No matter where you live, it’s likely that COVID-19 has affected you and your family in some way.
Everyone can admit there has been a lot of changes in this past year. Many children have been removed from school, most activities have been canceled, and suddenly one or both parents are working from home. This can significantly upset the normal day-to-day dynamics of a family.
In my own family, my husband was placed on an extended 90-day furlough, only to be told he would be getting laid off after the 90 days were finished. While helping me manage my own growing business and taking care of the homeschooling of our seven children, he’s been applying for jobs to qualify for unemployment. He’s trying to keep up on the current ever-changing news while trying to figure out what our future looks like. Whew! It’s been a lot for our family to take on!
Stress can lead to poor choices.
As a mom, I’m trying to juggle caring for our home while figuring out how to entertain seven very bored kids! It can be very stressful.
Sometimes we overlook how the added stress is affecting the youngest among us. This “new normal” means very few summer days at the pool and no friends over to play. This very limited face-to-face social interaction has lead many children to spend excessive time online chatting with friends via apps, playing games, and watching videos.
You might find that children are lashing out with anger or tears, indicating that they are stressed out. Unfortunately, stress can cause everyone (but especially children) to make very poor choices online, including pornography. When there is a lot going on in the home, it is easy to turn to technology and the internet as a temporary problem-solver. However, this can make it even easier for your kids to find or look for pornography.
It’s important to recognize stress and treat it before it leads to viewing porn. Here are some signs of stress that you or your family may exhibit:
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Changes in eating patterns
- Increased frequency of headaches
- More short-tempered than usual
- Recurring colds and minor illnesses
- Frequent muscle aches and/or tightness
- More disorganized than usual
- Increased difficulty in task completion
- A greater sense of persistent time pressure
- Increased generalized frustration and anger
If this is your family, here are five ways you can help you and your loved ones cope with stress and regain the strong sense of security everyone needs to flourish in these trying times. By implementing these strategies in your home, you and your family will be better equipped to fight against porn and make wise choices online.
It seems simple, but breathing exercises are very helpful in stressful situations.
For my teenager, who gets stressed often, I like to have her close her eyes and breath while I say things like:
- “You are safe.”
- “This too will pass.”
- “Greater is HE who is in me than HE who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
I try to help her get into the present moment and out of her head-space, which is often crowded with negative thoughts and emotions. Breathing is a great way to remember what’s actually important in life.
We also like to walk outside and let the sun shine on our faces while we inhale and exhale. Simple, but effective.
2. Reduce the noise.
I’m the type of person who loves to do a million things at once. Until I’m not. What was fine one minute ago, suddenly is causing me great inner chaos. Add in music or children fighting, I can have what I refer to as a “tequila parenting moment”—that is akin to the old saying, “One tequila, two tequila, floor…”. You’re happy and smiling one minute, but down and out the next.
Children are very susceptible to the same momentum. Too many rounds of Minecraft, too many requests from siblings, cluttered rooms, etc. can lead to breakdowns.
Having a daily quiet time, where the internet and TV are turned off and children are free to quietly play or rest in their own rooms is important in a world where many of us are still quarantined to our homes.
If you are an artist, this is known as “white space.” White space is needed to allow the eye to rest when looking at a piece of art. Despite the very real desire to fill every inch of our day with activity, it’s equally important to make room for downtime.
One of the most beautiful aspects of the effect of the current pandemic on families is that we have been given the greatest opportunity to spend a lot more time together. That can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the day!
If you are finding that your family is exhibiting signs of stress, talking about it can help alleviate the situation.
Talking includes being a good listener. To make sure you aren’t monopolizing the conversation, try these tips:
- Show interest by saying things like “Tell me more about …”.
- Watch your child’s facial expressions and body language.
- Repeat back what your child has said.
- Try not to jump in, cut your child off, or put words in his mouth.
- Don’t rush into problem-solving.
COVID-19 has pushed everyone indoors and online.
During this time of extremely sedentary living, it’s of the utmost importance to make sure you and your children are getting enough exercise.
This could mean investing in a trampoline, taking daily walks in the neighborhood, or using a game console that encourages exercise like WiiFit, PS4, or XBOX’s Kinect.
Remember: something is better than nothing! Even a game of frisbee in the front yard will help eliminate stress. The outdoors also has the added benefit of letting your body absorb vitamin D, which helps cope with stress and depression.
5. Watch sugar intake.
Last but not least, let’s talk about diet.
The old adage, “you are what you eat,” remains true to this day. Another good one to remember is, “garbage in, garbage out.”
If your family is consuming empty calories, it might be lack of nutrients that can escalate stress to harmful degrees.
Too much sugar can cause insomnia, which leads to sleep depreciation. This inhibits your body from producing the necessary hormones to handle stress. Sugar also causes a temporary high, which leads to an inevitable crash. This can cause your family members to lash out at each other. Increased sugar intake can increase your risk of inflammation in the body. When your body is in pain, you are likely to be more stressed out.
As a mom of seven, I recognized that convenience foods are easy to throw at the children when they complain of hunger, especially when you are busy with work yourself! But taking time to make sure they have plenty of healthy foods to snack on may save you more time and energy in the long run.
Ultimately, stress can be a great reminder to slow down.
Whatever the answer is for your family’s stress, just remember that noticing stress doesn’t mean that you are doing a horrible job as a parent. It’s simply a friendly reminder to stop and take inventory. Seeing stress creeping into your family can help you slow down and refocus. But even more importantly, it will help your kids to make better choices online—like saying no to porn!
Being a parent in and of itself is no simple task. It can be easy to become overwhelmed by the weight of protecting your children online. By de-stressing as a family, you will all be better equipped to use the internet wisely and fight porn together.
Elaine Mingus is a happily married homeschooling mom of seven. Her number one passion is to see Christ glorified, followed closely with protecting children. She is the creator of Radical Christian Woman, a blog that seeks to bring life and wisdom to Christian women across the globe.