How to deal with canceled rites of passage
Both prom and high school graduation are important “rites of passage” for teenagers. Cancellations due to COVID-19 have young people struggling to come to terms with this unexpected and unfair turn of events.
“Many teens are grieving,” says Dr. Gabrielle Roberts, a clinical psychologist at Advocate Children’s Hospital. “Not only have they lost their normal, everyday routines during this pandemic, they are also faced with the loss of an earned and important transition in life.”
Dr. Roberts offers some tips for parents on how to help their seniors cope during this difficult time.
- Listen. Validate your child’s feelings of disappointment, worry, sadness and anger. Acknowledge that that this is a big deal.
- Don’t minimize his or her feelings.
- Be careful with silver linings, like “at least you and your friends a still connected online.”
- Don’t push wisdom, like “three years from now, prom won’t mean as much.” It’s OK to complain. Avoid comparison statements, like “other people have it worse…”
- Think creatively together. come up with fun ways to commemorate these special occasions with family or friends. Find safe ways to celebrate with friends, while social distancing.
- Make plans for post COVID celebrations; offer ideas for when the quarantine is over.
Dr. Roberts adds that some teens may be motivated to find meaning in this chain of events, but she suggests parents let their child lead the conversation. It is true that the Class of 2020 will be remembered for many years to come.
About the Author
Evonne Woloshyn, health enews contributor, is director of public affairs at Advocate Children's Hospital. Evonne began her career as an anchor and reporter in broadcast news. Over the past 20 years, she has worked in health care marketing in both Ohio and Illinois. Evonne loves to travel, spend time with family and is an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan!