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The Family on Lockdown

Updated on April 30, 2020
Chibuike Austin Atasie profile image

Chibuike studied Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Nigeria. He is interested in society, news, politics and history.

Lockdown and Social Distancing measures in effect around the globe, consequently means a hold on unimportant travel, crowding and open get-togethers. Individuals can only leave their homes on grounds of necessity, health reasons, or in a case where the virtue of their occupation provides essential services. These are crazy times, the likes of which humanity hasn't experienced in a century. We're stuck inside our homes, compelled to get to know our relatives than at any other time. Well, just as long as we don't touch them.

The situation is frustrating! What if I've actually been in an endless struggle to tolerate the excesses of some really annoying siblings. What if some weeks or months of over familiarity breeds contempt after all. What if I don't have a thing for lingering in an environment for a very long time. Truth is, this situation has succeeded in disrupting and distorting our social reality in every possible way. But how do you deal with the situation at home? about our children! They're not in school anymore. Thanks and no thanks to the lockdown measures. I personally have to deal with my little cousins over here who are rather taking advantage of their indefinite free time to binge watch virtually all the shows on Cartoon Network. They're so stingy with the TV and Cable remote that we literally beg them for a minute or two to check the news headlines. It's a time to showcase tolerance folks, and if you're lacking there...the coming months ain't gonna be a smooth ride you know. Bottom line is; families that can't devise a strategy to cope with themselves are likely to be in for a torrent of bitter cataclysms.

Kid consciousness would help a lot

Kids are very unpredictable creatures. No one's disputing the fact that they could be adorable and graceful to behold. Come on, we've all wished to have these creatures in our custody one day. You know, the kids surrounding your table kind of thing, or better still, playing all around the place. Sure their brightness and fun-loving charm can be the spice to any family's existence. Be that as it may, practically out of nowhere, these lovelies can flip the switch to a quasi terrifying experience. Ranging from generating really unpleasant noises, to sibling rivalry and quarrels, yelling, crying, destroying home gadgets and every other form of torment (name it). They appear to be noisier, more chaotic and more demanding now than any time in recent memory. We have to contain their mischief somehow, anyhow.

Tolerance, Persistence and Patience are the major keywords here. We need to take it easy on them. Being careful to not respond to their excesses out of anger. We should understand that the overbearing nature of this pandemic is also taking a toll on them as it is on us. Rather adopting the dialogue strategy will produce better results. It's necessary to take to cognizance the fact that our children may have challenges they'd want to share with us only if we're ready and willing to engage them. Give the kids around you attention this time. They may need it more than you'll ever know.

While looking for ways to get through this difficult period, we should be on the lookout for our youngsters too. Not all minors will understand the medical, psychological and social precautions and survival tips necessary to get through this COVID-19 era unscathed, or at least, as safe as possible. Sit them down, educate them. Who knows, just a 20 second handwash may save the entire family at a least expected time. While on that, let's not forget to make home staying fun for them. They are acclimatising to a life without their school and neighborhood friends. They'll need our support to try other safe leisure activities to ease the boredom.

"Give the kids around you attention this time. They may need it more than you'll ever know"

Family conflicts although inevitable can be properly handled

I guess it is normal for us to feel aggravated if a relative snaps at us. The cause for annoyance may even hinge less on what they say and more on how they say it. This is about adults now, not kids. I stated earlier the seeming problem of over familarity. Staying indoors for months as if you're serving a house arrest sentence for a crime you didn't commit could be irking. We all can relate. It's very natural for conflict to arise when we humans mingle. Most social scientists say this is imperative, so it doesn't call for a surprise when it happens. Your youger brother probably didn't do the dishes when it was his turn or your wife left the water running. Anything could cause a quarrel and there it goes again; the yelling, the curses, even atimes brawls. You can't eliminate conflict, but at a time like this, some show of maturity should help, really. Whatever you do, make sure to reconcile before the situation goes out of proportion. And no attempts to even the score please.

It's no one's fault you know

Many people have their reservations as regards what or 'who' caused the pandemic. Conspiracies aside, speaking in terms of the average person, it's no one's fault. No one saw this coming. Four to five months ago, who would have thought that our planet would be visited with such a disaster. The like of which disrupted and damaged every sphere of life and livelihood. Economic, political and social arrangements, all crashed and crushed. Now you're going through a really hard time, the government given palliatives are not sufficient enough (that's if you were lucky to get any), you got a family to feed, bills to pay, prices are skyrocketing, the pressure is unbearable. You start looking for someone to blame. Pressure is converted to aggression. Your spouse, kids or/and extended relatives are now at the receiving end of your wrath! You probably start seeing them as parasites, leeches, determined to dry out your savings. But wait a minute, you didn't see them as parasites before now. You accommodated them happily before now. It's not their fault a pandemic of this kind happened. Take it easy. Take a deep breath, have some meditation sessions. Get a clear head and respond to the situation calmly and objectively. You're all in this you know. Don't make it harder for them, and don't be hard on yourself too. A little positivity could help. Remember, life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it.

"Don't make it harder for them, and don't be hard on yourself too"

There's more to life than being right

The best bet may be to stay quiet when somebody is having a go at us. It's one of those things we have to endure. People are literally losing it...for so many reasons including the reasons I stated earlier. It's a really precarious time, and not so many people are gifted in self coordination at times like this. When we encounter people like that, both in our household and beyond. It becomes our responsibility to ease the situation by not trying to be right. Sometimes peace is more important.

Be on the assertive side. Try to find a middle ground. Be quick to make it clear that your perspective doesn't necessarily belittle or interfere with the importance of their own perspective too in its own right. Things can be viewed from different standpoints, and the focus does not have to be on which is right or wrong.

Reasoning out individual differences is key. Both parties should be happy to investigate what had occurred between them. To consider where things turned out badly. How the pressure could have been avoided. This would encourage mutual understanding.

"Things can be viewed from different standpoints, and the focus does not have to be on which is right or wrong"

A defining moment for couples

Most couples will have no choice but to stay together for a significant amount of this lockdown period. A genuine trial of their affection. I'm still going to refer you to what I earlier stated, the problem of over familiarity. Just like the law of dimnishing returns, when you have so much of something, the thought of it doesn't excite you that much any longer. Marriages that overcome this 'test' may surprisingly come out stronger. At least that's what we hope.

Achieving this involves being ready to sacrifice, being selfless and being eager to consider each other's needs. Sometimes even above yours. Your spouse may need to get some things off their chest, you should be willing to lend them a listening ear. I sometimes describe partners as children of each other. You both will need each other's care, love, attention and encouragement to thrive. The effect is ruined when the show of affection is not mutual.

Most importantly, believe in each other's capabilities and strengths. This is worth more than a million dollar check.

We're all we've got

Above all, forgive! Many of us will hurt and be hurt by our loved ones as a result of the pressure of this pandemic, but what else can we do, family is all we've got. Many people's rash and irate behaviours might stem from the frustration of having one or more of their basic needs threatened. In times like this, the 'gentleman' or the 'cultured lady' in us may go on a vacation. With us being left with only our pristine survival instincts. It's a fight people! The psychologically, emotionally and financially strong are charged with a moral obligation to extend a helping hand to those weak in these respects. This is for the sake of our survival as a species. This is a time when we have to share each other's burden.

Families are the basic unit of society. I personally consider it the pillar of society. This is why it is imperative for this institution to at all cost secure its sanity at this troubling time. This can only be possible through our collective efforts. Familial bond can only be maintained and preserved through mutual effort, forgiveness and tolerance.


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