Parenting in the COVID situation
BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - July 5, 2020 - 12:00am

Parenting is not an easy business. I should know, and I speak out of experience. I had three, and are all grown-ups now. Thinking back, I recall that handling each teen was a unique experience. You cannot say, “Oh, I will just apply to the second one what I did with the first one...” No such thing!

A businessman said, “A good friend of mine warned me that, as my three daughters became old enough to date, I would disapprove of every young man who took them out. When the time came, I was pleased that my friend’s prediction was wrong. Each boy was pleasant and well mannered. Talking to my daughter Joanna one day, I said that I liked all the young men she and her sisters brought home. “You know, dad,” she replied, “we don’t show you, everybody.”

In many parenting talks I have done for schools throughout the many years of my life, I had always maintained that running a business, practicing a vocation or profession are “peanuts” compared to raising up teenagers. And that is why one woman said, “Now I know why animals eat their young!” And that line would never fail to elicit laughter throughout the jampacked auditorium. But those were the ancient days. Those were the old days like... some five or six months ago when our teens still go to school, and we still report for work in our corporate headquarters. Those were the days I would refer to as the pre-COVID days. And then suddenly everything changes.

Our teens are trapped in their own homes because schools are closed. They have to share the same internet connection with their parents. They cannot escape and they feel like they are in detention. They miss their friends. They miss their clubs. Some of them have sacrificed a lot managing their schoolwork and basketball practice looking forward to making the varsity team this year, and now everything is canceled. They are not even going to enjoy and celebrate age-old traditions like junior and senior proms. And heck, they may not even have graduation exercises. While parents deal with worries about health and job issues constantly worried about their finances and job security, they have to take care of family needs and do online meetings with their bosses and colleagues. It would be but natural for parents to realize that their teens are going through challenging times too. Work from home would be the norm for a while. Our kids will have to learn and deal more with online assignments and tests, and it is not easy for them too.

Here are a few ideas that may be of help to you if you happen to be a parent with teens in this COVID environment. Do not expect to work at your standard capacity, similar to your pre-COVID days. WFH will require you to pick up new skills and a considerable time of adjustments before you can be fully productive. Even your boss and your colleagues will have to adjust too. It would be best if you also conserve your energy in having to parent your teens too and do not fail to establish boundaries. The thing with WFH today is not that people are not delivering contrary to this fear during pre-COVID days. The evidence suggests that people can still be productive doing work from home. The challenge to many is that they are overworking and tiring themselves too much, which happens when you do not set boundaries. Remember that WFH will be a mode, and this mode of work will be here to stay.

Consider that distance learning is a challenge for all age groups, including your teens. And while they are at home, you need to be honest in accepting that their spare time is going to involve a lot more screen time. But here comes the opportunity, take advantage of this situation in training your kids in the area of values and attitude building. WFH becomes a platform wherein you spend bonding time with them and discuss essential life skills they should develop to succeed in life.

But in all things, whether helping them do their work or discussing life issues, here is the most critical element to consider: HAVE FUN! Enjoy the company. Listen to their stories and give them a listening ear. Turn this COVID situation into a memorable moment you and your kids will never forget. Work will be there, and this situation will pass. There may be more crises ahead, and I pray to God that this would not be the case. But meanwhile do not waste this crisis. Invest in it.

(Bring your family, and take part in a live webinar via Zoom this July 8-9, “Raising Future Leaders – Values, Virtues and Attitude with Chinkee Tan, Nove Ann Tan and Francis Kong as they present winning ideas on Money Management, Online Education and Life Skills for Success. For further inquiries or registration email: om or contact April at 0928-559-1798 or Abby at 0917-533-6817.

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