Many parents are experiencing a new normal. On top of full-time work and parenting, they've taken on the role of teacher. Meanwhile, children are adjusting to virtual schooling and near-constant news and social media exposure. To help parents cope during these uncertain times, Jason Chandler, Head of Wealth Management USA at UBS, invited Rosalind Wiseman, Educator on Ethical Leadership & Parenting and Social Media Expert, to join him in a virtual conversation.
How will the pandemic shape our children emotionally?
According to Wiseman, young people may be misinterpreting or misunderstanding the news they're now consuming on an almost-constant basis, but she points out that parents are the models for their children's resiliency. She recommends remaining open about the fact that kids will be receiving nerve-wracking information. "If the adults can manage themselves well and show that they are not overcome with anxiety, then their children will also prove to be resilient," says Wiseman.
She adds, "You've got to go through really hard times to build the skills to be resilient. It's this combination of being honest about what we have in front of us without being alarmist. The research is clear that when adults are like that for children, children can handle incredibly difficult things. The more we take care of ourselves, the better our children are going to be."
How can we teach our kids to make the most of this time?
Now that many people are running on abnormal schedules, it's important for parents to guide their children in making the most of any new-found time. Wiseman shared an important question for parents to ask themselves: "When we look back on the intensity of this COVID pandemic, what do you want your children to remember about their time at home with you?"
If jobs are unavailable and internships canceled, the summer will provide an important opportunity for kids to seek a sense of purpose, which Wiseman says is tied to decreased levels of anxiety and increased levels of well-being. "We must give them a sense of purpose," she says. "That is going to be tied to a sense of service. In that way, we can help all of our communities be stronger, more prepared, be the villages we want to be. I think that there is this opportunity here that we can't gloss over. If summer plans are canceled, there has to be a way for us to focus on service and giving back to others. And this could be a real life-changing, momentously important experience for them—to see beyond themselves—that I think could be extraordinarily, profoundly important for our children."
How can we build stronger family relationships?
Chandler and Wiseman's conversation turned to ways parents can use stressful moments to build stronger family bonds. Wiseman suggests that parents avoid having heated discussions when they are exhausted or distracted. However, arguments are at times unavoidable, so when they do occur, parents should focus on listening to their children and encouraging the children to listen to them, even if they don't agree.
She added, "This pandemic is not an opportunity for us to think about what we're not doing. When we focus on what we're not doing and what we're not measuring up to, we literally miss the opportunities that are really, meaningful right in front of our faces."
Learn about empathetic communication and governance in the whitepaper Navigating stress and the impact on family, April 2020.
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