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Family Life| Adapting to the New Normal as Senior Citizens

Times have radically changed in just a matter of months! The pandemic has halted businesses, reduced many to unemployment and bankruptcy, forced many of our OFWs home. Food production and distribution gained prominence while travel and luxuries became non-essentials we have to do without, just to stay safe. Forced to stay home, trends have changed to doing everything online, plants became a passion for many, and Netflix and Kdramas gained even more prominence. With schools, churches, and event centers closed and mass gatherings prohibited, we have to hasten to move to e-education platform, hold e-church services, go full blast on webinars to learn and adapt to the new normal. Meanwhile seniors are sidelined (protected) as a vulnerable sector, and those who have retired find their lives even more limited and destitute. Somehow, for many of us, the wisdom, expertise, and experience we have gained through the years may now seem peripheral to current needs.

In this landscape, I find it heartening to see many young families adapt and thrive well. In our Cru community, among our dear friends, and in church, we see the second generation adjust to the present realities and still hold on to the convictions and values they have been raised with. I see so much hope as they are the ones who could lead the way for families today live relevantly and make an impact in current and future times. Thus, for August, I have asked a number of these second generation children who have become parents themselves share their experiences and learnings as young families. In September, I will feature young families from Davao who have decided to work and live abroad, and one who has remained here and also succeeded. Hearing from these young families will give us insights into their decision-making, thinking, struggles, adjustments, and what helps them thrive and even do better than their parents. 

Meanwhile, my husband and I have been discussing how we could adopt ourselves to this new normal. I have used the past months to edit and reformat my dissertation’s parenting class program since there is a demand for it. However, I find it a big hurdle to facilitate the interactive workshop-type program online! I started attending a few webinars on this topic and learned about new applications and software I could use. However, I have to admit that instead of wanting to take the time to learn from scratch all these new apps and ways of teaching, I would rather do what I do best and leave the adaptation to the younger ones who are digital natives to do it for me. I am trudging this road slowly and learning as I go along. This is one of the ways we continue to remain relevant, where the senior ones’ expertise could be disseminated to a global audience with the younger ones’ expertise in graphic designing, digitizing and sharp online presentations to bring about good results. 

Another way we are adapting is by investing in good internet service provider (sponsored by a relative) so that we could continue to connect with loved ones, join webinars, attend zoom meetings, and do what we feel called to do as elderlies – mentor young couples, mothers, those we sponsored in dedications and weddings. This is in keeping with the admonition in Titus 2:2-5: “Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience. Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands.” We still want to be part of the community even though we stay at home as seniors. Moreover, with many excellent teachings and materials made available online, we could continue growing in our areas of interest. When we do so, we can give out in mutual learning with the communities we create.

Online communities may be the new normal, but we still long for normality of face-to-face conversations, physical hugs, and being with the persons we love. We need to be prepared for waves of grief and longings when they come. And look for pockets of joy in our daily lives. I feel in the present situation, the best way we could show our family who is far from us our love, aside from regular video chats, is with keeping ourselves as healthy and alive as long as possible.  


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