Ask Scary Mommy is Scary Mommy’s advice column, where our team of “experts” answers all the questions you have about life, love, body image, friends, parenting, and anything else that’s confusing you.
This week … do you feel like you’re constantly telling your kids “no” and that your family is the only one taking the virus seriously? Are you sick of feeling like “the bad guy” with your kids? You aren’t alone.
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Dear Scary Mommy,
I feel like my family is the only one still taking the virus seriously. My kids are really suffering right now. Their friends are having sleepovers and hanging out inside without masks. I’m sick of feeling like the bad guy because I’m constantly telling them no. I used to feel like I had a strong parenting village, but that village has fallen apart lately. It’s bad enough for me, but it’s really taking a toll on my kids. Any advice?
First off, as much as it might feel like it, you aren’t alone. I can totally relate to what your family is going through. I feel like I’ve become a Meghan Trainor song these days — my name is NO, my sign is NO, my number is NO. It’s exhausting and maddening.
I’ve found a few things help in dealing with the perpetual NOs — other than relenting and letting your kid spend the night in a sleeping bag filled with fresh COVID, of course.
Instead of saying “no,” try saying “not right now.” When we decided to keep our kids in full remote learning while all their friends went back to school, we told them “not right now.” If numbers trend in the right direction, you may adjust your own behaviors and feel safer about things that feel super dangerous right now. If case numbers spiral out of control, well, then you’ll be on the trendsetter in terms of safety.
Remind yourself that you’re giving your kids plenty of practice at not following the crowd. Just like our parents would hard on us with “if all your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you?”, we can tell our kids, “if all your friends were swimming in a stew of deadly virus germs, would you?”
See? It works here too.
You may also want to adjust your “village” for the time being. You don’t need to end friendships just because you disagree about the particulars about COVID safety — unless of course, you have a friend who’s an anti-masker conspiracy theorist nut job; then it’s perfectly acceptable to say “peace out” — but you may want to find a new village. Are there other families who have similar attitudes, behaviors, and limits as yours? If so, maybe you can nurture those friendships a bit more.
Finally, say “yes” whenever you can. Your kids asking to play Xbox for an extra hour? Yes! For a second scoop of ice cream? Why not! For a new puppy? You bet — wait… maybe you want to think on that one. But you get the idea. Find those places where you can let typical rules slip a bit and say “yes” as much as you can.
When else fails, just remember: FOMO is an easier pill to swallow with a bowl full of ice cream.