The Parental Dilemmas Of Back To School During A Pandemic From U-M Professor & Author

Aug 18, 2020

Dr. Wayne Baker
Credit Psychology Today / psychologytoday.com

Dr. Wayne Baker, author and faculty director at the Center For Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, recently wrote an article for Psychology Today.  He spoke with WEMU's Lisa Barry about coping with back to school and the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding the many school-related decisions that need to be made in a pandemic.


Dr. Baker describes many "back-to-school plans" in 2020 as an experiment because there are so many unknowns to deal with.  He cited a statistic that 7 out of 10 US parents believe it's a risk to their health and well-being to return their children to school, while 76 percent of college students want to return to campus!

With both Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti both considered "college towns," that creates a lot of local stress for students, professors and residents.

Dr. Baker says....

"It’s difficult to assess accurately the risks and benefits of returning our children to school and to make sound decisions about what our families should and shouldn’t do—now, and in the future as circumstances and conditions change."

He talks about having a coping strategy as a way to deal with the back-to-school stress.  According to Dr. Baker, "reactive coping” is a stress-management strategy to cope with a past or present stressful situation.  Examples include the CDC’s advice to take care of your body, connect with others, take breaks, and avoid overexposure to the news.  “Proactive coping” is future-oriented.  In a seminal article, psychologists Lisa Aspinwall and Shelley Taylor define proactive coping as “the processes through which people anticipate or detect potential stressors and act in advance to prevent them or to mute their impact.”

His best bottom line advice is that, while we live in challenging times, we can’t change the times.  We can change how we adapt to them.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu