As with all things in life, the key to getting through a difficult time is to focus on our faith. Faith is always the key. As parents, the greatest gift we can give our children is a strong foundation of faith, so when they face challenges in life, they know the reliable source to depend on—God.
During this current crisis with the coronavirus, teens might be worried about a variety of issues such as family finances if parents are temporarily unemployed, food shortages, catching the virus, or someone they love getting sick. They might even be devastated by school suddenly being canceled—no interactions with friends, no prom, no spring activities, etc.
We live in a very blessed society and are not used to facing these current uncertainties. But life is unpredictable and full of heartache, illness, death, financial problems, broken relationships, hurt feelings, etc. As people of faith, we are assured that no matter what happens in life, we can trust in the promises of God. He is with us, and we can depend on Him. Instilling these beliefs in our children and continually strengthening their faith is fundamental to weathering any storm.
Here are a few suggestions to help you connect with and reassure your teens during this stressful time.
1 – Help others who are less fortunate. When we help others and realize that there are people who have far greater problems than our own, suddenly, our worries don’t seem so overwhelming. This suggestion works well for everyone in many situations. We can all become so focused on our own issues that we can lose perspective.
In our present situation, helping others might be a little more challenging since we are to limit interaction. But maybe as a family, you can think of a few ways to reach out to someone. Can you buy groceries for an elderly neighbor, so they don’t have to risk going to the store? If you have an at-risk friend, can you help with yard work or walk their dog? Maybe you could send cards to hospitals, nursing homes, or soldiers to let them know you appreciate them? What about sending a letter or email to a relative to brighten their day? Even if we must stay at home, there are still ways to care for others.
2 – Focus on the good things in your life. We are fortunate to live where we have many freedoms. We have access to excellent hospitals and medical care. We have an abundance of food. Even when the shelves are empty, delivery trucks will arrive with more supplies. Not every society is so lucky. Maybe when you sit down for dinner, each family member could share something that they are grateful for. How about searching for encouraging bible verses or starting a gratitude journal? Sometimes teens have a hard time seeing anything outside of the bubble they live in. Hopefully, these suggestions can help everyone in the family realize that they have a lot to be grateful for.
3 – Make some family memories. One positive aspect of people being home is that we have an opportunity to spend more time together. While this can be a challenge, it can also be a wonderful opportunity. Instead of struggling to think of things to occupy your days, have each family member take a turn to choose an activity such as: a movie marathon afternoon, a game night, watching old family videos, cranking up the music and cooking dinner as a family, digging out favorite childhood games or movies, reading a book together, creating a family book club. Why not use this crisis to make some lasting memories?
4 – Keep the faith. Most importantly, don’t forget to include plenty of faithful elements in your long days. Churches might be closed, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still worship. During a crisis, we especially need faith to help us through these tough times. Online Mass, Bible readings, family prayers, Christian movies, and faith-based books are all ways in which you can keep faith present during this time. Creating a prayer journal could be a powerful, long-lasting idea to implement. Often our prayers are not answered right away or in the way we expect. When you keep a prayer journal, you can look back in weeks, months, or years to see the unique ways God answered your prayers.
No matter what activities your family chooses to enact, the important thing is to remind your children that no matter what crisis or problems we face, Christ is the answer.