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The Family Project: Family the upside of the coronavirus downside

Editor’s note: As the one-year anniversary approaches of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shutdown in the Lehigh Valley and the United States, “The Family Project” panel shares what lessons were learned during 2020 that are important for parents to remember.

Denise Continenza:

“I hope that parents always remember to put time aside to do things as a family. In March when everything was shut down, families spent more time together, and started to appreciate simple pleasures in life. Well into the fall, the parks and trails were filled with parents and children having fun together.”

Chad Stefanyak:

“The lesson I am learning is to be patient in helping my young children do ‘normal” things’ because a majority of their memories and a chunk of their lives are of a time that was anything but normal. For my two-year-old, quarantine is the only lifestyle he knows. I expect him to be very clingy when we can be around other people. I am frustrated with my four-year-old, who only wants to stay inside with his iPad, video games and the television. I need to remind myself that he spent a quarter of his life asking to do things, only to be repeatedly told that places are closed and we need to stay home.”

Mike Daniels:

“During the challenging past year, our resilient human spirit has shone through. In every home, neighborhood and community, families have found new and creative ways to experience each other and connect with loved ones. As parents, we had the opportunity to prioritize our relationships with our children. Completing schoolwork and chores should pale in comparison to our relationship with our children. We should focus on modeling for them the most important lessons in life. No matter how children do in school, learning to be a gracious and compassionate human being will help them much more in life than getting straight As.”

Erin Stalsitz:

“Parents should remember that despite all the stress over the last year, families made new traditions. Those traditions should continue even when things get back to ‘normal.’ They are memories your children with cherish forever. All those games you played, movies you watched and cakes you made brought your family closer together and can make things seem less stressful at any time.”

Pamela Wallace:

“We won’t know for a long time the toll this pandemic experience has taken on our children. So, we need to be there for them, to help them recover. Children learn by watching us, so the way we respond to situations will influence how they will respond when they face adversity. Our role is to be good examples. We can take away from this experience a realization that we are not in this alone. We need to continue to look out for each other, and for the children in our neighborhoods to be sure that they are safe and cared for.”

If you suspect something might be wrong, don’t hesitate to call ChildLine at 1.800.932.0313. You may be saving a child.

This week’s panel: Pam Wallace, program coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Denise Continenza, extension educator; Chad Stefanyak, school counselor; Mike Daniels, LCSW, Psychotherapist, and Erin Stalsitz, Lehigh Children & Youth.

Have a question? Email: projectchild@projectchildlv.org

The Family Project is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.

The Times News, Inc., and affiliates (Lehigh Valley Press) do not endorse or recommend any medical products, processes, or services or provide medical advice. The views of the columnist and column do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Lehigh Valley Press. The article content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, or other qualified health-care provider, with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.