Parenting is … keeping your composure during the Coronavirus.

Posted on February 9, 2020

Parenting is… keeping your composure during the Coronavirus.

Earlier this week, I traveled with my family to attend my niece’s wedding in Cancun, Mexico. I had followed a lot of social media and news coverage on the coronavirus in the days before our flight. With a family business in the healthcare industry, I had also heard from my husband and my adult children—who are both involved in the company—how the unexpected demand for face masks had depleted our inventory within 48 hours. At one point, our website crashed due to the high volume of face mask orders over the weekend. As the news on the spread of the coronavirus literally went viral, so did the sale of face masks.

Nicholas Sparks, the American novelist, has said that traveling has less to do with seeing things than experiencing them. On our trip, not only did I see the airport packed with people wearing masks but I also experienced firsthand the fear that the coronavirus has embedded in the public. There were several checkpoints both at LAX and at Cancun International Airport where officials asked specific travel questions of every single passenger, either at check-in or in the security queues. I could feel a sense of panic in the air. 

Yes, this virus is scary in many ways, and it is extremely important for us to be knowledgeable about the safety measures that must be taken, but there is a fine line between fear and panic. When we panic, we send the wrong message to our children about how to respond to such emergencies. Waiting at the boarding gate, I watched a young mom scream at her 5-year-old child’ and squeeze his arm when he removed his mask—to the point that he cried out, “You hurt me, Mama.” Her slightly older child asked why some other travelers were not wearing masks. Weren’t they not “scared of dying?” The girl added, “Do we need to wear the masks in the pool or at the beach in Cancun? How come Dad doesn’t have to wear one? What if he dies on his birthday?” This young girl was asking reasonable questions, but I was shocked when her mom simply told her to shut up. 

Health warnings definitely make us more aware of the precautions we need to take, but panic only makes us senseless. If your fears cause you to panic at a time like this, then please don’t travel with your kids, especially for a pleasure trip. If you feel you must, make sure you address your children’s questions, and be a good role model for them by wearing face masks, too. 

Children will mirror everything we do. I’m hoping that, as parents, we all take our responsibility of parenting seriously and conduct ourselves mindfully so that we give our children something positive to emulate.