I know I’m not the only one who finds the task of hunting down the “coolest” and most thoughtful Father’s Day present superbly difficult. Your challenge has probably been trying to find “The Thing” that perfectly encapsulates how amazing of a father your husband is. IMPOSSIBLE. Sure, there’s the Home Depot gift card, or the steak dinner, or the new grill or gadget (not painting a blanket statement on the guys, this has just been my own experience). However, none of these things ever seem to accurately express the depth of gratitude you have for your man!
I may have a solution that seems simple on the surface but can express what a Home Depot gift card cannot: Words and Actions of Affirmation and Encouragement.
Joel Wong, psychologist and author of The Psychology of Encouragement, says, “Encouragement can be defined as the expression of affirmation through language… to instill courage, perseverance, confidence, inspiration, or hope in a person within the context of addressing a challenging situation or realizing a potential.”
A great dad is living into the challenge of parenting your kiddos. And believe it or not, he probably needs affirmation more than you think he does. (And maybe even more than he thinks he does!)
I don’t know about you, but one of the ways I feel most loved is when I am acting within a challenging situation and someone on the outside takes my chin and tells me that I’m doing a good job.
Simplicity can be incredibly powerful.
So, here are 10 ways to affirm your husband as a dad:
Write down one way he has been an amazing dad for each year he has been a parent. So, if he’s been a parent for 10 years, that’s 10 pieces of encouragement!
This one is for the “physical touch” people. Either take your man’s hands, or give him a hug, or cup his face in your hands and tell him that he is killin’ it as a dad and that you’re thankful he is your partner.
Ask how you can best support him as a father. This question will show your husband that you care deeply about his needs and that you’re there to support him.
Gather your kids and tell stories about all the ways he has been an amazing father. This could become a Father’s Day tradition! Stories could include daddy-daughter dates or help with homework, etc.
Think through the hopes and dreams you had for how your husband would parent your future children. Tell him the ways he has either met or exceeded those desires.
Ask him what his highs and lows of parenting were this year, and then see what conversations this sparks. Listen to him and affirm him where needed.
Since quality conversation leads to quality sex, this feels like an appropriate lead-in. From time to time, get the kids to bed early, just so you and your husband can have some time alone together (if you know what I mean)! It will make him feel like a priority.
Challenge your kids to write down some ways they think their dad is the best. You could fold up the pieces of paper, put them in a hat or bowl, and then read them one by one at dinner time. Have your husband guess which kid wrote what!
Affirm your husband in public as well! An awesome dad friend/co-worker told me that his wife is great at standing up for him when he finds himself at the butt of a harmless joke. “When other moms might make a harmless joke at my expense, like, ‘Oh, he’s taking care of the kids tonight? Think they’ll be in one piece when you get back?’ [My wife] is pretty quick to let them know how capable I am, which tells me she has confidence in me.”
Don’t be afraid to go big for Father’s Day! Celebrate your man’s dadness with his favorite meal, or by doing something he loves to do, etc.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Untitled-4-01-1.png8542048Anna Reeves McCutcheonhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngAnna Reeves McCutcheon2021-06-15 14:13:532021-06-18 15:29:0610 Ways to Affirm Your Husband as a Dad
When it comes to celebrating motherhood, perfection is not the standard.
Parenting is difficult. Being a mother is especially difficult. Mothers often take or are given the responsibility for the success and/or failure of their children. So, mothers may feel disingenuous being celebrated. Mother’s Day, in particular, brings along its own set of expectations for moms.
For some moms, Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate “perfect moms” who do it all right, all the time. The struggle comes when a mom believes she is the only one who seems to not be perfect. In her mind, she focuses on what she isn’t doing, hasn’t done, or can’t do.
When it comes to celebrating motherhood, perfection is not the standard.
Here are some reasons why you, as a mom, should be celebrated.
1. You are doing a valuable job.
Many people think for something to be valuable, it has to be worth something tangible, like money. However, you can’t place a price tag on being a mother. Motherhood is priceless. Throughout the years of motherhood, there’s a plethora of roles and responsibilities. Yet, the main goal is to raise your child to become an independent, responsible ADULT.
