10 July 2020  |

Dear Aunt Sevvy,

I’ve been trying hard to stay safe and keep my family safe during the pandemic. The problem: my children spend time not just in my home, but with my ex-spouse, too. I’ve lately had reason to believe virus protection isn’t as strict in their world as we are in ours: I hear stories about going to various public places and hanging out with friends. I’m the main caregiver, and I’m terrified lest something happen to them, and then to me.

I’m sure I’m not the only one in this era of broken and blended families that has this problem. What do you suggest? 

Signed, Terrified!

Dear Terrified,

Sadly, there may not be a lot you can do without a great deal of expense and trouble. If the court has mandated that your ex-spouse has partial custody, you may have to take legal action to change that. And since you’re not there, you cannot control what they do on their time with the kids unless it is specifically stated in the divorce/custody agreement. 

If you don’t want to go to court, that leaves you in the difficult position of having to appeal to the compassion and reason of someone you used to be married to. Aunt Sevvy has enough divorced friends to know that this may not be an effective option. Assuming you are a United States citizen, this situation is made harder by both sides of the political aisle politicizing everything, including a global pandemic. When one side claims that they are the side of “safety” then the other side is put in a tough spot: expected to choose between being reckless with a deadly disease or “siding with the enemy.” There is bipartisan support for safety measures. Any side claiming that everyone on the other side isn’t safe is only making things worse. 

For example, if your ex-spouse has bought in to the dangerous lie that this virus isn’t that big of a deal and everyone is worrying for nothing, or alternatively, that it doesn’t matter if people die from the virus as long as the United States’s economy is strong, your appeals to reason, caution, and compassion will fall on deaf ears.

What you can do is try to teach your children the importance of mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing while they are with you, and hope they stick to those principles when they are with your ex. You can try to have a reasonable conversation with your ex, asking that they be more careful. There’s no guarantee that will work, but do pray that both of you can be wise and compassionate for the sake of the children.

Praying that you stay as safe as you can,

Aunt Sevvy

*note* After some dialogue with readers, Aunt Sevvy has revised some of the things she originally said. We all make mistakes!

You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—always without identities. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and neither her opinions nor those of her correspondents are necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.

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