Imported COVID-19 cases are now in Jamaica and families need to grapple with how to equip children during these times of uncertainty. As a parent of 4, I believe one of the first things is to do is model the behaviours that we want to see. So if I want my daughters to wash their hands properly with soap and water, I must do my best to model that behaviour. If I want them to practice exemplary personal hygiene, keep their surroundings clean, avoid touching their face and so on, I too must be doing the same. I must practice what I preach. Social distancing may be a little more difficult to implement and enforce but should be done as we would normally do when someone has the regular flu or conjunctivitis.
The health crisis facing the world also presents an opportunity for parents to talk about factors in this life that are out of our control. It’s a real life lesson that can serve children well when they get older and things happen that they didn’t plan for. We can’t panic and go into hiding. We must pray, plan and process the situation and take actions rooted in wisdom. Fear is never a useful or productive response. The scripture has strong encouragement for moments like these: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6)
From this scripture we can glean at least 2 actions:
1. We should encourage our children to pray instead of worrying. Make praying a habit so that it doesn’t seem odd in times when you really need God and to be surrounded by His peace.
2. We should encourage them to find things to be thankful for – this puts their minds in a positive place and increases their faith in God’s track record. They can begin to have thoughts like – if God has done it before, He will do it again. He has kept us in times of trouble before and He can keep us again.
Let us as parents also model this behaviour of faith in these difficult times.