Too easygoing in the pandemic?



If you’re worrying about letting too much slide, you’re not alone

Do not worry too much about letting things slide


During Covid-19, it can be hard to know if you’re doing the right thing for both your child and yourself. Emily Flake, a self-described Gen-X mom, understands, and has some insight.

She writes: “Some rule loosening is an inevitable consequence of constricted mental bandwidth. Many of us just don’t have the energy to insist on the completion of every single online assignment across a multitude of goofily-named platforms, or to shepherd a child into making her bed every day.”

No guidebook or advice column covers pandemic parenting, so best to commiserate and compare notes with others. It soon becomes clear that, with so much of the world turned upside down, all parents have necessarily altered whatever style they’ve chosen, and everyone is wondering which impulses to honor for the good of all.

“Instead of a good and bad angel on my shoulders, I have warring parenting philosophies,” Flake writes. “This was true even before Covid-19, but is particularly exacerbated by the pandemic. On one shoulder sits a mother who says children ought to be treated extra gently now, because the continuing psychic fallout of school closures, truncated social lives and a silent viral menace are huge. The mom on the other shoulder tells me to suck it up and stop letting my kid be such a baby. I think this mom smokes?”

READ MORE: Mindfulness for better parenting

Flake mainly worries she’s letting things slide too much – with both her eight-year-old daughter and herself. And her daughter’s recent reactions to discipline – “an adolescent tang to her back-talk and a toddler-like regression in the way she gets upset” – concern her even more. Her Texan cousin sagely and simply advises: “backsliding is the devil.” Flake tries to keep it to a minimum, accepting that some is OK, as she’s finding what the limits are.

Like a lot of parents I know, Flake can’t really look to her own growing up for cues. (Frankly, because Covid-19 is ours and ours alone, nobody can.) Not only was there obviously no pandemic, but also, her parents’ style was disengaged and inconsistent. And while so much about pandemic parenting is uncertain, she knows those tactics are to be avoided. “Disengaged” is actually not even really possible.

Flake is wise to look to herself: “ …the most important thing to remember here is that whatever leeway I give my daughter is a lesson I need to learn for myself first.

There’s an art to being gentle with yourself and with others in a way that doesn’t cancel out the idea of expectations and responsibilities.”

Like all of us, she hopes to finally strike that balance by the time a vaccine arrives.



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