Children of the pandemic | Inquirer Opinion
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Children of the pandemic

/ 05:12 AM December 27, 2021

It’s been almost two years of survival mode for everyone in the world. And judging by how extremely fast the newest COVID-19 variant Omicron is spreading in other countries, it looks certain that the world will suffer through a third year of the pandemic. It will only be a matter of time before Omicron spreads in the Philippines. The election season, with the multitude of daily gathering it brings, guarantees the spread of the mutated virus in all corners of our country.

The pandemic will continue to endanger our survival on multiple fronts—economic, physical health, and mental well-being. There has been an array of adjustments and prescriptions to address our economic and physical health issues. But what’s been taken for granted is the impact of the pandemic on our mental well-being. What remains ignored is how the pandemic continues to degrade the quality of our lives. Even if our mental health is not strained to the point of threatening our physical survival, should we allow the pandemic to bequeath to us another year of lifeless existence? Should we just concede to the fate of losing the benedictions of another year in our short stint on this planet?

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The pandemic has exposed the limited capacity of fame and fortune to bring us happiness. It has reduced the ability of money to cheer us up. The pandemic has given us renewed appreciation for family and friends. But when we’re left in introspection—and the pandemic has given us a lot of opportunities for deep thought—there’s a subconscious longing to do things or indulge in passions that infuse us with personal fulfillment.

There are stories of people who have discovered talents they never thought they had, or interest in doing things that have turned out to be fulfilling new encounters for them. Some have experienced previously unfelt happiness by indulging in gardening, taking on pets, cooking, or baking. Others have realized passions for singing, playing instruments, art, photography, yoga, or outdoor cycling.

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For fortunate grown-ups, the pandemic has provided the chance to discover aspects of their personalities that measure happiness outside of the yardstick of a successful career. It has provided others an opportunity to discover things that make them happy that are not quantified by the metrics of earthly possessions. For unfortunate adults, however, the pandemic has misled them to seek fleeting pleasure in vices like gambling, drinking, or drugs in order to alleviate the psychological stress brought by the pandemic.

This brings us to the issue of our children, who are the members of our society most vulnerable to psychological difficulties resulting from the pandemic. Our children have virtually been under house arrest for almost the entire duration of the health crisis. What habits have they developed, and what interests have they cultivated that will define their concept of happiness and influence their measure of self-fulfillment later in their lives?

Even before the pandemic, our present generation of children has already been the most vulnerable to video and online games addiction. The pandemic has surely worsened their vulnerability to such addiction because of perception that the restrictions on their movements have inevitably limited the options to make their days productive and worthwhile.

But if properly guided and solicitously encouraged, the period of the pandemic can be an opportune time to inculcate in our children a love for books, to develop their proficiency in a musical instrument, and/or—with the lifting of lockdowns—a passion for sports and an interest in the great outdoors.

The pandemic should warn us on the dangers of our children acquiring habits that can evolve into addictive vices later in their lives. It should teach us the importance of shepherding our children into developing hobbies that are life-enhancing. It should prompt us to cultivate in them passions that will open their vistas to the many wellsprings of happiness in this world.

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TAGS: child development, children, COVID-19, pandemic
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