Children Get It.
In Alabama, they understand the pandemic better than their parents, says psychologist Alan Blotcky.
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I am a psychologist in the second-worst vaccinated state in the country. Only about one-third of Alabamians have been fully vaccinated. Yet, children in my state seem to understand the seriousness and deadliness of the coronavirus. And, beyond that, they understand the need for mask-wearing and vaccinations for themselves.
This is an important realization. Our children and teenagers have access to news 24/7 on the Internet. Much to my delight, our youth seem to be adept at separating out accurate information from distorted misinformation. They have great ideas, valid opinions, and more knowledge than many adults. They are far less influenced by self-serving politics. The result is a better informed generation, at least when it comes to the pandemic and its deadly implications.
My practice focuses on treating children and teenagers. It has given me the unique opportunity to talk to hundreds of them during the past 18 months. Their comments to me were surprising, yet encouraging. I anticipated that many of them would be anti-masking and anti-vaccination. Boy was I wrong.
Jim is a 14-year-old young man who was eager to talk to me about the pandemic. This is what he said: “This virus scares me. Some of my friends have gotten it. My grandmother got it and was really sick. I think we should all do what we can to stop this. I’m wearing my mask at school. Hope I can get the vaccine soon.”
Lauren is a 12-year-old young girl who voices a similar attitude: “coronavirus has hurt all of us. I hate missing school. All of us are wearing masks. Not sure when kids can get the vaccine. I hope it’s soon.”
Mike, a 15-year-old, seems to view the virus differently than his parents. “My mom and dad think the virus is under control now. They keep telling me not to worry about it. They let me wear my mask but they don’t push it. I don’t think they’ve been vaccinated. I hope they will let me get the shot.”
Bill is a 17-year-old senior who is looking ahead. “Man, I want this to be over with so I can go to college and live life. Yes I’m wearing a mask. Most of my friends are too. My parents may not get the vaccine but I hope they will let me when I can.”
Trip is a 14-year-old patient who has thought about the pandemic a great deal. “I wish I could be President for a week. I would make sure everyone gets the shot and wears a mask. We have to wear seatbelts everyday. What’s the difference?”
And, finally, 13-year-old Helen summed it up quite accurately: “We all have to do our part to beat this virus—kids included. We don’t talk about it much at home but my friends and I do. We are all scared.”
This is just a sampling of the positive and hopeful comments I have heard from my child and teenage patients. Despite living in a state where vaccines and mask-wearing are downplayed and even repudiated, our children seem to understand the importance of both in defeating the pandemic.
Our youth are rising to the occasion during this pandemic. Their collective character is shining brightly. Based on what I have heard, our children get it. They understand what needs to take place independent of politics or misinformation or even what they are hearing from their parents.
I think America is in good hands with our children. We just need to defeat this pandemic. Perhaps children and teenagers should be the policy deciders. Perhaps we should elect them to Congress!!
The old adage that our youth are our future is heartwarming. I know I will sleep better at night.
It is time for the adults in this country to listen to their children. Listen to their thoughts, their perspectives, their solutions. They understand the coronavirus and the pandemic better than their parents.
Dr. Alan D. Blotcky is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Birmingham, Alabama.
Thank you for the encouraging news about young people. Although most teenagers from time immemorial have thought themselves wiser than their parents, this year it may be true for many.