Among other important life lessons, this global pandemic is highlighting just how much we depend on social relationships. As social animals, some of us are struggling to establish a new normal while learning how to maintain relationships in this bizarre time of social distancing. Some of us may still be trying to figure out how to navigate living with immediate household family members and others may be wondering how to stay connected with family members and friends who must remain at a distance. Many of us may also be watching our children and wondering how this time of isolation may be impacting their development, mental health and well-being.
With Mother’s Day here, Dr. Donna Housman, founder of Housman Institute and the begin to ECSEL program, reminds us that “parents are children’s first and most important teacher. Children learn from parents through direction, modeling, and guidance.” The different ways in which our mothers might respond to us shape how we interact with others, engage with strangers, explore our environments, and view ourselves. Our Mother's hand in who we become and how we go forward, the impression they make on us from the start, stays with us and informs how we respond in every aspect of our lives.
During these extraordinary times, we are raising children in an environment of increased stress, uncertainty, isolation and anxiety. Parents are struggling every day not only with the behavior and worries of the children they care for, but also their own. But instead of fretting privately about our feelings, we should feel empowered to share and speak openly about how we are feeling and how we cope with our many emotions. This will in turn normalize discussion around emotion, provide children with a roadmap on how to best navigate them, and ultimately, draw us closer together in our important relationships.
Research confirms that it is the quality of our relationships and the quality of interactions that matter not the quantity, finding that “close, satisfying relationships in which those involved can communicate in respectful ways even when disagreeing and show regular support for one another” are especially effective in boosting mood, supporting immune health, reducing stress and lowering risks for disease. Dr. Housman supports this finding and remind us that “in times when we may not be able to be physically close, we should do our very best to stay emotionally and socially connected.”
So, this Mothers day, whether you are quarantining with your mother, are physically distanced from your mother, or are a mother yourself, we want to wish all the mothers a very Happy Mother’s Day and remind you to spend some time celebrating yourself, schedule a family Zoom call, send a gift, organize a movie night or simply pick up the phone and connect.