Wed. Aug 10th, 2022

As Thanksgiving approaches, some families will share their love for each other by sitting down to dinner – or perhaps a physically distant gathering, a FaceTime call, perhaps handing out food.

But the same cannot be said for everyone – some family members may not be talking to each other this holiday season.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started a year and a half ago, it has had lasting consequences for businesses, the healthcare system and relationships.

The question of whether some industries will survive or be the same post-pandemic is also true for some families.

CBC News contacted some Calgarians about whether differing opinions about COVID-19 and vaccines have weighed heavily on their relationship.

After talking to a variety of sources, one thing is for sure: Many of these relationships may not be a good place once the pandemic is over.

Jasmine Lee Boutin, a 46-year-old living in Westlock, Alta., Says both she and her mother have been vaccinated against COVID-19, while two of her adult daughters are not.

But her biggest concern is for her grandchildren, who are all under 10 years old.

“There have been many arguments and struggles to try to make them realize the importance of being vaccinated, not only for themselves but for their children. Trying to make them understand the possibility that they can go away and leave their children without parents, “she said.

SE | To navigate Thanksgiving with unvaccinated relatives:

Navigate Thanksgiving with unvaccinated relatives

Ian Hanomansing talks to two Canadians about how they navigate Thanksgiving with their unvaccinated relatives and the difficult conversation they are forced to have. 6:54

Nothing has come to them, and Boutin says it has now affected her relationship with her daughters, and they rarely get along.

“We do not have the grill. We do not have Christmas. We do not celebrate birthdays. We do nothing but for myself and my mother.”

And while she is frustrated with their decisions, it is rooted in concern for their well-being.

“For the past 18 months, I’ve been worrying, I’m thinking more than I ever have, because I do not know if I’m getting the call that they’re in the hospital with COVID,” Boutin said. “And that might be the last time I see them.”

Conspiracy theories and misinformation

Danielle Barnsley, a mother of two from Leduc, Alta., Says she no longer speaks to her parents because of their beliefs about COVID-19 and refusal to be vaccinated.

She says her parents, who are in their 60s, fell victim to conspiracy theories and misinformation about the disease.

“My mom very specifically got into more racist beliefs about where COVID-19 came from and why it was spread, and that it was actually just a bluff,” Barnsley said.

“Our conversations became really, really strained because there was like an overall anger when I wanted to challenge some of their beliefs with actual fact.”

The arguments became too much for Barnsley, prompting her to cut off contact a few months ago for her mental health.

“There is relief in some ways because it is exhausting to fight conspiracy …. I do not know that everyone has the strength to keep talking when it’s just blatant misinformation that they are only willing to accept. “

Looking to the future, Barnsley says she’s unsure if she’s ever going to have a relationship with her parents.

“One of the things I learn with this pandemic is that we are not going back to the way it was before, and I think it’s going to affect family relationships,” she said.

“When you see the worst that anyone has to offer, and how far have they gone, how do you get back from it?”

‘I’m determined I do not want the vaccine’

Chance Mackinnon, a 25-year-old from Calgary, says he has no plans to be vaccinated.

“I’m determined I do not want the vaccine. I feel that science is there to some extent to prove your natural immunity,” he said, adding that he had COVID-19 last December.

Health experts and officials, such as Alberta’s health minister Jason Copping, have denied similar allegations. Copping told a news conference last week that while being infected with COVID-19 provides some “natural immunity,” there is uncertainty about how long it will last and that immunization provides greater protection.

SE | Discuss vaccines with family on Thanksgiving, says expert:

Discuss COVID-19 vaccines with family this Thanksgiving, says expert

Dr. Scott Halperin, director of the Canadian Center for Vaccinology, says Thanksgiving is an opportunity to talk to family members about getting COVID-19 shot. 7:33

Mackinnon says his choice to be unvaccinated has led to some heated quarrels with his sister, who has been vaccinated and has three children at home under the age of 13.

“She was still reluctant to talk to me and get me over it. And it was pretty frustrating having to deal with the fact that your own family would not even see you.”

While the two siblings are still talking on the phone, their relationship has changed.

“It puts a wedge in the sense that I feel we are not talking the same as we used to …. Before all this I felt completely safe as I could talk to her and say everything I wanted, Said Mackinnon.

“Now that I’m around … I feel like I really need to see what I’m saying.”

He says he is hopeful that when all this blows over, COVID-19 and vaccines will no longer be such a hot topic, but sometimes he doubts he will see his sister’s family again.

“I got three nieces and nephews who are all adults and I was very involved in their lives before and I feel like it has now fallen off a bit,” he said.

Mackinnon says it’s a situation he never thought would happen within his family.

“We’ve always had our little differences in terms of politics and maybe a little bit of religious views,” he said.

“But whether you’ve grown up or not, I do not think it should be families who tickle themselves like it does.”

Psychologist weighs in

Joshua Madsen, a senior psychology instructor at the University of Calgary, says that while the pandemic has been a silver lining and led to more time together for some households, it has led to isolation for others.

“The pandemic has likely affected vulnerable unions more. It has just created additional stressors or brought about full-release difficulties that were already there in that relationship.”

Madsen compares it to the election of Donald Trump in the United States in 2016 and the threat it posed to family unity.

Joshua Madsen, a senior psychology instructor at the University of Calgary, says setting boundaries with family members can help relationships last the entire pandemic. (Submitted by Joshua Madsen)

“It’s no longer about you being a Republican and I’m a Democrat,” he said of the former US president’s progress.

“It almost revises my view of you that you could be behind this person who has said these things about immigrants, women.”

Madsen says it is a similar case with polarizing views on vaccines and COVID-19.

“I’m not just fond of vaccination, you know. I get it because I believe in science and I think it’s the best thing to keep me safe. And I think that’s the best thing to do. to keep my community safe, “he said.

Having someone you love oppose these views can create “emergency tolerance,” which the psychologist describes as a situation where you cannot change the way you or the other person thinks about a situation.

“Part of this emergency tolerance is: Can I give up that fight, and can I cultivate goodwill in this relationship? Can I extract from it? Do you know what I can benefit from it, then can I stay close to this person? “

Five years from now, when COVID-19 may be in the rearview mirror, Madsen says that it is difficult to say whether these conditions will be rectified.

“Every family situation is different. But I think we’re all under similar pressure around the world – including family tensions – for a number of reasons during the pandemic. And you know, with the advent of the vaccine, here’s a new opportunity for attention or risks in families, which is really sad. “

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