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Amid Isolation, Steven Odzer Reflects on the Lessons Learned From Raising a Large Family

Countless countries and cities have gone through shutdowns in recent months amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In April, billions of people were in lockdown, including most of the citizens of India, China, and the European Union. While restrictions have eased in some places, social distancing remains the norm for many. The long months inside have frayed the nerves of many. For philanthropist Steven Odzer, this has meant weeks inside. Now, Steven Odzer is offering some sage insights he picked up while raising a large family, including 8 kids, and now, 9 grandchildren.

“It’s been a challenge, there’s no way around it. I love my family, of course. But we all need our space and alone time,” Steven Odzer says. “It can be hard to find that quiet time when you’re stuck in the house amid a pandemic. And no matter how big your home, it’s hard to find space with a large family. I’ve found many of the lessons I learned while raising a large family apply now.”

Steven Odzer Says Managing Stress is Important for Families

The impacts of COVID-19 on families will probably be felt for years to come. Divorce rates have spiked in recent months, and many blame the pandemic. From March to June 2020 divorce rates were up 34% in the United States compared with the same period in 2019.

“Everyone is stressed, people are losing their income, and confined spaces likely make arguments more common,” Steven Odzer notes. “One thing I found while balancing a busy entrepreneurial career and a large family is that communication is vital. Communicate early on before a small problem becomes a major one, stay calm, approach things rationally, and make sure you offer empathy.”

Mental health issues have come to the forefront amid the pandemic and it’s not hard to see why. Isolation, long periods cooped up inside, worries about falling sick, there are plenty of stress factors. A report by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) found that over 40% of adults reported mental health or substance abuse issues during the pandemic. Steven Odzer knows just how vital managing stress is.

“Managing stress is hard. With my family, we sometimes had quiet hours during the day, and of course, at night. Let everyone know that from 1PM to 4PM that it’s siesta time. Retire to your rooms, curl up in the den and read a book, and respect everyone’s quiet time. That can really help in a cramped house,” Steven Odzer says.

Many young people have had to move back home with their parents amid the pandemic as well. That’s true for Steven Odzer and others. In the United States, the unemployment rate weighed in at 7.9% in September. While an improvement from 14.7% in April, the unemployment rate is still more than double what it was a year ago. With so many people facing economic uncertainty, more are now living under one roof.

“I know a lot of empty nesters are welcoming their kids back home. It’s tough for everyone. It’s important to remember that we are all victims of circumstance right now,” Steven Odzer relates. “Families need to stick together. Divided we fall, united we triumph.”

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