David Metzger: Pandemic Parenting

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Staying at home means intense parenting for those with children, and David Metzger and his wife are rethinking some of their parenting habits.

Raising kids during a pandemic has been hard. When they are not loving each other, my children are driving each other crazy and their parents even crazier. It is their unique closeness in mind that allows them to understand precisely what upsets the other, as well as influence the naughty desire to manifest that reality. I have lost count of how many fights I have broken up, how many brother-inflicted ouchies I have soothed, and how many "I know you are, but what am I" arguments I have put to rest.

In order to survive, we have begun to question how we parent. And what we have discovered may be as valuable during normal times as it is during this seemingly endless shelter-in-place: Separating our children from each other may just be one of the most thoughtful and useful moves we can make as parents.

This means taking advantage of every opportunity for quality one-on-one time with each of our children as possible. This gives both our kids a chance to see us as individual people rather than as a parental unit. It also frees them from the understandable compulsion to play one parent off the other.

Having separate time with each of our kids does not mean equal time. Their unique personalities call for different approaches. By regarding our family as modular and flexible, we are able to give each member more of what they need. By dividing our parental resources, we have somehow, improbably, multiplied them.


This strategy has not been perfect. I have experienced fully depressing moments when my children have denied my affections. The kids still have their obnoxious fights that we must somehow navigate. The parents still routinely lose their minds. Day by day, though, we are all getting a better hold on what it means to be a family together and apart — the good, the bad, the oh so ugly — and slowly getting better at traversing the bumps. Learning to be alone with each of our kids has been part of that evolution.

I will always enjoy spending time with my entire family together — watching them bounce off each other physically and emotionally, observing them refine and redefine their personalities — but I want to balance those moments with separate time too.

With a Perspective, I’m David Metzger

David Metzger is a father, pediatric nurse and author.