Helping Our Kids Cope with SIP

Parent Q&A

Young adult wants to continue dating during pandemic May 25, 2020 (0 responses below)
Over-Protective Adult Child During the Pandemic May 20, 2020 (8 responses below)
Where to go for kids to ride a bike May 3, 2020 (31 responses below)
Special gift for a sad 8yo girl with cancelled birthday party Apr 22, 2020 (17 responses below)
Explaining pandemic to your young child(ren) Apr 16, 2020 (7 responses below)
  • Hello,

    Wondering if anyone has experienced trying to explain to a young adult (21) that dating (at least in person, unless in distanced, outdoor context) can't happen while the pandemic rages.  I've used science-based explanations, and told my daughter, who lives with us, that I am over 60, and her dad, over 65.  She has had front yard, distanced get togethers with her boyfriend over the last 2 months, but reaches the point where she wants him to spend the night, and screams that she can't take it anymore.  I tell her, I know, it's really hard.  We're all struggling with the restrictions, but until there is reliable, available, accurate testing and/or vaccine, intimacy is off the table.  This holds for a couple weeks until the next outburst, usually timed with a get together planned in the front yard with the boyfriend.  Either the boyfriend or she are pushing to be able to spend the night together (here); when I push back and insist that she respect that the "family bubble" needs to stay intact, and tell her the estimated timeline for a vaccine, she loses it, and screams.  From what I know about the boyfriend, he is not completely following the law (in other respects) and is not well educated, and doesn't listen to reasoned, evidence-based arguments. But up to this point, he seems to have respected the limits that she has set regarding social distancing.  But then again, I still think there is pressure coming from him.  I've sent her links to articles, asked her not to scream, or make me the enemy. She has a therapist, and takes low dose of Wellbutrin.  She is transferring from community college to a UC (deferring until classes are in person) and is well-directed, and a hard worker, but I'm afraid that eventually, he will sneak into our house at night.  Please help with any tips you can, knowing that I have set limits and shared information, and tried being a friend to my kid during this difficult time.  

  • Is anyone else having trouble with adult children trying to tell them what to do re. the pandemic? Relations with our 30-year-old daughter, who lives overseas with her children, have been affectionate and close for the last several years; she calls most weeks, seems to enjoy talking to us and receiving visits, and confides in me without being asked about her children, relationships and career. However, we haven't communicated for almost two weeks now.

    Initially, she was bothered by my going out twice a week to walk or have coffee with her father, or with a friend. (We stay outdoors, away from other people, and the friend and I keep well apart.) My daughter had accused me of "going out to play with your friends; how is this essential?" and so forth. My husband and I finally e-mailed her about our safety precautions, along with City of Berkeley guidelines, etc., reminding her that we need fresh air and sunshine, that we were trying to understand her fears, and that we love her. Her response, sent just to me, was cold and downright nasty: among other things, she accused me of endangering her father's health, claimed that the e-mail was patronizing ('all your little factoids") and that I was ignoring the pandemic's seriousness, ending with the request that I not contact her for a while, which I have honored. (I expect that she'll call sooner rather than later, but it might well be later.)

    I understand, or think I understand, the fear behind her words. I was also responding to her emotions with facts and science, which probably struck the wrong chord. And, as my husband pointed out, she can't/won't accept that we understand my health and his, and take good care of both; she appears to believe that anyone over 64 is not only automatically vulnerable, but should stay indoors 24/7.

    I know that she's working toward a job certification, and feeling stressed. Our daughter is a perfectionist, hard on herself and others, and has always tended to take out her stress on me, her "safe" person, but hadn't done so in several years; I hoped she was growing out of it.
    I remain angry, and hurt, although coping pretty well with my feelings. Any similar experience to share? I don't need fixing, per se--and, please, no lectures about social distancing; I'm well aware that not everyone agrees with me--but could do with a little consolation and insight. Best wishes to all the parents out there, whatever age your kids.

    I think I understand your daughter's fear and anger. You really aren't suppose to be going out for walks and coffee with anyone except people you live with. I know it's hard and it sucks, but that's what the health order has stated. Luckily, things are starting to open up and many restrictions are being lifted. I think you are somewhat in denial about your risk. You said you don't want lectures, and that's fine. But if you are going to interpret the guidelines your own way, don't be surprised when people, especially people who love you, get upset and scared.

    So sorry to hear that your daughter became "over-protective." My 30-year-old son, who lives on the East Coast, also became very directive (although he never became nasty). Some of the information and advice he gave me was useful but some seemed over the top. It was the first time our roles had reversed, with him worrying about me and giving advice (sometimes too intensely) rather than the other way around. I kept telling myself that this was his "stepping up to the plate" to be the protector and that it was a good development. He has since described himself as having "overdone" his own self-protection at the beginning (and perhaps your daughter will come to that realization eventually). I hope your daughter eventually re-contacts you. Or you might, after what is a long enough break, contact her again about non-threatening subjects (asking about her children, you and her father are well, Spring is lovely, you've been doing more cooking, etc.) Hang in there!

    I feel for you and your daughter. As you point out she is afraid and we are not our best selves when we act from fear. If she is a perfectionist maybe name for her how scary these times are and how anxious it must make her feel. I try to remember that nothing is perfect, personal or permanent and that this and all situations are complex and changing and that you want a connection with her. You are right to need sunshine etc. Do you have to tell her? Maybe say you are staying safe and following the health dept recs. And then shower her with love.

  • Where to go for kids to ride a bike

    (31 replies)

    I do not mean to offend anyone.

    We have strictly adhered to social distancing. I have not even taken kids out for a walk and we rely 100% on contactless delivery.

    When I tend to the front yard, I wear a mask.

    I am sad that my kid learned to ride a bike a week before the SIP order and his shiny new bike is sitting in the garage. He’s wobbly and isn’t a proficient rider yet. He keeps asking when he can go out and ride his bike again...

    We used to go to a local elementary school to practice riding. I think it’s closed now.

    Is there a good place to go to practice bike riding in Oakland/Berkeley/Alameda or do we just need to be more patient?

    We don’t have flat streets in our neighborhood to practice riding. Seriously regretting buying a house on a hill...

    Just walking around my neighborhood the past few weeks I've seen a few places that would be good for little kid bike riding but you'd probably need to park nearby and walk over with the bikes. The Claremont hotel is closed right now and their lower parking area is accessible to little kids on bikes - I saw some there today. There are a lot of paved plazas on the UC Berkeley campus - maybe look on google maps for likely spots. Clark Kerr campus has some open areas near where the Cal Youth camps were held. Saw some tricycles and scooters there. Good luck!

    I would try Kensington Park (there is a small circular track excellent for learning how to ride, or empty basketball court), or one of many empty parking lots at various schools, etc. As long as you keep distance, you should give you intrepid bike rider a welcome respite from the long and difficult time at home. Good luck!

    There are many nearly empty parking lots to choose from - the BART stations, shopping areas, etc. Basketball courts are a good option too. There are several streets closed to through traffic in Oakland as well and those are decent options. I have seen some people in Berkeley put up signs in the street that kids are playing to “soft close” the block so their kids can practice riding in the street - not legal, but effective and frankly a better use of street space at this point.

    If you’re serious about physical distancing, I would not recommend the Bay Trail, Ohlone Greenway, or popular parks. Many people are still using those and they do not distance (and many are still not wearing masks either). Nor would I recommend sidewalks, they are too narrow for proper distancing. I’ve been taking my kids on residential streets in Berkeley and Oakland, but they were solid riders before the shelter in place started. I really wish Berkeley would soft close some streets like Oakland is doing to create an abundance of space for kids to walk and bike where there isn’t crowding. But the city doesn’t seem interested. 

  • My daughter's birthday party got cancelled this spring (like many many others) and she is understandably very sad over it.  Family is sending gifts to open on her birthday over video conference and she will get a song from family over video conference but it is not the same.  I want to get her a gift or several to make the birthday more special since she cannot get her normal big party and won't get the usual many gifts from friends. Any ideas of something special to get an 8 year old girl to cheer her up.  I want something more special than usual but as our usual gifts are outings or tickets to shows/event (which are no longer an option now and I don't want her to wait unknown amount of time to get to enjoy her gift) I cannot think of anything to get her now and she is not really into any of her toy sets so adding to a collection is not an option either. She has a lot of activities continuing over zoon and is over it so adding another cool activity over zoom is not an option.  I was considering getting her own ipad but not sure I want to have the argument about limiting screen-time when the device is hers though her own device is tempting with all the school work lately and i cannot think of anything else.  I know this is such a first world problem at this point but I really want to cheer up my little girl on her birthday.  Any ideas?  I know many birthday parties are cancelled so figured others might have done something special as well and maybe there is something big I'm missing. 

