Another Week In the Upside Down

Doug FrenchFatherhood on Friday

If we could point to a date when COVID-19 first grabbed the public’s attention, you could make a case for March 11, when the WHO declared a pandemic, the president addressed the nation on network TV, and America’s Dad announced he had tested positive while shooting a movie in Australia (see above). At that point, the number of confirmed cases had just topped 1,200, but epidemiologists, journalists, and health professionals warned the pandemic would get much worse before it got better.

Sixteen days (and about five lifetimes) later, some those warnings have already come true. Hospitals in the most afflicted areas are overwhelmed, and the apex of the curve that we’re all desperately trying to flatten seems alarmingly out of sight.

Throughout this ordeal, we’re looking to the leaders who keep us properly informed, who frame the challenge ahead in terms we can understand, and who build empathy by admitting their frustrations and concerns without being consumed by them. We look to state governors like Maryland’s Larry Hogan, whose bipartisan voice has garnered praise from the Democrat he defeated in 2018, and New York’s Andrew Cuomo, whose daily briefings outline his train of thought as lines form outside NYC hospitals: “Emotion is a luxury, right? To be angry is a luxury. We don’t have that luxury right now. Let’s just deal with the facts, let’s get through it.”

We’re also keeping our fear at bay with credible information from professionals like Dr. Tim Lahey, an infectious disease specialist (and husband of our friend, author Jess Lahey) whose hourlong webinar about COVID-19 is a must-view.

From these examples, we parents can be the leaders our families and communities need. And we can keep our heads when our homebound, restless kids yell, “Oh, no! The toilet is smoking!” (see below).


Children have a lot of partial information about COVID-19 and sheltering in place. Depending on how old your kids are, here’s how to fill in the blanks.

The author of “Man Raises Boy,” Rob Sturrock, says fathers were much more emotionally engaged in raising their kids before the Industrial Revolution, and can be again.

On his birthday, Dale Haretuku shaved his head to match his 4yo daughter, who has alopecia. After he posted the pics, more than 35,000 families responded.

With schools due to be closed at least another month, here’s advice from SAHD Robert VerBruggen about how to structure your days with your kids—and how to resurrect soggy takeout fries!

After his daughter’s dance competition was postponed because of coronavirus, a Nebraska state trooper proved you don’t have to be on a big stage to have a big audience.

After social distancing canceled his four-year-old’s birthday party, he organized a parade for her. Check out the video. She literally falls over with delight.

After so much of their lives had been postponed or canceled, these dads and daughters got dressed up and turned their living rooms into discos.

In Shanghai, the father of a two-month-old fitted a cat carrier with an air purification system to create a safety pod for his baby.

2019 keynoter Dax Shepard is quarantined away from his daughters to protect them from the coronavirus, so his family got creative so the experience was less lonely.


“Maybe we can work together to make this new normal tolerable until we don’t have to tolerate it at all.” — Michael Moebes, The Outbreak

“Not only was it good for us to document that moment or feeling, but the rest of our family can read what we were thankful for that day.” — Art Eddy, Trying To Find Gratitude During This Unsettling Time

“My father believed in loving as hard as you could and doing whatever you can to help people out. I don’t think there’s ever been a better time for that message.” — Anthony Broome, Now Has Never Been A Better Time For Acts of Love and Service

“He knew how to punish without lifting a finger. Such a valuable lesson.” — Jose Nogueras, Lessons Learned From My Stepdad

“It’s hard for me to watch my dad worry. He delayed his retirement to pay for my wedding. He’s the hardest-working man I know, and he instilled those values in me.” — Justine GriffinMy Dad Owns A Restaurant. This Is Hard.


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Photo by Keith Zhu on Unsplash