2. Being a mother is hard work.
I am the mother of 3 sons. One day, my middle son asked me, “Is it hard being a mom?” I thought for a minute. My answer to him was, “Yes, it’s hard, but what’s really hard is being 3 different moms at the same time.”
I explained to him that I have to be Mom for each of them. How I discipline, communicate, and interact is different for each one. Recognizing that I have to mother (parent) them as individuals, not as a group, takes time, energy, effort, and focus.
3. You are the mother your children need.
As mothers, we worry about making sure that our children have what they need. Or are we concerned about what they want? We don’t want them to feel like they don’t have what all their friends have, from shoes and clothes to gaming systems and vacations. What our children need from us includes our time, love, attention, affection, presence, and guidance.
4. You have endured.
Whether your children are toddlers, teens, or adults you have made it to this point. You may have survived things like sleepless nights, cranky babies, temperamental teens, tantrums, and many, many other things. You’ve made it past showerless days and puke-scented clothing. There is value in looking back and naming what you and your child(ren) have survived in your parenting journey. If you are honest, there could have been times you didn’t think you would make it.
You are not alone.
We’ve all had moments of fear, anxiety, frustrations, and anger. That doesn’t make you a bad mom. You are just a mom who is trying to “keep it in the road.”
Remember, perfection isn’t the standard.
If you survive, you have won.
5. You DESERVE it.
Moms can be some of the worst at accepting praise and celebration. We struggle with thinking that we don’t need to be rewarded or celebrated for what moms are supposed to do. Or the other thought process is that we don’t deserve to be celebrated.
I had a friend lovingly confront me with this question: “Would you rather be tolerated by your family or celebrated by your family?”
Please, please, please allow your friends and family to appreciate you.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/front-view-mother-playing-home-with-her-daughter-scaled-e1619790757676.jpg414900Gena Ellishttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngGena Ellis2021-04-30 09:53:172021-05-11 10:24:17Mom, Here Are 5 Reasons Why You Should Be Celebrated
Get ready to learn from and interact with people of many different cultures.
February 28th will come and go. Another Black History month completed. Your kids did a neat Black History project at school. You learned about Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, slavery, and Frederick Douglass. Now it’s back to normal. But you don’t want it to be. You want Black History month to positively impact how you see your country and see people of different races and ethnicities. You want to figure out how February can be a starting point for celebrating the unique contributions of diverse Americans and not just a time that’s limited to February.
As families, we have less control over what schools teach, society markets, or our government regulates. However, as a family, you can use the month of February to start conversations, enrich your experiences, and learn about different cultures. Hopefully, you’ll ignite a curiosity that can only be filled by continuing to engage in practices that celebrate African Americans’ contributions and the many rich heritages that make up America.
Here are some ways your family can celebrate Black History month all year round. None of this takes much work. It merely takes being intentional. Pretty soon, your kids will look forward to learning from and interacting with people of many different cultures.
Often, the best way to learn about a culture and history is to immerse yourself in that culture.
Each month, visit a black-owned or uniquely black-operated establishment: restaurants, clothing stores, entertainment spots, places of worship, barbershop, boutique, etc.
You may get a few looks.
It’s ok. They are only trying to understand why you’re there.
Choose a day of the month to listen to music from predominantly black artists: jazz, blues, black gospel, hip hop, R&B, etc. (Think Motown Monday or Friday night Jazz.)
Experience the difference. Discuss what’s different from what you’re used to. What made you comfortable or uncomfortable? What’s good about it? What’s similar to what you’re used to?
Visit museums, watch documentaries and movies, and read books.
As a family, choose a few months out of the year (for instance, once a quarter) to learn something new. You may watch a documentary or visit a museum. Read or listen to audiobooks. Libraries are full of children’s books that highlight various achievements and contributions of African Americans.
You may follow a theme throughout the year—for instance, music. You might visit the National Museum of African American Music, watch documentaries on the Harlem Renaissance, or play jazz throughout your home on Pandora or Spotify.
Another example—sports. You might learn about the Negro Baseball League, Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, etc.
