Life restricted to our homes, home schooling, working from home, financial worries and fears of contracting Covid-19 are challenging our capacity for patience and understanding. Our boundaries are being pushed, our frustrations are high and our resources are limited. All of these issues may be magnified if you and the other parent in the midst of a separation, divorce or were thinking about divorce even before the onset of Covid-19. What can you do, right now, to help you manage and deal with difficult relationships at home while outside life is on hold?
Wear your children’s shoes
Understanding the challenges, changes and disruptions caused by the Pandemic is hard enough for adults to deal with so can you imagine what our children are thinking and feeling? In their own way they are also experiencing confusion, frustration and fear. Putting ourselves in our children’s mindsets can give us a different perspective. Understanding how they feel can help guide us as we deal with the day to day, and often hour to hour issues that are coming up as we live, work, study and everything else, together 24/7. Seeing life through their eyes may give us some insight on our adult interactions.
Be a Model
Because our children are with us 24/7, now more than ever, our words and actions are on display for our children. Like you, your children are restless, impatient, bored, intolerant, unfocused, anxious, and so on. The days are long and increasingly frustrating. But if we expect them to be able to get through these challenging times, we have to show them how to do it. We cannot expect them to take things “one day at a time” if we do not adopt this approach ourselves. We cannot expect them to “think before they speak” if we do not and we cannot expect them to be patient if we do not model patience. But if we model behavior for them, we may actually improve our own interactions and expectations.
Be forgiving and allow “do overs”
We all make mistakes and make choices we wish we could take back. We say the wrong things and we make poor choices. Frustration and impatience can make us do these things more often. And while it is true that some things cannot be undone, in most instances, we can have “do overs.” If you say something that you don’t mean, apologize and try again. Be forgiving when someone apologizes to you. Let it be an opportunity to open new paths of conversations.
Find opportunity in adversity
Overly positive? Maybe. But why not? We have no choice but to deal with the current situation as best we can. We can use this time to try to understand how others around us feel and experience this “new normal.” We can model for our kids coping strategies and we can find ways to regroup, reevaluate and find new paths. The challenges of Covid-19 can certainly magnify the problems that already existed, but maybe, with patience,forgiveness, and modeling, we can also find opportunities to address those problems as a result of the way we face the adversity of the pandemic.
Laurie Amaya, Esq. Laurie Amaya works as a family law mediator, consulting and collaborative attorney in Pasadena, California, USA. She is an APFM Certified Advanced Practitioner, APFM Senior Mediator, and a Certified Mediator with Mediate.com.