The Way Things Were
CNN’s Elissa Strauss recently published an article in which she talked about the unexpected and positive effects of quarantine on children in families. In that article, she noted that families are spending more time at home together, and children are happier as a result. Rather than being carted to event after event in a carefully curated sequence, children have been experiencing unstructured and unplanned hours where they are free to explore, take risks, and enjoy interacting with others in simple ways. One parent commented that her children have been learning to help in new ways, like slicing fruits and vegetables for meals. She added, “It’s been really eye-opening. I don’t want it to go back to the way things were.”
I am not surprised that families are finding benefits to loosening the schedule and spending more unstructured time together as a family. God has set up the family as a caring, symbiotic unit, where parents care for children in their formative years, and children care for their parents in the waning years of life (1 Tim. 5:4). He designed the family as a supportive and close-knit group where training and advice are given and received (Eph. 6:1-4). As we dedicate more time and effort to our familial relationships, they will become healthier and happier.
As my children grow, they are learning good and bad habits from their parents. I rejoice when I hear my son praying to God, and smile when my daughter holds out her one-year-old hand out to hold during prayer. I cringe when I hear a disrespectful tone that has been learned, and as I ask for better manners, the question has a dual audience. As I ask for better from others, I am asking for better from myself. My point is this: children are not the only ones benefitting from the extra time together. When parents interact more closely with their children, the question of “where did you learn that?” can become easier to answer and points out areas of personal growth for the entire family.
I am thankful for the benefits of closer interaction, and I hope we never truly return to “the way things were.” I hope we all become better because of the unique opportunities being afforded currently. I hope we will make time to grow and learn together as families after we are released back into our regular social lives. What changes will you make after all this is over?
1. Elissa Strauss, “Why Some Kids Are Happier Right Now,” CNN, Cable News Network, April 27, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/27/health/children-mental-health-quarantine-coronavirus-wellness/index.html.