*Terms to Google: Harlem Renaissance, The Great Migration, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Miles Davis, Tuskegee Airmen*
Discuss how what you’ve learned has influenced this country. How have the contributions made America a stronger or better nation? What have you learned that was not so positive?
Develop authentic relationships with African Americans where you learn about their experiences. Of course, no one person or family represents the entire African American population. You’re learning about the individual and how their experience as an African American has impacted their life. Their experience as an African American will be different than another African American. Eat with them. Spend time together. Go to places of entertainment with them. Initiate conversations to better understand their story. Be willing to be uncomfortable to better understand.
Check your motives in the process. Do it for the right reasons, not just to check off the box to say you’ve done it, but out of a genuine desire to better understand differences. Diversity brings richness to a community that can’t be gained any other way. We have diverse relationships because we all benefit from them.
Curiosity often begets more curiosity. It’s easy to turn the calendar and return to being with those we’ve always been with. Talking to the ones we’ve always talked to. And listening to what we’ve always listened to.
But we can all be better. We become better through continual exposure, knowledge, and understanding. Let February launch us all to be better.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/pexels-emma-bauso-2833393-scaled-e1613485408894.jpg13672048Reggie Madisonhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngReggie Madison2021-02-16 09:23:392021-02-18 12:11:24How Your Family Can Celebrate Black History Month All Year Round
Use this day to connect and make memories with your daughter.
Okay, just between us dads, let’s be real. For some of you, Valentine’s Day is, well, kind of enjoyable. That’s alright—no judgment here!
But many guys see V-Day as a high-pressure hassle. Do I have to actually read the entire V-Day card before I buy it? Can I get away with carnations (the cheaper option) instead of roses? (They’re just going to die…) And so many different boxes of chocolates… sooooo many…
For those of us who are girl-dads, I wanna give you a different way to view and celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s an opportunity to:
Have some fun with your daughter.
Show her how special she is to you.
Connect and have a stronger relationship.
With that, I give you 5 fun, unique ideas to have a special Daddy-Daughter Valentine’s Day. Here we go…
1. Two words: Dessert Day.
Like, make this day all about desserts. Have dessert for every meal. Take your daughter on a dessert tour of your town. Pick a few places to go during the day. Think coffee shops, bakeries, crêperies—and sample some sweets. Choose desserts that are more out of the ordinary. Share a banana split. Try out a crêpe. Munch on a macaron (it’s a cookie). Nosh on gelato. Stop in between treats to wash the sugar down, take a stroll, and have some great conversation. That’ll be a Dad-daughter Valentine’s Day she’ll always remember!
2. V-Day Goodies Scavenger Hunt.
Does your daughter like chocolate kisses? Or books? Or little toys? Hide some throughout your house and yard. Write down clues for your daughter. Make it like an Easter egg hunt, except with Valentine’s Day! End the search with a “big-ticket item” like a stuffed animal, box of chocolates, or even better… a pizza and movie night in a homemade fort with you. What a great memory to make!
3. Over-the-Top Daddy-Daughter Date.
I mean, Over. The. Top. Dress to the nines. Leave the house, then come back to “pick her up.” Bring her a corsage. Open the car door for her. Take her to a fancy dinner. (Okay… you don’t even have to spend a lot of cash. Drive her around the block, back home, and surprise her with spaghetti, pizza, or her favorite meal!) Be sure to decorate the table and play her favorite background music. And if you seriously want to go over the top, have someone be the server.
Take a stroll.
Then, hop back in the car (yes, open the car door again!), drive around the block, and drop her off at her doorstep. (Yes, you’ll go around the block, like, three times, but you’re making memories here!)
4. Musical Car Ride.
Create a favorite-song playlist. Ask your girl to write down her favorites and add some of your own fun tunes. Take her on a car ride and jam out. Open the windows and sing as loud as you can. Dance at red lights like no one’s watching. Grab some dinner in the drive-thru, but be sure to crank up the volume while you’re in line. Drive past some places that are special to you: the house you grew up in, your first apartment, where you went to school. She’ll love hearing stories about you before she came into the world in between songs. But… don’t forget to keep on singing… loudly!
