We’re living in an unprecedented time in history; there’s not really a parenting handbook on how to manage a global pandemic.
Just like any other childcare topic, parents are bound to have different approaches and philosophies as to what the “right” way to do things is. However, in this situation, it has left me looking like the bad guy to my child.
Social Interactions Are The Norm For Kids At School
As a kid, you get to see your friends every day from Monday to Friday while at school. You get to play with them during recess, lunch periods, and sometimes in class. Even high school students have time structured into their days to be social.
Beyond School, Social Events Were So Important
After-school activities like sports and clubs also contain an important social component. For young people, social events like dances, parties, and just regular hangouts are key to maintaining health and happiness.
Lockdown Made Social Interactions Disappear Almost Overnight
Suddenly, with the implementation of lockdown, school and regular social activity ceased entirely. Communication between kids has, at best, been limited to texting/calling/video chats or using social media, and at worst it has become non-existent.
I Understand That Quarantine Has Been Extra Difficult For Kids
Not having school is different from not going to work: despite maybe interacting with coworkers and going to meetings, adults are used to more solitary environments. In contrast, it’s easy for kids to feel cut off from each other and the world.
My Kids, Through It All, Have Been Understanding
While they’ve spent the last few months frustrated and annoyed, they’re all old enough to understand why social distancing has been mandatory, and they’ve focused their anger on the circumstances since no one could see each other.
Now, Their Friends Are Getting Together
With the government lifting some of the restrictions on public spaces and gatherings, parents of a lot of the other kids around us have started allowing them to attend social gatherings and hang out.
I Have Been Hesitant To Allow My Kids To Do The Same
As I mentioned earlier, we’re living in an unprecedented time, and the health risks involved in social interaction aren’t 100% clear, especially since this virus seems to be affecting different age groups in atypical ways.
My Wife And I Had A Long Discussion About It
We talked about the health risks, especially in our city, and weighed them against our children’s mental well-being regarding being away from friends this long, but ultimately we decided that we wouldn’t allow our kids to gather with their groups of friends.
Inevitably, My Kids Asked The Question
I knew that it was only a matter of time before at least one of my kids would ask to hang out with a group of friends who were planning to get together. The day it happened, I could tell how excited they were at the prospect of seeing their friends.
…And I Had To Be The Bad Guy
I had to steel my nerves in order to tell them “no.” I explained my reasoning behind it, but I could tell how deeply disappointed they were with the news in their eyes.
They Say That I’m Being Unfair To Them
One of the hardest things about parenting is that you can’t control other parents’ actions—and you will inevitably be compared to them. Both of my kids have pointed out that it’s unfair that everyone else’s parents are fine with their kids hanging out.
Of Course, We Aren’t The Only Parents
There are definitely other parents who have made the same decisions and rules as us. However, while it’s clear to my children which other kids have been given permission to go out, the ones who aren’t allowed to gather with friends are a lot less visible.
My Kids Have Been Angry With Me Ever Since
They’re a little less warm towards me and my wife, a little moodier, and they clearly aren’t getting over their grudge soon. My eldest has spent most of the past week or two locked up in her room avoiding us.
Unfortunately, It’s Not A One-Time “No”
The issue with a situation like this is that, with each new gathering their friends have, my kids will ask if they can go this time. With new information about the virus coming out every couple of days, they hope that I’ll change my mind.
I Completely Understand Their Frustrations
It’s not like the old days when kids don’t have to see what they’re missing; their friends will share the details of their last hangouts or post on social media, making them feel even more left out and lonely.
I mean, I remember feeling left out a few times when I was younger when my friends would get together without me, and there wasn’t even a pandemic then.
I’ve Been Back And Forth On The Issue
There have been times that I’ve almost decided that we should let them out because all of their friends seem fine. I second-guess myself and wonder if I am being paranoid about the whole ordeal.
I Hate Knowing My Kids Are Upset With Me
I heard it a million times before: sometimes in parenting, you have to be the bad guy. Especially since we’re still living in lockdown mode, I have to feel my kids’ annoyance with me 24/7 and it really hurts.
…But This Isn’t About Me
I was really starting to feel mopey when I realized: this situation isn’t about me. As much as my feelings were being hurt, my kids’ health was the priority in this situation, and I had to put aside my feelings.
I’ve Learned To Have Resolve In My Decision
At the end of the day, I learned that I had to trust in the decision I made and not let my emotions cloud my judgment when it comes to my children’s safety.
The Worst Part Is Not Knowing If It’s The Right Call
Each parenting challenge is like a test, but unfortunately, we only see our results much later, and the lesson comes even later after that. All you can do is trust in your decisions and be ready to apologize in the future if you were wrong.
All I Can Hope Is That One Day They’ll Understand
While it might feel like I’m wronging them right now, I hope that my children might one day grow to understand why my wife and I chose to keep them home and not resent us for it.
That Said, Things Could Change
It would be unfair to my children if I stayed resolute in my resolve without at least staying up to date on information. I regularly monitor the rates of infection and what is going on locally to see if it could now be safe to send my kids out with friends.
I’m Looking For Ways To Compromise
My wife and I have recently discussed how we could help alleviate our kids’ loneliness without sending them to hang out with a group of other kids at one time.
We Came Up With A Half-Solution
We’ve decided that we’ll allow our kids to invite over one friend at a time and they can spend a few hours together in our backyard; we’ll even help organize activities that they can do together, if they want.
It’s A Good Middle Ground
This way, our children can see a friend or two in order to feel a little less isolated, but my wife and I are able to make sure that they’re social-distancing and not putting themselves or other kids at risk.
Overall, I Think This Experience Has Made Me A Better Parent
For a job that is mostly “learn on the go,” I hope that I can learn something from every decision I make. This whole experience has taught me how to manage my children’s disappointment in me when I’m only trying to do what’s best for them.
I Look Forward To The Day My Kids Can Play Like Normal
In such a strange, unprecedented time, it’s hard to know if anything will return to our previous “normal” again, but I’m looking forward to the day I can send my kids out with their friends without any hesitation.