We are entering some very difficult times and unchartered waters in the next several weeks to months. We have not been through this as a nation before and it will certainly test our character, our resolve and our love for one another. We will be challenged by questions like, “how large is our family, who is in our family, where does our front door step end?” Family life as we know it will be challenged. Spending more time together does not necessarily mean that that time will be quality time unless we develop a plan and have a commitment to make that happen.

I spoke with a couple recently who had a long-distance relationship for 3 years before getting married. They were only seeing each other on weekends. They were telling me about the initial difficulties they had experienced together when beginning their full-time, married life together – “we were together 7 days a week, breakfasts every morning and dinners together every night. As much as we wanted this and thought that it was good, there was an adjustment period that was required before we felt at home with each other.” The same with our family members. We are going to be around each other more and more; schools will be closed, parents will be working from home, and perhaps grandparents will have to come live with you. I really want to forewarn you, as a way of preparing you, that it is a normal part of family accommodation to learn to adjust to having more family time together all of a sudden. This is not a family vacation period. This will become a family stress time that you can be ready to handle.

I would like to suggest that you PLAN. You will have more dinners together just because everyone is home from school and there are no events in the evenings at school for kids to go to. Challenge always brings opportunity; but only, if you plan for it. Parents could go for walks together; plan and discuss how to get your act together. Work together. Which child needs more time with one of you? Should we turn off the TV for some definitive time each day or curtail devices? I don’t know your family well enough to make a recommendation; I am only trying to prepare you before you get entrenched in a pattern that doesn’t work and then you have to try twice as hard to get it to change. I worry about the virus causing friction between partners and I don’t mean the fun kind. If you are doing this by yourself, call a friend to help out, take shifts, get help.

I am reminded and encouraged by the words of Gloria Gaynor’s song, I Will Survive as I saw her singing that song and washing her hands to the beat on TV. The most important lines of that song for me are the refrain:

“Oh, no, not I, I will survive
Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive
I got all my life to live
And I got all my love to give and I’ll survive”

This takes us back to last week’s column (I hope you saw Ryan Estis’ You Tube video) where we were talking about how Lily was not pouring coffee for her customers, but rather, she was pouring cups of happiness. She turned a mundane act – pouring coffee in an airport coffee shop – into a human, caring interaction. We are going to have to demand of ourselves to have Lily’s attitude and Gloria Gaynor’s passion to battle the times we are about to face.

We are all in this together. We will only survive if we all pull together, protect each other and come together! If I can help, you have my email address. Let’s talk more about this article online at

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