5. Making Valentine’s Special for Others, Together.
Find out who needs a pick-me-up on V-Day. Deliver flowers, candy, or Valentine’s notes to family members. Bake cookies for your neighbors. Write cards to folks in the hospital or assisted living homes. Explore how you can brighten someone else’s Valentine’s Day together and extend the good memories to them.
Oh, sure, you can see Valentine’s Day as a hassle. But you can also see it as an opportunity to make memories with that special girl in your life. Your daughter will cherish those memories for the rest of her life, and your relationship will be stronger because of it.
So from one girl-dad dude to another… Happy Valentine’s Day!
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/AdobeStock_268604160-copy-e1613065838128.png7622048Chris Ownbyhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngChris Ownby2021-02-08 13:26:002021-02-11 12:50:595 Ways Dads and Daughters Can Celebrate Valentine’s Day
Happy (and easier) holidays can be yours with the people who mean the most to you!
For many of us, planning for the holidays is just another thing to add to our long list of things that stress us out. I felt the pressure as I walked into Home Depot over the weekend—I was greeted by a HUGE variety of holiday decor.
OMG! It’s that time of year, again.
This year, like no other, will cause you to search for the true meaning of the holidays and new ways to celebrate.
As you prepare for this upcoming holiday season, here are a few questions to consider:
What’s the meaning of the holidays to you and your family?
In the past, what have the holidays looked like?
What are some of your family’s favorite holiday traditions?
This year, what will be different?
What needs to change?
Personally, the holidays are a time of celebration and gathering. It usually includes families who travel and friends who are like family. Food and fun are the centerpieces of activity. However, this year requires more conversation and planning beyond the menu and what football game is on television. Below are some ideas to consider as you make your holiday plans.
Think About Other Years The Holidays Were Different. Learn From Them!
This year will be like no other, but there may have been some years that didn’t go according to tradition. I recall one Thanksgiving where I had to work on the day after, but I wanted to have dinner with my out-of-town family. We decided to meet midway between our homes so we could be together. The only thing open was a southern-style restaurant. We were the only people there, and the food was pretty good. Was it our traditional holiday? No. But it is one of the ones that my children talk about and remember the most.
Consider Creating New Traditions.
Change is not always comfortable for our near and extended family. A tradition becomes a tradition because it has meaning, and it occurs over time. Traditions take many forms: from using Grandmother’s china and silverware to who carves the turkey. As your family grows, it’s inevitable that change will occur. You may have had to create new traditions or adapt old ones. Different doesn’t mean deficient. It’s just different.
Create A Plan.
You have considered how things used to be. Now, think about the new possibilities for the holidays. It’s ok to look at a variety of conditions in order to create a plan that works for your family this year. (You may need to work on contingency plans as well.)
Here are some thoughts that may enhance your planning:
Are we willing to travel? If not, will we allow family to come to us?
How many people can attend?
Should we be tested before gathering?
Should we gather in homes or try to find a large space for our festivities?
Can we celebrate earlier? Later?
Talk and Listen to Family
Seek out your family to discuss plans. Everyone may not be on the same page and that’s ok. Be open and willing to be flexible with the plan. Listen for concerns and fears, but also new opportunities. Remember the meaning of the holidays and how you can work together to make it come together this year.
If this year has taught us anything, it’s that family and friends are what matter. The holidays are moments of concentrated time we have with those we care about the most. It may not look the same as it has in the past. It may actually be better because we’re keeping first things first.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/element5-digital-RPjyNMHDrFY-unsplash-scaled-e1603112315704.jpg208600Gena Ellishttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngGena Ellis2020-10-19 08:55:012020-12-15 12:49:13How to Plan for the 2020 Holidays Without Getting Stressed Out
Mother’s Day is just a few days away and if you’re anything like me, the thought of how to celebrate your mom when you can’t be together during a pandemic has been a little bit of a challenge. This year is going to look different. Travel plans have changed. Restaurants aren’t functioning at full capacity and her favorite stores are still in the middle of trying to open. Having the whole family come into town to celebrate is unlikely, so we must be creative.
