“I feel like we all need to just take a breath.
I realized I was starting to panic about the Coronavirus when I told my kids to make sure they picked up a pack of TP every time they went into a store. Then, I realized they were panicking when they said they wanted to make sure we had enough dog food and started hiding canned foods in the garage.
I wasn’t worried. Then I was. Then I wasn’t. Then I was again.
I canceled a trip home. I wasn’t going to because I wasn’t really worried about me getting sick. But then I decided I would never forgive myself if I picked it up on the plane and passed it on to my mom, who is in the high-risk group after living with asthma her whole life.
But I didn’t really get worried until my mom, who is not an alarmist by any means, started questioning whether or not I should travel. She didn’t come straight out and say it. No, she would never discourage me on purpose. But, a few things she said made me think, and I knew she was quietly trying to tell me even she, a woman who could stand in a burning house and tell you it was going to be ‘fine’, was a little bit worried by what she was seeing and hearing on the news.
It was then I really realized what an impact our parents can have on how we react to something, and what role we really do play for our kids.
Listen, I’ll be honest. I have always struggled with anxiety and after my young husband died, I’ve had to work on it day in and day out, so it doesn’t consume me. Although I will say dealing with anxiety and every single ‘what-if’ scenario I can come up with is probably helping me with this situation, after all, I have been preparing for a catastrophe my whole life. But, when you’re flooded with information like we have been recently, so much in such a short period of time, you can’t help but feel scared and nervous about what’s true and what isn’t. And you can’t help but impart some of that worry onto your kids.
Let’s be real here. Your kids know what’s going on. They hear it on the television, they see it on social media. They hear whispered conversations at school, but they do hear it. They see you, their grandparents, their brothers and sisters, and the concern on your faces. They see you walking a little bit faster in public places, avoiding more things and people, using more hand sanitizer and insisting they wash their hands every time they turn around.
And, they’re watching to see how you react. And, while honest conversations about your concerns, sitting down with them and explaining what you know, and creating a family plan is important – that’s not what I’m talking about.
The reaction I am referring to is how we are treating each other. And right now, we’re not doing the best job at it, myself included. We’re fighting on social media about politics. We’re trying to prove this doctor knows more than that doctor, who knows more than that other doctor. We’re practically having riots in the stores over toilet paper. We’re knocking people down to get the almighty two-ply, and we’re hoarding supplies without taking into consideration that somebody else might need to wipe, too. The panic and fear we are creating is shutting down businesses, which could very well cause some mom & pop stores to go bankrupt. ‘Social distancing’ is one thing. But, nurturing a culture of extreme panic is just plain ridiculous.
And we’re doing all of this in front of our kids.
We are teaching them this behavior is normal. We are teaching them it’s the way we should be and how we should treat each other.
Which is why I think we need to take a breath. One, big, breath before our kids grow up thinking they, too, need to mow somebody down when they’re scared of something.
That’s not how I want my kids to be raised.
I want them to be cautious when need be. I want them to question things if they have to. I want them to be prepared. I want them to take precautions. I want them to ask questions and I want them to know how to deal with their anxiety about something. But, I never, not ever, want them to be cruel.
So, please, I implore you, take some inventory of yourselves and double-check how you are reacting to this, and be sure how you are treating others is exactly what you want to be teaching your children and exactly how you would want them to react.
Because, trust me, they’re watching. I hope they’re seeing you be kind.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Diana Register of Meridian, Idaho. Her books “Grief Life” and “Grief & Glitter” are available in print and on kindle. You can find more of her books here, and her podcast here. Connect with Diana on her author Facebook page, and Instagram.
Read about amazing acts of kindness during the coronavirus outbreak:
‘If you look at the back of my car right now it looks like I’m overly prepared, but this stuff isn’t for me.’: Woman starts supply drive for elderly during coronavirus outbreak, ‘We can’t all do everything, but each of us can do something’
‘An 80-year-old woman cracked her car window and explained, in tears, ‘We’re afraid to go in the store. We don’t have any family to help us.’: Woman urges ‘offer help to anyone you can’ during coronavirus hysteria
‘There are a lot of ‘what-ifs’ in the world right now, so I decided it was time to pull out the tutus and let the magic begin.’: Woman spreads joy and laughter to strangers during coronavirus outbreak with rainbow tutus
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