No one in Dina Al Mahbuba’s family met her daughter, Ara. He was born in late 2019, too early. By mid-June, when Aaran was discharged from his home in Boston, the world had been under COVID-19 for months. Mahbuba’s close relatives, along with her husband, all live in Bangladesh. The couple moved from there in 2013.
Family members have done their best to keep in touch, but Mahbuba, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wants his relatives to be close. Her older brothers and sisters have children of their own և could help Aaran calm her down while she is asleep.
Or they could show him how they present food to their babies. Ara, now 15 months old, struggles with new foods after being fed through a tube during her early life. Mahbuba also hopes that Aara will learn to speak Bengali, but worries that he needs to communicate in languages other than his parents.
“Sometimes I’m really sad,” Mahbuba said. “I feel that there is a gap, sometimes I worry that the gap will deepen day by day.”
Grandparents and uncles երեխաների in the same country with children born during COVID և stay away from uncles և travel restrictions և other precautions. Darby Saxbe, an associate professor at the University of Southern California, says his lab began last spring tracking down 760 expectant parents to study their mental health, social relationships and other factors. Respondents to the survey reported that they could not see the large family.
The first epidemic babies this season become small children, which means that the whole childhood is over, while the children and their parents are isolated from their loved ones. Even when families mourn the missed hugs, experts say the gap is unlikely to lead to long-term consequences. Children և their relatives can make up for lost time when they reunite. In the meantime, families can take steps to keep those missing relatives in the child’s mind.
Reaching the gap
“It’s a window of time for a newborn to bond,” said Sarah Choppe-Sullivan, a professor of child psychology at Ohio State University. “Newborns are the period during which children are biologically inclined to establish close ties with potential caregivers,” said Choppe-Sullivan.
This is an element of attachment theory, a field of psychological research that has been around for decades. (Not to be confused with attachment upbringing is the 1980s philosophy of protecting an entire baby from wearing it.) Studies show that children are trained to have close contact with one or more caregivers. When a child has a strong attachment to someone, that person becomes a “safe haven” according to that theory. The child turns to the person in those moments of anxiety to calm him down. In quieter times, safe attachments give children the confidence to explore and learn from their environment.
But relatives who missed this window need not worry, Shoppe-Sullivan said. The theory is that when babies create secure attachments, they also build the capacity for future relationships. This means that parents who cheated on their newborns during coronavirus isolation can help these children connect with distant relatives when they finally visit.
And today’s babies and toddlers will not remember these absences. Older siblings of infected babies may also miss the Nana visit gap. Because of what is known as childhood amnesia, most people remember several events that occur before the age of three. Although grandparents could mourn the events of this year, “the child will not remember who attended their first or second birthday party,” said Lorinda Kiyama, a psychologist and associate professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.
As an American living in Japan, Kiyama often advises couples from different countries or international couples who adopt a Japanese child. He noted that separation from relatives is not always a bad thing. “Distance often eases when relationships are pregnant,” she said. However, “it can be alarming when you want to be close.”
He offered to make an acquaintance, talking about the missing relatives, at the same time pointing to their photos. 9-month-olds can recognize the object seen in the picture. And even if children seem too young to understand what you are saying, Kiyama said, they usually understand more language than they can produce.
With the help of a family nugget, a distant family member can video chat, play peekaboo, sing songs with a child, pretend to play, or show their pets. (And do not worry if you try to limit the screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that video chat does not count).
Mahbuba uses FaceTime to keep in touch with his family in Aaran Bangladesh, although the time difference is challenging. When Ara is awake and cheerful after going to sleep, it is 2 o’clock at night for grandparents.
Mahbuba said the forced separation of the epidemic gave some of his friends and colleagues a window into what his life was like as an immigrant living away from family. “They kind of understand how it feels to be stuck,” he said.
Crossing the gap
When long-term family members finally meet these newborns or toddlers, it may be time to build relationships. The effects of family breakdown on immigrant children. “Help adults slow it down when they first encounter a child.”
First instruct relatives to reject the child to some extent, said Suarez-Orozco. From the child’s point of view. “They meet strangers.” Although younger babies happily move from one baby to another, foreign anxiety develops in about 8 months. This fear of new people usually enters the second year of life.
“If a child does not want to hug an extended family member they have just met, it should be seen as a healthy sign,” Kiyama said.
He suggested preparing small children to greet relatives using toys or stuffed animals to shoot scenes such as picking them up from the airport. You can also keep an empty chair at your kitchen table, or leave a bath towel or other object to tell your child that Grandma will be there when she visits.
Older children or preschoolers who will see relatives after a long absence may like to do what they have to say. “Give the child a script that has to come back with some flexibility,” Kiyama said. Or share the memories of that loved one from your own childhood.
Shoppe-Sullivan said it is a great source of information for adults who are joining or reuniting with children or preschoolers. Helpers can help relatives perceive the good aspects of the child by refreshing them about the child’s temperament, interests և strange obsessions of the moment.
“From an emotional point of view, they are connected with abstraction. “They were not in that relationship from time to time,” Suarez-Orozco said. In his study of immigrant children who were months or years away from their parents, a far more extreme form of separation than what most families encounter during an epidemic, he found that family reunions were usually “messy.”
Even so, wrote Suarez-Orozco, his co-authors, the psychological distress of these children, which they felt after reunification, gradually diminished, showing “extraordinary adaptability and resilience of the youth.”
Now that Mahbuba’s family in Bangladesh is in the process of receiving vaccines, she is looking forward to her own reunion. His mother-in-law intends to come to the United States to help with the baby, and Mahbuba can’t wait. “The day will come. “I hope so,” he said.
Choppe-Sullivan said that the joy that parents finally feel when they see their missing relatives will be one of the most important factors in warming up a child. “Do things that are fun and make them laugh. I think it makes a big impression on the children. “
Kiyama agreed. She says young children are very sensitive to how their caregivers treat other people. The best way to get children into a new family. “Real joy from each other’s presence.”