The following post is part two of a presentation by Mike Shaughnessy analyzing the impact the 2020s will have on youth and youth culture due to the Covid19 pandemic.
In our last post, we discussed the impact that Covid19 exhaustion will have on today’s youth. We will look now at the possible effects the instability of the past two years will cause.
Instability can crush kids and prevent proper growth of their “emotional bones.” This is why it is very important that they have regular patterns for sleep, meals, school, homework, chores and maintaining relationships. Stability helps children to “emotionally grow upright.” For many youth, the past two years have lacked these consistent structured patterns.
This generation of youth have wavered between attending school in person and navigating online learning. They have see-sawed from being required to wear masks and having the option to wear them. They have heard that masks will solve the Covid19 problem, and they have heard that masks do nothing to prevent the spread of it. They have been able to gather together with some friends, but not others; with some family members, but not all. They have read that vaccines are the answer, and they have read that vaccines may cause serious side effects. These disruptions to their pattern of life often made no sense to them.
In some cases, their parents disagreed and even argued with each other about how to deal with Covid19. Destabilized parental relationships are particularly hard on children. They know something is wrong, but seldom have the maturity to know how to help or what to do about it. They reach out for something firm to hold on to, but they fail to find it.
Part of a grandparent’s challenge is knowing how each individual grandchild has been personally affected. It is possible that your grandchildren have only been bothered in minor ways. Perhaps they have parents who knew the value of stability and provided it for them in their home. However, even if your grandchildren were mostly spared from these two years of instability, they will be interacting with peers who have experienced a lot of it, and that may present challenges for them to handle.
Grandparents are in a unique position in their grandchildren’s lives. Grandchildren might think that Grandma and Grandpa are old, but they also recognize that they have been a stable reality in their lives for as long as they can remember. Consider having a conversation with them about how they think the past several years have affected them and their friends.
For Discussion: What is the most unstable thing that your grandchildren have experienced in the last two years?
For Action: What is one thing you can do about it? Wait, make that two things!
Mike Shaughnessy is the founder of Grandly and lives in Lansing, Michigan.
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