents set boundaries for social distancing and shelter-at-home that work for their family. We all decide what works best and what is feasible, then we have the hard job of holding the boundaries.

There’s no judgement here. But there is an observation. Because everyone needs to handle the boundaries differently, there are things kids may see others do that leave them feeling sad, lonely, deprived, or left out. In those moments, I see a sadness, confusion and grief in our children that breaks my heart. You guys, it is really hard to continue to enforce the rules our family has decided to follow. I’m guessing we aren’t the only family facing this struggle. This isn’t a new normal. This isn’t normal at all.

This isn't a new normal. This isn't normal at all. We need hope and to look for the good coming through these hard circumstances. #pandemiclifelessons #hope #notnormal Click To Tweet

We Need hope

No matter what specific challenges our families face, I think we can agree that we all desperately need hope. We need encouragement. I’m writing this today to encourage you with a message I need for myself. Every single day.

I hope to offer some encouragement to continue to stand firm because we know our children are being stretched, challenged and molded by this strange season. The character of our kids is being built and life lessons are being learned from social distancing that we can celebrate and encourage. We need this perspective when the mom-guilt rears it’s ugly head. Or when we just get weary of doing the hard things.

They are watching.

Before we begin, I cannot stress this truth enough: Knowing good is coming from these circumstances doesn’t make the struggle any less real. It doesn’t make the emotions we feel any less tumultuous. We still need to feel and process these things. This isn’t intended to give the impression that we can reason our feelings away or stuff them. My goal is to help us consider the good in hopes that it can give us a framework for thinking – a way to step back and remind ourselves that there is purpose in this season of waiting.

Something good has to come of all of this.

Something good has to come from all of this. #lifelessons #hope Click To Tweet
Essential Life Lessons Our Kids Learn from Social Distancing | thisgratefulmama.com #lifelessons #pandemiclifelessons #momlife #motherhood #hope

Essential Life Lessons Our Kids Learn From Social Distancing

We’re all learning together. Let’s use this season of waiting to cultivate the character of our kids.

Our kids are watching. They are learning alongside the rest of us. We have a chance to use this time to purposefully teach them essential life lessons. #pandemiclifelessons #purposefulparenting Click To Tweet

Our Choices Affect Others

Now, more than any time in my life, I’m learning this lesson too. Like a virus can unknowingly spread from an asymptomatic person to others, our decisions impact others. Even if we don’t see the results. Kids are learning they have the freedom to choose to put others first and they can choose to lay down their desires, plans, and ‘rights’ for the sake of others.

Serving others is a blessing

It doesn’t always feel like it, but loving others by choosing to stay home is a blessing we get to participate in. It feels hard. And isolating. It does feel like sacrifice. We don’t know who we protect. This is a tangible, real life example that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. Bigger than our family. Our kids are learning there is no price to great to pay to protect the lives of our loved ones, and the loved ones of others.

Our kids are learning that loving others by choosing to stay home is a blessing. It does feel hard. And isolating. It does feel like sacrifice. But we have the freedom to put others first. #thisgratefulmama #choicesmatter… Click To Tweet

Family Time Is Important

Last year was busy! The pace of life, some minor health issues and my husband’s travel schedule left us feeling spread thin. There wasn’t much time to just be together. While the nature of this family time sometimes feels inflicted upon us, it is a gift. We are learning new rhythms. All this togetherness is revealing the need for better communication, and is providing plenty of practice. As we connect more, rediscovering board games and puzzles, we learn more about each other.

While the nature of this family time sometimes feels inflicted upon us, it is a gift. We are learning new rhythms. Connecting more. Communicating better. #pandemiclifelessons #family #togetherness Click To Tweet

Siblings Can Be Friends

Our neighborhood is full of young families so can always find a playmate. Normally, our kids don’t have to play together. Sheltering at home means our kids can play with siblings (and parents). It isn’t always pretty, but what relationship is? This time is changing their perspective of siblings. They do get mad and need breaks from each other, but are quicker to forgive. Kids are learning to appreciate siblings as friends, not competition.

We All Need Grace

With all this togetherness, there’s no where to hide. Our flaws are on display. There are big emotions to process and not a lot of alone time to do it. Distance learning is an adventure in which we all need extra patience, extra grace and extra gentleness. Sometimes it’s just messy. Since we’re all extra messy in this extra-ordinary situation, I guess it’s good we’re messy together.