    I have a baby so not sure what the best present would be, but I read this and felt for your girl. I'm imagining transforming a room into another world (under the sea, fairy woodland, tropical luau, a scene from her favorite movie) with party decorations bought online and thematic takeout food, then have a scavenger/treasure hunt with a few small gifts leading up to one larger gift. Maybe something she can personalize so it still feels like an experience? Customized Keds, 'create your own' American Girl doll, a charm bracelet.

    You could also ask her friends & family to record little birthday messages sharing one of their favorite things about her and play these throughout the day. It'd be a keepsake when she's older and remembering how crazy this whole time was.

    Do you have space for something like a bounce house or trampoline?  A gift that offers a fun energetic break from all of the on-screen school time might feel special.  If she has some special friends you could ask the parents for a birthday "parade" where the kids drive or walk by your house (respecting 6 ft distance rules of course) holding signs and singing happy birthday.  Don't be afraid to ask - the other kids would probably love it too!  Finally, my kid's best friend had a zoom birthday party and all of the friends sent a gift the week before the zoom party where the birthday child opened all the presents.  I don't know where you are, but Five Little Monkeys is doing online orders and doorstep delivery.  There are also "quarantine birthday" t-shirts on Etsy - maybe it can help her feel like she belongs to a special club.

    Happy Birthday to your girl!  

    I find it sad that giving her a special event to do over Zoom isn't special enough so I'd encourage you to re-think that.   What about something like a guitar and some guitar lessons over Zoom or some other instrument?  What about talking with her about donating some money or toys in her name to more unfortunate 8 year olds?    I like the idea Jannan suggested about a theme room for a pretend day with a treasure hunt.   IClearly, you will need to talk with her about how so many kids are sad about their birthdays right now and she's not alone in that.   I know that it hurts to see one's child hurting and I think it's also OK and even important for them to experience disappointment.   Life is not about always getting everything one wants, unfortunately.   Maybe talk with her about how to make it the most special day possible given the circumstances.   Happy Birthing day to you!  

  • Hi BPN folks, hope everyone is finding ways to stay safe, healthy and supportive/be supported in this crazy time. Up until now, I have not really 'questioned' how I was explaining the pandemic to my toddler and preschool kids. I have been saying that there is a virus and that a lot of people are falling sick, so we must wash our hands and be careful not to touch our faces. Sometimes they will catch a glimpse of the news if I have it on, but I try not to have it on too much in their presence (anyway, they already get a lot of screen time these days!). When they clamor to go outside or see their friends, I tell them we have to stay home because a lot of people are sick (it's a bit like a broken record). When they see me with a mask outside, I tell them this is so that other people won't get sick. However, I have a friend who has chosen not to tell her school-age kids anything (they are all under 9) because they get very worked up and anxious - a choice that obviously fit her family better. It also prompted me to wonder though - how are other people managing to explain to their children what is going on and the reasons for the huge adjustments they've had to make? How do you balance telling a child about grave matters and the fear/anxiety that would surely arise from that? I have not noticed a huge difference in the behavior of my kids, but I just wonder what they must be thinking/feeling.

    I just saw something in the New York Times on this topic - when I went to look for it, I found lots of resources online (including videos). I'm not sure this was the article I was thinking of but it gives you an idea

    Our oldest is not quite 3 yet so we've been keeping it super bare bones. He already knew that "germs make you sick" and we've been telling him that we can't play on the playground, hug grandma, etc because we don't want to share germs so that no one gets sick. We have told him that there are a lot of germs right now, and when there are less germs we can go back to the playground, etc. I'm not sure he gets it, but he has stopped asking as many questions. I'm a little worried about what sort of ideas we're giving him generally about germs and human contact -- will he be forever afraid of getting too close to people? -- but we'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it. 

    This is very child specific and how ready they are to handle this emotionally.  I told my kids the truth since they are elementary and preschool aged and answered all their questions.  My preschool-aged one knows that there is a bad virus out there and that we are trying to keep us safe and keeping the grandparents safe and that is why he cannot go to their house now.  My elementary aged kids understand a bit more and asked about their chance of catching it and whether the elderly grandparents are at risk of dying and we told them their grandparents are at a much higher risk but are staying safe and that is why we cannot see them and do all their shopping for them, so hopefully grandparents will be ok.  They are a bit worried about elderly family members, but once they were reassured that even though there is risk grandparents are being very careful, are not saying that at least this means that they no longer need to go to school as they are loving this being at home time, and otherwise seem happy and ok emotionally.  I knew my kids will be ok which is why I shared a lot of details, but i would not have done it if I suspected that my kids will be weighed down by the worry over it and would be having a hard time dealing with the information.