Christian Living


How to Help Your Kids Find Peace in Quarantine

Kimberly Carr - Digital Media Producer

Seth Dahl’s passion for creating a thriving family culture fuels his ministry as a writer, public speaker, and children’s pastor. He and his family recently completed a move from California to Austin, Texas. Big city opportunities with small town values was just what Seth and his wife Lauren wanted for their kids. He describes the cross-country move as “a full operation,” which included three dogs, two horses, and a cow.  They’re closer to cowboys and nature now.

But the Dahls are also facing challenges along with parents and guardians around the world: working full-time, teaching at home, normal life stuff, and now the added threat of COVID-19 and living in quarantine with the family.

I talked with Seth about his life, his 18 years in ministry, and how you can help your kids handle this crisis.

Kimberly Carr: You’ve been in ministry since 2002, and during that time you and your wife started a family. Was it easy to apply the principles you learned there to raising your kids or was that a whole different beast?

Seth Dahl: “Yes and no. It was easy in that I feel like I had a lot of practice. Sometimes people become parents, and the last time they worked with kids was when they were teenagers babysitting. I felt really privileged that when we had kids, I’d been doing this at that point for seven or eight years really consistently. I could just easily translate some of that in. But it was also hard because it is a different animal altogether. It was like, ‘Oh, I'm not dealing with a room full of kids that have boundaries. This is just one child right now, and I’m not sleeping… I really felt like it was a lot easier having practice with kids for so long.”

Carr: Because most churches aren’t meeting right now, parents are suddenly Sunday school teachers in addition to homeschooling and possibly working full-time. How would you advise them to begin the Sunday conversation?

Dahl: “Tomorrow I'm going to do an Instagram live with my friend and that's what we’ll be discussing – ‘Help. I'm a parent, but all of the sudden now I'm a pastor. I'm a children's pastor because of all this!’

“Churches have all gone online. First thing would be to include your children. When you watch church online, include them in worship, and try to treat it as if you're actually going to church.  At the same time understand they're watching a screen, and it's the senior leader probably. So, it feels like adult church versus kids church. I would say try to understand this isn't a children's directed church. Give them a little bit of grace. They may not have as long of an attention span as they would in kids church. Also, you could watch the message from that week and repackage it for your own kids and talk to them about it.

“If there's a story in the Bible the pastor used, then read that story to your kids and share something that was said. Or if there's some kind of an illustration he used, do that same with your kids as well. Maybe just watch a five-minute chunk of the sermon and then talk about it a little bit.

“I realized all these churches are online now, but no one's doing anything for kids (at least that I'm aware of). So, we filmed a children's church that's got one worship song, then an object lesson, and a story from the Bible. And then we even did a little activation homework for the kids. We filmed a whole online kids series that we're going to do once a week for the next few weeks and just see how it goes.

“It's only 15 minutes long. Parents were writing in saying ‘This is amazing. It's the right amount of time for my kids because they're not trying to watch an hour-long sermon or hour-long worship service.’”

Carr: Okay. I think I'm on the right web page – Kid’s Church Free Video Series?

Dahl: “Yep. They will need to sign up because during the week we're sending out other things, like a couple minute videos. I didn't want to just put it on social media, so [by signing up] they're getting cool stuff in their inbox throughout the week as well.”

Carr: How has your own house schedule changed with recent quarantine restrictions?

Dahl: “Because we moved part way through the year, we’ve sort of been forced to home school, which we like it, but we wouldn't necessarily have chosen except for this circumstance. So that hasn't changed much. But gymnastics and extra curriculum activities have changed for us because we're not able to get out.”

Carr: Is there a wacky question or a really difficult question that your kids have asked about what’s happening in the world?

Dahl: “They've been more frustrated. We tried to walk down to a park and just get away, get in more nature, but we walk down to your park and took the dog and got there and everything was roped off and they can't play on the swing set. They were mad about the coronavirus like ‘This stupid coronavirus!’ It did turn into a teaching moment where I just explained ‘Everyone's trying to be really careful and because there's so much uncertainty right now and they're not really sure how all this is working yet and they don't really have a handle on it – so, they're just roping stuff off and you can't play on it but making sure they're protecting you as best as they can. And yes, it's frustrating, but it's actually a good thing until we really know what we're dealing with.’”

Carr: I saw something you posted on Facebook about kids watching the news. What did it say?

Dahl: “The recent one: ‘I refuse to talk to my kids about how they might catch a virus without telling them they could also trust the peace of God.’ God's peace is far more contagious than any virus. As long as we aren't socially distancing ourselves from Him.”

What advice would you give to parents about kids watching the news?

Dahl: “Even if you have kids that are old enough to watch the news, I would filter it for them. Watch it, filter through all the stuff, and deliver it to them myself from God's perspective.

“If they're older, I think it is good to let them watch it, but then have conversations to make sure they're not going into full-on fear. Mention that God’s peace is more contagious than the virus. Let's make sure we're approaching this from peace and from God's perspective, not just the media's perspective.”

Carr: Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?

Dahl: “The verse that has kind of jumping out at me is John 14:27. ‘My peace I leave with you. My peace I give you, I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’ What really stands out to me at this moment is that Jesus doesn't give peace the way the world does. The world will give peace when we have a vaccination, or when we know what we're dealing with. Maybe they can only get peace [when that happens], but Jesus gives us peace.

“The other thing that is hitting me is that the peace Jesus had in the storm. He didn't get the peace after the storm was over. He had peace right through the middle of the storm.

“The disciples got peace when the storm was over, but Jesus carried it the whole time. And He also used that peace to calm the storm. And so, the peace wasn't just so He could make it through the storm. It was so that the storm couldn't make it through Him. Peace is going to help us stay offensive and not get defensive. It’s going to help us get through this, but it's also going to help us adjust this, shift this. God doesn't give peace the way the world does. He gives us peace so that we can release it to the world around us. Keep that in mind as we talk to our kids and our families – that we want to be releasers of peace.”

Check out Seth’s most recent book Win-Win Parenting, and look for his next one soon, Curing Worry God's Way.

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