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Family therapist offers advice on coping with coronavirus fears at home

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Posted at 12:19 PM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-13 12:19:24-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Author Ron Deal is a marriage and family therapist and co-author of "Building Love Together in Blended Families."

Deal offered some tools for coping with life at home under all familial circumstances.

Deal co-authored the book with New York Times bestseller Dr. Gary Chapman who wrote "The 5 Languages of Love" and who recently gave advice to for handling relationships in this crisis.

Deal suggests you create a compass with north pointing to the core of what matters most at home, often focusing on faith or personal values. He also said it’s important to remind children of this principle.

"Let’s face it, we have a lot of artificial anchors in life. Ashleigh, I think we’re all realizing, wow, I don’t have my routine. I don’t have my job. I can’t be as productive as I used to be. Or I sort of have my job but it’s not the same, and money is in question. All of those things that we normally hang our life in are in jeopardy to some degree. And I think that’s forcing all of us to look at what’s really important in this life," Deal said.

South, he said, allows a person to sort through fear and pain with a child, and using words versus brushing feelings to the side.

"The best thing for an anxious child is a non-anxious, self-regulating adult. So if I’m 6, or I’m 15, and I’m looking around and going, this is weird, and I hate not having my friends, and I miss the school, and I turn on the news and I watch my parents get all anxious when I watch the news, that child’s going to be even more anxious. But when they see an adult saying, you know what, let me talk to you about what’s going on with me. And they see you take ownership and responsibility for who you are right now, and how you’re responding and reacting and talking around your anxiety. Don’t pretend that you don’t have it. That’s not real. Talk about it and say, you know, I am concerned," Deal said.

East, Deal said, points to establishing new rhythms for daily life.

Since there is a blending of all activities and people under one roof, it can be beneficial to establish that there are new versions of a temporary normal. Have an agreement with people in your household about what this means. That includes the approach to handling the disease itself.

"There are some people who feel comfortable standing in front of their home porch, talking to a neighbor on the driveway or something. There are other people who want to be in a HAZMAT suit and force everybody in their life into a HAZMAT suit. We just have different opinions about what safe is. You got to talk this out, you got to try to check your fear, avoid the extremes within yourself. Try to listen to the recommendations that they give us. Use some common sense. And then decide together with the people that you live with how are we going to do this?" Deal said.

West, Deal said, points to walking in love in our home and neighborhood.

Anxiety, he said, can cause a person to become very self-centered. Caring for others and reaching out in love can be soothing.

Deal, Dr. Chapman, and other family experts are putting on a worldwide live stream for blended family couples on Saturday April 25. You can watch it by clicking here.

You can also learn more about the author at Family Life and Deal's website.