For parents concerned about the pandemic’s effects on their kids, don’t worry – The Washington Post says they’ll “likely be fine!”
Um, “likely?” That’s not entirely reassuring…
But that’s what Elisabeth Rosenthal, editor in chief of Kaiser Health News, wrote in a piece in WaPo on February 25 dismissively titled "Beijing’s SARS lockdown taught my children resilience. Your covid kids will likely be fine." based on her experience living with her children in Beijing during the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak.
In fact, she says your kids will probably be fine and might even benefit from it:
With 20-20 hindsight, I can provide some reassurance, because my kids were 8 and 10 when SARS hit Beijing nearly two decades ago, shutting down the city for months: Your children will likely be fine, and maybe even better as human beings, for having lived through this tragic experience.
Sounds like some valuable insight until you find out they were only locked down for 5 months and she was able to keep her kids in school the entire time! So, maybe the kids in places like Florida will end up being OK but what about the ones in areas who haven’t been to school in almost a year?
To her credit, Rosenthal does support opening in-person learning in America, even saying, “Schooling can be made safe during the pandemic without waiting for every teacher and staff member to be vaccinated, as some teachers unions are demanding.” And noting, “Children from low-income families, especially, need in-person school.”
But she still tries to spin the pandemic as a good thing for kids:
Living through SARS, I think, taught my children important lessons, and not just about hygiene. It taught them how to make sacrifices for the sake of friends, family and community. It helped them model how to live carefully, but not paralyzed by fear.
Also, her kids don’t seem to view it in the same way:
Today, both 20-somethings, they don’t remember much about that period, though they have vivid memories of birthday parties before and after. The months lived with a thousand restrictions were just filed away as one of those formative life experiences. SARS helped teach them that most important life lesson — resilience — and the understanding that during hard times, you don’t get everything you want.
Sure, there are lots of learning opportunities and lessons we can take from this disaster, and in some ways it is refreshing to see someone put a hopeful spin on things instead of the constant doom and gloom we get non-stop from the media, but basing her assurances on her very different experience 20 years ago isn’t exactly comforting. We already know that many kids are not OK right now.
It will be one of those formative life experiences, all right, but not in a good or benign way. Yes, kids are resilient, and some of the youngest ones won’t have a memory of any of this, but the effects of coronavirus and the lockdowns are going to impact everyone for years, maybe decades to come.
But at least one person thinks we'll "likely be fine."