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Frankly Fatherhood – Are the Kids Going to be Alright?

As the summer months approach, many of us are hopeful that the physical distancing restrictions will soon lighten up. We look forward to some form of social reintegration and that we get to spend time close to our loved ones. But for many of us parents who have been in lockdown with our kids since mid-March, our thoughts wander into worry.

This unnatural form of isolation resulted in many of us easing up on the routines at home. Our kids are getting more screen time than usual, we have become their teachers, their playmates, and in some cases, the only other person around. We talk a lot about safety around others, viruses in the air, and the hyper-importance of handwashing. Many of our kids haven’t left the confines of their home in months, they haven’t seen their friends or family members, they haven’t gone to the park, or accompanied you to the grocery store.

As a result, it’s only natural that we are concerned about how they will fare though these times. Many of us are probably worried about screen withdrawal, separation anxiety from us, an unnatural fear of touching others, a constant panic of getting sick, or a dread of public places. We worry about withdrawal from loved ones, lagging social skills, decreased self-confidence, and whether the friends they missed so dearly will welcome them back into their social circles. Or maybe our concerns are completely opposite – that our kids, who have been so socially deprived, will hug everyone in sight and be part of the next wave of the virus spread. Then we worry about their schooling! Will they be behind in the fall? Am I responsible for their lagging academic skills? Now that they’ve been used to learning 1:1 with me, will they be able to go back to learning in a room with 25 other kids?

And finally, will our kids fear that the world out there is no longer a safe place for them?

In my experience as a teacher, I’ve seen kids go through horrible life situations: a complicated parent separation, a victim in a car accident, victims of abuse, the loss of a parent, and the death of a younger sibling. Many times, it seemed these kids would never recover from such tragedy, but every time, every child did. With caring adults around them, each child was able to overcome their trials – and most became stronger than ever. Let us not underestimate the natural resilience in most children.

Fellow parents, it’s ok that we worry. It’s what we do. But we need to take a pause and acknowledge that these are OUR fears, not necessarily theirs. Perhaps they’re worried less or about different things than we are. It’s important that we talk about our fears, but let’s keep these chats between adults and be mindful about little ears near us. Our job is to stay positive, to point out the good in each situation, to celebrate their achievements, and to instill a sense of optimism and security. Yes, keep these worries present and plan for the transition but also let your child take the lead and respond to them as needed. Let’s shift our energy from worry and despair, to comfort and hopefulness.

Because in the end, the kids ARE going to be alright.

Frank Emanuele is a proud father of two boys, a special education teacher, and a director of Dad Club London.


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