The COVID -19 pandemic has had a profound impact on families and everyone, with some experiencing it harsher than the others. For a lot of families, it meant significant changes due to financial constraints, minimal or no hygiene care and living in fear and anxiety for children as schools and day-cares are closed with an end to this phase still unknown. Finding the “new normal” has been challenging due to safety restrictions that prevented people from visiting each other, which has had an impact to the dynamics of families.
As we are thinking about going into the festive holidays, and given the strain of not being able to see family, it is also an ideal time for us to reflect on the impact we have on one another – on our nieces, nephews and children. How do we, as parents, uncles and aunts help to shape their future given that we have seen what can happen at any point in time. The impact of lockdown, which resulted in schools closure worldwide has posed a serious threat to children as their lives move gradually online during lockdown in the COVID-19 pandemic.
A joint report by UNICEF and the International Telecommunication Union highlighted the outcome new ways of learning had on children and young students. According to their report, more than 1.6 billion children who have been affected by school closure where forced to take classes online, however, they were also socialising more online, which left some of them vulnerable to social bullying, online sexual exploitation and grooming, as predators are always looking for ways to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we are contemplating Christmas get-togethers with loved ones, it is very important to check in with one another and ask everyone how they have been, especially the young ones. As an aunt to my nieces and nephews, I understand that role playing as a second parent is imperative. What children invoke and receive from us and the environment in which they live in shapes how they think and behave. As aunts and uncles we have to admit that our role is to serve as influential figures in children’s lives, because they see us as their cool adult friends. We instil a more free-thinking and sociable influence in a child’s upbringing, affording a perfect life balance to the more expected, structured and strict expectations from actual parents.
As we coddle in Christmas meals, let us have proper conversations with our children and try to instil and provoke a sense of curiosity and creativity in them. Let us find out their aspiration and see how we can help them become a better version of us, by exposing them to opportunities available in our workplaces and networks.
This year has raised a lot of anxiety and fear in people. As we are celebrating Christmas in the midst of the pandemic, let us redirect our focus and reflect on the impact this pandemic had on our well-being and that of others.
May this festive season be a safe and prosperous one. Happy holidays.