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4 Mothers: Helping Children Overcome Fear during a Pandemic

Pointing children to faith during quarantine

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We hosted a conversation with four mothers from four countries, whose children collectively range from in age from infants to teenagers. With Mothers’ Day just a few days away, this article is especially relevant, as we remember the love and sacrifice our mothers have shown to us. 

Joy Chua (Singapore) hosted the conversation, and is joined by Delia Walcott (USA), Jade Tan (Australia), and Yen Cabag (Philippines).

Find out more about these ladies in part one of our conversation, which you can find here

How do we actually help our children navigate through this season of fear and anxiety? 

Delia: I think it is the way we talk about it at home. For my husband and I, we’re not scared of the virus, because we know God is watching over us. So our language is always speaking faith and trusting God.  So that’s what the kids hear.

We haven’t seen fear or anxiety in our kids up to this point, but I do have to deal with my students, some of whom show signs of anxiety and fear. And I try to steer them towards faith in God – in Bible class we talk about verses that show God is taking care of us. We constantly remind them that things will be okay, and pray with them.

Yen: I like what Delia said – it depends on how we as parents talk about things. When the whole thing just started to blow up, my husband and I were so engrossed in the news and would just keep updating each other in front of the kids.

I think that during that time, my oldest was a bit fearful. Since then, we decided to cut off all access to unnecessary news and just log on to the city government page. And that’s really helped as we don’t listen to the unnecessary noise.

Jade: My kids are young so they’re not too aware of what’s going on. Really, if anything they pick up on what we the parents are saying, as Delia and Yen mentioned.

“I told my daughter…’This virus is nothing to us. We don’t have to be afraid! We have to live with it responsibly, but we never have to be afraid.’” – Joy

We’ve been encouraging the kids that the reason we wash our hands and take precautions is not just to protect ourselves, but to care for our friends and the people around us. God is protecting us, and Jesus is always with you. One particular event sticks in my mind. It is when we were talking about the Passover. We were able to explain that Jesus is over our house, and God’s blood protects and sanctifies us.

We also are quite open with the kids about the things we are doing to help others. When we bake things for our friends, we tell the kids we are doing it because the Holy Spirit put these people on our hearts, so we’re going to show them we care by sending gifts.

Joy: Yeah, I love this thing about letting our children see how we are helping others. My daughter saw me sending a love package to one of our friends, and asked if she could get a credit card! Of course I told her no, but then she told me the reason she wanted a credit card was so that she could send things to her friends, just like I had done.

I was so encouraged that our children can observe little things like this, and that they also want to show kindness to their friends. It’s so important for us in this time to demonstrate what love is like, what it means to be strong and not afraid.

One day I was talking to one of my daughters and I said, “Do you know why people are so afraid?”

Joy with her husband Daniel and six children, Singapore, 2019

 

She replied, “Oh, I think they are afraid of dying.”

I told her, “Yes, that’s true, and as believers we don’t have to be afraid of dying because we will be with Jesus. So what is the virus to us?”

She thought for a while and said, “Nothing. This virus is nothing to me. I’m not afraid of dying.”

I told her, “That’s true. This virus is nothing to us. We don’t have to be afraid! We have to live with it responsibly, but we never have to be afraid.”

What have you been doing with your children to strengthen their faith in God during this season?

Jade: We’ve been doing communion on a semi-regular basis now. It’s hard to do things that require a lot of attention with young children, but we’ve been quite intentional.  While we do communion, we pray for people around us and ask the children, “Is there anyone you want to pray for?” We also ask them, “What’s one thing you’re thankful for?” So we pray together and encourage them to be thankful during this time

Yen: What really helped was Kid’s Church. We had just started following material from the book of Genesis, and when the quarantine started we were looking at Noah. One of the lessons that stood out to me and the kids was that Noah was in the ark for 11 months – almost a year.

Yen with her husband Mark and their three children, Philippines, 2019

 

The kids said, “We don’t want to be inside for a whole year!” And I asked them what they were doing in the ark the whole time, and the kids said they were praying and feeding the animals. So, we’re helping the kids apply Bible stories to their everyday lives.

Delia: One big thing is that we shifted the church into our home right now (Delia’s husband is pastor of The Cornerstone Michigan), so now my kids are all involved in running the church remotely from our home.

So, they are sitting there, listening to the messages and they are in the prayer meetings, doing everything. I think it helps them to be in it. After the service, we will talk about the message and we’ll pray together.

Every night we pray with the family, and during this time it’s a lot more COVID-19-related. If we know someone who is sick, or may have the virus, someone who is in danger – we will specifically pray for them. So, the kids are aware of people we’re praying for and then we share with them when that person has recovered.

I think it builds their faith because they see that we were praying for them and they are well now! So they see that God answers prayers and that God is protecting these people we care about. It builds faith in their little hearts.

Joy: We rarely have a chance to all attend church together, but now that church is online, I tell the kids to dress up and be ready for church when it starts. It’s very important for us to honor God in this way. After the service, we will share takeaways from the message and pray together.

On a daily basis, we’ve been having worship together with the younger kids. We’re really taking this time to point them to God, and ask what God is doing through all this?

“Treasure your kids and make them feel treasured, so they don’t feel like a burden. Let them know you love having them at home” -Delia

This is such a good time to build the faith of our children, they are with us 24/7 and there is nowhere they can go. It doesn’t mean we constantly talk about faith or the Bible, but when opportunities arise, we remind them that the eternal is so important, and to focus on this and not temporal things.

Finally, what is one message you would want to leave with all the moms and dads who will read this?

Delia with her husband Cameron and children, Michigan, United States, 2019

Delia: Treasure this time and make your kids feel treasured.

It’s not your children’s fault that they’re stuck at home and can’t go to school. It can be dangerous, because we are also selfish and sometimes we make our kids feel like a burden. We never want to do that!

Remember, just as much as you don’t want to be stuck at home, neither do your kids.

Treasure your kids and make them feel treasured, so they don’t feel like a burden. Let them know you love having them at home.

 

 

Jade: First of all, I would say that, “You can do this. It’s not an impossible task – it’s been done for many years by many people before you.”

What Delia said also really resonated with me – it’s easy to make your children feel like they’re bothering you. But take the time to sit down with your children.

Love on your kids, treasure the time together, use this opportunity to build the family altar. It’s amazing the things you will hear your children say, that you might normally miss because you’re so busy.  Treasure the time we have together and build on your family.

Yen: Focus on the relationship first. I feel like, when people talk about homeschooling, most of the pressure is on academics, lessons, and accomplishing things. But take this time to treasure the kids, focus first on building heart connection with your children.

Joy: I want to encourage everyone to take the time to reflect – what are the areas of the family that have been broken. God has been giving us the opportunity to restore all of these things. God is more interested in our spiritual heritage than our natural degrees or accomplishments. He’s really more interested in the spiritual inheritance in our children, and this is the time to build that in our kids.

Spiritual inheritance cannot be taken away from our kids – money and houses can, but heart connection cannot be taken away. God is more than able to heal us of any brokenness. God wants us to enjoy our family and have a rich inheritance for our children and the generations to come.

Check out the video above to see the live recording of part 2 of this conversation.