Parents suffer separation anxiety, too

Wednesday, January 20th, 2021 00:00 |
Caroline Wambui Otieno has a fun moment with her daughters Ariella and Mikaylah Otieno. Photo/PD/Jasmine Atieno

From mothers and fathers who call teachers every moment to check on how their children are failing at school, to others who have to deal quiet homes, it has not been easy coping with empty spaces left by these little ones.

Jasmine Atieno @sparkleMine

While both parents and children got excited about the long-awaited school reopening after staying at home for nine months, the sudden separation was unprecedented.

This is because the long holiday provided time for parents and children to make and have strong bonds. They did activities together at home and even helped with chores.

Cynthia Wambui Otieno, pastor, relationship coach and a mother of two shares that the sudden resumption of school has in some way interfered with the routine that, as a family, they had gotten used to. 

“My husband and I always keep in touch with our children. Since Covid-19 hit the country, we have been working from home, so we have had our children around all this through.

Things have not been like this in a long time, so in order for things to work, created  a week schedule on how we would run things at home.

So, as much as we are relieved that they are going back to school, it feels out of schedule because things have to change.

A lot of us parents had to create new spaces and now the spaces have become echoes,” shares Cynthia.

While she had been worried about their safety in the first days, she learnt that they might have learnt more at home and even understood the lengths of the dreaded infection.

“The first day, I hovered around the gate  awaiting their return. I was worried that they would not keep up with the regulations since sometimes they would forget Covid-19 guidelines at home.

But they were actually doing okay. I also learnt that we underestimated the power of friendship.

The children had missed their friends, so they were so happy to reconnect, and they are coping with the transitions that coronavirus has brought along,” she says. 

For Caren Kemunto, she is happy she had time to bond with her children.

“My daughter, now aged 10, learnt how to perform a lot o chores; how to cook, clean and help out with errands.

We had some girl time glamming and dressing up. Same case with her younger brother. 

Parents who became clingy

They both helped out so much that we did not need a house help during the pandemic.

It was a precious moment being at home — playing, learning and it was therapeutic too,” she says. 

“Now it feels a bit vacant and we both have to adjust. I think I got a little too clingy.

I keep calling their teachers to check if everything is okay. I am almost considering homeschooling because, the pandemic has not ended and our children are not completely safe being out there.

Well, considering the fact that I am still working from home, it feels too silent around the house and I don’t know what to do with it.

I already miss my babies,” adds the mother of two. 

Many families made changes and adapted to the fact that their children were at home.

Therefore, it is expected that it will be difficult for both parents and children to break their routine and this may lead to high stress levels.

Many homes, which were usually filled with noise might turn quiet; parents may have moments of missing their children, shares psychologist Tracy Nyaguthii.

Fears and worries

“It is particularly going to be lonely for parents who have teen children in boarding school.

This may alter their mood, causing them to feel low; it might cause anxieties when they think about their children and their safety.

Some teens will be homesick, being away from the comfort of their homes and family.

This can lead to low mood, low energy and motivation in school. Some children who were used to the comfort of online classes will be struggling to get back to their routine of waking up early and physically going to school or waking up in a dormitory.

It is also likely there will be a lot of anxiety and fear around school, due to Covid-19,” she says. 

People may categorise an adult with separation anxiety disorder as being controlling or overprotective.

However, their actions are often an adult’s way of expressing their fears in regard to separation. 

While adult separation anxiety is not as common as when a child experiences this condition, it is still possible.

The anxiety can be so intense that it is hard for someone to function in daily life due to fears and worries about separating from another person.

Those with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are more likely to experience separation anxiety as an adult, according to an article in the journal Personality and Mental Health.

Additionally, those with separation anxiety often have other co-existing conditions, such as social phobias, panic disorders, or agoraphobia (fear of going outdoors).

“Through therapy and, in some instances, medications, people can reduce separation anxiety symptoms,” she adds

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