Familial response to conflicts and unmitigated disasters of the present pandemic kind

Being around family validates academic claims of the role of social unit during a calamity

By Abhimanyu Hazarika*

The Fast and Furious series of action films is replete with problematic content amidst its entertainment, but one positive aspect it harps on is keeping family first. Often seen as a bastion of the conservative end of the political spectrum, traditional family values and its allied support systems that are bound by social dictums new and old, have become increasingly relevant. This is particularly when looking at its role in helping individuals coping with the ongoing global restrictions.

The spread of the pandemic has resulted in several students and professionals resorting to return to or work from, home. For those among them away from family, the period has meant a rise in anxiety and falling mental health. At such a juncture, the author of this article draws from a few his own simple experiences during the lockdown, which shall be looked at in the backdrop of established academic findings.

Experts in a module have deemed the ‘inner resources of the family, and relation and communication patterns among the family members’ a factor that influence the emotional impact of disasters on children. Given the scale and consequences of the current virus outbreak, we may examine it as a disaster for the purpose of this article.

Advocating a stable family structure, the module further argues that ‘families characterized by tense and conflicting relationships’ have greater tendencies to produce adverse reactions of ‘helplessness and insecurity’ in kids. During lockdown, the presence of an amicable and content family with extended members (grandparents) have helped bring about some form of help and medium-term security. With each unit supplementing, complementing or just being there for the other in some means or form of emotion and support, the induced comfort of a tranquil home even amidst restrictions is not taken for granted.

For example, an interlinked role dynamic among members in my family translates to our grandmother giving my brother and I lessons in reading/writing our mother tongue (Assamese), the men of the house turning homemakers in every sense on weekends, together producing music and vocals with my younger brother and my mother learning the intricacies of group video calls from her sons.

A pyramid-plan has been prepared by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (a body focussing on global humanitarian assistance) pertaining to mental health and psychological assistance during prolonged emergencies. The second layer of the same (from the bottom) reaffirms the critical role of family and community systems in uplifting the learning and development of kids through support initiatives. In my home these days, mutual time spent among all family members through movie sessions or each stage of meal preparation, actualises the benefits of this.

The quality of interactions and reactions within family members, especially adults to kids, determine their adjustment to a calamitous setting. This has been mentally boosting for this writer, at a time when he, as an aspiring entrant into the media industry, faces roadblocks in the terms of the gloomy employment scenario. In fact, the responses of kids tend to parallel that of parents, wherein cues to effectively tide over a crisis can be reflected. Through utterances of reassurance and patience, parents home have let this writer view this pandemic as a testing phase that too shall pass.

Given the existing and basic personal findings, ‘family preparedness, response, and recovery efforts’ can arguably be a focus area to deal with and prepare for conflicts and unmitigated disasters of the present pandemic kind.

*With the Asian College of Journalism, 2020 batch

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