I’ve never been more aware as I am now of the whereabouts of my four children. You know what “omnipresence” is? That word describes my children, always present. We are all confined to our home as most of you are. We are all going crazy.
I’m healthy. We’re safe. Gratitude and perspective have never been more important than right now — as reading depressing news and seeing pictures of overwhelmed hospitals — reminds me of how much I must be grateful for.
My job keeps me busy. Cassie, my fifteen-year-old, is incoming 9th grade and my youngest, fourteen-year-old Kimberly, is incoming 8th grade. My twenty-year-old Kirsten is in her final semester of university. Twenty-two-year-old Caitlin (fortunately) lives in a condo and works. I realized early on that they needed help with their studies. Parenting is already difficult as a solo parent. I also realized I’m not that much help. I have issues of my own.
It was a blessing for us that our Parish’s Family and Life Ministry held an Online Workshop last July 17 called “Parents as Pilots: Supporting Your Children in Online Learning” Our facilitators were seasoned educators: Mary Ann Tantoco Eala, Rina Ledesma Villalon, and Michelle Villafania Santos. Parents, including grandparents, of every stripe and sort attended; and we all had a great time.
In the cockpit
The workshop touched on 3 key milestones: the VUCA world, our children, and ourselves. VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity, certainly true to describe our world today. Mary Ann compared our roles as parents to flight crews in airliners. In the same way passengers rely on the aircrew, children look to those responsible for them for guidance in a VUCA world. She explained how important it is for us to understand the environment our children live in and what the expectations are from parents nowadays. In other words, parents are now the unique reference points during quarantine — particularly for young children who depend on their parents — at this stage in their lives.
Frank discussions and success stories on how we act and react to our children’s online learning needs were shared in the Zoom breakout sessions between topics. Issues discussed ranged from coping with video screen fatigue to depression. Interactions and personal stories from fellow parents on their lives during quarantine were not only enlightening but also comforting and reassuring. One great thing about all these is that the facilitators are mothers themselves. They often related their own struggles with the quarantined life and how they apply the topics discussed into their daily routine.
The workshop expounded on the processes of P.A.V.E.R., which is Positivity, Accountability, Value Mistakes, Empathy, and Recovery Time. PAVER helps children become resilient and better able to cope with unforeseen events.
Lastly, the workshop delved into the mental health and wellbeing of the parents themselves. Indeed, a failure on the parents’ part has repercussions on how children will behave. Our young children emulate us. Our older children still set us up as examples for guidance. It’s also important for parents to have their “alone” times. At least, that’s what jumped out at me.
The world turns, albeit slowly; and the events of today affect us in unimaginable ways. And yet, we have our havens. This workshop was truly a haven for “crazy” parents like me. At the very least, it is comforting to have recourse to sharing our thoughts, experiences, challenges, and successes with other parents as we did during the online event. The seminar was, indeed, only the beginning of this ongoing opportunity for communion with other people with these shared concerns. Any parents or would-be parents who wish to take part in further activities such as this can contact our Parish’s Family And Life Ministry at firstname.lastname@example.org.