As I drove the girls to school, NPR reported in the background. More about coronavirus. Phoebe and I were talking, barely noticing, but Darcy stopped us, “what are they talking about?!” I explained it was a new virus making people sick in China. She had overheard people died. I told her not to worry, “only a few people in the US have it…”
“A FEW! Please turn this off, I don’t want to hear anymore!”
As I turned off the report, I emphasized there was nothing to worry about. 10s of thousands die every year in the US from the flu and we don’t worry about the flu. “Yes we do! I get a shot every year! This doesn’t have a shot…”
I thought logic was the answer for my second grader (considering she is 8… you are right to question much of my parenting). But simply talking about the virus only created more fear. And this is not just the case with children.
“You might think that the best way to solve the problem is to get people to be more deliberative — to have them think more carefully about the issues involved. Unfortunately, when it come to this type of emotion-induced bias, that strategy can make matters worse.” Why? because extra time considering provides “more opportunities for their feelings to fill in the blanks.” (NYTimes, “How Fear Distorts Our Thinking About the Coronavirus” — also providing an interesting study of the same effect following September 11th)
Back to Darcy. What I did not understand about fear, she knew. Turn off the radio. Tell dad to stop talking. Forget the problem. Trust her parents to keep her safe (okay, maybe trust mom!) and go back to being a kid.
This is good advice for me. Handed down not just from Darcy, but from salvation’s story, where “do not be afraid” is the most mentioned command (it is not close). I can step beyond the coronavirus or relationship conflicts or finances… turn off the fear, stop rehashing, and simply trust our Father.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me? (Psalm 118:6)