Covid-19: Strong family bonds can help overcome challenges

Abu Dhabi - Medical experts emphasise on improving bonding as International Day of Families is marked in country.

Developing a stronger family relationship holds the key to recovering from testing life events like the pandemic, top officials and experts said during the International Day of Families on May 15.

“Despite the challenges that accompanied the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, families have demonstrated their essential role in containing the crises and optimally dealing with childcare,” said Dr Bushra Al Mulla, Executive Director, the Community Development Sector at the Department of Community Development (DCD) – Abu Dhabi.

With work from home, remote learning and change in lifestyle becoming the new normal, medical experts emphasised on improving family bonding to understand the difficulties of other members, and offering support.

“Children face stress from missing regular interaction with friends, and emotional disturbances like depression. Parents face additional stress from having to complete their work as well as supervise online learning. The fear of Covid infection and losing dear ones, adds to this stress. It is crucial during such time for members of the family to recognise the difficulty others in the family are facing, empathise with them and support each other,” said Dr Sridhar Kalyanasundaram, consultant neonatologist, head of neonatology, Danat Al Emarat Hospital for Women and Children in Abu Dhabi.

Dr Kalyanasundaram said parents need to strategise and work together with their employers, teachers and others in the family to enhance mental well-being.

Dr Sanjay Perkar, specialist pediatrician, Fakeeh University Hospital, Dubai, underlined that families are going through a lot of stress and can emerge stronger through greater cohesion.

“Parents are facing stress due to financial and occupational challenges, whereas kids are dealing with the challenges of online schooling and lack of physical activity leading to excessive boredom and behavioural issues. We cannot emphasise more on the value of family bonding and emotional support on both the fronts.”

The United Nations theme for this year’s International Day of Families is ‘Families and new technologies’. Doctors noted there has been an increased dependency on online and social media platforms.

Dr Kalyanasundaram added: “It is important to be aware of the negative impact of technology. In younger kids, limiting screen time is very important for their development and no screen time is the best for infants. Safety of the internet for older children is another important factor. Parents should remember they are role models for children when it comes to these issues, and they should be strict about their own screen use.”

Meanwhile, the government has taken several family-oriented policies and measures during the pandemic. Dr Al Mulla noted the DCD has reached the final stages of launching Abu Dhabi’s ‘Family’s Quality of Life’ strategy. It focuses on studying and analysing the current and future social challenges that affect the quality and stability of family life, including issues like divorce, reluctance to marry and work-family life balance and more.

Alamy photo used for illustrative purpose
Alamy photo used for illustrative purpose

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