By Teresa Goins
Because of our new norm of social distancing amid the Coronavirus pandemic, I have missed the kids in my youth group! To keep our church membership safe, a few weeks ago, our pastor (thankfully) made the decision to replace our in-person services with online ones. I do text some of my kids but can personally see only my granddaughter Madison. On behalf of our youth group, I conducted a phone interview with Madison (13) and Kaitlyn (14), who are
in eighth grade at a middle school in Frankfort, about their COVID-19 concerns. In this article, I listed my questions (Q), a summarized answer from the kids (A), and a few ideas we might use to support them. My prayer is that this information will help us to guide our young people through this unusual crisis.
Q: As a young person, what is the biggest source of anxiety you have as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: We’re worried about being able to graduate to ninth grade (and missing our eighth-grade prom). We also worry about getting the virus and infecting our families.
How we can help: In the midst of uncertainty, we must listen to our teens’ apprehensions. Assure them that our school systems will do their utmost to accommodate them, with the students’ best interests at heart. Regarding the virus, “Some kids simply need facts to feel a bit better.” Don’t avoid the subject because a lack of knowledge only causes more anxiety.1 This pandemic is no one’s fault; and the best way to protect our families is to do those things that still remain under our control, i.e., social distancing and good hygiene.
Q: How has social distancing affected you?
A: It makes us sad. We miss our friends!
How we can help: “Social distancing does not mean social isolation,”2 and this is one time that social media can be a lifesaver! Allow your young people to FaceTime, call, and text to stay in constant contact with their friends.
Q: What have you done to occupy your time during the pandemic?
A: We are bored! We sleep late and talk to our friends on our phones.
How we can help: To keep your teens present and active, introduce them to new projects. Allow your teen to paint his bedroom another color. Let your daughter highlight her hair. Ask your grandson to create a funny family video online. Make this an enjoyable time at home (when they can complete projects that they might have otherwise not been able to do). This is also a good time to introduce teens to the value of community. Encourage them to show their appreciation for medical personnel in your area by displaying homemade thank-you posters in their front yards.
Q: What is it like not being able to attend school?
A: We want to go back to school now! We complete Chromebook NTI (Non-Traditional Instruction) each week at home and have some online Zoom classes with our teachers.
How we can help: For those teens that are fortunate enough to have been given schoolwork to complete at home, keep them on task, checking in daily to offer any help needed.
Q: Do you miss your church youth activities?
A: Yes! We miss going to church, seeing the people, and learning new things.
How we can help: Suggest that your teens call their pastors to find out if the church offers any online services for their age group. Suggest they send cards to their pastors, Sunday School teachers, and church friends. Doing something nice for someone else always makes us feel better.
Q: Do you feel safe and protected? Are you using this time to talk to God?
A: Yes, we feel safe at home with our families, but we pray that God will end the pandemic.
How we can help: “It is important … not to pass on your worries and fears to your children. We shouldn’t … catastrophize in a way that will cause … unnecessary worry or fear.”3 Suggest your teens read Psalm 91 for comfort. Pray with them, stay nearby, and remind them that God cares.
This pandemic is scary for everyone. How can we hope to ever get through? A week or so ago, I asked my pastor that very question, to which he answered something like this, “Don’t be scared. Be diligent. And remember that God is still in control. Continue to pray and trust Him, and He will make a way.” I can add nothing more to his words. Amen.