Familial Relationship Changes Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic

Clara Barned is a second-year student at Bowling Green State University. She is from Perrysburg, Ohio and is currently double majoring in Chemistry and Spanish with a minor in Public Health. She is an active member of a chapter of MEDLIFE on campus, which is an international group devoted to providing free public health clinics and other services domestically and abroad. She also serves as a study abroad ambassador for BGSU and hopes to one day attend medical school. For the 2021 CURS Symposium, Clara completed a research project entitled “Familial Relationship Changes Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

9 Questions with Clara

My goal was to investigate changes in familial relationships due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated social distancing and quarantining guidelines. This included examining relationship changes between parents and their children, adult children with their parents, significant others, and adult siblings or extended family. 

For my project I used previously complied data from TARS or the Toledo Adolescent Relationship Study, which is a longitudinal research project run by BGSU that has followed the lives of a diverse group of individuals from 7th or 8th grade to today when they are now in their mid to late thirties. For this project, I used their most recent interviews from May 2020 on the topic of the pandemic and which touched on most of the topics I had hoped to explore. Based on these interviews, I gathered data on how many respondents reported positive, negative, or no changes in their relationships with their families.

I worked as a research assistant for TARS over the summer and I mostly worked transcribing and writing abstracts for these qualitative interviews. I was so fascinated hearing every respondent’s unique story and response to the pandemic that I was inspired to pursue a research project with CURS. One recurring theme I kept seeing was this duality of either increased quality time or total isolation within families. This really got me interested in exploring more quantitatively how these familial relationships might be changing.  

Yes, actually my favorite thing that I learned from this project is that 78% of parents reported improved relationships with their children. It will be interesting to see if these stronger relationships might affect children as they grow. It really gives me quite a bit of hope for the future and the next generation! 

To be honest, for me it was time management due to the fact that I completed this project during the school semester (and I was taking my first semester of organic chemistry at the time). I thought that I had good time management before, but this project really opened my eyes to how helpful a daily, weekly, and even monthly schedule can be. I still have my 4.0, so something must have worked!

 Yes, definitely! I think that beyond some more general skills such as time management or the finer points of performing research, this project also allowed me to see how differently every single person responds to the same event. As a future doctor, this is extremely important to realize. Every patient is a unique person, and they deserve an individualized approach that works best for them and their families. 

The Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship gave me an opportunity to explore a topic that interested me that I never would have been able to otherwise. Also, they allowed me to get experience giving a formal presentation to a large group of people and work on something that directly applies to my future career.

Firstly, use your mentor! They are a fantastic source of advice not only for your project, but also for life as a student and scholar. Additionally, take advantage of the resources BGSU provides for us. There are not many universities that so willingly support students of all majors and interests to pursue their own research. It is important to use what they have provided for us!

I am an avid equestrian and I have been riding for 12 years now. Before the pandemic, I probably competed once or twice a month at venues all across the Midwest. Be careful asking me about this, as you may get your ear talked off!


"There are not many universities that so willingly support students of all majors and interests to pursue their own research."

Updated: 03/07/2021 05:07PM