June 12, 2020

2020 seriously needs a time-out… or does it?

I’ve been writing and re-writing this for almost two weeks at this point and finally feel like I’m ready to share. From the beginning of 2020 it has been one thing after another. For adults, processing the wildfires in Australia, followed by the threat of war with Iran, followed by a Global Pandemic, economic meltdown, and global unrest, is more than most of us can wrap our brains around. How are we supposed to also care for and teach our children, continue working our jobs (if we still have them) and simply hold it together?

Equating 2020 with a child who is out of control and who needs a time-out comes from a place over overwhelm and frustration. Perhaps what 2020 needs, is some serious, focused attention on systems that need to be challenged, changed, respected, attended to. Perhaps 2020 is the year where we all wake-up and begin to really pay attention to what is important; what we value and truly want to put our energy into.

2020 is shining a light on a world that needs to be more deeply cared for. A planet that has had a chance to begin healing while we have been staying home to protect each other from the spread of a novel coronavirus. Our forced time out has given many of us the chance to realize that much of the life we were living isn’t necessary or healthy. We’ve slowed down and found ways to connect with our families that we never would have found had we not had to jump off the hamster wheel! We’ve also begun long overdue hard work aimed at dismantling and rebuilding a community where all are welcome and valued. The protests and marches going on around the world attest to a system that has oppressed POC for far too long and those of us who have been blissfully unaware are recognizing that we need to be a part of the change. A healthy future for all children depends on us doing the work we’ve been neglecting. We are finally beginning to acknowledge and hopefully address, some of the root causes of our country’s biggest problems rather than just the symptoms.

Imagine 2020 is your child who is out of control and melting down. Perhaps, what that child really needs is not so much a time-out, but the same focused attention that we are beginning to give our world. Instead of a time-out, maybe they need you to really look to see what is going on in their world. Are they overwhelmed by demands they can’t meet? Are they confused about what is expected of them? Do they feel like they are not valued or seen? Are they over-stimulated? Are they simply tired, hungry or in need of a hug?

So often we miss the root causes of our children’s melt-downs. We don’t notice that they are hungry or tired. We don’t hear them when they say their feelings are hurt. We disappoint them when we make promises we can’t really (or don’t intend to) keep. We confuse them when we are not clear about what we expect from them or ask of them. We crush them when we expect them to be something they are not.

This year we have been given a gift. The gift of time to stop and reassess what is truly important to us. We can use that gift to learn and to grow. We can use it to begin having conversations with our children that we didn’t used to have time for. Conversations about what we can do as individuals and families to make the world a better place for everyone. We can make choices as individuals and families about where we want to spend our time and resources as the world begins to open up again. We can choose not to just go back to what was, but to create something new; a way of living that expresses what we truly value.

We can also take this time to really see our children for who they are, rather than who we want them to be. We have the chance to stop and really listen to what they care about; what’s important to them. Children are incredible teachers when we allow them to speak freely without judgement. Just like we need to look to 2020 as a year to learn and grow through the challenges it has brought us, we can look to our children to help teach us more about the world they want to inherit from us and the life they want to live. Then, we can hold hands and do the work we need to do in order to bring that world about.