Making Impossible Decisions
With a new school year beginning during the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are caught in a dilemma. Should I send my child to school or keep them home?
One mother said,
“I can’t get past the guilt. Guilt if I’m not letting my kids connect with other kids, vs. guilt that I send them and they get sick and have long-term health consequences.”
Parents are wired to be protective, but they wonder if it’s better to protect their academic and socialization needs, or their medical health.
Some decisions are easy. A simple pros and cons list will help you formulate an easy decision. Research shows that applying a reasoning process, like a pros and cons list, is the best way to make relatively simple decisions.
But other decisions are complex and stressful. If no choice is clearly better than another, and you are forced to choose between the lesser of two evils, then you are faced with an impossible decision.
And, if that choice will directly affect the welfare of your child, you cannot feel satisfaction about either choice. Unfortunately, you have to accept the fact that there is no sure proof answer.
Sometimes we can get caught in our heads analyzing the decision to the point of paralysis. If we have exhausted the research and still can’t decide, then it may be time to apply emotions.
What are your emotions and body telling you? Pay attention to your feelings and body sensations. Do you feel lighter and more relaxed with a particular choice, or does it make you feel more tense?
It is not fair to pass this important decision to someone else. However, talking it out with others might bring clarity. Other people may reflect back what they hear and might help you articulate and clarify your thoughts.
Once a decision is made, reinforce your hard choice by citing the reasons why that choice is right for you. Your situation is unique based upon personal resources and your community. Know that you made the decision based upon the information you had at that moment in time.
Take heart in knowing that every decision you make can be temporary. You can change course based upon evolving information.
What is the infection rate in your community? Is it slowing or getting worse? How prepared is the school? Do they have enough space, teachers, personal protective equipment? Do they have a solid plan to safeguard the bus, the lunchroom, and the classroom? Can they enforce social distancing for children?
Once you’ve made a decision, don’t dwell on the possible outcomes of the choice you didn’t make. The “what if” game is counterproductive. Most of us are not psychic and can’t know the future. At some point, you have to trust yourself and commit to your decision until you are faced with new evidence and information. You have the right to change your mind.
Learn to live with a certain amount of fear. Fear is an indicator that we care deeply, and we’re facing the unknown. You are certainly not alone with fear during this COVID pandemic. Let your fear prompt you to utilize safety measures.