Back To … I Guess We’re Calling It “School”?

Doug FrenchDad 2.0 Digital

We had the Spring, when the initial shock of the pandemic lowered the educative stakes while families tried to find our footing. We had the Summer, when we gritted our teeth and watched our hopes for a normal return to school erode day by day. And now we’re here, coping with more uncertainty and declining morale as anyone in the 21st century does: with memes.

So how’s it going with you? Can your kids log on? Exercise? Pay attention for more than five seconds? The web is full of helpful tips for pushing through this trying time (especially if two parents are working from home), but our favorite was this piece, in which two psychologists focused mostly on how parents can make this Extended Abnormal seem more normal until our Regular Normal is restored:

  • Re-watch Life Is Beautiful. Our kids feed off of the energy we put out, so we have to try to dig deep, stay enthusiastic, and thumb our noses at the grim truth. Explain the situation as dispassionately as you can, establish the new routines, and let your kids know you’ve got their backs. Then head upstairs and scream into your pillow.
  • Make life as boringly predictable as possible. In any stressful situation, the best thing a parent can do is tell his kids what’s going to happen, and then make sure it happens. Rebuild the floor beneath them, so they learn to trust its structure. And answer their questions as truthfully as you can, especially to your older kids who can sense when they’re being gaslighted.
  • Get ready for peer relationships to get weird. Friendships shift all the time in normal circumstances, but every family copes differently under extreme stress. Help your kids learn to expect and accept when a friend starts acting differently, and help your kid avoid taking it personally.
  • Assess each kid individually. Reassurance isn’t one-size-fits-all. Let the chatty kids chat, and give the quiet kids time to talk on their own terms. And bring out the crayons, because drawings are excellent outlets for processing feelings.
  • Lend them your ears. Put your flipping phone down and give them your full attention, even if it’s just to make them feel heard.
  • Don’t expect to fix everything. The instinct to swoop in as the all-knowing dad is strong, but ultimately not helpful. Scaffolding is great, empathy is better, but our kids can build a lot of emotional health by recognizing that all of this is a MAJOR bummer, but we’re all going to survive it.

We could use a little of that emotional health ourselves.

CONFERENCE NEWS

We’re happy to welcome two more SponsorsBluehost and Trane — to the Dad 2.0 Digital lineup! This makes a total of seven Sponsors who are supporting us through this important, screwed-up time, when a lot of us have realized the underrated value of simply gathering with your people. We’ll never be complacent about it again.

 Stay tuned for our first Speaker announcement next week!

IN THE NEWS

This retired dad of four children is keeping them all home from school because “I don’t think the juice is worth the squeeze here. We’re talking about people’s lives.”

Conan O’Brien’s media company has launched Dads: The Podcast, which is for dads and non-dads who want “to unpack the mysteries of fatherhood, parenting, and the weirdos who raised us.”

Is public education changing forever? Seattle dad Adam Doppelt has some pro tips on how education tech can evolve with the times

They Call Me Dad,” which features five celebrity dads and aims to shift the narratives around Black fatherhood and its cultural representation, airs Tuesday on OWN. 

Congratulations and thanks to Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, who opened up about his battles with depression after his brother’s suicide earlier this year.

To send 4-year-old Vinny off to school, his dad used Vinny’s toys to stage the emotional scene in “Toy Story 3,” when Andy leaves home for college.

If you’re a new dad and feeling “a little hormonal,” you’re likely being flooded by the same chemical as your breastfeeding partner.

A study in Johannesburg indicates that men who can’t provide for their families feel too much shame and low self esteem to participate actively with their children.

In Richmond, the My Brother’s Keeper helps men and fathers “navigate the storms of life.”

PORCHLIGHT POSTS

“The mask cool quotient is never mentioned among my kids and their friends. It’s a drag, but that’s life.” — Ed Condran, Face Masks Are the New T-Shirt

“Not all of us need to look to the past though to be the bosses the creator built us to be.” — James Oliver, Celebrate Black Achievers Today, Not 50 Years From Now

“So instead of children somehow ruining your sexual relationship, my child actually brought it back to normal. I owe him a huge debt.” — Jason Alexander to Art Eddy, The Art of Fatherhood podcast

“My dad never would have wanted me to talk about his death my whole life. My dad was hopeful, joyful, a storyteller. He would have wanted a better story.”— Laura Carney, I’ve Been Finishing My Father’s Bucket List

“I am writing this as neither a Republican or as a Democrat, but as the son of an U.S. Army Captain who died in combat on Okinawa. He was not a ‘loser’.” — Richard Osburn, My Dad, Who Died in Combat, Is Not A Loser Or Sucker

‘GRAM OF THE WEEK

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Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash