The Pandemic’s Effect on the Family

Dr. Asa Don Brown, Ph.D., C.C.C., D.N.C.C.M., F.A.A.E.T.S.

unhappy family sitting together on couch

The Pandemics effect on the family has called upon the parents to perform many new tasks. They are no longer merely their child’s primary caregiver, but they are now serving as their child’s principal, teacher, coach, music teacher, librarian, and a host other positions that they never imagined that they would be called upon to perform. For many families, the challenges are not only with the day-to-day changes and academic requirements, but there are many families facing financial hardships.

It’s an unprecedented time in our history. The Pandemics effect on the family has forced us to be shut-ins, to slow down, and to spend time in our homes. We are no longer thinking as a localized community or a singular country, rather our focus has become global unlike ever before. Given all of these obstacles, challenges and hardships; there is an unprecedented amount of tension and stress being placed upon the family and on the individual.

We are applauding our first responders, medical and health communities, teachers and faculty, but we have a forgotten hero in all of this, the everyday parent. Parents have had to pick up the broken pieces and reframe their child’s present sense of normal. They are having to battle the coronavirus, as well as the emotional and psychological tensions that their child is facing. There are many families who are at odds with their neighbors, families and friends with respect to the social distancing mandates. For my own children, they do not understand our hardline stance on this matter. My children do not understand why we will not allow them to play with the neighborhood kid or a classmate from school.

The Pandemics effect on the family has placed higher than normal levels of stress, anxiety and emotional turmoil on parents. They are trying to perform so many tasks while maintaining some sense of normalcy within the home that it has begun taking a toll on many families. There are many school districts across the country that are requiring that children continue to be involved academically and to adhere to their guidelines, but too few school districts are offering real support.

There are still many parents working in and outside the home. In my own life, there have been many who have assumed that my work has come to a screeching halt, but the reality is, I am now juggling my day job and my children’s own academic pursuits. As a parent o three, I am learning firsthand what it is to be a homeschool parent. I have always admired parents who have taken the initiative to homeschool, but I admittedly have been a bit intimidated by such a venture. Why? I have not always felt that I could provide my children with a sufficient academic environment. Moreover, as a clinical psychologist, I have always been extremely conscientious about my children’s needs to socialize which is a critical part of a child’s developmental process.

The pandemic parent is not only overwhelmed with learning the common core math, but they are assumed to be equipped to teach a variety of subjects. What are we doing to equip parents to be surrogate teachers? During this pandemic, I have received countless calls, emails, and texts from parents who have maxed out their stress card. Furthermore, I have been informed by a number of parents that they are not going to even bother. My greatest academic concern is for the children who will fall behind during this pandemic.

As a suggestion, I recommend that you contact family members or friends with various academic and employment endeavors. Ask them to consider teaching on something that they hold near- and-dear to their hearts. Perhaps, you can ask them to schedule a regular zoom meeting with your children. It is not only an opportunity for your children, but it can be an opportunity for those individuals to feel essential during this time.

There are other factors that are concerning me. I have heard from several individuals who have reported struggling with their addictive impulses. For a number of individuals, this relentless pandemic has caused such intense anxieties and stress that they would rather revert back to using than to face another day sober. The levels of stress and anxiety are at an unprecedented high.

While I have admittedly had to struggle to figure out my own routine, I feel fortunate and blessed. I have had the support of my loving wife and my children. I am consciously aware that there are many who do not have such support, married or otherwise. I am also aware that there are many parents who have no earthly idea how they will pay their mortgage or utility bills. The pandemics effect on the family is a frightening time for so many. My heart is genuinely broken for those who are suffering.

While I have had to figure out a new routine, I am grateful that I have one. I sometimes feel that we get so caught up in our own voyage, that we forget that others are sailing a similar course.

We are living in an unprecedented time. We are collectively living through an experience that rivals all others. The pandemic has not placed everyone on an equal playing field. There are those who are less fortunate; there are those who have means; and there are those who fall somewhere in between. There is the individual who must continue working in an environment that could prove hazardous to their own health.

The victims of this pandemic are not only those who are battling this unbelievable virus, but the victims are all of us. Whether you recognize it or not, we are all suffering from the vicarious effects of this pandemic. The Pandemics effect on the family has left mass causalities in its wake. Thankfully, there is hope and there is a new horizon. I am absolutely certain that we will move beyond this pandemic.

For many, this pandemic has caused a personal pause. For me, this time has caused me to reflect upon what it is to live life. What really are my priorities? Why are they my priorities? As I have been restricted to my home, I have been thinking about the real essence of life. For me, the pandemic has not necessarily been a counterintuitive experience.

During this time, I beseech you to think upon what you have to be grateful for. Do you have children underfoot? Are they begging for your attention? Why allow the hustle and bustle of this life to consume you? It’s an unbelievable opportunity to really get to know your children beyond what you may have otherwise had. It’s an opportunity to learn more about their desires, angsts, and aspirations. While the journey may be arduous at times, I beg you to find your meaning through this opportunity.

Dr. Asa Don Brown is one of the most sought-after speakers in the world today. He has an array of speech topics that can cater to your organization or company’s needs.