Trendspotting: Lockdown Silver Lining: Closer Mother-Daughter Bonds

10/06/20 07:00AM EDT

newswire: 10/6/2020

  • The pandemic has strengthened relationships within many American families, particularly between moms and daughters living at home. According to a new survey, 61% of moms say they feel more connected now to their daughters than before; only 6% say they feel less connected. (The Wall Street Journal)
    • NH: In discussing the many ways that life has changed due to the pandemic, I’ve written about how parents and their children--whether they’re school-age kids or young adults--are seeing more of each other now than ever. (See “The Kids Are Back in Town” and “The Future of Helicopter Parenting.”) With previous generations of parents and children, this might have been a recipe for disaster. (Can you imagine teen Boomers cooped up 24/7 with their Archie Bunker parents?) But now, it may turn out to be one of the silver linings of this strange era.
    • This article draws on recent research by anthropologist Grant McCracken, who surveyed 500 American mothers with children ages 10 to 20 who live at home. Fully 63% of moms say that their relationships with their daughters are “flourishing the most” during the pandemic, and 61% say they feel more connected to their daughters. About a third (34%) say their relationships with their daughters have remained the same as they were pre-pandemic, while only 6% say they feel less connected. 
    • In comparison, only 18% of moms say that their relationship with their sons is faring the best. Another 12% say that the father-daughter relationship is faring the best, and just 8% the father-son relationship. 
    • Many of the most positive assessments came from moms whose daughters are at the older end of the surveyed group--in other words, kids who would otherwise be away at college. They spoke glowingly of long chats, watching movies, teaching each other new skills, and just generally being happy about the chance to spend more time together. 
    • Sons, McCracken found, are more reticent than daughters. Instead of hanging out with Mom or Dad, they are more likely to decompress by playing video games alone or online with their friends. The deepening of mother-daughter relationships seems to be growing out of the typical dynamics of a two-parent household, where Mom is the household “manager” who continually monitors the emotional health of the kids. Girls are more likely to want to chat and share their feelings, which naturally leads to more time together. Dads are more likely to be working full-time than moms, so they simply might not be getting as much face time with their kids. And males tend to bond better over shared activities, many of them outdoors or otherwise outside the home. 
    • In general, increased time together between any group of people tends to amplify the dynamics that are already there. Those who get along will grow closer, while those with poor relationships will fight more. Luckily, the enforced closeness of Covid-19 has come at a time when children and teens are more likely to say that they have positive relationships with their parents and that they enjoy spending time with them. Lockdowns aren’t easy, but they’re a lot easier when you like the people you’re locked down with.
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