PARENTING DURING COVID-19: THE EXPERIENCES OF PARENTS

Brigita Kairienė, Jolanta Pivorienė, Agata Katkonienė

Abstract


The lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic affected the social lives of the vast majority of the population. Lithuanians reported that this situation significantly affected their leisure time, work and financial situation, and studies – with 27.0% of respondents to a representative survey reporting that their family life has changed.
COVID-19 and the associated lockdown brought about changes to the lives of families. According to family resilience theories, the balance of a family’s daily functioning is disturbed when situational requirements outweigh family resources and opportunities – a phenomenon which, it is generally agreed, occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, several studies regarding changes to the daily routines of families were conducted all over the world, including in: Lithuania, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Germany, the Netherlands, Korea, and India. Whilst various aspects of these changes were investigated in these different studies, they all concluded that families faced new situations and needed to search for a new way to adapt and adjust to a changed reality. As Lee, Chin, and Sung (2020) note, COVID-19 has changed the meaning of home from a place to sleep to a basecamp involving numerous major activities related to work, schooling, parenting, housework, shop ping, leisure, and religion. Families have found it challenging to spend intensive time with each other, to share gendered family responsibilities, and to support other families.
The aim of this article is to reveal the positive and negative experiences of parenthood during the first quarantine in Lithuania. In order to achieve this goal, the methodology of qualitative research was chosen, applying semi-structured interview as a data collection technique. This study involved 12 parents selected by non-probability purposive sampling, applying the principle of heterogeneity, i.e., seeking a group of research participants that would reflect the experiences of different families (based on education, employment, place of residence, number of children, and age of children). Data were analysed via the method of qualitative content analysis, applying theoretical coding and constructing categories and subcategories. Data validity was ensured by the use of the researchers’ triangulation method. The main ethical principles of qualitative research were followed during this research.
The research data revealed a variety of positive experiences of parenting. The participants of the study stated that there were numerous changes in their daily routines: there was more time for sleeping, being at home together, for work, and for leisure; the need to transport children was diminished; it became easier to reconcile work and housework; shopping became more planned; and working conditions at home were adjusted to the changed situation. In the family, relationships with children and other family members became closer, and such positive emotions as security, relaxation, joy, and satisfaction were experienced.
Negative experiences of parenting in this period were associated with: restrictions of movement; limited communication with relatives and friends; negative emotions such as fatigue, anxiety, chaos, boredom, and resentment; tension/stress arising from constant contact together; the distance learning of children; the coordination of work and the learning/ housework of children; the non-observance of the children’s agenda; unpreparedness for parenthood due to uncertainty; childcare; technological difficulties in remote work and learning; the increased/constant housework load; and the challenge of planning activities.
The research data revealed that the parenting experience under the conditions of the COVID-19 lockdown was ambiguous. Despite similar external circumstances, families reacted differently. For some, quarantine gave them the opportunity to spend more time together meaningfully and to experience positive emotions. For others, being together in the same space caused negative emotions, stress, and dissatisfaction with themselves as parents. Parenting is a complex activity, and the unusual conditions brought about by COVID-19 isolation reflect the (in)ability of parents to respond to the changing requirements of parenting. Based on the theory of family resilience, it can be argued that the research data reflect two possible pathways for a family surviving the instability of the pandemic: through conflict (within the family and the changed environment) towards weakening; or through concentration towards recovery. Of the many factors which increase family resilience, two were particularly important during the pandemic: collaborative parenting as an internal resource; and systematic support as an external one.

Keywords


COVID-19 pandemic, family, parenting.

Full Text:

PDF (Lietuvių)


DOI: https://doi.org/10.13165/SD-21-19-1-05

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.