• Matt Richards

Parenting in a Pandemic: Opportunity or Insanity?

Two months ago you were likely having a normal Thursday full of all the work, activities, and plans your family had scheduled on the calendar. Your morning might have looked like this: wake up, make coffee, drop kids off to school, pull into work, pray, and start your day. Now it something like this: wake up, make coffee, put a clean shirt on, fix yourself up, turn on zoom, mute your mic because your children are waking up, finish meeting, feed your kids, break up a scuffle in the kitchen over who gets the last (fill in the blank), intervene, and then collectively figure out the rest of the day. For some of us, our days have shifted from extreme structure to a day to day adapt and overcome game plan. Not only has your worked transitioned, but many of you have now become home school teachers and tutors. All that being said, the coronavirus has done one thing effectively. It has literally drawn families closer together than many have been in a long time.

Go back in this nation by 50, 60, or even 70 years and you would see a different family structure than we do today. It was normal to have family dinners and to spend intentional time together as a family. Today, its hard for some families to even sit down all at once because we have inundated our lives with after school activities, weekend sporting events, recitals, conferences, festivals, social media, phones, etc. You name it we will add it to our calendar. Everyone reading this articles has probably been faced with different challenges as we have transitioned our lives from all out busyness, to what life looks like today April 16, 2020.

Today I ask this question to myself and I ask you to do the same. Am I viewing this time I have with my children as an opportunity or an inconvenience? There is a big difference between these two words, and our children can sense the difference between them. With the absence of all the extra activities; we now have time to sit, talk, and hopefully join our families around God's word. Psalm 127:3-5 says this; "Behold, children are a gift of the LORD; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they shall not be ashamed".

I believe this extra time spent social distancing ourselves has given us a great opportunity to intentionally invest in our children's understanding of God. Our days are not guaranteed on this earth, so let's shift our view of isolation. We are not trapped inside with these monsters we call children. We instead have been blessed with an opportunity to spend time teaching them Gods word. We've been given time to seek healing and mend wounds. We've been given the time to make sure our children know how much we love them. God is at work building up and strengthening families with His word. Deuteronomy 6:5-7 states, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up". This verse comes with great responsibility. Parents, we by biblical mandate, are to be the most influential disciple maker in the life of our children. The greatest thing we can do as parents is take this verse to heart and teach our children the very word of God. With great effort we should invest in their understanding of scripture, and to live it out in obedience to the Father as an example to their growing understanding of Him. I say this looking in a mirror and challenging what I am doing as a father of two young boys.

So how does this look? Maybe we start the day by scheduling personal quiet/devotion time for everyone in our home. Maybe if you have teens, you encourage them once a week to share something with the family. Maybe its a family huddle everyday where you begin the day with prayer and a family devotion. Maybe we pick time throughout the week to spend some one on one time with each of our children. This will look different in different homes, but we cannot miss out on this time to disciple and mold our children with scripture.

This was a challenging article to write because it forces me to look at myself and challenge myself in light of these verses. As a father am I making the most of my opportunities to daily plant seeds in the life of my children. Am I taking the time to sit with my 5 year old and read him stories from scripture that explain the fundamental beliefs of Christianity. Do they know that I love them and cherish the time we have together. Do they see me love my wife, their mother, the way God intended for a husband to love his wife. Am I using the time we now have to strengthen my family and relationships with the word of God?

By challenging ourselves with God's word today, lets shift our thinking from chaos to opportunity. Your children have been placed under your care in order for you to raise them according to Gods word. Approach these unusual days full of grace, love, and patience. Remember, this time is just as weird and strange for them as it is for you. Devote yourself to seeking God in and out of this pandemic and trust Him as you pursue His plan for your family. Be focused, be devoted, be patient, be encouraging, and point your children to the one who is still in control.

Church family, we love you and miss you!

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