Social distancing. How do we get our teens and young people to understand the importance of this new phenonmenon which has become such a core part of managing the coronavirus pandemic?
Unprecedented and challenging times, social distancing, the world as we don’t know it – those are the phrases we will remember when looking back on the first chapter of 2020.
We repeat those daily in our household as we all stare down the abyss of potentially many weeks of isolation.
My husband is a diabetic with familial heart problems and therefore falls into the high risk category. He reads a lot, it’s a fundamental part of his job so of course he is aware of the dangers on a personal as well as a global level, but it took a few days in our household before one of us summoned the courage to say it out loud and ask his views, but more importantly his feelings about the scenario from a personal perspective.
Maybe breakfast wasn’t the best time to ask. That’s his alone time – reading. Indignant that we supposed he hadn’t realised, anger and frustration came first, then a calm reality that the question came out of love and concern of what he and we could and had to do going forward, along with a realisation that our lives in our household would have to change a bit more than others maybe to protect him.
Weird really. As the patriarch, he is like many others by definition the protector of our family and suddenly the tables have been turned and it’s now our job to watch his back rather than the other way around, hence maybe why he was first of all cross. Beneath his response no doubt and I suspect, was fear, uncertainty like many others in his situation.
We have locked down in our house. He looked after me during my moment of crisis and now I feel it is my turn to step up, take charge, get even more bossy and more importantly for the teens to understand and do their bit. Social distancing is paramount. No unnecessary visitors – ie their vast gangs of mates tramping through our house with their own unfettered personal hygiene. Harsh but true.
As our teens see their world crumbling around them, with online teaching and no social contact it’s tough for the teens in our world no doubt, but as Boris and his team have said so clearly it is not a time for our younger generation to be complacent. Now more than ever they have to step up a level, look outside their introverted bubble and realise they have a role to play in making a difference too with this pandemic and slowing it down.
My daughter has taken it to heart more than most, inevitably because of her father and has therefore found herself in many situations where her peers without high risk people around them are continuing with life as they know it; going to pubs, organising mass gatherings, parties and generally acting like nothing has changed.
Calm is the word we use daily when she recounts her stories to diffuse not only her anger and frustration but also the inevitable combative conversations she finds herself having. My and our response always – where are the parents? Surely in the said teens misguided pursuit of immediate happiness, there is a parent somewhere informing them? That said it is clear there is not if these conversations are still happening and it is frustrating to sit and listen to these tales of casual abandonment amongst her peers, the “alright Jack” mentality.
We are all familiar with that sentiment no doubt and we are all guilty of feeling that we are quite simply ok and our circle of care is ourselves, but truth be told it really isn’t. We all need to think outside our box and think that the small steps we make are huge in terms of their impact outside our world and our teens and young people need to understand that more than any other. It will be an interesting period for us all but I hope our teens will get it and make a difference. Let’s watch this space.
Editor’s Note: How are your teens and young people coping? What are your stories? I would love to hear.