Should they stay—or go?

This dad’s worried about travel during a pandemic.

But is it wrong to keep the kids away from an ailing grandparent? Our elder offers various takes—and one deciding factor.

Dear EWC:

My ex wife’s father’s health has declined and she is currently caring for him in a different state. My ex and I made the decision to have my children stay with me.

My ex would like to take the kids to see their grandfather, but due to the pandemic I am having doubts about having my kids travel. Having said that, I am wondering if I am just being selfish? I am having mixed emotions.
On one hand I would like my kids to see their grandfather again, but my biggest worry is my kids catching COVID or their Mom can’t care for them properly because she is also caring for her father. I’d like them to visit their mom too. But I also don’t want them to go.

Ketchman replies:

I don’t think you’re selfish. There aren’t any good answers to the situation, and your caution is very well-founded.
What makes it especially difficult is that your ex’s father, being in bad health, would be in more danger than most, should he be exposed to the COVID virus, and there’s also risk of the children picking up some bad bugs while en route.

I suggest a conversation with your ex in which you express two major concerns: 1. The risk of the children contracting the disease while traveling, and 2. The risk of them picking up the virus during travel and passing on to their grandfather could easily be a fatal infection. That would be a terrible burden to bear, and everyone should be as concerned as you are about those risks. The grandfather, who is the person most at risk, should have an important role in the decision. Is he willing to put himself and, to a lesser extent, his grandchildren at risk in order to have a visit with them?

It would be very sad to have the grandfather pass on without having had a last visit from his grandchildren. It would be even more distressing for his death to be COVID related and you and your children never knowing if it was due to their visit. Quite frankly, having said all that, if it were me having to decide, I would not allow the travel. The emphatic recommendations of the highest levels of the U.S. medical establishment are to avoid any travel during this time of peaking COVID infections. I think it’s advice that’s worth following.


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