The COVID-19 pandemic affected, and still is affecting, everyone, some more intensely than others.
To some families, the outbreak meant a disruption to previous family ties, and increased mental health effects because of reduced social interactions. To others, it meant escalating tensions and anxieties among children, caregivers, and seniors.
Parenting relationships also suffered a huge blow, as some parents experienced financial consequences. Adapting to the new normal was often challenging to people who have had solid traditional social order in the past.
The social location of many families was, and still is, disrupted by labour changes, working hours, and the roles households play. We witnessed society competing for scarce resources, another of the family changes induced by the pandemic.
What are the impacts of COVID-19 on the future dynamics of the family? We may never completely understand the complex physical, mental, and emotional social dynamic impacts of a two-year long (and still going) pandemic on the various components of families, but multiple factors must be considered.
The pandemic deprived some family members of their livelihoods and created competition among family members for scarce available resources. We saw the detrimental effect it also had on women, as they bore the brunt of the pandemic
In this three-part series, we will look at how COVID-19 has impacted, and is still impacting, what the dynamics of the future family looks like. We will specifically focus on the relationships and supports among caregivers, children, and seniors; the effect of performing double- and triple-duty for women and mothers; and the sandwich (caring for children and seniors) and the boomerang (adult children who move back home) generations.
One thing is certain: COVID-19 highlighted the inequalities, and in some cases the specific challenges, some families faced in relation to health, finances, and mental and emotional well-being.
In short, it has contributed to what the future family dynamic may look like and what may become acceptable, and exposed the fact that death rates among some racial groups will cause them to grapple with the loss of future and past generations forever.
We know that family ties have weakened, and seniors have been exposed to abuse and isolation. Furthermore, the pandemic led to the feminization of poverty, where mothers have witnessed massive job losses, thus increasing over-dependence. The shift in traditional gender roles and working schedules has caused negative family issues and compounded stress among family members. Some of the family issues may continue after the pandemic.
As we move into the future, some effects will require adaptive ability to cope with. Professional consultation such as psycho-social support to family members who exhibit overwhelming symptoms of depression is critical in reducing social issues.