This month marks the two-year anniversary of the first pandemic lock-down. Many are embracing the loosening of restrictions and welcoming the return of pre-pandemic normalcy but for families, a lot of confusion remains, especially as it relates to masking guidelines.

In California, the statewide indoor mask mandate has already ended, and schools will be able to drop their mask mandates after March 11. Similar guidance is in place around the country. While individual counties and districts can apply their own restrictions, many parents will soon be able to make a personal decision regarding where and when they and their children will wear a mask.

Decisions like this can be easily influenced by social pressure but as is the case with much of parenting, your intuition is your best guide. Being confident in your choice will help you and your children navigate this time of transition, when not everyone is on the same page.

Explaining Your Decision to Your Child

If your behavior regarding masking puts you in the minority of those in your daily life or at your child’s school, it is natural to expect a little resistance. It can be hard for children to stand out or be different from their peers.

Have open and honest conversations with them about why you made the decision you did, and why it’s important that they follow your family’s personal guidelines. If there were any unique or individual circumstances that contributed to your decision, explain those to your child in terms they can understand and perhaps find empowering.

Most of all, make sure they know that you’re there to listen. You can answer their questions and empathize with their frustrations without changing your mind.

Responding to Outside Questions and Pressure

Being asked about your behavior by friends, peers, or even strangers can be exhausting. It’s important to remind yourself that you don’t owe them any explanation. Try firm responses that don’t invite follow up questions, such as, “I’d rather not discuss that,” or “It’s a decision I made based on personal circumstances.” Equip your child with responses they can use if they get pressured or questioned themselves.

Knowing what you’ll say if the situation does arise can help you stay calm in difficult moments.

Check In and Stay Flexible

This pandemic has been a lesson in expecting the unexpected. There have been times when it’s felt like guidelines have evolved too quickly, and other times when it seemed like nothing was changing.

Over the next weeks and months, set aside time to check in with yourself and your family about how everyone is feeling. Stay flexible to changes in your community and continue to evaluate if the guidelines you set for your family still make sense or if you want to adjust them.

Ultimately, you have to do what you are comfortable with, and there are a lot of emotions that go into those types of decisions. If you ever need help sorting through those feelings, we are here to help.

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