Maybe you’re like me, and you’re miles away from your mom this Mother’s Day. If so, let’s find a way to make the special woman who always goes out of her way for you to feel celebrated.
Instead of guessing what my mom would like or settling for something an ad told me would be perfect for her, I got personal.
I went to the source and had a conversation with my sweet momma, Suzette.
Earlier this week I asked her if I could interview her for a blog. She was excited to help from the get-go. What better way to show your mom you love her than by showing her you need her, value her words of wisdom and opinions? So, we hopped on FaceTime.
Me: What is your favorite way to be celebrated?
Suzette: There’s nothing I love more than family gatherings. Spending time together, having real conversations and talking just to get to know each other.
Me: With this pandemic keeping us from all getting together, what do you think we could do instead?
Suzette: Well, technology has made it easy to be all under one roof despite the circumstances. All I have to do is set my laptop on the kitchen table and you all will be sitting here with me. I think it’d be nice to share a meal at the same time together in different cities and change up what we talk about. Have fun conversations like, “Where do you want to travel to when this is over?” and “Is there anything you’ve discovered recently that keeps you up way later than you anticipated?”
(I think it’d be nice to go around the Zoom screen and say one thing we are grateful for or admire about our mom.)
Me: What do we do to make you feel loved when my sisters and I all live in different cities?
Suzette: Honestly, responding to my silly texts and watching the videos I send you all. Having longer conversations—which quarantine has blessed me with you all having more time to talk because you all aren’t running around as much! Is there a way I can keep that? When you all were growing up [starts to laugh] I could just trap you all in the car and say we are going on an adventure and we’d have all the time to talk I wanted, and you all loved it!
Me: [Laughing and nodding] I mean this is true.
Suzette: I also love it when you all ask about my interests and want to get to know me as who I am now. Because it’s really different not having you three girls around and being a single mom. There’s no one here to encourage me with just a smile or by spending time together. I’ve always been my own woman, but nothing can beat the pride of being your mom.
Me: I know we can get busy and have a bad tendency to put off responding to a text or calling back or only talking when we have to. I’d love to encourage you in what you’re doing, you’ve always been very supportive of me!
Suzette: I would love that! You girls’ opinions mean more to me than anyone’s. I think I would feel celebrated and loved just by hearing you all interested in the things I love, like Scotland! It doesn’t take anything but effort. If I know you’ve spent time picking out and then writing me a letter or crafted something or set aside time to Facetime and see each other’s faces and see into each other’s daily lives, I feel loved. It’s pretty simple really.
Just from taking the time to interview my mom, she felt like a more valuable part of my life. She reminded me that kids are a mom’s most prized relationship and that there’s nothing she’s more proud of.
The bottom line is to talk to your mom before Mother’s Day. Ask her some of the questions I asked my mom. Enjoy learning about her (and getting the answer of what she wants for Mother’s Day) all in one call! It’s a win-win.
If you want to physically thank your mom for all she’s done, here are some gift ideas my mom gave me!
Send a card. Take the time to write why you appreciate your mom.
Make her something! She will love that you thought about her and took the time to follow through. Yes, go back to the artwork on the refrigerator days! I must confess, my drawings would not look much different now, so I would opt for making her a pair of earrings because that is something I’m good at.
Send a bouquet of flowers. Ask what her favorites are. Add a note and tell her she’s been a big part of helping you bloom (everyone loves a good pun).
Choose a book to read together. Not only would you be sending her a book, but you’d be inviting her into more time together. How’s that? By sharing thoughts on the book during and/or after you both finish it!
Order atakeout delivery from her favorite restaurant. You all can plan to eat dinner together virtually if you usually take her out!
This Mother’s Day, let’s be intentional about how we celebrate our mothers despite the circumstances that may keep us apart. She always found a way to do the same for you—whether there were a million things on the schedule, money was tight, you were sick or plans were canceled.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/sebastian-leon-prado-EQ1MR3mKg9w-unsplash-scaled-e1596469387881.jpg450406First Things Firsthttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngFirst Things First2020-05-07 08:49:452021-02-15 12:41:11How to Celebrate Mother’s Day During a Pandemic
At the start of this year, there was no way anyone would have guessed school would be out, everyone would be quarantined, and spring break would be cancelled. And yet, here we are. As a highschooler, how are you supposed to enjoy time off of school when you’re stuck at home either by yourself or with your family?
