If the stay-at-home orders are lifting in your state, your relatives might all be ready to start getting together again. But what if you’re not? Here’s how you can talk to them about it.
Quarantine has been rough on many families. It’s kept us separated and fragmented from familiar support networks. Most people are, understandably, ready to see each other again. Unfortunately, just because the shelter-in-place orders are being relaxed, this doesn’t mean it’s safe to immediately go back to our old way of living.
If you’re taking a more cautious approach to the reopening, this might put you in a tough place. Grandparents have been separated from their grandchildren, as well as parents from kids, and brothers from sisters. Most people are eagerly awaiting the moment they can finally be reunited with their loved ones.
But, what if you’re not all that excited about everyone coming to knock on your door the second the quarantine ends? How do to tell them that without hurting their feelings? Here are a few topics you might want to discuss with your family to help them understand where you’re coming from.
Maybe you’re glued to the news and constantly reading about COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean your relatives are. If you’ve been ultra-tuned-in to this, it might shock you to know that a lot of people just aren’t.
Your relatives might not share your concerns because they simply don’t know how many cases are in your area, the risk factors for transmission, and so on. You might consider sending them some links to these excellent tracking tools. The Johns Hopkin’s dashboard is particularly useful because it now tracks cases down to the county level and features some helpful infographics.
Rather than just assuming they don’t care, consider that maybe your relatives just aren’t as aware as you are about the situation.
If they’re not interested in looking at the stats or resources you share, though—hey, at least you tried.
Emphasize Travel Risks
If your family lives far enough away that they would have to travel extensively to visit you, explain the travel-related risks. Even if they wear masks and take precautions, all plane and train trips involve lots of time in tight spaces with others, breathing the same air.
Plus, no one has a clue who around them might have COVID-19. Because there are asymptomatic carriers, it’s not as simple as just “avoiding people who are coughing.” Traveling is one of the hardest things to do while simultaneously taking safety precautions.
It’s also tiring and stressful. Delayed or canceled flights or trains might force your family members to spend hours at an airport or station. Even at the best of times, travel is taxing on our bodies and, in turn, our immune systems.
Extra stress is never a good idea, but especially not during a pandemic.
Reopening Isn’t Strictly Health-Related
Although all of us wish reopening cities, states, and even countries means we’ve beaten the coronavirus, it doesn’t. Sheltering-in-place was always a calculated move to prevent us from overwhelming hospitals and spreading the virus until it was out of control.
At some point, certain businesses have to reopen and people have to go back to work. The shelter-in-place orders have to be relaxed for that to happen.
If your family members insist the end of shelter-in-place orders means they can just return to pre-pandemic life, you might have to remind them we’re not out of the woods yet. The less time we all spend around each other, the less chance the infection rate will rise.
Honesty Is the Best Policy
Be honest and tell your family you’re still worried about the pandemic and not ready to have a bunch of people in your home. Tell them you don’t want to risk being infected or infecting them, as the possibility always grows with exposure.
There’s a chance they won’t understand and be angry or hurt. Ultimately, though, you have a right to decide what you’re comfortable with. Emphasize that being separated is just as terrible for you as it is for them, but that you’d rather be safe than sorry.
Explain that you just want to keep everyone (including yourself) safe. After all, spending a bit more time apart now is worth it if it ensures you’ll all be able to spend more time together in the future.
Talking to family can be especially hard during a time of crisis. Tensions and emotions can run high, so tread lightly, and don’t forget to tell them how much they mean to you.