Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Parenting in the Time of Quarantine

Like many mothers of a college student, I connected with the parents Facebook page when my daughter started her first year. It's helped me learn some ins and outs of our particular school, provided a handy place to unload some football tickets and has prepared me for how early I should reserve a place to stay for graduation weekend (like 3 years ago). 

Lately, though, I refer to it as the Train-Wreck-I-Can't-Look-Away-From. The helpful, cheerful posts have given way to reports from campus on mask wearing or lack there of, the posting of pictures of kids who are not wearing masks (!!!), reports of kids with 12 packs under their arms (egad, that must mean they are on their way to a large party), articles on current virus infection rates throughout the US, and what just about every other school is doing about on-campus or virtual learning. 

I 1000% understand the concerns of parents, normally high when sending their child off to college, now extra extra stressful when unsure of how this particular semester will go. This virus is a risk with still so many unknowns, and somehow we've conflated "flatten the curve" to mean "quarantine and the virus will go away." Even with mask wearing, small group mandates, extra curricular cancellations and mostly virtual classes, our school cannot guarantee my kid will be 100% healthy and safe. The world doesn't work that way and it's unfair to ask the school administration to make that promise. For the record, my kid had mono and got hit by a car on her bike, all in her first semester, so perhaps I am a little battle toughened :-).

So what is my point? Not to pick on any family or individuals that are making different decisions than we have with our kids. Rather, I want to point out that in our effort to try and do the right thing in these anxious times, we may be teaching our kids the wrong lesson. Instead of teaching our kids how to handle risk and make good decisions, we may be teaching our kids that the world is a very bad place and they can't be trusted to handle it. Resiliency is born out of enduring risk, and learning from the decisions you made navigating it. Imagine the confidence gained by that experience.

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