Many parents (particularly those of kids too young to be vaccinated) are worried about kids heading back to school. It is weighing heavily on their hearts and minds. If you want to be present and helpful, here are five things not to say to concerned parents right now.
- If you’re worried, have your child wear a mask.
Once again, for the people in the back: masks are not to protect the wearer but other people. Your mask protects me. My mask protects you. If we both have on masks, our risk of transmission is almost non-existent. Knowing your kid has a mask, but many of the other kids don’t is not very comforting.
2. Just keep your kids at home.
Kids have been at home for way too long and most are climbing the walls. The majority of parents agree that online class for younger kids are just not very effective–in spite of everyone’s best efforts–and really hard on the parents. Recognize that most parents are really trying to get their kids back into the classroom with their peers, but want to make sure it is safe to do so.
3. Kids don’t get really sick from COVID.
Yes. Yes, they do. And while it’s not a large percentage, when it’s your kid who is sick, percentages don’t mean squat.
4. Quit Living in Fear.
First of all, if you’ve ever been afraid of something, you know that having someone tell you stop it has never in the history of fear ever actually stopped it. Secondly, being concerned about your child’s health in the midst of a global pandemic is not giving into irrational fear. It is perfectly reasonable and understandable.
5. Put your trust in God to protect your child.
This is just bad theology and mean spirited all at the same time. Trust in God is not a deterrent to the spread of germs. And acting like it is can make parents feel that if they were just more devout and more faithful, they wouldn’t be so worried. It doesn’t work like that.
What you can say instead:
I understand your concern.
I’ll call or write my local representatives about school safety.
I will be praying about it. What else can I do for you?
Be kind to anxious parents right now. They can use your support and encouragement.
Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer provides tools and encouragement for the rollercoaster ride of your faith journey. Follow me on Facebook , Instagram and YouTube. You can also follow on TikTok. Get emails to keep up with all that is happening.