It all starts with your mind! No matter what, if you’re stuck in the mindset that you can’t have fun because your spring break plans are cancelled, then there’s no possible way that you will enjoy the week off from school! BUT, if you choose to do some of these things to transition your mind to thinking positively, you’ve got a much higher chance of actually enjoying your spring break, even if you are stuck at home. Yes, some of these things might seem cliché, but we promise—they work!
To transition your mindset, try…
Writing a list of 20 things you’re thankful for. Go beyond your friends or a roof over your head. Dig deep and really think it through.
Feeling good about yourself. If that means dressing nicely, doing your hair, getting outside, or video chatting with some friends, do whatever you need to feel confident and content.
Closing your door for a second. Even if you can’t actually spend time by yourself (hello, younger siblings), spend a minute stepping away from your phone, Netflix, and/or any other distractions and just breathe for a minute.
Don’t blame your parents. Right now, everyone in the world is under a ton of stress and each person is dealing with it in their own way. Your parents are in the same boat, too! This is new and difficult for everyone.
Okay… Now that your mindset is right, here are some great ways you can choose to have fun on this year’s spring break!
“Travel” the world. Just because you can’t go anywhere doesn’t mean you can’t pretend you can! Recreate the most photographed places in the world out of things around your house. A paper towel roll can turn into the Leaning Tower of Pisa if you try hard enough!
Plan a family night. From dinner to games to questions to ask each other, take family night into your own hands! If everyone in your family can’t participate, put together a friend’s night via video call: eat dinner together, watch a movie together, and enjoy a little company.
Put together a tutorial. Love doing makeup? Play the guitar? Have a hidden talent (even if it’s making that whistling sound with grass)? Know a few tips for your favorite video game? Put together a tutorial video for your best skill, then share it with family and friends!
Plan next year’s spring break. Just because you can’t do it now doesn’t mean it can’t ever happen! Plan a trip with your family or friends to take for next year’s spring break, from where you want to stay to the best restaurants in the area.
Teach your favorite TikTok dance. Sure, your mom might not seem super into it. But maybe she’ll give it a try! Teach your parents or your siblings all your faves and then do a group video. Can’t convince them to join in? Have a dance-off with some friends over a video call!
Learn something new. Try making cookies you’ve never had before. Teach yourself how to sing (YouTube videos help!). Learn how to make homemade bread. Try a new way to exercise. Write a short story. PRO TIP: start a challenge with your friends to try something new every day, and maybe teach each other what you learned!
Break a world record. There are SO many world records out there, and some of them are honestly not that impressive. Try to break one of them, whether it’s the fastest time to put 24 cans in the fridge or the most t-shirts put on in one minute.
Even if your spring break isn’t looking like you had planned or got cancelled altogether, you can still have fun! Use the time you have off from school to know yourself better, know your family better, and know your friends better, too! The opportunities we have right now are unique and once-in-a-lifetime. Don’t waste your spring break wishing your situation was different. Instead, you can choose to enjoy it to the best of your ability!
(Also, if you do end up doing one of these activities for your spring break, be sure to tag us at @relatableftf!)
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/alex-d-alessio-woNH40omgZk-unsplash-scaled-e1596825389551.jpg253450Caroline Henryhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngCaroline Henry2020-03-30 16:21:572021-03-04 10:29:42For Teens Only: What To Do When COVID-19 Cancelled Your Spring Break
My wife Kristin reminded me last night that we have our wedding anniversary coming up next week! Let me be real with you – it would have snuck up on me anyway. However, with everything happening with working remotely, the kids being home, and the pressure to practice healthy social distancing, it honestly slipped my mind. Really – that’s my excuse! But not my wife, obviously. Nothing gets past her.
