Feeling like a lousy parent…


Teams or Zoom. Cameras on or off. Joining a pod. Setting up a “distraction free” workspace. Synchronous versus asynchronous learning. Concerns about too much screen time. Learning new online platforms.

For parents, the return to school this fall feels like playing a game of paintball while riding a unicycle over hot coals. And because we’re parents, we’re expected to do all this with a smile.

It’s not just the manic juggling of tasks and impossible-to-execute schedules. What’s pulling many of us down is a nagging, can’t-sleep-at-night feeling that when it comes to what’s arguably our most important job – being our child’s parent – we’re feeling pretty lousy these days.

You hear it in comments like “I have to admit I haven’t read every single email” or “I have no idea how all this is going to work” or “there’s just no way my 3rd grader is going to sit still for that long” or “I can’t possibly keep tabs on live remote learning while working from home at the same time” and probably the most common sentiment of all “I’m frustrated. I’m overwhelmed.”

“When it comes to our most important job … we’re feeling pretty lousy these days”

These feelings are shared by a diverse array of families and situations. Indeed, when it comes to parenting, the pandemic has us all second-guessing our skills.

The Seattle Times’ Nicole Brodeur recently profiled several area families about their back-to-school plans in an article “‘Once school starts, I am not going to be OK’: Remote learning during COVID-19 has Seattle-area parents learning their own limits.” She spoke with many types of families: single parents, parents who work outside of the home, parents who are also teachers, etc.

What jumps out from these conversations is the stress and anxiety that stem from parents feeling vastly under-prepared for the job of teacher while also worrying about the social and academic consequences of remote learning for their child.

But we should all consider following the lead of Nikeya McAdory. A single parent profiled in the article, McAdory had this to say about fall school plans for her three children: “I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m trying.”

We’re in the middle of a pandemic. We can’t possibly know with much certainty what we’re doing. But the best any of us can do as parents is keep trying, and give ourselves some credit for that.