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COVID-19 in the house

When you’re staying “safer-at-home,” should you feel guilty turning family away?

Our elder thinks not, and here’s why.

Dear EWC:

Hello, and firstly thank you for taking the time to advise me. Due to COVID-19, I have been home staying safe and practicing social distancing, being that I have underlying health conditions that would risk my life as an African American woman. Unfortunately, my husband is considered essential so he still has to go to work (we live in DFW, Texas). However, we take very, very strict precautions before he enters the home and it works for us.

Last week, our son from South Florida (my stepson) called and said that his girlfriend wants to visit her grandmother in Oklahoma and they will fly up. He further stated they wanted to stay with us in Texas and then Oklahoma. I was conflicted. My husband and I thought about it that night and we decided it was not the right time to have any visitors in our home that would likely threaten my health because at this time nothing is really worth it. They are planning to travel anyway to Oklahoma. I told my husband it is okay for him to drive four hours to see them but unfortunately I will stay home. I just feel the tension it’s creating.

These are 19 and 20 year old kids who think they are fully grown and no one can tell them what to do. I really don’t think they take this virus seriously because they think they are young. They could be asymptomatic and bring it into our home. I don’t feel like they get it. They are traveling from one state that has high COVID cases to another state that has high COVID cases. We just bought a home and I know my son wants to see it, but it’s just not the right time for any house visits. How can they not see that? I’m not being selfish; I just want to remain safe and alive and have us all make it through this pandemic.

Did we make the right decision on saying no to letting them stay with us? Thank you.

Mr. Bill replies:

First, I totally agree that too many young people are not taking this virus and pandemic seriously, your step-son and his girlfriend included. Traveling across state lines, visiting others, and not respecting, honoring, or seriously taking into consideration how other people (like you and me) might feel about being exposed; how they are trying to take care of themselves; how they are attempting to both avoid and contain this deadly plague.

No. You are not being selfish. I, too, want to remain safe and healthy. I don’t know if you made the right decision in telling them you’d prefer they not stay with you, but you made exactly the same decision my wife and I have made.
We have one son who lives a couple of states away from us. He is being careful, but a couple of months ago he was planning a trip for work that would take him near us. He probably would have stayed in a hotel, but under any other circumstances, he could have stayed with us. He had suggested that he come over for dinner or that we meet somewhere. We told him we really weren’t comfortable with that, given my age and a few conditions I have and in these times and with the many warnings about vulnerable populations. Had he asked to stay with us, we would have asked that he not do that, either. He said he understood and agreed, and eventually, the trip was canceled anyway. However, we, like you, told him now wasn’t the right time for visitors.

So, we will continue to stay home for the most part. We will continue to host small, infrequent guests, outside. We will continue to be cautious, both for our own protection and to do our part to contain this pandemic. In other words, we are like you.

No, you are not being selfish. You are being prudent and taking care of yourself. In my opinion, yes, you did make the right decision. Don’t let there be tension on your part or your husband’s. If there is tension, it is with others, it is misplaced and I’m sorry your stepson isn’t more understanding and empathetic. I hope he remains safe as he travels and visits and takes risks; I hope you and your husband remain safe, too.
I’d be glad to hear back from you if you have any reactions to what I have written. Let me know what you think. And please feel free to share this with your husband, and your stepson. Let them know you aren’t the only one taking this position. Be well; be safe; be happy.

Category: Family
Letter #463888

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