If you are feeling frustrated because your parents are still going out even after circuit breaker measures are in place, you are not alone.
As millennials, we are comfortable creating memes and sharing social posts about the missteps of the older generation from the safety of our homes and the anonymity behind our keyboards. But we should remember that these people could also be our parents.
It would not be kind to treat our parents with exasperation, instead of being as patient with them as they were with us when we were kids.
This is how I think we should treat our parents (and older Singaporeans) during the circuit-breaker period. Hear me out.
Parents who insist on panic-buying
We react with fury or amusement when they crowd supermarkets just to hoard food and household cleaning items.
But remember when we got so excited at a toy store that we wanted to buy everything on the shelves thinking it was our one and only chance to be there? How did our parents react then?
They told us calmly and patiently that we could only pick one toy that day. And not to worry, there would be other chances to get more goodies.
If we could explain to our parents in the same calm manner that supermarkets would still be open and stocks would still be replenished, and that they needn’t worry, then maybe they would be more receptive to what we say.
Parents who believe and spread fake news
It’s easy for us millennials to sift out the real from the fake. We are well-versed in photo editing apps and new technology. But for people in our parents’ generation, using smartphones or even Facebook may be a challenge for them.
Some of us are probably guilty of chiding them for spreading fake news and show our impatience when they spam the family WhatsApp group chats with dubious links from even more dodgy sources.
But if we think back to the time when our parents taught us our ABCs, or even how to walk as babies, isn’t it shameful of us to be this easily exasperated now that we are older?
Remember how many times your mum or dad had to go through those math problems before you got it right?
If we just take 10 seconds to breathe and calm down before responding to our parents’ messages, it may stop us from rage-texting and creating a tense relationship.
Parents who insist on going out during the circuit breaker
Remember when we insisted on going out to meet our friends, even when it was past midnight?
When we came home, it was often to shouting matches and maybe even a few strokes of the cane (I know I did).
Why did we do that? Bored, feeling cooped up at home and wanting to be in the company of like-minded friends perhaps? Does that sound familiar?
In the same manner, the motivations that the older generation have when they ignore our advice to practise safe distancing, and insist on continuing their regular activities, may be the same impulses we had as teenagers.
Research shows that social isolation has real health consequences for senior citizens. As children grow up and move out, these seniors’ social circles will shrink. Furthermore, with the circuit breaker limiting visits from loved ones such as grandchildren, it may be an even tougher time for the elderly right now.
Some elderly couples may also have a tendency to bicker when left to their own devices. To help them occupy their time, teach your parents how to reach out virtually to extended family and friends through video calls or tell them about some of the free courses that are available online.
Tragically, some vulnerable seniors get abused by their own children they live with. So before calling such elderly folk out on social media for not staying at home, remember that you may not know all the details of their circumstances.
Research has shown that people over 60 are the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and the mortality rate rises based on a patient’s age. In Singapore, as of Apr 20, all 11 deaths are of people over 60.
Singapore’s circuit breaker is a serious affair. While we want to be understanding towards our parents’ need for socialising, we must still engage them, especially when they may face safe distancing fines or even jail if they continue to disregard the rules. In my opinion, talking to our parents respectfully and in a gracious manner would be the best way to convince them. After all, didn’t they raise you in that way? Or if not, didn’t you wish that they had given you some leeway too?
It’s ironic how the tables have turned and we are now the ones who worry about our parents, but it would not be a laughing matter if they or someone we know contract the virus.
If you know of any seniors who are feeling isolated and lonely, reach out or volunteer with Project BUDDY where volunteers provide a friendly voice to seniors every week.
While we do our part by staying home, let’s be patient and kind to one another in our speech, thoughts and actions, especially to our aging parents who have raised us, as best as they can, to be socially responsible individuals.
It is only right that we help them navigate this new normal as best as we can.