by, Johan Mosert, PhD
While the media is busy educating us, adults, with general information about the outbreak of the coronavirus, we in the faith community have a similar responsibility to help adequately and age appropriately educate our children. By this time, most of us have been reminded and subsequently have reminded our children of the basics of good hygiene. But in addition to these oft-repeated disciplines, we have identified five other “basics” we feel are important for us as a faith family and foster care community to highlight:
Paul admonished young Timothy to, “keep a close watch on how you live.” (1Timothy 4:16 NLT) Children develop their feelings of safety, security, and stability from interacting with the parents and adult caregivers who manage their world. When adults are calm, they create an atmosphere of calm in the home. Children quickly pick up on their parents’ concerns. When anxious, they transmit anxiety to the children, and this could lead to an increase of additional health problems and behaviors in children. Parents and caregivers help by keeping a close eye on their own hearts for traces of fear and anxiety. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27 ESV)
In the words of Dr. Francis Collins, the Director of the National Institutes of Health, we need to respond to the coronavirus with faith and common sense. You can listen to this amazing man of faith, sharing his biblical perspectives with sound advice here.
We are persons of Truth and we resist the attempts of our enemy to confuse and mislead. It is important that our children are well-informed and not misled by myths and mistruths. The World Health Organization has a wonderfully illustrated page on Myth Busters that you could use as a fun activity for teens to work through. Some of these myths are quite strange but all are informative.
In addition to our young people understanding what protective steps they need to take to prevent becoming infected, they need an understanding of the protective steps that are being put in place by community leaders, national governments, and the global community. Many will already know about their school closings, but they may not understand why there are no more church services, or why they can’t play with their friends, or go to concerts, or sports games. By placing their personal discomfort into the wider context, it will help them understand that although these measures are drastic, they are currently our best defense against the spread of the virus.
School closings, the cancelation of sports events, and the enforced isolation that some communities have had to institute have created a unique situation where parents and children will spend a lot of time together. On the one side, there are parents who have been released to work from home but need to cope with the lack of support that schools and daycare centers used to provide. This has prompted Focus on the Family to produce a delightful article on how to stay sane while working from home with kids! On the other side, this can be an opportunity for strengthening family relationships, enhancing communication, and promoting family activities that so often get upstaged by demands of work, schooling, and social life outside the home.
Professor Emeritus of Community Psychology