Blog: Parenting in a Pandemic

Let’s face it.  Parenting is hard enough as it is.  But during a pandemic?  All cards are off the table.  What’s right is now wrong, and what’s wrong is now right.  Back in the good ‘ole pre-COVID days, the thought of my now teenager spending all day playing on his XBOX would make my eye twitch.  But now, hearing him laughing and having fun with his friends online makes me smile, and I must force myself to stop thinking about the excessive screen time the professionals warn against.  Instead of the guilt of him gaming too much, I need to remind myself that in these times, that’s pretty much the only social interaction that he gets, besides being with “boring old mom”.  

And I KNOW there are parents reading this who feel like their child is not getting the education they should be receiving.  And do I need to go into the missing assignments?  The dropping grades?  The zoom parent-teacher conferences?  If you are anything like me, you wonder if these kids are even learning enough to pass on to the next grade. 

So, what goes along with all of this?  Guilt.  Parents feel guilty that they eat cereal or pancakes 3 times a week for supper.  Guilt that they are counting the days that the kids go back to school (if you are working from home or a stay-at-home parent) or feel guilt that you spend 10 hours away working outside the home, with your child stuck at home by himself, hoping he’s logged on to school, and doing what he’s supposed to be doing. 

Some nights when I get home from work, I’m so mentally exhausted that I can’t do anything but sit on the couch and watch ‘Good Girls’.  And then my son starts in as soon as I get home from work- “What’s for supper, I’m STARVING!”  One night it might be bacon and eggs, the next, pancakes, and maybe by day 3 I feel like making a decent meal, but maybe not. 

But you know what?  I’m learning to let go of the insignificant things and try and focus on the more important things.  I ask myself, is this a mountain or a molehill?  And then I try and act accordingly.  We must forgive ourselves for the “bad parenting” we might feel like we are providing and embrace the wonderful teaching moments we have with our children.  It is making my son more responsible, and hopefully this awful experience we are all in helps mold him and other children into better people, at least maybe to prepare him for college and adulthood!   He must wake up to his alarm clock, log in to each class on time, and make himself breakfast and lunch (even if it’s just warming up leftovers), and all in all he is learning to fend for himself, of course with a few gentle reminders from me throughout the day!  

We need to remember that our kids have never (and hopefully will never again) experience anything else like this.  Kids/teens feelings and emotions are already so fragile and constantly changing, and to expect them to meet our expectations can be incredibly overwhelming for them.  We need to show them love and patience and understanding and always be willing to drop what we are doing and listen when they are ready to talk.  With a teenager those moments are few and far between, so I must grab them when I can!

Instead of carrying worry and guilt, we need to embrace the facts realizing and accepting that "it is what it is" and that this too shall pass.  Don't beat yourself up too much, I'm trying not to.  And if it's pancakes again for supper tonight? Hey, at least he's fed. 

By Rebecca Morabito, RN

March 15, 2021