WE MADE IT TO 2021!!!! Parents and children alike need to recognize that getting here was no small feat. We bring into 2021 the lessons of 2020. We may as well use them to create something beautiful.

One thing parents can be thankful for is the ability to continue to support our children and their psychological health and wellness – as challenging as it may be at times.  We know that parenting is particularly difficult during COVID-19 particularly as communities grapple with sending children back to school or keeping them home with virtual learning. Reports from families support what we could have imagined – this process is TAXING for mentally and emotionally for both parents and children (Stafford, 2020).  

But, as we embrace a new year full of new possibilities, how can parents effectively juggle the complexities of this season? Is there a perfect recipe?

Nappy/Pexels

Black Boy Joy

Source: Nappy/Pexels

As referenced in the first part to this series (Grange, Sturdivant & Harris, 2020), Black parenting in the context during two pandemics has proven complex – to say the least. Parents often must manage their own virtual work schedules along with keeping their children on task at best and becoming their tutors/supplemental instructors at worst.  This stress, along with financial hardship and loss that this year has brought to many households and the anxiety engendered when considering the uncertainty of the days ahead can be emotionally draining.  However, we continue to emphasize that we have everything we need.  We affirm that, in the midst of much uncertainty, parenting during COVID-19 can be an opportunity to connect with our children in new ways that nurture their growth and development. 

Glass half full? Why not!

If nothing else, parenting in the pandemic has allowed parents to become re-acquainted with their child’s unique needs and qualities – or see some of their child’s qualities for the first time. Given the structure of our society prior to now, much the time that many U.S. families may now have with their children was previously been delegated to teachers, after-care providers and possibly extended family available to provide support (shot out to the grandparents!). While of these resources may still be available for some, most have found themselves in a position to create new, unique recipes for how to promote the academic and psychological wellness among their children. 

Let’s talk about some key ingredients that can get parents a closer to a recipe uniquely designed for their strong, resilient families. 

Know your child’s flavor and amplify their assets!

Parents, let us focus on what we want to grow. This mantra is one way to recognize and support the amazing gifts and talents that our young people as they transition into a year full of a promise towards a new, though undefined, normal. As has been the case in the past months, as our children grow they may simultaneously work parent’s nerves! This is normal, but we can also see past those points of frustration once they have been acknowledged. Focusing on solutions can get families further than focusing on problems. Children’s assets can be amplified if parents and other supportive adults celebrate and reinforce those moments when children are demonstrating behaviors consistent with family values. 

Every single family is different. With sensitivity to your family culture and values, asking yourself the following questions can help with identifying their unique assets.

How many times a day do I recognize my child’s wins? If you don’t know, you better ask somebody!!! Who? Your child! What they can recall may be based on their experience. If parents recall a praise point that the child does not, this is a fun time to celebrate the parent for praising and amplifying the child’s asset all over again! 

What are creative ways to recognize my child’s wins? This can be something more obvious (hug, high 5, fist bump). It is also fun to let children hear you bragging as you tell someone else about your child’s awesomeness. (“Girl, she was so excited to work on that science project. She already knows more than me. Yeah…I am proud if her.). A note left later that day or the next day can help them know that the goodness of their effort continues to be in your heart and mind. 

Under what conditions does my child truly shine? 

August de Richelieu/pexels

Time with Dad

Source: August de Richelieu/pexels

Parents benefit from “getting into the zone” from their child’s perspective and really learning what and how they thrive. Does your child want to talk about what they overheard in the news? Does your child want you to join them in reading? Does conversation naturally come up when they are doing something else – cooking or on a walk? Knowing your child’s “flavor” can help you both tackle hard times and sometimes harder topics.

Parents can better get to know their children and their assets, by using everyday activities as learning opportunities. Dr. El’Tanya Brown, professor at James Madison University and owner of Kinderjam shares practical strategies for how to engage in applied learning with children. She uses the example of cooking, but the same can happen with music (learning about the genre, culture of origin, artist) or even paying the bills with older children. 

Whatever strategies used, we must accept that there is no perfect recipe, every situation is different and there is always room to adapt. Let us continue to transition into a new year with an intentional focus on what we want to GROW in ourselves, our children, and our communities. 

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