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新冠疫情的另一面:让亲人不再疏远

新冠疫情的另一面:让亲人不再疏远

Tanzina Vega 2021年10月17日
疫情让不少美国人重新接触已经疏远的家人。

这是一则疫情改变生活的故事。

尝试数年生育未果后,1998年,道格·哈迪和妻子罗瑟琳·罗姆伯格从一家俄罗斯孤儿院领养了三个孩子。采取类似做法的不只这一对夫妇。在那之前十年,苏联解体,随之而来的经济危机迫使很多俄罗斯人将子女送进养育院。这些孩子的苦难遭遇打动了众多美国家庭,其中不少人选择领养婴幼儿。不过,对于已经四十出头的道格和罗瑟琳来说,收养年龄稍大的孩子(当时三个孩子分别为8岁、6岁和3岁)则是日后实现天伦之乐的机会。然而,现实远不如想象中美好。“接下来的20年,简直一团糟,”道格告诉《财富》的记者。

“我们觉得自己被遗弃了,就这么任由陌生人处置。我当时又沮丧又愤怒。对于父母为我们做出的选择,我非常不满,”现年31岁的长女艾米莉·哈迪说。

多年来,哈迪一家人的关系总是多少有些疏离。康奈尔大学的研究人员发现,18岁以上的美国人中,约有27%与其某个家庭成员断绝了联系。专家们指出,亲属关系疏离的现象往往与家庭伤害、虐待、不和睦等经历直接相关。

“痛苦的是,我其实希望与家人在一起。我们这些年来一直在服药、接受治疗,”艾米莉说。据道格说,两个儿子也有同样的问题,他们常常和朋友住在一起,靠打零工生活,只偶尔与养父母联系。

于是,新冠疫情爆发后,道格决定尝试用一种新方法维系这个几乎支离破碎的家庭:Zoom视频电话。“我们突然有了一种安全的借口,找到了一种安全的沟通方式。”使用Zoom视频电话的缘由,部分是因为2020年夏天道格的一个儿子从新罕布什尔监狱获释。不过,开头的几通电话一如既往地紧张压抑。“把陈年旧事重新拿出来讨论,真的不容易。我们试过,太难了,”艾米莉回忆起最初的通话情景。

在2020年12月一次关于家庭关系疏离的访谈中,康奈尔大学人类发展学教授、《断层线:破碎家庭及修复》一书的作者卡尔·皮莱默表示,用疏远关系的方式来消除家庭冲突,一开始固然让人觉得如释重负,但之后有不少人会为了自己的缘故去尝试和解。

“他们感到那是压在自己肩头的一副重担,他们想避免可预见的遗憾。”皮莱默的研究着重于家庭关系和解,他认为,即便是那些自称对疏离状态满意的人,也有可能“渴望修复关系”。

皮莱默的研究最终影响了哈迪一家。读了那本书后,罗瑟琳建议家人试着接受分歧。那段时间,新冠疫苗尚未问世,哈迪夫妇的几个朋友相继染病离世。死亡促使道格重新思考与孩子的相处之道。“我们对过去发生的事有分歧,但如果你们还希望维系这个家,我们可以谈谈未来,”他对家人说。

对姐弟三人而言,未来变得越来越光明。每个人都有好消息,这为建立融洽的家庭关系提供了必要的润滑剂。一个儿子结婚了,有个孩子,这个家庭头一次有了孙辈!另一个儿子当上了重型设备机械师。已经成为注册护士的艾米莉分享了自己工作和学业上的成功。

如今,一家人的接触已经渐渐从Zoom视频转为了线下的真正团聚,这是他们过去无法想象的。“也许是因为我已经65了,也许是因为看见了这么多人死去,也许是因为对这个国家过去四年发生的事情感同身受。不管怎么说,我们现在开始很认真地思考该如何生活,试着把更多的时间花在对世界、对自己有益的事情上,”道格说。

在艾米莉看来,家人重聚的欢乐体现在生活的点点滴滴里,比如“一起开怀大笑,饭后一起收拾餐具,一起庆祝生日。不再是冷冰冰的一个电话,而是一起散步、拆礼物。3月份,家里添了小侄子,每个人都争着抱。家庭环境变了,这是最重要的。”

