My dear Make Words Matter family. This post is not like my usual, uplifting messages (at least at first glance). In fact, this post may be more than you want to imagine is true in our communities right now. That’s okay. Please do not feel …
So you are an essential worker. Some will see you as “lucky” to be able to work. Others may believe it is better if you “just stay home regardless.” You may go back and forth between feeling grateful, happy, anxious, guilty, angry, and scared. Like …
Dear 12th grader,
I know these last few weeks have not been what you thought they would be. You had all of these plans. You have worked so hard to get here. Your dreams feel like they are slipping away.
It’s just not fair.
You worked over and over and over to get good grades. To be a good student. To have your teachers believe in you. You read textbooks and books that you weren’t interested in. You did math problems that seemed so silly at the time. You pulled your grades up to get to the finish line. To graduate. And now… we won’t even get to celebrate at graduation?! That’s not fair.
You dreamed of going to prom with just the right person. You imagined how you would be dressed. The place you would go before prom started. You thought through how annoying your parents would be – taking all the pictures in your front yard or driveway. You dreamed of how prom would go – with your friends all dressed up. The music. The decorations. And the fun of after-prom. The memories you would make. You earned your right to be here as a senior. And now… we can’t be in groups bigger than 10 people?! That’s not fair.
You practiced and practiced to have the most amazing senior-year season. You worked out, you got stronger physically and mentally. You spent so many hours in the gym or on the field. You built up your confidence to be great this year. You dreamed of how you would look in your uniform as you crossed the finish line, home plate, the final round of golf. You just knew this was going to be your year. It all came down to this last year together with your teammates. Those people were going to be the most amazing teammates. And this year’s team had so much talent. We were going to be amazing. And now… the whole seasons has been cancelled?! That’s not fair.
You have been working on this artistic piece for what seems like forever. You were selected for the solo on a piece that was among the most beautiful you have ever heard and seen. You were so excited! You have been practicing and working on it daily. You couldn’t believe how much you have grown into being a real artist. You remember all of the advice your teacher gave you. You made changes and adjustments to the piece until you really felt like it was almost perfect. And now… the showcase has been cancelled?! That’s not fair.
You developed so many friendships in the last four years. The fights and the make-ups, the back-stabbing and the true friendships. The people who you knew were your “ride or die.” For as long as you can remember, your parents were pushing you to have friends. To be a good friend. To hang out with your friends. To stay out of trouble with those friends. And now… your parents say you can’t even see them?! That’s not fair.
And then there were those friendships that turned into something more. That girl who made you realize why you need to shower. The guy who believed your body was really attractive. That person who believed in you and accepted you and really liked you. And you liked them back. That person gave you thoughts of something exciting for the future. And now…we can’t even be within 6 feet of anyone?! That’s not fair.
There are so many things that aren’t fair about this whole situation. So many things that just seem straight stupid. You can’t really imagine that something bad would happen if you just went over to hang out with your friends. It would just be a couple hours. You could just wash your hands. It isn’t that big a deal. Why does social distancing have to exist anyway?! That’s not fair.
And what about just going out to the store? Why did all the stores have to close? What are you supposed to do now? Sit at home and just zoom with everyone? It’s definitely not the same as seeing them in person. That’s not fair.
And your parents. Sometimes you think they just don’t get it. They are really trying to keep you going in a positive direction, but you just really don’t think they get it. You wish they would do something to fix it. You know they can’t, but still just wish they could. That’s just not fair.
My dear senior. I see you. I know how unfair this time is. I know how it feels like no one really understands how hard this time is for you. How sad it feels sometimes. How hard it feels sometimes. How boring life feels sometimes. How you go from super sad, to angry, to just plain “over it.”
I want you to know that we are ALL cheering for you. We are HOPING for you. We can’t imagine how hard this time is for you. Truly, we wish things could be different.
We will miss seeing you walk across the stage in your cap and gown. We are grieving the loss of taking all of those prom pictures with you. We were so, so sad to be missing this athletic season with you. We wish we could have seen you shine on stage as an amazing artist. We miss seeing you laugh and goof-off with your friends. Oh how we long for the rumble and laughter of you and your friends in our house!
