Parenting during COVID is 90% stress and 90% anxiety and 10% remembering everyone’s face masks (yes, that math checks out). This time has brought out some of our strengths; maybe you were able to learn to bake something with your oldest or help your youngest learn patterns or maybe you’ve spent this time getting to know yourself and your kids again. But COVID has also brought out our fears. It’s heightened our parenting anxiety. Are we doing the right thing? Should we attend this party? Should we play sports? What about camp? Should the kids go back to school? Can we handle distance learning again? What is everyone else doing? Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much?
There’s no right answer. Some kids are suffering from their newfound isolation and some are thriving in their safe spaces at home. And we, as parents, are all navigating uncharted waters. Sometimes it even feels like uncharted waters in a hurricane with a tornado on the horizon and a school of sharks circling just below the sinking ship. Even so, I firmly believe that every single person is doing the best they can with what they have available. Whether that be knowledge, resources, or the mental, emotional, physical, or financial state they find themselves in. Every parent I know is making decisions that they feel are right for their family in that moment. My decisions are different than a lot of the people around me. And that’s okay. I am choosing to continue with distance learning. A lot of my children’s friends have returned to school. I let my son play baseball, but I sit six feet away from everyone else. Some parents don’t mind sitting near other parents and some parents didn’t even sign their kids up. Some people are comfortable being around their extended family and some aren’t. And that’s okay.
But you know what’s not okay? Being rude about another parent’s choices. Parents don’t own an explanation or justification for their choices and preferences to other parents. We don’t have to agree on how to handle this time, but we don’t need to belittle someone else’s choices and experiences either. We can choose to be respectful. We can choose to be empathic. We can choose to model kindness for our children.
Every parent is struggling. Every family is coping with this new normal. Everyone is making difficult decisions. Instead of judging each other, let’s support each other. Let’s show our kids that its okay to respectfully disagree. No one needs to be wearing their judging hat right now. Let’s collectively agree that we are all doing our best, even if our best isn’t the same.