促使一家人重聚的另一个原因或许是家里第二个孙辈的到来。艾米莉12月就要生宝宝了,这让她看待世界的态度更宽容了些:“我开始意识到,世界很大,或许不只是我们有难题,或许,我们该试着朝前看。”(财富中文网)

译者:胡萌琦

这是一则疫情改变生活的故事。

尝试数年生育未果后,1998年,道格·哈迪和妻子罗瑟琳·罗姆伯格从一家俄罗斯孤儿院领养了三个孩子。采取类似做法的不只这一对夫妇。在那之前十年,苏联解体,随之而来的经济危机迫使很多俄罗斯人将子女送进养育院。这些孩子的苦难遭遇打动了众多美国家庭,其中不少人选择领养婴幼儿。不过,对于已经四十出头的道格和罗瑟琳来说,收养年龄稍大的孩子(当时三个孩子分别为8岁、6岁和3岁)则是日后实现天伦之乐的机会。然而,现实远不如想象中美好。“接下来的20年,简直一团糟,”道格告诉《财富》的记者。

“我们觉得自己被遗弃了,就这么任由陌生人处置。我当时又沮丧又愤怒。对于父母为我们做出的选择,我非常不满,”现年31岁的长女艾米莉·哈迪说。

多年来,哈迪一家人的关系总是多少有些疏离。康奈尔大学的研究人员发现,18岁以上的美国人中,约有27%与其某个家庭成员断绝了联系。专家们指出,亲属关系疏离的现象往往与家庭伤害、虐待、不和睦等经历直接相关。

“痛苦的是,我其实希望与家人在一起。我们这些年来一直在服药、接受治疗,”艾米莉说。据道格说,两个儿子也有同样的问题,他们常常和朋友住在一起,靠打零工生活,只偶尔与养父母联系。

于是,新冠疫情爆发后,道格决定尝试用一种新方法维系这个几乎支离破碎的家庭:Zoom视频电话。“我们突然有了一种安全的借口,找到了一种安全的沟通方式。”使用Zoom视频电话的缘由,部分是因为2020年夏天道格的一个儿子从新罕布什尔监狱获释。不过,开头的几通电话一如既往地紧张压抑。“把陈年旧事重新拿出来讨论,真的不容易。我们试过,太难了,”艾米莉回忆起最初的通话情景。

在2020年12月一次关于家庭关系疏离的访谈中,康奈尔大学人类发展学教授、《断层线:破碎家庭及修复》一书的作者卡尔·皮莱默表示,用疏远关系的方式来消除家庭冲突,一开始固然让人觉得如释重负,但之后有不少人会为了自己的缘故去尝试和解。

“他们感到那是压在自己肩头的一副重担,他们想避免可预见的遗憾。”皮莱默的研究着重于家庭关系和解,他认为,即便是那些自称对疏离状态满意的人,也有可能“渴望修复关系”。

皮莱默的研究最终影响了哈迪一家。读了那本书后,罗瑟琳建议家人试着接受分歧。那段时间,新冠疫苗尚未问世,哈迪夫妇的几个朋友相继染病离世。死亡促使道格重新思考与孩子的相处之道。“我们对过去发生的事有分歧,但如果你们还希望维系这个家,我们可以谈谈未来,”他对家人说。

对姐弟三人而言,未来变得越来越光明。每个人都有好消息,这为建立融洽的家庭关系提供了必要的润滑剂。一个儿子结婚了,有个孩子,这个家庭头一次有了孙辈!另一个儿子当上了重型设备机械师。已经成为注册护士的艾米莉分享了自己工作和学业上的成功。

如今,一家人的接触已经渐渐从Zoom视频转为了线下的真正团聚,这是他们过去无法想象的。“也许是因为我已经65了,也许是因为看见了这么多人死去,也许是因为对这个国家过去四年发生的事情感同身受。不管怎么说,我们现在开始很认真地思考该如何生活,试着把更多的时间花在对世界、对自己有益的事情上,”道格说。

在艾米莉看来,家人重聚的欢乐体现在生活的点点滴滴里,比如“一起开怀大笑,饭后一起收拾餐具,一起庆祝生日。不再是冷冰冰的一个电话,而是一起散步、拆礼物。3月份,家里添了小侄子,每个人都争着抱。家庭环境变了,这是最重要的。”

促使一家人重聚的另一个原因或许是家里第二个孙辈的到来。艾米莉12月就要生宝宝了,这让她看待世界的态度更宽容了些:“我开始意识到,世界很大,或许不只是我们有难题,或许,我们该试着朝前看。”(财富中文网)

译者:胡萌琦

This story is part of a series on pandemic-driven shifts.

