Brad and Arynn Abercrombie say COVID-19 social isolation has meant more time for faith and family. Photo courtesy of Arynn Abercrombie

Isolation puts family ‘bubble’ in spotlight

By  Andrew Ehrkamp, Canadian Catholic News
  • June 25, 2020

EDMONTON -- Brad and Arynn Abercrombie and their five kids are isolating, but not isolated.

Brad, employed in the oil and gas industry, is working from home. Their four daughters have adjusted to online learning — although they wish they could go to school, or a mall, and see their friends other than through video chats.

However, the social isolation and school closures due to COVID-19 have been helpful for their four-year-old son, Dax. He has kidney disease and is taking immune suppression drugs, so he’s much more susceptible to germs and illness. He’s healthy now even after an unsuccessful transplant in December, with a kidney from his father.

Prior to the pandemic, the Abercrombies had a busy schedule filled with work, school and lots of visits with family and friends. Since then, their lives have slowed down and their time for family and faith connections has ramped up.

“We’re actually finding it kind of just a little reprieve, I guess, from the busy life that we’re used to. We’re living in what I’m calling our happy little bubble here,” said Arynn, a stay-at-home mom.

“We’ve had more time together to pray as a family, at home. I’ve always wanted to start our day with morning prayer, but the kids would get on the bus at 7:20, so it was too early. It never happened. Now we do that every day. We read the Gospel reading every day. We say the Angelus at lunchtime every day. So that part has been really positive. It’s kind of a give-take,” Arynn said.

“We’re taking this time, the sacrifices that we have to make by staying home and staying isolated, as a time to grow together as a family, as a time to grow together in faith with our increased prayer. We’re just trying to see the blessings in this time. To me, that’s the slowed down pace and more family time.”

The Abercrombies consider themselves lucky. Other families are finding life a lot tougher.

Counsellors say that spending more time together at home can be critical, depending on the state of the family. It may draw families closer by finding greater connection to each other, or further apart.

“Parents are maybe feeling a bit stressed or overwhelmed by trying to play both roles of parent and teacher,” said Delicia Adams, a family counsellor with Catholic Social Services in Red Deer, which serves a large part of central Alberta.

“That can be hard for the children. The kids are now being parented 24/7. The kids also don’t get the break of being able to go to school, be around other adults, be around their friends, just be able to be silly, just kind of do their own thing.”

Adams said it’s important to set goals and look forward. Parents should also be mindful of their conversations and worries in front of children, and answer any questions as best they can.

“We try to convey the tenets of our faith, that things happen for a reason,” Brad explained. “We may not understand the reasons and we may think they’re bad, but God’s hand is at work.”

If there’s an “upside” to COVID-19, it’s the chance for families to slow down, take stock and find what Adams calls the “connectiveness” to each other.

The Abercrombies seem to have found that sweet spot.

“We may not be your typical representative family in that we’ve actually quite enjoyed the so-called isolation,” Brad said. “We can do with less of everything both materially and being busy.”

(Grandin Media)

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