Dear senior, we are in this together. When you feel alone, please reach out. You are not meant to be alone. Social distancing does not mean social isolation. We love you. We are praying for you. We know you are hurting.
We are here for you.
We are ALL here for you.
Let’s be creative together to make up what you are missing. Let’s explore together, the ways you might feel more hopeful. Let’s chat more about how you are feeling and ways to help you feel better. Let’s try new hobbies or habits that will help you grow in new ways.
We know there is sunshine on the other side of this. We hold on to hope for your amazing future ahead. We know we will get there. We just have to make it through the unfairness of now. We know we will, but sometimes it’s okay to just feel like it just isn’t fair.
As we recently received news that social distancing will continue for another month, I thought I would share some ideas for you to consider as we are entering another month of social distancing with our kids. I recently made a post about why COVID-19 is …
As I have been in meetings with different folks about mental wellness during this unprecedented time in our history, I have heard and felt similar things that make this pandemic especially hard. I thought I would share them here in case anyone else was feeling …
Looking for some tips on how to talk about COVID-19 and answer their questions? Look no further!
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This morning, I woke up early to head out to the grocery to grab a few things we were running low on around the house. I had a relatively short list of items – flour, ground turkey, rice, laundry detergent, and noodles. I hadn’t been …
As we continue to grapple with the seemingly unending changes, we are continuing to find resources for sharing these changes with our kids. I have come up with an acronym (PRESS) to help us remember how to talk with our kids about hard things – …
We have all been experiencing the disappointment, frustration, sadness, confusion…. about missing out on our favorite things right now. They have cancelled our favorite classes, our favorite activities, closed our favorite restaurants and local gyms. In one way or another, all of us have felt the loss of something during this time.
I have been interviewed by several media outlets and asked by parents – “How do I help my child cope with all of this?”
So here’s a few tips related to the emotions around the disappointments and cancellations.
Try NOT to “put it in perspective” right away. Instead, use empathetic listening.
As our kids are describing their sadness, disappointment or anger, try NOT to just right to the “it’s way worse somewhere else” speech. That will not be helpful right now. Here’s the thing. When our kids come to us feeling disappointed or sad about missing something, that is a fair emotion for them to be feeling in that moment. Aren’t we all a little sad about something going on right now? Imagine if you came to your spouse or friend and say, “I’m sad about….” and they responded with… “Well there are other people who have it worse than you!” UGH. That feels gross.
Unfortunately, I have heard a lot of this in my therapy office and I am tempted to do this with my own kids from time to time. As they are “whining” about something they missed, I am tempted to think “sheesh…don’t be so dramatic.” – But as I pause and get re-focused on what they are saying, using empathetic listening is always a good go-to. This article shares a definition of empathetic listening “requires that we accompany a person in her moment of sadness, anguish, self-discovery, challenge (or even great joy!).” This joining is so important to our kids. Especially now when they are out of their routine, missing social connections with friends, and experiencing boredom frequently.
Share and model your sadness, disappointment
Another tip is to share your own feelings about missing things, too. It is fair for our kids to see and hear us being somewhat emotional about missing things as well. Yesterday, my 10-year-old asked me, “Mommy, which do you prefer… being here with us and not going to work, or going to work and not being here with us.” My answer was that there are many advantages to both parts of that. I love my work and my job. I value the work I get to do everyday. But I have longed for more time with them while they are little. And so I shared that I was a little sad about missing things they would otherwise be doing at school. And I miss my friends at work and being able to freely go to places without second thoughts about germs and viruses.
Sharing some of our sadness lets them know it is okay for them to be sad, too.
Final tip: sharing your feelings
Fear and anxiety are different than sadness and disappointment. I encourage you not to engage them in what YOU are worried about, what you are fearful of. This will be too hard for most of our kids to manage. They will hear your fear and it will become anxiety for them. Our kids have enough going on, they don’t need our anxiety on top of it. Instead, manage your own anxiety by reaching out to friends, or self-care strategies. Keeping kids (and yourself) engaged in activities that are healthful – exercise, getting outside, crafts, etc – will keep more and more fear away and peace within.
photo cred pixabay
As the world is reacting and coming together in response to the recent changes to our everyday lives, I have been contacted a few times to share thoughts on how to best talk with our kids about what is happening. So here are a few …