Families are strengthened by time together, and strong families strengthen communities and nations. A few days ago, President Donald Trump urged individuals and families to isolate themselves for 15 days. This situation means that most communication with friends and extended family will be by technology. While technology is wonderful, the isolation also has its drawbacks for people of all ages.
Many parents were enjoying the last weeks of the school years before the children were home for the summer, but the school year ended suddenly. Now parents and children are forced to adjust their thinking overnight and make other plans. Not only are parents trying to work from home, but students are trying to complete school assignments. All this work must be done on the same computers in some families, so coordination is necessary.
While families work out all the physical kinks caused by being stuck together at home for who knows how long, the Deseret News editorial board reminded us to consider our mental well-being. Their article quoted “Jenny Howe, a licensed therapist who works with anxious and depressed teens.” She said that school-aged children, particularly teenagers” may have a difficult time being isolated from their friends. “They are recognizing that they need that in-person energy in order to feel connected to people.”
The idea makes sense. The rising generation is used to spending “six hours each weekday learning, laughing, eating and socializing with peers. Take that away, and a phone becomes a sorry substitute for a gaggle of friends in the lunchroom.” She said that families should consider mental well-being to be as important as washing hands and wiping often used surfaces.
Howe said that a written schedule to be “paramount” even though every minute does not need to be planned. Input by the children is important. Meals should be consistent, and assigned chores help people to be needed. Cooking and cleaning together can be fun. There should be time for just hanging out as well as personal conversation with individual children and in family setting. There are bound to be some difficult topics to discuss as well as an opportunity to show love and support.
According to Howe, parents should never expect their children to spend 100% of their time together. Teens and children need to find an acceptable balance between being with family and personal time. The important thing is to keep all family members physically and mentally healthy. Working on spiritual health by praying together, singing hymns, and studying scriptures is also beneficial to overall good health.
Situations that are not ideal make family life a little more difficult. However, by working and playing together, families can overcome many obstacles and come through the difficulty stronger. Healthy and strong families bring great strength to their communities and nations.