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[caption id="attachment_170997" align="aligncenter" width="1180"]"6 simple tips for parenting when life gets really hard" by Ginny Kochis (CatholicMom.com) Image by Soraya Irving (2018), Unsplash.com, CC0/PD[/caption]

The best biblical parallel to parenting I’ve encountered has to be when Peter nearly drowns getting out of the boat.

You know the story: Peter asks for proof it’s Jesus, and Jesus tells Peter to walk out to Him on the water. Peter does okay for a minute, then suddenly realizes he’s out of his element.

Peter drops like the rock he’s been named after and Jesus drags him from the deep.

Isn’t that the way it always is with parenting? You think you’re prepared, and for a while, everything’s going just fine. But then life throws you a curve ball or hits you with a two by four and the next thing you know you’re in the drink and drowning.

You’re calling out to Jesus, begging Him to drag you out.

God never promised life would be easy, and he most certainly did not promise it would be easier with kids. We’re faced with difficult circumstances all the time and expected to live and grow through them. Not only that, but we’re also called to continue raising God’s precious gifts.

What do you do, then, when life hands you a big fat crisis, one you can barely manage to get through on your own? You lean on the Lord for strength and gird yourself for battle.

Here are six simple tips for parenting when life gets really hard.

Be straightforward.

Your children are going to ask what’s going on, and yes, they deserve an honest answer. I tend to fall back on the same habit I’ve adopted when answering questions about human sexuality: give factual information that is developmentally appropriate and answers only the question they’ve asked.

So, for example, when my nine-year-old asked what the big deal was about the coronavirus, I told her what she needed to know in a way that respected her current developmental level and her general anxiety: “It’s pretty contagious and can be dangerous for people like your grandma (elderly) and aunt (asthmatic). We’re staying home to help those who will need the most care get that care when we are sick.”

You can adapt this approach for any situation, from the loss of a job to a loved one’s death -- and more. Children appreciate the candor and get an acceptable answer to their question while you build on that parent-child bond.

Preserve as much normalcy as you can.

Your daily routine and/or schedule is going to change when you’re weathering a crisis. This is difficult for people who crave routine (and frankly, most of us do). The remedy? Try to preserve as much normalcy as you can within the confines of your current situation, whether this means waking up at the same time every day, eating dinner as a family, or even just sticking to your regular chore routine.

Expect more tantrums and meltdowns.

They will probably increase in spades. Weathering change is hard; weathering change and the stress of difficult circumstances is even harder. Learn the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown and get an arsenal of calm-down tools to apply.

Stay active, together.

The more physical activity you and the kids can get, the better, and it doesn’t have to be exhausting for you. Take a walk, toss a ball, draw with sidewalk chalk out in the sunshine. Just move your bodies, together. You’ll feel much better when you do.

Encourage favorite outlets where possible, and find alternatives that can be done at home.

Part of keeping a sense of normalcy is the continuing of hobbies and interests your children had before. If an actual dance class or soccer practice is no longer on the table, check this list of free online resources to see what substitutes you can find at home.

Be gentle with yourself, mama.

You, too, are experiencing great change. You don’t have to be strong, and you don’t have to have it all together, either. Just do the best you can and lean on God. Leave all the doing up to Him.

God kept Peter from drowning. Prior to that, he calmed the fishermen and the storm. He’ll keep you from drowning, too, and preserve you as you carry your children.

Don’t let the reality of your situation shake you: You can shelter your children through the storm.

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Copyright 2020 Ginny Kochis