Facing the Fall
We are in an unusual time. School and church life looks different than it did six months ago. No one could have predicted how much our lives would change and continue to be changed as a result of COVID-19. So how do we face the fall as families and as a church community amidst the pandemic?
This article from St Mary's Press helps us focus on what is most important during this time. This article has been adapted below to address families.
"If we approach the fall prayerfully and intentionally, we can be a force for good."
Strategies to be a "force for good":
- Prioritize the personal. Ask family members, "How are you doing...really?" Take time to listen. Check in with your children individually for 10 minutes to guage their emotional health and current challenges each week, sometimes each day if they are really struggling.
- Naming the loss. Adults may have experienced loss of a job or death of a family member. But children have lost things too. Even things which may seem less significant to adults may, in fact, be very important to children, and are therefore challenging to let go of. Sports or birthday parties cancelled. School suddently ending in person and going virtual. Wearing a mask and following lots of new rules. These are all very real concerns for children, among others. Give family members a chance to name their losses and see them as significant.
- Identifying resources. We as parishioners and parents are not mental health professionals. When we listen, we may realize our children need more support than we can offer. Talking with parish and school staff can point you in the right direction to get the spiritual and mental support needed to thrive during these challenging times. We are only a phone call away, and we are here to support you.
- Providing stability and structure. Creating a family schedule and posting it somewhere everyone can see it can be helpful. Beginning each shared meal with the same meal prayer can calm anxieties through a shared routine, giving a feeling of stability when other things seem to be changing. Reassure your children that Jesus is here right alongside them and cares about how they are doing. He loves each of us dearly.
- Providing hope. Hope is central to our faith: the Resurrection triumphs over sin and death. Jesus is victorious and walks by our side every day. This is the real hope that we can share within our families and communities, expressed through joyful, loving actions and the witness of our steadfast commitment to one another.