How to Snap Your Parents Out of Their Coronavirus Denial

So many older people are ignoring the advice to stay put. How can you finally get through to them?

Rina Raphael
Elemental
Published in
7 min readMar 13, 2020

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Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

“Don’t you dare,” I found myself saying, my voice escalating. “Do you know how worried we are? You listen to me, do you understand?”

I was not speaking with my rebellious teen, or any child, for that matter. I was, in fact, chastising my mother, a 76-year-old grown adult who seemingly refused to adhere to health officials’ orders: Older adults are the most vulnerable to Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and should therefore “stay at home as much as possible.”

Instead, she was making plans to gather her siblings and relatives for a family get-together at a restaurant. All I could envision were germ-infused grandchildren hugging her body or my cousins spreading whatever they picked up on buses and trains.

I was furious. But more than that, utterly frustrated that I wasn’t near her and therefore unable to shackle her to the living room couch.

“Don’t worry so much,” my mom said. “Relax. I can go here and there.”

This drove me into a state of rage. It’s as if we were living in two realities: one in which Covid-19 was shutting down entire countries and one in which my mother can socialize freely. I started shouting, and before I knew it, I lost my cool and hung up.

It was the first time, in my entire life, that I hung up on my mother.

It’s been a whole week like this, in which you’d think my siblings and I were dismantling a nuclear bomb each time my mom wanted to venture to the supermarket. And I am not the only one who has seen their emotions run rampant as the pandemic dominates headlines. Many children are just as frustrated by the inability to control, let alone reason with parents who seem intent on going about their day.

Sierra Baldwin, 29, of Denver, Colorado, found herself constantly arguing and pleading with her parents, who live in Oregon. Her father, who has only one lung, lives within just five miles of those who tested positive. Despite her father being at high risk, he and Baldwin’s mother went on an international trip to Whistler…

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Rina Raphael
Elemental

Journalist :: health, wellness, tech / Well To Do wellness industry newsletter at welltodo.substack.com