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Survey: Pandemic strengthened sibling bonds in Israel, hurt parents’ sex life

Poll also finds that many grandparents feel neglected by family during crisis, while most parents struggle to help their children cope

Parents accompany their children to kindergarten in Tel Aviv, on October 18, 2020. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Parents accompany their children to kindergarten in Tel Aviv, on October 18, 2020. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The coronavirus pandemic has tended to damage spousal relationships in Israel, while strengthening the bonds between siblings, according to a survey released on Friday.

Relationships between children and their grandparents also suffered a blow, while parents grew closer to their children, said the Adler Institute, an Israeli nonprofit focused on family relations.

The pandemic has left many families cooped up at home for long periods, with children studying from home and many parents working from home or taking time off to care for the kids. Others have been left at home not by choice but as a result of unemployment, which has skyrocketed in the past year. Meanwhile, meetings between elderly grandparents and younger family members have been extremely limited due to the need to protect the older population from infection.

The survey was carried out by the Israeli iPanel data collection firm and was based on interviews with 500 parents and grandparents from Israel’s Hebrew-speaking population.

Close to half of all couples who responded — 48 percent — said the pandemic cost them quality time with their partners, and one-third said it hurt their sex life.

Thirty percent said their financial situation during the pandemic had strained their relationships and 14% leaned more toward getting a divorce, while 10% said they were less likely to divorce.

Sixty-five percent of parents said they were, at most, only moderately able to help their children cope with the crisis, and 49% said their children’s’ emotional state was worse because of the pandemic.

Out of parents who were fired or put on unpaid leave, 78% said they were just as able to care for their children, or better off.

In 41% of families, siblings had grown closer during the pandemic, the survey said.

For grandparents, 92% said they were saddened about the loss of time with their grandchildren, and around one-quarter felt they were neglected by other family members.

The pandemic in Israel has kept schools closed on-and-off for much of the past year, including the current lockdown, Israel’s third, although some schools reopened earlier this week.

The repeated lockdowns have forced thousands of businesses to close, and pummeled some industries, including tourism, culture, and events.

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