How Can We Help?

Human Development and Family Sciences develops a quick guide to coping

How Can We Help?

The stress from COVID-19’s impact on our health, finances, and way of life is affecting many Hawaiʻi individuals and families. So the question for Human Development and Family Sciences is, “How can we help?”

I asked the faculty to provide insights, based on their areas of specialty, as bullet points and in easily digestible lay terms. The one-pager we developed, “Family Coping in Challenging Times,” will be posted in Miller Hall and is available online. Hopefully, we can provide some strength or comfort or guidance to the many people who need it.

A Resource for Hawai‘i Families

Families operate like societies, just a smaller unit. There are no universal laws or regulations; everything is structured on the family’s expectations, rules, and responsibilities. When something happens that impacts one family member, everyone is impacted, and the whole system is shaken. As a consequence, the family will either adapt to the change and carry on with their rules and responsibilities, or fall into crisis.

Just like every society that’s ever existed, families need resources to help them get through problems. These include financial resources, but also social and emotional supports. The faculty in HDFS have this expertise. We specialize in financial management and family economics, as well as mindfulness, parenting, intergenerational caregiving, and social support. We know how—and we want—to help people learn and benefit from these coping strategies. 

In a society where self-sufficiency and independence are valued, seeking help from others can be looked upon as failure. Research shows that individualistic pride and the pressure of reciprocity can restrict people—especially low-income new parents—from asking for help, even from their kin, even though they think favorably of kin support.

However, the current pandemic reminds us that social support is a sorely needed aspect of living a healthy, productive life. No one can make it alone. I hope you take the time to read this coping sheet and that it helps you activate reciprocity and create and perpetuate more social support. Because that’s something we’ll all benefit from.

by Sothy Eng, PhD, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources


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