The COVID-19 pandemic has damaged our children - opinion

For us, their parents, it’s our job to guide them through this difficult time. Sadly, however, many of us often don’t know what is the best thing to do.

 PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett, flanked by Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton and Haim Bibas, chairman of the Union of Local Authorities, visits students at the Ramon School in Modi’in in October. (photo credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)
PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett, flanked by Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton and Haim Bibas, chairman of the Union of Local Authorities, visits students at the Ramon School in Modi’in in October.
(photo credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)

The strain (no pun intended) placed on us all since the start of the pandemic has been enormous. Although some have been affected more significantly than others, it’s hard to imagine that anyone has been left unscathed. 

Arguably, it’s our children who have been most adversely affected as their formative, precious years have been punctuated by confusion, loneliness, fear, testing, jabs, waiting, disappointment, sadness, loss, alienation and so on. 

The list is endless.

Watching them suffer has been extremely difficult. 

For us, their parents, it’s our job to guide them through this difficult time. Sadly, however, many of us often don’t know what is the best thing to do. Conflicting and confusing advice has, on occasion, left us with a feeling of inadequacy when it comes to making decisions on their behalf.

Anais, a student at the International Bilingual School (EIB), attends her online lessons in her bedroom in Paris as a lockdown is imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread in France, March 20, 2020. (credit: REUTERS/GONZALO FUENTES/FILE PHOTO)Anais, a student at the International Bilingual School (EIB), attends her online lessons in her bedroom in Paris as a lockdown is imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread in France, March 20, 2020. (credit: REUTERS/GONZALO FUENTES/FILE PHOTO)

Bringing up a child in “normal times” wasn’t easy, but throw in a pandemic and it becomes almost impossible to know whether you’re doing the right thing on a day-to-day basis.

Every decision, even the most mundane, now has more significance. Things we previously took for granted, such as sending our children to school, have become a huge dilemma.

While one family saw the pandemic as an opportunity to embrace a whole new lifestyle for their daughter, who hasn’t been to school since March 2020 and is now home-schooled, others were desperate for their children to return to school as soon as possible. 

Although changes to the rules relating to this issue are afoot, which should make things easier for us all, it is still far from a simple matter for many parents. 

Concerns about how to balance our children’s physical health with their mental well-being are ever present. Keeping them home in order to “stay safe” is all well and good, but alienating them from their friends brings its own problems.

CHILDREN need to go to school. 

They need to mix with their peers and meet their friends. Understandably, however, many fear the potential knock-on effects, not just for the kids themselves, but for the rest of the family too. 

In short, parents are torn.

While some would rather keep their children home, others have decided to send theirs, for their own sake as much as anything – “for my own sanity,” is a frequently used phrase.

Although younger children can hardly remember what it was like before COVID hit, the rest of us are now desperate to get back to “normal” by establishing old routines, which include sending our kids to school on a daily basis.

Sadly, however, as we all learn to live with COVID and things slowly return to the way they were, it is us, the parents who will have to pick up the pieces and help our children recover from the damage which the pandemic has caused. 

Damage not only to their physical health, but to their mental health as well. Damage to their education, their social lives, their confidence, their overall well-being.

As yet, it is impossible to compute the extent of that damage, but as time goes on, as we emerge from this global nightmare, it will slowly become clear.

As one mother, Anna Simon said, “all these corona policies have really messed up the kids.”

And we, their parents, will have to pick up the pieces.

The writer is a former lawyer from Manchester, England. She now lives in Netanya, where she spends most of her time writing and enjoying her new life in Israel.