Covid-19 Circuit Breaker: Building Bonds, Breaking Ties

Covid-19 and the Circuit Breaker in Singapore have taught youths the importance of family bonds. Abigail Ruth Tan finds out more.

Photo courtesy of Mr Phinehas Er.

BY
ABIGAIL RUTH TAN

Published on
January 25, 2021
family bonding session

Family social worker Phinehas Er encourages his children to bond over reading. Photo courtesy of Mr Phinehas Er

As he strums his guitar, Evane Loh glances up to see his siblings and his parents belting their hearts out to the family’s rendition of Ed Sheeran’s hit single “Thinking Out Loud”.

To him, the implementation of Circuit Breaker measures in Singapore is a blessing in disguise. Being “forced” to stay at home has encouraged the family to think out loud and be open about thoughts and feelings, whether these be negative or positive.

“The Circuit Breaker has actually created more time for my family … [because of] this whole lockdown,  we are able to come together to make time for each other,” says the Business Studies student from Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

This pandemic only opened our eyes to see the importance and value of family. It is important…to treasure these moments and memories dearly.

- Ms Andria Choo

Family Social Worker

Evane is not the only one who sees the benefits of the Circuit Breaker measures implemented from Apr 7 to Jun 1, 2020. In a recent online poll conducted by HYPE with 200 respondents, 62 per cent of the respondents say that the lockdown measures improved their relationships with family members.

However, the other 38 per cent of respondents say that their relationships only went downhill as frictions between family members became more apparent during the Circuit Breaker period.

According to an article in The Straits Times published on May 15, 2020, on family violence during the Circuit Breaker, there was an increase in the number of police reports filed for offences related to family violence. From Apr 7 to May 6, 2020, reports increased from a monthly average of 389 before the Circuit Breaker to 476 on May 6.

Over a Telegram Interview, Jane Tan {who does not wish to reveal her real name} says that the situation has only added tension among family members. She adds: “[Covid-19] has made my parents even more edgy at home and sometimes even flare up for no apparent reason.” 

Even as Singapore plans to ease Circuit Breaker measures, HYPE speaks to family counsellors about how to ease tensions at home, and to students to share their thoughts.

Be Intentional

“Making a difference in your household starts with you. When you are intentional in building relationships with your family members, your family members would also start to see the effort you have put in to create a bond with them,” Mr Andria Choo, a family social worker, comments on creating change within a family.  

“You will truly enjoy the relationship with each other when you take enough time to appreciate the qualities you see in that person, to honour and be grateful for their qualities. This would help the person to feel valued,” says Mr Phinehas Er, 37, a family social worker at Fei Yue Community Services, during a Zoom interview.

Be Kind

Ms Choo says over a Zoom interview that when we put ourselves in the shoes of our family members, we can start to understand their perspectives and their feelings. As we learn to express kindness to our family, they will begin to extend the same kindness to you.

“Be kind with your words. An example would be adding, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, rather than, ‘why can’t you do that’,” Ms Choo adds.

Be Mindful

When tensions rise in the family, Jane has learned to stay calm and walk away from  potential triggers that may heighten tensions. Potential triggers spark when we do not process our emotions before shooting back at family members. Holding back our tongue can help ease tensions.

Jane adds: “What we do is either keep quiet to avoid any arguments. Just listening to them and asking how their day (was) [can] relieve their stress.”

You will truly enjoy the relationship with each other when you take enough time to appreciate the qualities you see in that person, to honour and be grateful for their qualities.

- Mr Phinehas Er, 37

Family Social Worker

Be Together

Evane and his family organise occasional jam sessions during the Circuit Breaker period. Photo courtesy of Evane Loh

Mr Er says: “Learn to do different things together, maybe cook together, play games together. He adds that as each person has unique gifts and skills, we can learn from one another as well.

Evane’s family members have become closer as they spend time together playing board games, watching Korean dramas and even having jam sessions together.

Ms Choo adds: “This pandemic only opened our eyes to see the importance and value of family. It is important … to treasure these moments and memories dearly.” 

This article was written by Year 2 Mass Communication student: Abigail Ruth Tan 

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