As someone who self-identifies as a news and public affairs junkie, it’s been hard for me to turn off the news and not check my twitter feed throughout the day during this whole Covid-19 pandemic. I’ve been trying to be more deliberate about my news consumption—listening to NPR in the morning and watching ABC News or PBS Newshour in the evenings. It’s easy for me to over-indulge and it’s not good for my mental health. I realized that queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach went away when I stopped consuming so much news.
The other night, while I was making dinner with the NewsHour running in the background, my 15-year-old son asked, “Why do you watch this every night? It’s the same story every day! More people are dying. Can’t we just watch HGTV?”
It’s the first time I really heard him articulate his feelings about this whole situation. And while I have been observing my boys each handle this stay at home order differently, I haven’t really been seeking out information about what to expect from them during this time. They have been pretty laid back about it all. They sleep the morning away and stay up late playing video games with their friends. They don’t really miss going to school. One misses his baseball team. The other has already been accepted to college so, in his mind, school is over.
We have yet to find out whether there will be a graduation after all (Please, God! I need it).
My friends with teen daughters are having a different experience. They report a lot of emotion, sadness, anger, breaking away from social media, or sneaking out of the house to see friends. They drive their cars to parking lots and park hood-in, or tailgate style in a circle and talk, keeping the appropriate 6 ft. away, of course. My boys ask to play golf or go fishing. It’s a daily struggle—how do we balance the need to stay home with the need to maintain some sense of normalcy?
If you are wondering what is normal for your child’s age, my sister, who has a doctorate degree in education and teaches psychology courses at the college level, wrote a great post over at her website.
“Teens literally exist to be social,” she explains. “They feel they are part of a different world than kids and adults, and they are.” She also explains that teen boys and girls’ brains develop differently and the reasons for why they may be reacting in certain ways. She also has some great suggestions for how to engage your teens during this strange time.
Give it a read if you get a chance. You might find it more helpful than watching the news.