The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

A Word to Parents in the Time of Covid

The pandemic has left a lot of children at home when they would usually be at school, with their parents having to care for them all day.

My parents were alcoholics who loved to argue. Being stuck at home with them would have been hell. But I remember many other children’s parents can think of nothing better, where I imagine it would have been the greatest thing ever.

This is probably the longest stretch of time you will spend with your school age children in their entire lives–and children don’t tend to remember much of the pre-school years.

How they remember this period is likely to define their entire childhood relationship with you. You can view it as a trial and an imposition, as I see so many parents doing, or you can view it as something great; a chance you otherwise wouldn’t have to be with them and to enjoy each other’s company.

I gently suggest you do the latter.

Caring for kids can be a drag and frustrating, I get that, but emphasizing the good parts to yourself will make this period far better for you and for them, and will create a future relationship you treasure.

You don’t want them looking back at when when they spent the most time with you and hating the memory or knowing that you didn’t like being with them. You do want them to remember it as awesome.

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May 4th US Covid Data


May 5th US Covid Data


  1. Jeff in Texas

    Thanks for that perspective.

    Been involuntarily home-schooling 5 kids for two months now (though it’s really just the younger ones that need a lot of input on a daily basis). I miss having time in the house to myself, and working from home with the entire crowd is a challenge, but other than that it hasn’t been bad. The problem now is balancing the “let’s open the economy” movement with the demands and social needs of the older kids, sifting through conflicting information and trying to keep everyone safe and relatively sane. It’s not easy. Oldest kid is supposed to start college in the fall, which now has added dimensions of uncertainty.

  2. Ian Welsh

    Oh, it’s for sure not easy.

    But it’s worth making it work if you can.

  3. Joan

    Also might be worth it to note: turn the TV down. Open-plan houses mean one person watching TV imposes on everyone else, making it hard to disconnect from the chaos and have any kind of mental respite.

  4. zot23

    I completely agree. We’ve been busting out the board games on the regular, we all enjoy the D&D type ones that take forever. Great times!

  5. Stirling S Newberry

    I suppose I must be unusual, I remember 2 1/2 to 5 very well, I was glorious. The TV was new, and Uncle Walter was smooth.

  6. Eric Anderson

    My 2.5 year old is a chip off the old block. Incredibly curious. Fun and funny. Nonstop energy. Everything is a game. Independent. Stubborn. Defiant. It makes for challenging parenting. The little man needs discipline or he turns into a Tasmanian devil that just destroys everything in his path and will do so right in from of me daring me to do something. He’s not the hang out and play games of sit and color type. He is an intrepid explorer.

    All that to say, when he pushes certain limits I land on him fast and hard. BUT, unlike my relationship with my alcoholic ptsd viet nam vet father, he doesn’t seem to fear me. I know in fact he doesn’t because he regularly seeks my attention for hugs and cuddles which I’m ever so ready to give. I did fear my father and would avoid him at all costs.

    The difference? Once the tears from the discipline have ebbed I circle back around and give the love. I hug him and kiss him on his beautiful little cheek and explain why I did what I did. And he looks at me with those big brown eyes and can see he understands. My Dad never did that. It would take my Mom coming in and soothing the tears — which established a terrible dynamic.

    The same thing is true when my wife and I fight, which I admit, in these times is hard to avoid on occasion. And we don’t shield him from it. He’ll join in the yelling sometimes. BUT, again, the important thing is to circle back around and show the love. When we’ve cooled off we make it a point to hug, kiss, and apologize to one another in front of him. And again, without fail he comes and joins for a group hug.

    Being a human being means being imperfect. But it also means we are constantly trying to do better if we’re doing it right. Modeling this dynamic to children is so important in my mind. It seems to be working. Yeah, on the surface it sometimes appears I’m harsh with my son. But, I think parents who aren’t are doing their children a disservice. I know we’re both still our favorite people to be around.

    Thanks for the opportunity to gab on this point, Ian.

  7. Chris

    Thank you. This is a concise, critically on-point reminder to call on during the stressful moments.

  8. Stirling S Newberry

    Eric Anderson, your child and mine are close to the same age.

  9. Eric Anderson


    Right on. I suspect we’re of similar age as well. Parenting at my advancing age is a wonder and blessing I hadn’t anticipated until fairly recently. Cheers to parenting as an adult. For myself, if I’d been to much younger when I had my son it would have been a child trying to raise a child.

  10. Stirling S Newberry

    Older parents are a cohort.

  11. willyrobinson

    This is good advice and quite timely for me as I was starting to lose my rag a bit. Really really appreciate it Ian, thanks a lot. If I haven’t said so til now it’s cos I was busy trying to turn things around. It’s a happier house now.

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