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Opinions of Thursday, 30 April 2020

Columnist: Rev. Fr. David Selasie Agah, SVD

Family life in time of a pandemic (coronavirus): The benefits and the challenges {Final Part}

Rev. Fr. David Selasie Agah, SVD Rev. Fr. David Selasie Agah, SVD

There is no life relationship without a challenge, to this end, family life is not exempted, since we cannot even talk about a perfect family. Besides, since the family exist as a unit and function as a system, the problem of one person affects everyone else in the family. Challenges are bound to come for the purpose of the growth and continuity of the family especially in special time like this period of a pandemic where many families have to stay indoor under quarantine.

Thus, challenges occur through the out play of certain factors in family life that may tend to destabilise the equilibrium in the family. To start with; in many ways one common factor that can spring challenge in the family is the lack or ineffective communication. A family that hardly spend time together since its inception owing to work and other social preoccupations, will struggle with communication at the verbal and non -verbal at this time.

This is because, since the members of the family have not stayed together to learn the various nuances of basic communication in the family, each individual has his or her own unique style to channel an information that may be interpreted differently and will go a long way to create confusion and resistance from other members.

For this reason, when communication is not properly done, it creates discomfort among member of the family, meaning that every individual member of the family and subsequently members of the subsystem, have to device means to understand what has been communicated by others. This situation can bring about argument and misunderstanding leading to conflict if the situation is not managed well. Since communication is very important in family life for the purpose of cohesion, unity and bonding, this becomes a challenge for the family at this time of lockdown.

Besides, communication, I think another factor that may pose a challenge in times like this is adaptation. Adaptation is very essential in family life because it helps in the stability and promote growth and balance in the family. However, since many families have found it difficult to stay together and spend time together in the past, the current situation of the lock down will make it difficult to adapt to a new way of living as a family.

This is because since, many families tend to adopt the stance of rigidity based on their available resource, flexibility to adjust to new ways and dynamics becomes a challenge.

Hence the change in rhythm these days at home can generate a dialectical situation in the family leading to discomfort and tension of which the family needs to manage well in order to move forward. The success of this situation will depend on the resources of each member of the family. However, the struggle if not handle well can create family conflict (Nichols 2013, p. 41).

In addition, another challenge that the current situation of a pandemic brings along to family life may be domestic violence. It is obvious that many families in recent past, have not been able to stay together. Since we know that there is no family without a problem, sometimes, not staying together could mean a defence mechanism of avoidance of facing unresolved conflict.

However, considering the current circumstances whereby family members have to manage to stay together, unresolved problems or conflict can resurface in many ways. One of such issue that can lead to domestic violence especially among couples (parents) can emerge from the subsystem in the form of power (hierarchy).

Thus, it may become a struggle between couples (parents) concerning who has the authority over the other, who gives the command as to what needs to be done or in general, who controls the affairs in the family. This situation poses a serious change that can result in domestic violence at this time of a pandemic. This is because, if couples do not have the adequate resources that can help them to understand and admit that equality is the best solution, the feeling of inferiority or master-servant relationship will spring up domestic violence (Nichols 2013, pp. 46-49,

Finally, one major factor that I think can pose a challenge in the family at this time of a pandemic will be the loss of family members or loved ones to corona virus. The current pandemic has brought about unforeseen events such as restricted movements of people, social distancing to closing down of academic and civil institutions as well as businesses. Among all these, the one that has brought greater challenges to family life is the loss of family members or loved ones to the virus infections. This situation has disrupted the family equilibrium and has created the need to re-establish the equilibrium.

The condition has brought about stress and negative emotions among family members. Many family members are still struggling to come to terms with the current condition. There is that sense of denial because the situation is unexpected, there was no psychological preparation beforehand. It has therefore created a sense of nightmare and disbelief among many family members who have lost loved ones. This challenge also poses greater undulating effect on family life not only for the present but for the future as well.


In life, each of us makes a choice, the choice that we make bring about challenges that we often struggle to overcome. Once we are able to overcome our challenges successfully, the end result is change. A change that goes a long way to shape our life for the future. Similarly, in family life, it takes two at the initial level to make a choice.

The choice they make, that is to live together as a family, comes with many challenges owing to the fact that each one is different but at the same time unique. Thus, in family life, despite the uniqueness of every member, each has his or her strength and limitations. However, in order to grow and advance in life, each member needs to learn to depend on the other in order to achieve a desire goal.

Yet, for change to take place, family members must accept to face challenges with commitment and trust in themselves and others who are part of this journey. So that at the end, change will bring along a desire result that sparks a new beginning that shapes the future of the family for the better. Thus, there are many benefits as well as many challenges that come with the current situation.