Connection During Overwhelming Times

WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER

Most of us are staying home due to the coronavirus. This has created a great amount of fear and uncertainty in many areas of our lives. Will my family be safe and healthy? How will this affect my job? How can I pay my bills when I can’t go to work?

There are several points I would like us to remember.

  1. Keep this in perspective. Viruses have always been with us. They come and they go. Some have more intense symptoms than others, however, God has given us bodies that develop antibodies to fight off the viruses and bring us back to health. Remember, there is a flu (influenza) season each year and the medical community have developed helps for preventing us from getting the virus or medicine that will treat us and make us well again.
  2. Remember there is a bigger picture. For those of us who have a biblical worldview, there is a calm assurance that the God of the universe is with us even through this. How do we know he cares about us and is with us? This past weekend we celebrate an event that changed the world and our understanding of death and what happens after death.

What Jesus did long ago, that we still celebrate today at Easter, is as an innocent man allowed himself to be unjustly killed. He did this on purpose for a purpose. He said it himself, “God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believe in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

You might wonder, what does that have to do with me in the world today and what do we need to be saved from? We all struggle with our human nature that seems to drive us to do destructive actions toward ourselves and others. Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these things come from within and defile a person.” Well, that pretty much covers it. I know I struggle with a number of the things on the list.

What is the good news? The good news is you can be free and forgiven from this destructive nature. Jesus can reconnect you to God. Jesus tells us that God is our heavenly father and he wants a relationship with us. When we admit we need him and put our trust in Jesus, we receive this eternal life and become a new person. It’s like being born again. The old person is gone, and we are a new person who is forgiven and free. God guides us in our daily lives and we can be assured that if we die we will go to heaven.

Judy and I have done this, and it has calmed our fears, because  no matter what we encounter in this life, he is there with us. If you have questions or would like to talk more about this please give us a call or an email.

3. Reassure each other with the confidence of the solution to the fear of death.

How do you that? You can point to the evidence of a biblical worldview: historical evidence, archaeological evidence, testimonial evidence. A great resource is the book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell. And another resource is people you know who can share why they have hope even in overwhelming times.

4. Remember to keep the connection by doing activities together.

Confident parents have the important role of introducing fun and play into the family. It is important to note that fun and play does not equal spending money. Some of the free simple forms of fun and play often can be the most memorable. 

It is important to note that fun and play
does not equal spending money.
Some of the free simple forms of fun and play
often can be the most memorable.

Our children and young adults (teens) crave more than anything else in life is to be loved and needed. Confident parents provide those by developing a heart-string connection to them early in life and a family atmosphere with large amounts of time for fun, togetherness and learning.

Simple memorable family activities take a little creativity, yet they will draw your family together like few other activities. Here are a list from the Very Well Family website.

Make a “tent” out of sheets. Take turns reading to each other.

Make milkshakes or smoothies. Conduct kitchen science experiments.

Paint your nails together. Have a spa night with oatmeal-honey facials.

Look through old photo albums together.

Watch your child’s favorite TV show or movie together.

Play a video game together. Exercise together.

Do a puzzle. Play a board game.

Help them clean their room. Rearrange their bedroom furniture.

Pull out a box of toys they haven’t played with for a while. Build Legos together.

Play with dolls together. Play store, restaurant, or ice cream stand together.

Go to the park. Ride bikes.

Sit outside and look at the stars. Eat breakfast together.

Teach your child how to cook. Teach your child how to play solitaire or chess.

Style your child’s hair. Let your child style your hair.

Share a memory about how you handled conflict or stood up to a bully when you were a kid.

Visit the library. Visit a free public museum.

Visit a garden. Take a walk in the woods.

Plant seeds from something you’ve eaten, such as apples or watermelons.

Draw on the sidewalk with sidewalk chalk. Run through the sprinklers together.

Take your dog to a dog park or visit the local humane society.

Volunteer together. Bake brownies or cupcakes together.

Have a tea party. Play school or office together.

Swing on the swings together. Have a water balloon fight.

Jump on a trampoline together. Visit a nursing home.

Make your own treasure map. Play 20 questions.

Play I Spy. Wash your car together.

Listen to your favorites songs together. Listen to an audio CD together.

Make pancakes in the shape of your child’s initials.

Make ice cream floats for dessert. Race matchbox cars.

Teach your dog tricks. Teach your child a song you sang as a kid.

Read your favorite childhood picture book together.

