Dear Ellie: What do I do when my adult daughter thinks COVID-19 is political, not based in medical facts? And feels that businesses should be opened the sooner the better? Help!
A Concerned Parent
Your daughter is either involved in a business and wants to get back to it, or she’s restless for the life she knew pre-COVID, when businesses were open for her convenience.
I get it, and at some level, you probably do too. We could all use a proper haircut, and would prefer to shop for food whenever and wherever we so desire.
For owners of businesses that are shuttered without a defined end to losses in income to cover rents, and for non-essential workers stuck at home with no money arriving to pay their bills, “sequestering” has felt like a financial nightmare.
Ask your daughter: What’s “political” about that? Would government leaders and civic officials decide to extend unnecessary periods of economic pain for citizens without urgent reasons for it?
Ask your daughter, what about the numbers of coronavirus infections, many of which were touch-and-go as to whether the patient would survive.
What about the numbers of deaths? Were those helpless humans who succumbed, dispensable? Did they no longer count because so many were seniors or elderly and/or disabled, in nursing and long-term-care homes where the virus shot through like a fire bomb?
Your daughter’s attitude (she’s not alone in it) and your concern are what makes this a relationship question. She may not even read/listen to the medical facts directing much of the virus response. She prefers to argue her point with you.
Your role as a parent of an adult child is to simply offer your own informed view, once.
You can also send her solid medical information, but you can’t make her swallow it.
However, this is a situation wherein agreeing to disagree is not enough.
She must respect your “stay-home” rules, or your reliance on them, because you believe it’s safer. And she cannot break those rules if staying in your home. If she visits, she must keep the appropriate distance that you’re observing.
This disagreement needn’t create an irresolvable issue between you two, unless it’s typical of a strain that already exists and emerges in full-blown disagreement at every opportunity.
If so, consider finding a therapist who specializes in mother-daughter conflicts and is currently helping clients during the pandemic through online contact.
Readers’ feedback: Some history regarding sending children away during a crisis:
“In 1942, at the height of the Blitz, my sister was born prematurely. My father drove my other sister and me to our grandparents’ house in Cheltenham.
“Three rooms of my grandparents’ house were occupied by a family of four, including two girls, whose home had been bombed.
“My grandmother, who’d been a school teacher, over several months taught us four girls around the kitchen table. There was no paper to write on (unobtainable) but we had a small blackboard and soft chalk from the nearby chalk hills of the Cotswolds.
“There was a piano and we girls also learned the basics. When I eventually returned to school, far from having missed anything, I’d been protected from dangers and given the gifts of loving to read and sing, which I treasure to this day.”
Final response about the girl, age six, sent to live with her grandparents (April 28):
Reader: “As a little girl, I happily left my abusive mom to stay with my beloved aunt and uncle, who spoiled me with unconditional love and attention.
“They couldn’t have kids and wanted to adopt me. When my mother asked what I wanted, I knew that adoption was the wrong answer.
“At 42, I finally realized I was terrified of her.
“I never looked back or missed my family. It was my safe space and without that, I’m sure I’d have been even more broken than I was at times.
“I’ve since had enough trauma therapy to feel whole and eliminate all contact with my birth mom. My aunt was my first “second mom” who saved me.
“Getting away was my saving grace. What’s best for this other little girl is what matters now.”
Ellie’s tip of the day
Don’t let COVID-19 further strain your parent-adult child relationship. Stick to your safety rules.
Send relationship questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.