Family provides support

Family provides support

Emotional support

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Phillipians 4:6

During the past 18 months it has become increasingly obvious that our emotions play an incredible role in our lives. Families are so intricately connected these days that there is simply no escape from each other’s feelings. You can wake up one day feeling like you won the lottery, only to be met with resistance, anger and unmotivated family members. It’s hard because when we are happy, we want everyone to experience that same level of satisfaction, yet when we are down and out we just want everyone to understand that and give us some space. It’s a funny contradiction that takes a lot of effort to overcome. Letting your children or partner know it’s ok to be sad or down is a good first step.

To be clear, I don’t want to encourage you to celebrate their sorrows, like when Darth Vader told his son Luke Skywalker “Give yourself to the Dark Side”. But showing that you understand their mood is vital. “I can see you are upset, and that would have upset me too”. When my kids are down I used to want to solve the problem for them, but now I try to empathise with them and then turn them to Pray. When my wife is down (like whenever I beat her in basketball in the backyard), I make sure to give her time to discuss her concerns and I always take joy in praying for her. Even as she lays asleep, I know I can’t solve the problem, but I can keep lifting her up to God. The emotional support we provide our family with is incredibly vital, both for them and for us.

Physical support

“But Jesus came and touched them, saying “Rise, and have no fear.”” Matthew 17:7

What’s the biggest thing missing from everyone’s world right now? Aside from the New York Knicks winning an NBA championship, we are all missing human connection. The good news is that for those of us living in a family household we have infinite access to other people. At times seeing your family members may be the last thing you want, but in a funny way, they can be just what you need at the same time. For those of us with young children it is essential we provide our children with physical support. They don’t understand COVID-19, but they do understand people are on edge, people are down and out, people are withdrawing and most of the other people in their lives aren’t available to them as often as normal. Each morning our kids come down to our bedroom and it’s cuddles galore. My daughter Zali loves it when I shake her on the bed and she makes funny noises at the same time. Then our youngest Millie says “do it to me, do it to me!” and then our oldest Nate comes overridden with joy and makes his request, “I want a turn too!”

When my wife or I return from work or the shops, it’s hugs all round. When my wife is tired from the day and says “what’s the chances of a head rub?” I know it’s nice for her to feel relaxed and it keeps us connected. When we go to the park, without noticing it I normally end up with both girls holding my hands. Nate being the older brother of two energetic, but at times chaotic little sisters, sometimes gets to the point of frustration with them that boils over into an emotional outburst. It’s during these times that he needs our physical support. Cuddles are the best medicine for him. Unless he breaks his arm or leg. Then cuddles won’t work. One of the kids has struggled to sleep in recent times and so I plonked a mattress on the floor in their room for a little while so I was physically close to them at night. When they woke up distressed I could hold them tight, reassure them, then they felt comfortable enough to go back to sleep. The above verse reminded me that sometimes all a child needs is the touch of their father or mother, and all is right in the world again. It is a blessing to be around our families, and whilst we might not always be in the best mood our physical support plays a huge role in the wellbeing of our family.

Learning support

“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9

If you are reading this blog, there’s a big chance you have a child at home requiring your help with their learning. As we read above, learning is something God invests in. From kindergarten to Year 12, children have been spending time learning from home during the past 18 months. As someone who works in a school, I value education so much. But as a parent and the husband to my wife who deals with our three young children a lot more during the day, I understand how incredibly frustrating and hard it is to successfully complete just one day of remote learning. But if we see learning as holistic and how God placed you in your children’s lives for a reason, it can be easier to deal with. You don’t have to be the world’s greatest teacher at home, but you CAN be their greatest mum or dad.

We have used the time with our kids to diversify the learning. My daughter Zali gets bored easily with online learning and staring at screens, but at just 5 years old she has learnt to play chess and enjoys the gameplay and strategic thinking required to protect her King and take out the opposition King. Most nights Nate, Zali, and I will have a game or two before bed. In chess, Nate has been learning about impulse control and anticipating my future moves, before making his next decision. We have been googling the rules, creating different scenarios, and watching videos on different openings (we like the Spanish opening). By learning together, the kids have felt supported, open to learning and superior to me at times when they pick up on something I haven’t noticed. For reasons unbeknownst to any of us, we now have been given the time and opportunity to guide our child’s learning, more so than ever before. The daily lessons we provide our family are less about our words or the activities set by their teachers, and more about our actions.

Spiritual support

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” 2 Corinthians 9:6

I alluded to this before but in these hard times I think the best way families can support one another is through spiritual support. This might not come naturally to everyone (it sure doesn’t for me) but the more time you spend leaning into this the more it becomes the ‘norm’. When our household had an incredibly tense night, both my wife and I had reached our limits with the kids and took it out on them, it was clear we needed a reset. I put on some nice music on a loudspeaker and had the album (‘Take Heart (Again)’ by Hillsong) on repeat for the entire next morning. It calmed me, it calmed the kids, it just calmed the overall mood. I’ve also mentioned a few times in this blog or at church that I also pray over my children each night before I go to bed.

To be honest with you sometimes I am asking for forgiveness for my actions, sometimes I seek guidance on how to be a better parent for them, other times I am just thanking God for the gift they are. To me, it feels like the world’s greatest insurance policy. I think we all know that miserable feeling of paying insurance premiums for our cars, homes, or other things each month. It can be easy to think, what a waste of money. But when a crisis occurs, those with insurance come out of the situation with something to salvage and move on with. In this scenario I am more than willing to pay the insurance premium each night, knowing God’s support will be there for me and my family forevermore.

Until next time, keep doing your best and look at the positives of your extra family time.