The pandemic represented a litmus test for every single family in America, but ironically, married couples raising kids today are stronger than ever.
You have to go back six generations to find a challenge that is comparable to what today’s parents endured at the height of the Covid pandemic.
To find a similar circumstance, one has to go back to 1919 when the Spanish Flu wreaked havoc across the country. Recent headlines note how the death toll from Covid surpassed one million people – roughly .003% of the population. The prior pandemic a century ago killed twice as many on a per capita basis. In both circumstances, fear rooted itself within every family unit.
Furthermore, we cannot compare today’s pandemic to previous wars. The likes of World War Two and Vietnam represented political events at their core. Pandemics are centered around biology and when pandora’s box, or in this case, the pandemic box is opened, the only hope one has is that a vaccine is found quickly and produced in mass quantities. We are fortunate enough to have a healthcare system that provided shots in arms less than a year after the first outbreak (and free no less).
This pandemic also produced what was referred to as a ‘she-cession,’ when mothers were forced to choose between work or taking care of their children. A disproportionate number of moms took the brunt during the unemployment spike in the Spring of 2020—when national unemployment rose from 3.5% to 14.7%.
Today, not only has this imbalance been erased, more parents are working from home. Corporate policies that require employees to work four or five days in the office have faced stiff resistance. Companies who maintain this position risk losing workers to competitive firms that allow greater work-from-home flexibility. It’s nearly anchored in the mindset of the parents I speak to; they will not go back five days a week, perhaps ever, during their lifetime.
There are paradigm shifts taking place in our country, however, the lingering fear of Covid variants and the stress from product shortages (and inflation) are clouding one of the unspoken benefits the pandemic has brought: time with family.
In households where one parent works, commute times are non-existent or significantly reduced which provides more time with loved ones. Where two parents work, the opportunity to promote greater equality is there for the taking. And as every parent will attest, the pandemic provided a laser focus on what truly mattered: keeping the family healthy, maintaining a child’s education, and avoiding unnecessary risks.
Today’s generation of parents, who have kids younger than 18 in the home, persevered throughout it all. That is worth celebrating.
More importantly, it is also worth honoring the institution of marriage itself. Every couple, regardless of age or gender, were eyeball to eyeball and stuck between the same four walls for more time than anyone would like to admit. But we did, and most couples I engage with have a stronger and happier marriage today compared to the time before Covid hit our shores.
If the flip side of the pandemic provides the means for parents to strengthen the bonds they have with their children, the whole country will benefit from the result. Our communities will be strengthened by stable marriages, happier children, and a focus on what truly matters: the family.
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