When school was still in session, I was doing a counseling session with one of my students who has autism, and he was so frustrated by nonstop talk about Corona Virus or COVID-19. All he knew about it was that the rest of his class wouldn't stop talking about it, and our school had recommended that teachers review precautions like hand washing to prevent the spread, which meant more talking about it. He finally burst out in frustration "I'm so sick of people talking about a virus named after a beer company". (Pro tip: I didn't correct him in his heightened emotional state because it would have made things worse)
As events have unfolded over the last 2 weeks, as school has been canceled, as groups of over 100, then 50, then 10 were prohibited by the CDC in America, we as step parents have been affected in ways that no one could have predicted. Visitation has been withdrawn or changed for fear of contracting the virus, high conflict bio parents have taken this as an opportunity to further limit contact with children, and full time step parents have had to step up and parent kids who aren't theirs or who they may not get along with.
While the threat is real, and nobody knows who will get sick or how bad it will be, we're facing more stress at home. Parents have to help their kids access online school, help them learn, help them deal with anxiety and stress from this pandemic. Teachers are feeling stress to teach lessons online to kids who may not access them or who may not have access to online resources. Kids are feeling stress to adapt to a completely new mode of teaching and learning, and worrying about seeing their friends again, getting sick or having family members get sick, and keeping up with their grades.
At work, I supervise an intern in school psychology. She is worried about doing her job and helping students. My oldest stepdaughter just now came home from a trip with her friends, and is crying because she's sad she can't see her friends for a month. My youngest stepdaughter got tested for Corona this morning, because she stayed with her cousin 2 weekends ago and her cousin's aunt who was visiting later tested positive for COVID-19,and my youngest has been a little sick.
The world is unpredictable right now, and will continue to be that way. As step parents, we're used to living in a world of unpredictability, but when a new challenge comes up, it can throw us for a loop. If we can learn how to manage our emotions, deal with them effectively, and work through them, we can help ourselves, our situations, and our families. If we are always reacting to outside circumstances and external triggers, we won't find peace or joy. So how do we do this? How do we learn to not react?
I'll be posting tips here and on Facebook over the next several days to help you learn to deal with your emotions, and to help you help your little (or not so little) ones deal with their emotions. Stay tuned!
Sara Susov: Step Up Mentoring
Photo by Thomas de Luze on Unsplash