In 1998, after years of struggling to have a child on their own, Doug Hardy and his wife, Roselyn Romberg, adopted three siblings from a Russian orphanage. The couple were not alone in their quest. The collapse of the Soviet Union earlier in the decade and the subsequent economic crisis in the region had forced many Russians to put their children up for adoption. Reports of children suffering in Russian orphanages struck a chord in the heart of many American families, some who preferred to adopt infants. But for Doug and Roselyn, then in their early forties, adopting older children (ages 8, 6, and 3) was an opportunity to finally expand their family later in life. The reality, however, ended up being much less idyllic. “Twenty years of chaos followed,” Doug told Fortune.

“We all felt like we got sent away to be dealt with by somebody else,” said Emilie Hardy, 31, the eldest child. “I was frustrated. I was angry. I had a lot of resentment and a lot of anger toward the choices they had made for us as parents.”

The Hardy family spent many years in varying degrees of estrangement. Researchers at Cornell University have found that 27% of Americans 18 and older have cut off contact with a family member. Experts say estrangement is a phenomenon that often goes hand in hand with accusations and experiences of abuse, mistreatment, or incompatibility.

“Part of the bitterness was that I wanted to be with my family,” said Emilie. “We had always been in therapy and for years took medications.” According to Doug, his two sons had equally difficult experiences, often living with friends, holding odd jobs, and keeping in touch with their adoptive parents only sporadically.

So when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Doug decided to try a new approach to connecting with his fractured family: Zoom meetings. “We suddenly had a safe way to communicate and a safe excuse to do it,” he said. Part of what prompted the initial round of Zoom video calls was the release of one of Doug’s sons from a New Hampshire jail in the summer of 2020. The initial sessions, however, were fraught with tensions from the past. “It's really hard to rehash the past and talk about it,” Emilie said of the early Zoom calls. “We’ve tried, and it's been difficult.”

In a December 2020 interview about family estrangement, Karl Pillemer, a professor of human development at Cornell University and author of Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them, said that while there is an initial relief that comes with eliminating family conflict through estrangement, many people who attempt reconciliation do it for themselves, not for the other family member.

“They felt like it was a weight off their shoulders; they were avoiding anticipated regret,” he said. Pillemer, whose research has focused on family reconciliation, said that even those who say they are satisfied with the estrangement may still feel a “longing for a restoration of the relationship.”

Pillemer’s work eventually made its way to the Hardy family. After reading his book, Roselyn suggested the family try agreeing to disagree. The Zoom calls had taken place in the pre-vaccine days of the pandemic, after a few of the couple’s friends had succumbed to the virus. Those deaths influenced Doug’s thinking about how to engage with his children. “We can't agree about the past, but we can focus on the future if you want to be a family,” he told them.

That future was starting to look increasingly bright for the siblings. Each of them had their own good news to share, creating the necessary balm for establishing rapport. One son got married and had a baby—the family’s first grandchild. The other son works as a heavy equipment mechanic. And Emilie, now a registered nurse, shared her own success stories about work and school.

The Zoom meetings have now migrated offline to in-person gatherings, something the Hardy family could barely imagine happening in the past. “Maybe it's being 65, maybe it's seeing so many people die, maybe it's seeing our own distress at what's happened in this country in the past four years,” said Doug, “but we are taking a very serious look at how we are spending our lives. We’re trying to spend more time on things that are good for the world and good for us.”

For Emilie, the joy of reconnection has been found in simple things like “laughing, cleaning up dishes after dinner, celebrating birthdays together,” she said. “It's no longer just a phone call—it's going for a walk, opening gifts. We just had a baby nephew in March, and everyone was holding the baby. The physical space was different, and that's what's important.”

And perhaps another reason for the family to come together again is the arrival of the family’s second grandchild. Emilie’s baby is due in December, and that has made her regard the world in more forgiving terms: “It makes you think about how the world is a big place and maybe our problems are not the only problems, that maybe it's time to move on.”

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