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How to navigate post-pandemic family obligations

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Posted at 7:02 AM, Jul 08, 2021

CINCINNATI — Restrictions are lifting and life is returning to a new sense of normal, from work to our personal lives. But a study from the American Psychiatric Association shows navigating the waters with family is tough for many.

About 64% of poll respondents said they were concerned about COVID-19 and how it could impact relatives.

Richard Larsen lives in Cincinnati but has family in Utah.

“It’s been kind of a whirlwind," Larsen said. "It’s shocking how rapidly it’s reopened."

Despite the rapid return, he said he’s at ease with the idea of post-pandemic life. His wife and kids are also eager to travel to family and meet the social demands of pre-pandemic society.

Psychologist Michelle Maegly said not everyone is having an easy time adjusting, though. She’s spoken to clients who find the family obligations they’re expected to resume draining.

“Though we may have the time available, it doesn’t mean we have the emotional energy available,” Maegly said.

She said this is further complicated by family members who may take the desire to remain distanced as a personal affront.

“I think patience with ourselves, patience with each other, knowing that we’re all navigating this awkward world right now, the patience will pay off in spades,” Maegly said.

She recommends easing back into social obligations and taking a quality-over-quantity approach to family gatherings.

“It’s not just about the amount of time we spend with people, but are we really present?”