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3001 Hamill Road Hixson, TN 37343
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Create Safe Circles for COVID-19

By Danielle Miller

MSW, Bethel Social Worker

Danielle Miller has provided social work and counseling services at Bethel since 2015. Danielle earned an MSW from Southern University with an emphasis on Children and Family and a BSW from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Previously, Danielle interned at Hospice of Chattanooga and OnPoint. Danielle is married and has three children.

This summer has been one for the books! Thanks to COVID-19, drive-through birthday parties are a thing, a lot of vacations are on hold or cancelled, and it’s anyone’s guess what school will really look like in August during reopening.

As parents, we want our kids to have social time to hang with their friends. They need that! At the same time, we don’t want them to get sick or bring home a virus that could greatly harm their grandparents.

I have three children and one has a health issue that makes her very vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19. So, my family worked out a plan for our safe socialization back when this all started. What we have found is that creating safe circles for your kids significantly lowers their risk and makes life seem more normal for them.

Where Have You Been?

The key to creating a safe circle for your child is to find the friends (and importantly their friends’ parents) who are on the same page as your family as far as how much exposure we feel comfortable tolerating.

A family that’s full blown out there going to large gatherings is not someone my kids can be with this summer. We created safe circles for our kids by working with parents who were willing to discuss and agree to safe limits and allowing our kids to only spend time with those in this tight-knit social group.

We found that some parents of teenagers are afraid to say no. They don’t want to be seen as the “bad guy.” Unfortunately, you really have to be the bad guy today. It’s okay to put limits on teens. That’s what we are here for.

The Keys to the Car

Once teens can drive, life changes a lot. They are typically on the go, and even more so after they start college. But COVID-19 has changed everything. For my two who can drive, it’s a great sacrifice to stay close to home and avoid gatherings.

Some days my 20-year-old just goes for a drive, like out to the lake. She doesn’t go to a store. She just gets outside and away for a bit. To stay safe, she is not working this summer, and neither are her close friends. They all follow the same safety rules. If they do travel, which so far has been limited to one short trip, it’s not to a hot spot where the virus is prevalent.

My husband is a fireman, so some of our safety rules have come from watching what the fire department has done to take care of the health and wellbeing of its employees. When our kids see that even adults have to make practical sacrifices, like wearing masks, it’s easier for them to follow suit.

The Willful Teen

While all teens are prone to rebel a bit, for some, 2020 has been like pouring gasoline on the spark that is teen rebellion. Some may be dealing with anxiety or fear or they may have developed an issue that needs treatment and care.

If you are not sure if your teen’s behavior has passed the level of what is appropriate or manageable at home, feel free to use Bethel as a resource. We can help you figure out if your teen needs professional resources to get back on track. You can send me an email at or call and talk to our Admissions Director, David Shinn, at (423) 842-5757 Ext. 222.


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