Your Family – Are Molehills Becoming Mountains?

We have now had several months of home-working, home-schooling and trying to support and nurture our families through very frightening and unpredictable times. Holidays have been cancelled and we have not taken the breaks we had planned – “what is the point, we couldn’t go anywhere”, parents have said. Many parents have been worried about money and had to take whatever work opportunities presented. The bottom line is parents are stressed out, emotionally drained and exhausted.

We have now had several months of home-working, home-schooling and trying to support and nurture our families through very frightening and unpredictable times. Holidays have been cancelled and we have not taken the breaks we had planned – “what is the point, we couldn’t go anywhere”, parents have said. Many parents have been worried about money and had to take whatever work opportunities presented. The bottom line is parents are stressed out, emotionally drained and exhausted.

Put this together with everybody living, working, and schooling together all of the time in a home that was not chosen with that in mind. You don’t have to be a psychologist to know that spells trouble.

What were once small family issues are being amplified and hothoused.

The previous barriers and filters are gone, we are feeling the full force of any issues that were previously contained.

For example, differences in parenting styles that were once manageable when one parent worked away most days are becoming big issues. One family told us things came to a head for them when the dad demanded the two-year-old sit at the table to eat. The dad was pretty stressed out with work that day, normally he has a better filter when it comes to his authoritarian tendencies inherited from his father. But with no distance or commute between work and home, the family felt his stress. This is happening for so many families – the previous barriers and filters are gone; we are feeling the full force of any issues that were previously contained.

This dad’s authoritarian approach did not sit well with the mum. It contrasted with her more nurturing approach and relaxed rules which she felt were more appropriate for a 2-year-old. Normally, the mum took a lead in the day-to-day parenting. This difference in their parenting styles was something they were aware of. It had not been a problem before – the dad wanted this more nurturing approach for his children even though it was something that did not always come naturally to him. But now, in the hothouse, these differences were wreaking havoc.

This family were able to discuss and understand what was going on and come to an agreement around how to handle things. But this is not always easy to do. It requires a calm brain and safe space (away from the children) to have that conversation. There needs to be some empathy and understanding of each other’s current stress and coping strategies. Some appreciation and acceptance of their different early experienced, values, needs and expectations.  These are really hard things to do when we are hurt, scared and stressed out.

What is being amplified for your family right now? Are they things that will quieten down as the home-schooling burden eases and we have more freedom out of the house? Or are they issues that will need to be understood and worked with in this new way of life?

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