Make a family tree. Make your own memory game out of family photographs.

Scrapbook together. Help your child send an email to a grandparent, aunt, or uncle.

Make a care package to send to a relative who lives far away.

Write encouraging letters to each other and then mail them three months from now.

Draw caricatures of each other. Write a story together.

Have a picnic outside or on the living room floor.

Build animal families out of homemade play-doh.

Role play how to handle a tough situation, like making friends, or saying no to peer pressure.

Teach your child how to ride a bike. Make up a silly song together.

Teach one another some new dance moves. Catch fireflies.

Tell your child three things you really like about him or her.

Make a special breakfast “just because.” Take a trust walk.

Make necklaces out of colored pasta shapes and dental floss.

Make swords out of rolled up newspaper, and have a pretend sword fight.

Climb a tree. Play tennis.

Put on skits for your neighbors. Make a meal together for someone else.

Have something unusual for dinner-like air-popped popcorn and fresh fruit.

Build something out of trash/recycling items.

Create a new voicemail message together.

Make a slideshow of your favorite digital photographs.

Pick flowers and press them in wax paper. Make bookmarks.

Let your child teach you about something he or she knows or does well.

Collect leaves and then try to identify them by researching them online or at the local library.

Make life-size drawings of each other on the back of some old wrapping paper.

Play in the sand together, at the beach, a local park, or your child’s own sandbox.

Go bird watching. Play catch or soccer.

Help your child practice a sport he or she enjoys.

Visit a local music store and sample each other’s favorite artists.

Go to a free event for kids’ sponsored by your local library or a book, craft, or hardware store.

Write messages on the mirror for one another with soap.

Create memory boxes for your child’s favorite pictures, artwork, and mementos.

Create a special place in your home for displaying your child’s artwork.

Let him or her choose what to display in the place mentioned above.

Help your child fix a broken item or toy.

Watch your child play a sport or take him or her to see a friend’s game.

Visit a skate park together and watch older kids do tricks.


Source: https://www.verywellfamily.com/absolutely-free-activities-for-kids-2997490

20 Family Stresses and Top 10 Ratings from Married Women, Married Men and Single Mothers

Delores Curran in her book Stress and the Healthy Family started out with a longer list of family stresses that affect how well the family functions and works together. This was narrowed down to the top 10 lists as the families in the study were surveyed.

She defined dis-stress as a condition that exists when family life gets out of control. Ms. Curran lists the following symptoms of a constantly stressful family:

  • A constant sense of urgency and hurried; no time to release and relax
  • Tension that underlies and causes sharp words, sibling fighting, misunderstandings
  • A mania to escape -to one’s room, car, garage, away
  • Feelings of frustration over not getting things done
  • A feeling that time is passing too quickly; children are growing up too fast
  • A nagging desire for a simpler life; constant talk about times that were or will be simpler
  • Little “me” or couple time
  • A pervasive sense of guilt for not being and doing everything to and for all the people in one’s life

TOP 20 Family Stresses

The following list of stresses were not highly ranked, so they were dropped from the final survey. They include some everyday stresses, major crisis situations or pervasive individual issues. They were not as common, however, will still benefit by the helpful strategies given in the book.

The retirement

widowhood

drug/alcohol

House guests

Nuclear and environmental fears

Older parents church and school activities

family vacations

Remarriage

Relationship with former spouse

Summers

Unsatisfactory housing

Two-paycheck family

Organized sports/activities

Change and work patterns

Homework/school/grades

Religious differences

Weekends

Pre-dinner hour

Unemployment

Now we will list the rankings for Married Women, Married Men and Single Mothers.

FAMILY STRESSESMARRIED MENMARRIED WOMENSINGLE MOTHERS
   
 1.Economics/finances/budgetingEconomics/finances/budgetingEconomics/finances/budgeting
  2.  Insufficient couple of timeLack of shared responsibility in the familyGuilt for not accomplishing more
 3.Communicating with childrenInsufficient couple of timeInsufficient “me” time
 4.Children’s behavior/ discipline/ sibling fightingChildren’s behavior/ discipline/ sibling fightingSelf-image/self-esteem/ feelings of unattractiveness
 5.Spousal relationship                     (communication, friendship, sex)Housekeeping standardsChildren’s behavior/ discipline/ sibling fighting
 6.Over a scheduled family calendarInsufficient “me” timeUnhappiness with work situation
   7.Insufficient “me” timeGuilt for not accomplishing moreHousekeeping standards
 8.Unhappiness with work situationInsufficient family play timeCommunicating with children
 9.Insufficient family play timeSpousal relationship                     (communication, friendship, sex)Insufficient family play time
 10.TelevisionSelf-image/self-esteem/ feelings of unattractivenessLack of shared responsibility in the family

Source: Curran, D. (n.d.). Stress and the Healthy Family.

