Families are stronger when there is trust, respect, and communication. We tell you what the experts say.
The lack of intimacy and the increasing popularity of electronic devices have marked family relationships in the last year of the pandemic.
“Intimacy isn’t about keeping secrets, but there are things that aren’t always discussed with every family member because they’re part of someone’s personal life or autonomy. Relationships will be healthy if everyone retains a degree of intimacy and autonomy within the family, whether in the physical or digital space,” says psychologist Maribel Nájera Valencia.
Read more: Mind and brain: are they the same?
The environment shapes our personality to a certain extent, so we could have a mixture of identities or micro-identities adapted to different contexts.
“Many mothers were surprised to see what their children were like at school, and many children were surprised to see what their parents were like at work. Some labeled their parents as authoritarian and judged the way they addressed their employees,” said Nájera Valencia, who is Clinical Director at the Latin American Institute of Family Studies.
Therefore, it’s healthy to cultivate a certain freedom in different spaces so that each family member can be themselves with different people.
On the other hand, there were family relationships at a distance that –for some reason– were kept distant, and that led to anxiety and depression.
However, Maribel Nájera recalls that a close bond isn’t necessarily physical; it can also be digital.
Rituals are very important for humans because we mark some of the most significant moments of our lives with them. They’re events that mitigate anxiety because they give us a sense of stability.
“Not having the rituals we had before, such as funerals, birthdays, and weddings has affected us –although we still don’t know the impact it will have– because, for example, we have delayed processing the departure of a loved one.”
According to Maribel, who holds a PhD in social sciences, if a relationship of communication is preserved, even if it’s by electronic means, the family relationship is maintained because it maintains the possibility of an affective bond.
The pandemic also changed relationships and altered families’ life cycles, according to Nájera Valencia.
There are now young people taking care of their 60-year-old parents for fear of losing them or their getting infected.
“For example, many parents complain in therapy about the control their children are exercising so that they don’t leave home.”
Many families have also been rebuilt, that is, formed by parents who already have children and need to reorganize themselves.
For example, a family with teenage children and mature parents faces not only the crisis of adolescence but also midlife crisis.
In the last year, we’ve observed more complexity in family therapy at psychological care clinics, says the expert, and that’s because many of the problematic issues in families have to do with how they perceive themselves.
The first studies of family therapy spoke of a linear system that went from the formation of the couple, through the appearance of children, to the empty nest syndrome and the issues of the elderly.
However, the family system, and therefore family relationships, are a complex evolving process.
We’re seeing increasing levels of complexity in family life cycles because families are diverse, and their relationships depend on the social context and other factors such as religion and social class that influence their makeup.
We recommend: 5 tips for surviving quarantine from a Space Station inhabitant
Lockdown has put family bonds to the test. If we look at the negative aspect, it’s made them difficult and annoying and has caused fatigue and, in some cases, violence.
Lockdown commonly produces anger and frustration, but on many occasions, we don’t try to think about what makes us angry. We simply react to emotion through violent actions, whether that’s emotionally or physically, with ourselves or at someone else.
“But emotions accumulate. That anger is saved up and multiplied. There’s no way to do something healthy with pain if one isn’t aware of it,” warns Ignacio Maldonado, a specialist in family therapy.