This week, as I’ve read news articles and had conversations about the challenges families are facing during the COVID-19 crisis, a regular concern that many share is how to survive social distancing/self-isolation with young children. These articles and conversations have reminded me of the time when our family served as missionaries in Fiji.
When we first moved to Fiji, our daughters were just three and five years old, respectively, and I had undertaken to home school them. Aside from the social isolation of homeschooling in a foreign country, we also faced the isolation brought on by the rainy season, which sometimes kept us indoors for weeks and even months at a time. Here are some things I learned then that your family might find helpful now.
Start and finish your day with God
Each morning, give thanks for all that is good in your life; read passages of Scripture that help calm your anxiety; and then ask God to give you all that you need—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)—so that you can be the parent that your children need. Ask Him also to help you remember to seize those moments when you fail as an opportunity for your family to learn about God’s amazing grace. Children don’t need a perfect parent. Rather, they need a parent who models humility by being willing to apologise; and who models grace by offering and receiving forgiveness.
Each evening, reflect on your day and identify the moments when you experienced God’s presence; thank Him for those moments and for the things that went well; ask forgiveness for the things that didn’t go so well; ask Him to give your children all that they need to grow in their experience of being loved unconditionally by their heavenly Father; and then ask Him to help you learn from your failures, to give grace to yourself, and then to move on. I have often found comfort in these words: “We shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes, but we are not to be discouraged” (Ellen G White, Manuscript 31, 1890).