Next: How perspective is vital in managing Stress and Crisis.

The Top Ten Stresses Families Manage

Delores Curran in her book Stress and the Healthy Family points out the top 10 stresses that affect everyday family life. However, just listing the stresses doesn’t begin to help us understand the complexity of the decisions between individual family members that are involved in family life. So, let’s look at the dynamics of family stress.

THE DYNAMICS OF FAMILY STRESS

Most families have more conflict and stress over individual expectations about an area of family life rather than the specific issues in the family.

A common family issue is television, yet is this an actual or perceived stress?

Even without a television, stress would remain because each of the family members perceives the use of time and have different expectations. What makes one member happy, stresses another. Is free time in the family, my time, our time or their time?  

The real underlying stress is not actually the television but a conflict about who makes the decision about free time. The individual? The couple? The family? The employer? A needed household chore? (Some families look at free time as time to clean and repair the car or home.)

The expectations about time usage comes from several sources: an individual’s perception of rights, one’s childhood or the media’s image of family.

A SAMPLE SITUATION

A hypothetical family might look like this:

Mom is unhappy because her dream of spending Sundays doing some shared family activities- a day at the beach, a trip to grandma’s or playing yard games; her real family is uninterested in sharing these activities.

Dad is unhappy because he expects Sunday to be “his” time after a long week at work. He finally has time to sit in his easy chair, read the paper and watch football.

The kids are unhappy because that wanted to play with the other kids in the neighborhood.

 TALKING ABOUT AND WORKING THROUGH EXPECTATIONS

The solution to this stressful family situation is not an easy one. The answer has 3 parts.

  1. The first part of the answer is for the family members to accept the fact that there is no answer that will please all members every Sunday.
  2. The next part of the answer is for each family member to examine and share their unspoken expectations.
  3. The final part of the answer is a change in attitude. Healthy families develop an attitude that says, “I care enough about your expectations and needs, that I am willing to give up some of mine.” Communication and compromise lead to a solution that meet the needs of each family member in achieving their preferences in a fair way. This shift in attitude helps strengthen family connections and unity. Different families will solve these different expectations in different ways. However, they work on a solution together.

COMMON REACTIONS OF FAMILIES WHO HANDLE STRESS EFFECTIVELY

  1. They recognize stress is temporary and can even be positive.
  2. They work together on solutions- building family skills and connections.
  3. They develop new family rules about prioritizing time and shared responsibilities.
  4. They look at stress as a normal part of family life not a sign of failure.
  5. They feel good about effectively dealing with the stressors together.

 COMMON REACTIONS OF FAMILIES WHO STRUGGLE HANDLING STRESS

  1. They feel guilty for allowing a stress to exist.
  2. They try to place blame rather than look for a solution to the problem.
  3. They give in to stress and give up trying to master it.
  4. They focus on the family’s problems rather than strengths.
  5. They feel weaker instead of stronger after experiencing normal stress.
  6. They grow to dislike family life due to built up stresses.

All families have reactions to stress from both lists; however, each family member can be a part of solving or lessening those normal family stresses by remembering those effective strategies listed above.

Ok, I’ve teased you long enough about the Top 10 Stresses Families Manage!

THE TOP 10 STRESSES FAMILIES MANAGE

  1. Economics / Finances / Budgeting
  2. Children’s Behavior / Discipline / Sibling Fighting
  3. Insufficient Couple Time
  4. Lack of Shared Responsibility in the Family
  5. Communicating with Children
  6. Insufficient “me” Time
  7. Guilt for Not Accomplishing More
  8. Spousal Relationship (Communication, Friendship, Intimacy)
  9. Insufficient Family Play Time
  10. Overscheduled Family Calendar

It’s interesting that Ms. Curran started with a list of 45 stresses and narrowed the survey down to 25 stresses for the survey that resulted in the Top 10 Stresses. You will see that the Top 10 Stresses differ for Married Women, Married Men and Single Mothers.

Next: The List of 25 Family Stresses and the Top 10 Ratings for Married Women, Married Men and Single Mothers.