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Pandemic Parenting

‘Being forgiving of ourselves is probably the biggest.’ 9 parents on getting through the pandemic

Here’s some practical advice parents have learned about coping and caring for their kids.

At left: Meredith Gonzalez (front center) and family. Top right: Amy Reichbach. Bottom Right: Sara Altukhaim and family.
At left: Meredith Gonzalez (front center) and family. Top right: Amy Reichbach. Bottom Right: Sara Altukhaim.

1. Amy Reichbach

West Roxbury, hearing officer, parent of 12-year-old

“Being forgiving of ourselves is probably the biggest piece of advice. My house is a mess. There might be a pile of mail. But nothing’s going to blow up because I didn’t get to it. We are so used to holding ourselves to really high standards as parents. We want to do everything right, [but] you know, we’re parenting in a pandemic. We don’t know how to do this.”

2. Meredith Gonzalez

Roslindale, teacher (front center), parent of 11-, 15-, and 18-year-olds

“We have a lot of routines and structure to get us through. We clean the whole house every other Friday — everybody is assigned a section, and I rotate who gets to pick first each week. My son will take the bathroom because it’s the smallest, [one of] my daughters will take the living room or the dining room because she thinks it’s the easiest. But whatever works for them. We’re not fighting.”

3. Geju Brown

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Roxbury, paraprofessional, parent of 9- and 15-year-olds

“Reach out to your child’s teachers — let them know what’s working, what’s not working. Really have those dialogues. Try to form a team and really make sure that your child understands that. And let your child know that, yes, this is hard, and, yes, this stinks, but that you’re right there with them. It hasn’t been fun, but we’ve got this.”

Geju Brown and family.
Geju Brown and family.

4. Robbie Samuels

Watertown, virtual event design consultant (above left), parent of 3- and 5-year-olds

“We’ve had to really shift what constitutes a family outing. We live half a mile from a Dunkin’ Donuts, so that has become a destination. It was snowing and [the kids] decided they really wanted to go for a hike. So they walked to and from Dunkin’ [with their mom], which was a huge adventure because they’re so small. I don’t think we would have thought that was a good idea before, but that’s what adventure looks like right now.”

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Robbie Samuels (left) and family.
Robbie Samuels (left) and family.

5. Pamela Brazeau

Brookline, accountant (left), parent of 4-year-old

“In-person school has been our absolute lifeline. My son has a very rare genetic condition. School and teachers and [paraprofessionals] and therapists are the ones who I consider to be our people, our support. We feel pretty isolated otherwise. People who are upset about their kid not going to prom, I get that. But it’s always good in life to keep a perspective on struggles that others have.”

Pamela Brazeau (left) and family.
Pamela Brazeau (left) and family.

6. Darcy Moore

Jamaica Plain, entrepreneur (center), parent of 3- and 4-year-olds

“During quarantine I just felt this big urge to do something. I have this long fence and I started posting funny memes or quotes. People loved it. Since then, I made this kindness-challenge tree — I had little cards and people could write something that they could do or have done that’s kind. Then they posted them up, and everyone else could see what people were doing to be kind. Everyone has had to be a bit more creative in how we parent and live.”

Darcy Moore (center) with her family.
Darcy Moore (center) with her family.

7. Ellen Krause-Grosman

Brighton, consultant (second from left), parent of 13- and 16-year-olds

“In early April, we looked at both kids and said, ‘There’s no summer camp this summer.’ I’m pretty direct, and the kids are used to that. That’s how I deal with loss. It’s to try to see it upfront as early as possible, acknowledge it, and to figure out what else we can do. So that’s what freed us up to make real plans. I told them, ‘Come up with your list, then we’ll figure out how to make it happen.’”

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Ellen Krause-Grosman (second from left) and her family.
Ellen Krause-Grosman (second from left) and her family.Thea Breite

8. Rene Pfister

Stow, professor (center), uncle and guardian to 16- and 19-year-olds

“George Floyd and everything that was happening this summer was the harder part for us. It was particularly challenging for us because both my kids are biracial. So we protested, we tried to get involved. It certainly gave me purpose. I think it also empowered Kathy and Ross. She has since started writing beautiful poetry. They’ve gotten stronger, and she has created art — I’m in awe.”

Rene Pfister (center) and his family.
Rene Pfister (center) and his family.

9. Sara Altukhaim

Melrose, entrepreneur (above left), parent of 1-, 3-, and 5-year-olds

“I ended up stuck overseas with my kiddos. The day after we got there, Kuwait announced the airport was shutting down. My daughter turned 5 while we were there and she would say, ‘My heart hurts. Outside I’m smiling but inside my brain feels bad.’ It was cathartic for me to process it with her. These are normal feelings for people to have and you shouldn’t feel scared about them.”


Jules Struck is a master’s student in journalism at Emerson College. Send comments to magazine@globe.com. Interviews have been edited and condensed.