As our nation reemerges from the quarantine of COVID19, we find ourselves in truly unprecedented times. It has been nearly 100 years since our world’s last major pandemic: the Spanish Flu of 1918. The devastation is rooted in so much terrifying uncertainty combined with the startling death rates and the economic collapse, just to name a few. The uncertainty now permeates all aspects of our lives and is especially felt by parents and families. Parenting in the time of a pandemic highlights the incredible responsibility that parents have to prioritize the health and safety of not only their children, but also the entire family. Decisions of parents have never had such an impact on their children. Travel on the work trip? Attend the neighborhood happy hour? Participate in a playdate with your kids? These decisions are now even more important. There is a significant social responsibility that must be acknowledged. The impact of personal decisions is real and the risk of parental exposure to COVID-19 must not be ignored. These are universal concerns that demand thoughtful and responsible parental decision making. Furthermore, as reintegration continues, two home families may face an even greater challenge— aligning their decision making to support an equal level of safety and precaution.
Co-parenting is hard. It is hard for nuclear families and even more so for two home families. Co-parenting necessitates effective communication, which can be even more difficult in two home families who often have a history of ineffective communication. Now, co-parenting during a pandemic becomes even more challenging amidst fear, panic and anxiety to the equation. We are dealing with a novel virus with unique characteristics that have allowed for the rapid devastating spread. The long latency period between exposure and onset of symptoms has made contact tracing difficult. Additionally, the range of symptoms has unfortunately fueled the spread, as many with mild cases or totally asymptomatic cases are continuing to participate in normal daily activities, thus spreading the virus. All of these aspects of COVID19 reinforce the enormous responsibility that parents have to be thoughtful with their decision making. How can we help divorced families navigate this? How can we aid extended families with similar concerns? The principles to support a structure of safe decision making can be extended from two home families to many larger networks of families and friends.
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