WLRN Connects: Parenting During The Pandemic

Jun 30, 2020

First, parents had to deal with at-home learning, or college kids heading home coming from campuses early. Now it's summer. Should the kids be together with their friends? How about taking care of grandparents, or other family members?

 

Have you been able to spend more time together as a family? If you have to go to work, how do you cope with the risk of bringing the virus home?

 

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Parenting through the pandemic has had moments of joy, with families spending more time together. It's also posed real challenges, like working from home or worse — losing income.

 

This week WLRN Connects heard from parents dealing with their kids. Some are even caring for their own parents during the public health emergency. How are parents talking with their children about the virus? How are working parents managing working from home, or coping with having to leave home to earn a living?

 

As a middle school teacher and orchestra conductor, Besnick Hashani understands dealing with a lot of kids at the same time. He's also the father of two kids, aged 11 and two.

After schools were shut down, his family transformed a guest bedroom into a classroom he and his son share. For part of the day, his son takes classes. Then they trade place so Hashani can teach his students.

"We've put a desk in there. We had a lounge chair in there. We would take turns. My son would sit on the desk, I would sit on the lounge chair, and then we'd take turns," he said. "That's where we were most of the time."

Hashani said his toddler son may have it best. "The two-year-old was very happy during this time because we were home all the time. Everybody was home."

Valencia McDuffy had been expecting to visit colleges with her son before his senior year at Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines. She'd made such trips years earlier with with her daughter, who went on to graduate from the University of Florida and now works in marketing in Oakland, Calif. 

"The whole way we're doing things now is very, very different from what we did when my daughter was preparing for for college," she said. With her daughter, they visited college campuses and "made some fun out of it with the family." She called it a little scary now, given the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

"What happens today or what we say today may be different next week," she said.

Teia Baker will be sticking close to home for her freshman year of college. She'd been considering going off to college out of state, said her father, Andrew Baker. But after the stay at-home orders, she decided to study at the University of Miami, where her dad is an associate professor of marine biology and a coral researcher. 

"I didn't really want to stay in Miami," Teia said. "I wanted to go to the Northeast, but he suggested it was better to stay closer to home with all the uncertainty with the virus. And I agreed with him."

Said her father: "As a parent, when she decided to stay in Florida, I was very happy."

After schools were closed quickly in March, Daniella Pierre was left trying to help her kids navigate online learning and get WiFi access. Both were seniors at Booker T. Washington High School in Miami. The family didn't have internet access at home and instead used  the data plans on their cellular phones.

It was cumbersome and, she said, sometimes impossible to access all the different websites and applications necessary for at-home learning in the early days of the pandemic. Eventually, Pierre was able to take advantage of a program offering home internet service. Her daughter took to remote learning quickly. But Pierre said her son struggled to make the transition.

"That impacted me because I had to work online," said Pierre, who works at Miami Dade College as an academic advisor. "I was like, 'Well, I'm working nine to five,' but 'Mom, my assignment is due at noon.' How do I actually get all this moving with me being the only adult in the household? That was challenging for us all."

Both of Pierre's kids graduated this spring.