There was good news and bad news from a survey by Israel’s Adler Institute of the effects on the country’s family life during the year of COVID-19. The institute, a non-profit organization and leading professional organization in the field of family relations in particular and human relations in general conducted the survey in honor of Family Day, which has just been marked (it used to be Mother’s Day).
The survey was conducted by the I-Panel polling organization among 500 interviewees who were either parents of children up to the age of 18 or grandparents from a representative sample of the Israeli adult population who speak Hebrew.
This year, the dizzying pace of change that burst into our lives with the Coronavirus crisis has forced the family unit to undergo a metamorphosis,” said Adler Institute director-general Lian Sela. “The results of the survey indicate the condition of the Israeli family, which has experienced many upheavals and changes during COVID-19, which crisis, which is a health crisis first and foremost, but also a social, economic crisis and for many families a family and marital crisis.”
The past year, she continued, “has made us all forget what we are used to and adjust to living in the shadow of the pandemic. It has been a year of lockdowns, limitations, isolation, long-distance conversations and lack of touching and warmth that can only be obtained from a physical hug.”
Many books, said Sela, will be written about the social effects of the corona crisis. “The routine of all of us has been shattered to pieces, and not every parent has always found the personal resources necessary for parental and personal coping. Many encountered difficulties and sought the help of the institute and experts from the family counseling field,” she said. “Our annual survey serves as a mirror of social change and is an important indicator of the situation of the Israeli family,” she continued.
“There has been a significant increase in requests for guidance and online therapy in light of the crisis. The home has become our main stronghold. We are not used to being cut off from the community and the close relatives – and many families have lost loved ones through suicides during this period and endured additional crisis as they lost businesses and jobs,” said the Adler Institute CEO. “The survey demonstrates in the clearest way that there is a lot of work ahead of us, and the government must offer broad and focused solutions to parents and families, many of whom have moved from a state of normative life to a state of life at risk.”
Among the negative results of the pandemic were that about a quarter of grandparents felt abandoned by their family. Ninety-two percent of grandparents regretted their separation from the grandchildren for months on end.
The survey showed a 14% greater desire to divorce among families, while 10% said they were less likely to divorce, partly due to economic hardship. About 30% of families said economic stress damaged relationships of couples.
For about 48% of couples, the crisis harmed the couple’s quality time together. This may explain the fact that about a third of married couples said their sex life was harmed. About 62% of parents said that the closing of schools for much of the past year will harm their children’s educational level when the crisis is over. The pandemic also reduced trust between parents and teachers; 34% of parents said there has been a negative change in the trust they place in the educational system and their children’s teachers. At the same time, 49% of families claim that their children’s emotional state worsened in the past year.
More than half said that the partner’s failure to observe precautionary rules to reduce the risk of infection provoked quarrels in the family to some degree.
The longing is strongest of all – 92% of grandparents are sad that they have free time without grandchildren
But the survey also presented some good news. Of parents who had been dismissed from their work or placed on unpaid leave, 78% said their parental capacity – the ability to provide for the child’s developmental and psychological needs – was not harmed or even improved
Two out of five families said the relationships among siblings improved during the pandemic.
About 23% of the families were helped by outside experts in the field of parenting and family, more than three times those who said they sought and received less help from outsiders.