Does sheltering in place put added pressure on your family? Are your family relationships subject to increased jeopardy? Is your family at heightened risk? The answers to all of these questions is, “It depends.” It depends on how well you personally handle the added stress and how conscientiously you attend to the pressures and stresses on your family relationships. The episode includes some tips and perspectives that you may find helpful.
Even if you are still leaving home to go to work, your activities are probably quite restricted. There is a long list of things you can’t do and places you can’t go. That means that you are spending more time in close proximity to your family. And being closer to each other does not necessarily lead to more closeness. It’s perhaps even more likely that you are working from home or – worse yet – without a job. The result is that you spend most all of your time with your family.
Can you relate to this? My parents have been gone for several years; but when they were still alive, I loved them dearly but definitely would not have wanted to live with them. Had it been necessary, we would have worked it out; but living together is not something either they or I would have chosen. The same holds for my adult children and for their children, for that matter. My family is special to me; but living with them on a 24-hour basis sound like a prescription for trouble.
But this is a time of little to no choice. That’s why we are sharing some tips for getting along when there is not much opportunity to get apart.
Our tips start with some wisdom that has been around forever. It says that it’s not what we love about each other that helps us get along, but is what we are willing to put up with from each other. What we love about each other is why we want to get along to start with. What we are willing to put up with from each other is what keeps us from blowing up or walking out. But when we can’t get some distance from each other or time away, putting up with what we have been just putting up with can get very hard to handle. Putting up with it – whatever it is – on a 24-hour, 7 days a week basis can stress the limits of tolerance and sensitivity for the best of us. What we just put up with before is now way over the top, even for us. …
What would you never say to your five-year-old? It’s hard to say exactly what goes on your list but I suspect that things on your never say list all have a negative or critical tone or message tucked in there. I doubt that any of us would tell our five-year-old that he or she is stupid, ugly, lazy, in the way, too much bother, or anything else implying that the child is not valued or not okay. At least I hope none of us would relate to or respond to a child in ways like that.
Even so, there is definitely another side to that coin. Our five-year-old certainly needs feedback, and sometimes, that feed back needs to be negative or critical. Children need to learn how to do things and how to behave. They also need to learn how not to do things and how not to behave. They require guidance, coaching and the opportunity to take advantage of our experience, awareness and judgment. They also have to occasionally deal with a firm and unequivocal “No!” The issue isn’t whether they should receive our guidance and feedback – they should. Rather the issue is how and when that guidance and feedback should be forthcoming.
You may be thinking that I’m about to offer some advice about how you should or should not go about providing guidance and feedback to children. Not this time. Instead, I want to share with you my father’s first principle for offering guidance and feedback to me growing up. As much as I have read about and studied child development and parenting over the years, I have never come across any childhood scholar or parenting expert who even mentioned Dad’s first principle, little lone recommending it. Nonetheless, I think you may find it worth your consideration.