A prolonged period of social isolation thrust upon children and youth by the Covid-19 global pandemic has resulted in two-thirds of Canadian parents of children, teens and young adults expressing a loss of key opportunities for their child to build and grow ‘soft’ life skills, according to the findings of a national survey. The poll results also indicate that girls and their parents have been more acutely affected.
“First and foremost is that we know just how serious the situation has been for parents and caregivers these last 18 months,” says Anuradha Dugal, mother of three and Vice President of Community Initiatives and Policy at the Canadian Women’s Foundation, which conducted the poll.
“We know that the impact has been largely falling on women for what’s often called mothering, nurturing — the kinds of skills and habits, behaviours that women are expected to carry out in the home and that we are call more rightly, maybe unpaid work, unremunerated work that keeps our whole communities going.”
Those life skills include building self-confidence, conflict resolution, self-advocacy, among others.
Through research conducted by Maru/Matchbox, the national poll carried out for the Canadian Women’s Foundation found:
- 67% of girls’ parents concerned that their child missed out on building healthy conflict resolution skills during the pandemic
- 66% of girls’ parents concerned that they have missed out on important opportunities to build confidence during the pandemic
- 65% of girls’ parents concerned that girls have missed out on developing a sense of belonging with peers
- 61% of boys’ parents concerned that their child missed out on building healthy conflict resolution skills during the pandemic
- 45% boys’ parents are confident their child will have opportunities to catch up on building healthy conflict resolution skills post-pandemic
- 38% of girls’ parents are confident their child will have opportunities to catch up on building healthy conflict resolution skills post-pandemic
“There’s all sorts of reasons why we concerned about girls in schools and in their social lives,” Dugal told Lianne Castelino during an interview for Where Parents Talk. “What this survey showed us is that the parents of boys are just as concerned, They’re just as concerned about missing out on the healthy relationship skills on not building self-confidence in not having a sense of belonging with peers.”
In keeping with its mandate to, “support women, girls, and gender-diverse people to move out of violence, and poverty, and into confidence and leadership,” the Canadian Women’s Foundation also supports community-based resources and programs across the country, including, Girls’ Empowerment and Teen Healthy Relationship programs — both of which will run alongside the current school year.
“All of us in different ways, whether we were survivors or not, can think about how we talk about gender-based violence, how we talk about those who’ve experienced trauma and we can be role models for our kids and the young people around us, in how you meet that with compassion and empathy as you meet your own kids with compassion and empathy,” says Dugal, who is a mother of three boys.
“I think that’s the change I want to see in society, that there’s less blame and less assumptions being made and more about meeting people where they’re at.”