Showing my daughters how to stay positive in the face of overwhelming adversity

Like many other fathers around the world right now, Sam S. is trying to show his daughters how to stay positive in the face of overwhelming adversity, a situation no one knows what to do with but take it one day at a time. While his wife, Ellen, has been able to keep her job remotely, Sam, a professional drummer and teacher of music, lost all of his work when COVID-19 hit; now, while his wife wakes up and signs onto her laptop to begin working in the morning, Sam is the one responsible for taking care of the girls – Emily, 8 months and Frida, 3 years old – during the day.

“Emily is too young to understand what’s going on.” he tells me. “But Frida has a lot of questions because of course she remembers how things used to be. I try to keep it simple and say only that there are some germs going around that can make people sick so we wear masks to protect ourselves and others. I also have to tell her that mommy and daddy will be fine, though, which isn’t always easy.”

I lost everything I spent my entire life working for and I have no idea if or when I’ll get it back—-and what that will mean for me and for them.

Despite the stress of being out of work, Sam admits he loves that he gets to spend these days with his daughters introducing them to new things and learning what they like. After observing how they do best with a steady routine, he’s created one that involves a three to four mile walk right after breakfast; one day it might be to a cafe where he can explain to Frida the concept of manners and how to interact with the employees and other customers, another to the basketball court or nearby train station, or a walk in nature. His favorite part has been to understand that it doesn’t really matter what they do—it’s simply doing it together the girls enjoy most.

“There are definitely things Frida doesn’t like that I do, such as being in nature for hours. Her preference will always be for urban things with more stimulation.” he tells me. “So I encourage her to give it a chance, explain to her why I like it, but I never insist. It’s more important for me to hear what her instinct is for us to do that day and let her lead the adventure.”

Being a father has shown him how important it is to model the behavior he wants them to practice; despite not having any gigs for the foreseeable future, he still practices for hours every day and explains to them that this is what you have to do to realize a dream. “The concepts I hope to instill in them are really basic.” he says.

Put your energy to what matters to you and be nice to people. Learn as much as you can. This is how I want to see them living their lives. I want them to know this is what I’ve always stood by and it gave me a life that includes them so I know I got it right.