Since we're all extra messy in this extra-ordinary situation, I guess it's good we're messy together. #socialdistancing #together #grace Click To Tweet

More than ever, our entire family is seeing how desperately each of us needs grace. Grace, upon grace, upon grace. Especially me! Kids are learning what grace and forgiveness really feel like to give and receive. We’re getting a lot of practice and experiencing the healing, comfort and peace grace brings to our relationships with each other and with God.

Essential Life Lessons Kids Learn From Social Distancing | thisgratefumama.com #socialdistancing #momlife #motherhood #lifelessons #hope

Prayer Matters

With all that messiness, this mama is praying more than usual. Want to learn to pray without ceasing? Hello Pandemic. Kids are watching. And right now, they are seeing lots of prayer. Like grace, we are getting a lot of practice. Our kids are seeing what it looks like when we take our fear, shortcomings, emotions and needs to Jesus in prayer. More importantly, they are seeing that the outcome of such prayers is peace, joy and expectant hope.

Our kids are seeing what it looks like when we take our fear, shortcomings, emotions and needs to Jesus in prayer. More importantly, they are seeing that the outcome of such prayers is peace, joy and expectant hope.… Click To Tweet

Activities Don’t Define Identity

This social distancing life lesson is one we all need to learn. Like adults who define themselves by their careers, family, or hobbies, kids begin to define themselves by their accomplishments and activities. With no activities, kids are learning who they are isn’t defined by what they do. They are God’s child. Our child. They are uniquely and wonderfully made and are loved deeply, regardless of what they are involved in. Right now, they are seeing that life continues without activities. Identity isn’t lost when an activity stops. This time reinforces that our kids’ self worth is found in whose they are, not what they do.

Community is a Special Gift

When school is cancelled, playing with friends is cancelled, activities are cancelled, family gatherings are cancelled, and church is cancelled, we begin to really miss and appreciate our community. We realize how much we take regular interactions and friendships for granted. Our kids are learning how precious their friendships are, and at the same time they are learning they can survive without them. We cannot wait to reconnect with friends and family, and look forward to what a celebration that will be!

God is in Control

When it feels like nothing in the world is in our control, our kids are finding tangible relief from the truth that God is in control. He is still on His throne. God is not quarantined and His plans are not thwarted by any virus. While we can expect to face trials and suffer in this world, we are promised His very presence. God is walking through these days with us and with our kids. They are experiencing His peace, comfort, and learning to take their questions, doubts and emotions to God. And to share them with us. These are lifelong lessons that will bear fruit long after this strange season leaves us.

Lord, You are Sovereign and good. We know you are at work in this situation and are in control. But some days, we still struggle to see the good, to see your face and to trust you. It’s hard to hold the boundaries we’ve set with our kids, especially when we see them hurting and confused. We struggle with those feelings too! You are our good Father and you love us all and we know our hurt is seen by you. Teach us through this season of waiting and sacrifice to depend on you to supply all we need. Fill us with your Spirit and show us how to trust and obey as you lead us. As you are the Good Shepherd, equip us to shepherd our kids and cultivate their character as we point them towards you. Thank you for walking through these strange days with us and being the unchanging, faithful God you are.

Resources

If you are struggling with grief, or if you’re wrestling emotions you don’t quite know how to name or what to do with them, my friend Marianne offers the good news of the Gospel in light of grief. Good News in a Global Time of Grief, Marianne Peterson

I found this video to be particularily encouraging as the news of cancellations and closures came in rapid fire: God’s Goodness Isn’t Cancelled, Lysa TerKeurst

We’re all learning together: Tell us what other life lessons your children are learning in the comments!

2 Replies to “Essential Life Lessons Kids Learn From Social Distancing”

  1. I love this!! I think all of this has probably been harder on the kids than most of the adults. It’s hard for them to understand why all of this is happening. These lessons your kids have learned are wonderful! I especially love the lesson about serving others.

    1. I agree it’s hard for them to understand. I’m seeing a wide range of understanding between my 4, 7 and 9 year olds. My poor 4 year old just doesn’t get it and asks me daily who we are going to see and where we are going. I’m so thankful she has siblings to play with! Serving others has been a powerful motivator for my oldest. He has a compassionate heart and it’s neat to see him agree to follow the rules to serve others. Thanks so much for taking time to share your thoughts.

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