Due to the pandemic, most traveling is out of the question right now, especially international traveling. Not all of it is gone, of course. Some countries are allowing American tourists, but in many cases, the mandates, restrictions, and quarantine timelines are so severe that it’s not worth the effort or the money.
At a time like this, it may just be best to stay in and dream about your next vacation (hopefully in 2021!). It’s also a good time to take stock of your previous journeys and what you can learn from them. If you have children, use this challenging phase to facilitate their learning about new countries that they may want to visit someday.
When you’re stuck inside raising teenagers during a pandemic, you’ve got to turn lemons into lemonade. This means using this time to educate your children about physical health, emotional health, and financial discipline. One day you could look back and realize this period of time brought the family closer together and forged stronger parent-child relationships.
1. Make Sure Your Teens Take Health (including STDs) Seriously
The Covid-19 pandemic presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to teach your kids about the importance of public health and personal hygiene, which of course applies to traveling in obvious ways. Traveling - even in non-pandemic times - carries the risk of contracting viruses and bacterial infections.
If your kids are older - in the young adult category, or even in their early to mid-20s - health education should also include a frank exploration of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). If they are sexually active, they need to learn candidly about safe sex.
According to the CDC, in 2018, young adults aged 15-24 contracted nearly 62 percent of all U.S. chlamydial infections. A frank discussion of sexual activity must include these kinds of stats so that they know the risks. Teenagers and young adults should also be aware that a discreet, inexpensive, at-home Gonorrhea and Chlamydia test is now available.
Once the stigma and shame are removed from these discussions, there is room for emotional growth and valuable education.
2. Have Family Discussions about Mental Health
In addition to discussions about viruses and issues pertaining to physical health, your family should have frank discussions about mental health, as well. Unsurprisingly, rates of depression and anxiety have soared during the pandemic, making this an ideal time to have open family discussions about mental health.
Some families have genetic dispositions toward depression while others have experienced traumatic events (perhaps even a Covid-19 infection itself) that trigger PTSD and anxiety. These discussions are very personal and need to be broached carefully but empathetically. Teenagers especially may feel too embarrassed to admit to depressive feelings but due to their hormonal changes, they are statistically one of the most likely demographics to experience it.
3. Discuss the Importance of Financial Discipline
In addition to physical and mental health, many individuals and families are also worried about finances. This is, therefore, a good time to discuss financial discipline with your teenage kids. In fact, this is probably the most powerful time to highlight the value of having a savings account or nest egg for emergency situations.
If your family is out of work and struggling financially, make this difficult time a teachable moment in which your kids learn the importance of saving money and working hard for income. You don’t necessarily need to delve into the nitty-gritty details of the family’s checking account, but they can learn about things like unemployment insurance, savings accounts, and freelance employment opportunities.
Teenagers who are preparing for college also need to understand responsible credit card use. There are times when people may need to use credit, but they shouldn’t get used to living purely off a credit card. Teenagers and young adults also benefit from learning about interest rates and overdraft fees.
Again, use this time to make lemonade out of lemons. We’re all in a tough situation and it’s certainly frustrating that traveling is out of the question right now, but that doesn’t mean your family can’t grow, adapt, and learn together.