Parenting in the time of coronavirus | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022


My 5-year-old has a new word, and it is the same one that is on everyone’s mind these days: “coronavirus.”It seems nobody can ignore the threat of this outbreak. The level of awareness and education, from the world’s experience during previous outbreaks such as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus), serves well in helping most people be prudent in their actions.

However, it’s not just useful information that is going around. The speed at which fake news is disseminated is also at unprecedented levels, and is adding more problems to an already problematic situation.

If Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote of “Love in the Time of Cholera,” I suppose we are “Parenting in the Time of Coronavirus.” Weekends, which were previously spent in crowded events such as school fairs or at the mall, are suddenly spent outdoors in the park, by the swimming pool or any other wide open space. Last Sunday, as my husband and I jogged around the park while the children played, he shared his observation that he had never seen the park so full! It seems everyone had the same idea. Next weekend, I am thinking of taking them to Intramuros—I hear it is all lit up at night now and a sight to behold.

Modifying social practices

Social practices have been modified, with flying kisses being the new norm, rather than the old traditions of pushing the children to greet and kiss the titas. Similarly, the Catholic Church has also issued new guidelines for the faithful, reminding everyone to take communion by hand and to avoid contact during the “Our Father” and giving of peace.

I wonder if we will revert back to the old practices when this whole thing is over, or if these will become the new ways? I actually don’t see anything wrong with children not kissing in greeting, as long as they still approach their elders to deliver a respectful verbal greeting. A simple “Hello, good afternoon, tita” serves the purpose just as well as a kiss.

Playdates, even for the preteen girls who are always looking for an excuse to go walking around the mall, are all about gathering in one friend’s house or the other. They are back to baking and watching movies in the house and, so far, there have been no complaints. They know what is best for them and know better than to argue.

As for the young boys, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were taught to “dab” when coughing or sneezing. Dab now stands for “drop all bacteria” and it seems to be a cooler and more effective reminder for the young ones than simply teaching them to sneeze into the crook of their elbow.

Resurgence of virtues, values

In light of the coronavirus, it seems that there is resurgence in a number of virtues and values. For instance, the dying art of being considerate is being resurrected and children are reminded of the effect of their actions on others. They know that they must stay home if they are feeling ill so as not to infect others, and that they should wear a mask when they go out if they have a cold and stay as far away from others as possible.

Naturally, it is preferable that they wear a mask every time they go out, but the shortage is undeniably real and we now think about whether a mask is necessary in the places we are going to or not. It’s good to be conscious and considerate of the fact that many others need masks, too, not just us and our families. There are health care workers, who are in constant contact with potential carriers, or those whose immune systems are compromised and need more protection than the average person.

And you know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men. We’ve seen people postpone weddings and trips, though these pale in comparison to how those directly affected have had to adapt and survive in these trying circumstances. Rather than speaking negatively, there is a push for more compassion and understanding, and the children seem to take this on so easily and more naturally than the adults.

The lost virtue of prudence is also making a comeback. Rather than simply going forward without considering all factors, parents and children are more cautious in their decisions, as they take the risk of the coronavirus in consideration. It remains to be seen if this practice of prudence in decision-making will permeate all aspects, or will remain once the coronavirus subsides.

There used to be a popular phrase, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” but ask any young child today what this means and all you will get is a blank stare. Meanwhile, most parents will remember staring at this adage on top of the blackboard all throughout elementary. Though the phrase may not be top of mind anymore for children today, the practice of washing one’s hands frequently and carefully is bringing this proverb to life and is worth teaching them to live out in other ways.

There are many things to fear with the outbreak of the 2019-nCoV but there are also a few good lessons we can get out of it for our children. Hopefully, the lessons will stick around much longer than the virus. INQ

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