Original article from Indy’s Child
August is upon us, closing down those last bits of summer and pulling back the curtain for a brand-new school year. Here’s the truth though, there is only one thing about the future I can tell you for certain: this year will be different. By now, most of us have heard our school’s tentative back-to-school plan for the fall but given the fragility of certainty we have seen over the past few months, that “plan” might not feel so secure. As a parent, that makes me feel uncomfortable, and probably you too. You might have been a care-free, go with the flow kind of person before becoming a parent, but if you don’t agree that after having kids it’s best to have some sense of plan about the future, then you’re probably lying to yourself. For most people, uncertainty and ambiguity about their future is unsettling. And, if we adults are unsettled, I guarantee our kids are feeling it, too. Here are a few ideas about how best to navigate your family’s uncertainty bus through the new school year.
The first thing I know for sure is that so far, the year 2020 has been unprecedented. And without prior experience, how could we possibly know the best way to move forward? So as the start of school approaches, you can help both yourself and your kiddo scale down their scope of what’s to come by focusing on the small stuff you know is true. Maybe start your day with a run-down of the day’s schedule. Provide details for your child about planned activities, their daily chore expectations, and what’s for dinner. This will help create a sense of security for at least the day at hand.
Our kids feel what we feel. They are like little sponges soaking up all our emotions. So, let’s reflect on our own attitudes about the future. Is your glass half full or half empty? Are your comments about the world regularly negative or positive? Would you describe your thoughts about the future as hopeful or hopeless? Our kids rely on us to help define their worldview. Right now, more than ever, their own vision of the future needs to feel optimistic, positive, and hopeful. Let’s help shape that.
As adults, we know that this too shall pass. But our kiddos lack our experienced perspective. A simple tip: include the word ‘yet’ at the end of your statements. For example, “we are not sure what your classroom will look like this year, yet.”
The father of mindfulness, John Kabat Zinn, once said this: You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf. Even if you have to fake it, parent with a sense of flexibility. It will benefit both you and your child to identify and drop any rigid plans or beliefs you might still hold about the future. It is definitely time to accept our current reality and learn to ride the wave.
Good luck in the new school year. Surf’s up!
Kate Fisch is a licensed psychotherapist and founder of Northside Mental Health. Kate’s clinical experience and area of expertise is in the field of eating disorder treatment and substance abuse treatment.