Thanksgiving Poll: 53% of Parents Say ‘Very Important’ for Children to Visit Family, 35% Say Worth the Risk of Virus Exposure

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C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital conducted a national poll on family gatherings on Thanksgiving that reveals parents believe gathering with extended family is important for children to build relationships and take part in family traditions.

Mott reported on its poll, which surveys parents with children 0 to 12 years old:

Some parents describe competing and overlapping priorities for Thanksgiving 2020, with over half indicating it is very important that their child sees extended family (53 percent) and shares in family holiday traditions (58 percent), and three-quarters say it is very important to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at a family gathering (78 percent). Only one-third of parents (35 percent) feel that overall, the benefits of gathering with family at Thanksgiving are worth the risk of spreading or getting COVID-19.

Extended family – grandparents, cousins, and other relatives – help children connect with their own history and understand their place in the world. In many families, holidays are key occasions where extended family carry on traditions that have been passed down for generations. However, COVID-19 is a major impediment to family connections, with half of parents saying that it has substantially decreased the time children spend with extended family. As Thanksgiving approaches, this Mott Poll demonstrates that many families are struggling with whether and how to continue their holiday traditions.

In thinking about their Thanksgiving plans, parents appear to be balancing risks and benefits of having a traditional celebration. The major concern is the pandemic, as three-quarters of parents felt it is very important to prevent the spread of COVID-19; this is likely a priority because 9 in 10 parents reported that their Thanksgiving gatherings typically include grandparents or other older adults. Yet over half of parents indicated it was very important for their child to be with extended family and share in Thanksgiving traditions.

Some other highlights of the poll include:

  • 61 percent of parents said plan to gather in-person with extended family for Thanksgiving 2020
  • 94 percent of parents report their children get together with extended family members for various occasions.
  • 76 percent say their children usually see their extended family at Thanksgiving.
  • 88 percent of gatherings include grandparents or older adults.
  • 88 percent say they will exclude relatives who have symptoms or have been exposed to the virus.
  • 64 percent ill exclude relatives who have not practicing virus portocols.

“In families that choose to celebrate with extended family or other guests, parents should talk with children in advance about how to celebrate safely, including a reminder about masks and social distancing, along with a request for ‘voice etiquette’ by limiting singing or yelling, as these actions can more easily spread viruses,” the article on the poll concludes. “Parents also should plan for children to engage in outdoor activities for as much of the day as possible.”

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