How do I explain to my 15-year-old daughter why she can’t see her boyfriend while we’re in a province-wide (Ontario) lockdown?
She’s looked up the government website and has memorized that it says gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed outside. She also reports that it says if you can’t maintain physical distancing of two metres apart from everyone outside of your household (who you do not live with) you must wear a mask. And at any indoor gathering you must wear a mask.
She points out that their school (and all other schools) plus non-essential businesses are closed, so there’s nowhere these two see each other during this time.
As her mother, I interpret all this to simply mean, “Stay home!”
She interprets it to mean that she can visit her boyfriend on his back porch where his family’s put a couch and a heater. She confidently states that they’ll both wear masks when together and therefore can snuggle. Help!
Need an Interpreter
Sorry, but you’re the Interpreter in this situation. And the enforcer, too, but with knowledge and wisdom helping you. Remember, you were once a teenager, too.
If at all possible, get the boy’s mother onside. Tell her what you’re comfortable with and why, beyond your daughter’s interpretation.
Then, check the latest facts: Initially, it was believed that young people don’t easily catch COVID-19, and/or if they do, they don’t get as sick as adults.
So far, data suggests that children under the age of 18 years represent about 8.5% of reported cases, with relatively few deaths compared to other age groups and usually mild disease. However, cases of critical illness have been reported.
(As with adults, pre-existing medical conditions have been suggested as a risk factor for severe disease and intensive care admission in children).
There’s also a lot still unknown about the reach of the coronavirus’ mutation into a super-spreader (currently ravaging through Britain).
Meanwhile, you’re correct that the official website advice is this: Ontarians should stay home to the fullest extent possible.
Bottom line: Visiting with her boyfriend outside can be permitted only with assurances of each wearing a mask as an important precaution, especially with consideration for the safety of your family and his.
As for snuggling? It’s too easy to cause a mask to shift aside.
They’d both then be vulnerable to COVID-19 aerosols (tiny respiratory droplets that can remain suspended in the air) over distances even greater than six feet, and for hours. It’s not that unusual, since infections like measles and chicken pox spread that way, too.
The droplets and aerosols are created when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, shouts or talks. They can then get inhaled through the other person’s nose, mouth, airways and lungs.
It means you must also insist on the teenagers distancing and only allow this trial visit if the other parents agree, and you all believe they can be trusted.
Even if her boyfriend says he’s healthy, researchers have discovered that asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission account for a significant percentage of the virus’ spread.
Arm your daughter with all these facts while showing her the respect she’s seeking by insisting to you that she’ll be careful. Tell her how important she is to you, as her boyfriend is to his family.
Also, allow other acknowledgements of their teenage relationship, e.g., by easing rules on their phone time together during the lockdown period. It’s a small gesture of understanding during a mutually difficult time.
FEEDBACK Regarding the husband whose wife doesn't want intimacy with him (Jan. 78):
Reader – “She complained that he ignores her. But without more information/detail, it’s impossible to judge the truth, or how she treats him.
“You said the husband must change his habits (flowers weekly/cook for her), but said nothing about her responsibilities to the marriage, since he saw her messaging a male friend about getting together.
“You stated that you need to give love to get and keep it, but seemed to apply that only to the husband.”
Ellie - My suggestions were based on his stated minimal efforts: “I send her flowers on her birthday and on Valentine’s Day.” He takes her to a restaurant once every weekend. He dismisses their arguments as normal.
You raise good suggestions, but when a letter-writer sends such little information, my responses become limited. Also, asking a male friend to get together isn’t proof of cheating. He’s overreacting.
Tip of the day:
Teenagers’ dating requests during a pandemic call for showing understanding, respect, facts and necessary firmness.