COVID-19, Families and Youth.. the science is coming

    Like many researchers around the globe, we have been doing our part in the Co-Lab to better understand the impact of the pandemic on what we study. In this case, the focus is on how parents, children, youth and families function. Pre-prints of our first two papers in this area are available on ResearchSquare as they await peer review. I’m not sure how I come down on public release of pre-prints prior to peer review, but this is another call to action of our times. The families we are studying participated over the years in the Raising Grateful Children study, a relatively privileged sample (in terms of education) from whom we have learned much about the development of gratitude in children and what parents can do to foster gratitude.

    In this sample, we are seeing that different types of coping are more helpful and others less so (more emotion-focused strategies) for preventing mental health symptoms associated with the pandemic. We are also finding that pandemic life events, both positive (yes, there might be some for some families) and negative predict how families function during the pandemic, with implications for youth mental health. But we are aware, as we prepared our findings for review, that this is one only modest sample of rather similar individuals (about 80% identify as white). Yet, even in this sample, we see greater impact of the illness on racial/ethnic minority families and those of relatively lower economic resources. How much more is there to learn from families experiencing the pandemic from different corners of the county and, indeed, the world?

    We think bucketloads. That’s why we are co-Lab-orating with the Society for Research on Adolescence in their effort to coordinate researchers worldwide in learning about the impact of the pandemic on youth development over the long haul. A free webinar that will kick-off this effort is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct 20th from 10-11 ET (more information here).

    In the context of this pandemic, my family is among the lucky ones – luck as much received through unearned privilege as anything else. But each of my family members still experiences the impact of the pandemic in our own ways. Perhaps the most salient finding in our (yet to be peer-reviewed – yep, still conflicted about sharing this prior to publication) work is the benefit for both individual and family functioning of parents getting social support from outside of the family. As we note in this paper: “Encouraging and facilitating social support seeking for parents…is not simply a matter of self-care but also of family-care.” Take care, my friends, and be well. Where ever you are.