After nonchalantly acknowledging her reminder as if I knew it all along, she joked that we may be celebrating by eating fancy steak dinners in our car served from the curbside delivery that area restaurants are starting to offer – especially since they are closing their dining areas and only offering to-go orders. And then it hit me – we can’t celebrate like we really want to.
There are so many occasions, celebrations, and events that people have planned – that you have probably planned – that now we can’t go through with or do the way we originally wanted. Birthday parties, special trips, anniversaries, graduations, religious services, kids’ sports events – even enjoying the professional and college basketball seasons – all put on hold, canceled, changed.
I get it. In addition to our wedding anniversary, we’ve canceled our original plans for one daughter’s birthday party, a special trip to New York for me and our other daughter, a trip to Denver for my wife, and most of my daughter’s track meets for the season. It stinks. And it makes us sad, and maybe angry. Not to mention all the other emotions stirred up by the current circumstances. Maybe you’re feeling like you’re beginning to lose things – a sense of normalcy, the thrill of celebration, the expectancy of fun and new experiences. And all that time and energy (and possibly money) you’ve spent making plans. It’s disorienting. And it’s unfair.
When you lose something, you grieve. Right now, we’re grieving normalcy. We need to acknowledge that and call it what it is.
Among many other things, we are in a time of grief for plans that have gone down the drain. Let’s think about that for a moment. You’re grieving the loss of expectations and dreams of things you would be doing just like you’d grieve the death of a family member, or a pet, or the loss of a job.
Try not to think of grief as a single emotion like sadness or sorrow. Yes, it’s perfectly normal to have some strong feels when you know you can’t celebrate your child’s birthday like you were hoping. But it’s helpful to think of grief itself as a process that involves complex emotions. And contrary to what some may believe, grief is valuable and healthy. It reminds us of what we care about. Grief helps us come to terms with the loss we feel and the emotions that follow. Which is why it’s so important to talk – and give our family members the chance to talk – about what it is you’re grieving. Giving words to what you’re feeling about losing that trip or that party or that graduation ceremony is healing.
That being said – grief is not a place where we want to camp out. The grieving process should help us to move forward at a healthy pace. So what does moving forward look like for you as you grieve plans made and lost for these next few weeks?
(Ok, I know that was a double-negative.) On the contrary, replace the plans you had with something. Can’t go to the jump-park for your son’s birthday party with friends? Celebrate at home with the family and a Nerf gun war and serve some ice cream. Graduation ruined? Conduct your own graduation ceremony, complete with a “Pomp and Circumstance” processional, a commencement speech by a family member, the throwing of the cap and lots of pictures. Baseball games canceled? Two words: backyard kickball! Make the best of alternate plans with creativity and a shift in your attitude.
2. Be sure to take pictures and selfies of whatever you do.
Although the memories you expected to make aren’t happening, there will be a day you look back and remember this crazy time. Having the visuals of how your family persevered through this will provide strength for challenging times in the future. It’s a way of reinforcing the idea that “we came through that – and by golly, we even had some fun.”
3. Shift your focus from the plans you weren’t able to do and onto the people you are now with.
So you’re eating anniversary lobster from the front seat of your sedan rather than a candlelit restaurant table. Switch your attention to the person eating lobster in the passenger seat next to you, enjoy the moment and just have some great conversation. Don’t forget to wear your lobster bib.
4. Finally, have hope.
We know that times are uncertain, but I think it’s important to keep in the forefront of our minds that there is an “other side” to all this. Birthdays and anniversaries come around about once a year (from what I understand). The beach will be there after COVID-19 has run its course (I’m no doctor, but I do think it will run its course if we all do what we need to do and stay home). And let’s face it – we won’t have to watch professional bowling or darts on ESPN forever.
Share this hope with your family. You’re all grieving to some degree. Allow the grief process to move you forward, make memories, and focus on the ones you love rather than the plans that were lost.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/jude-beck-Sct4qJxA8d0-unsplash-scaled-e1596832505229.jpg254450Chris Ownbyhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngChris Ownby2020-03-24 14:21:122020-09-17 15:12:52COVID-19 Outbreak: Grieving the Loss of Normalcy