13 thoughts on “Pandemic Talk: Everyone Is Worried about Couples and Families

  • April 9, 2020 at 8:14 am

    Thanks for writing this, Bella! Our public rhetoric automatically replaces the word “people” with “families,” because it appears to have more of an emotional appeal. I don’t see why we can’t start using words like “people” or “individuals” in our discourse. I like to think that’s what these organizations really mean.

  • April 9, 2020 at 10:02 am

    This article made me think and I thank you for calling out the issues with all the language focusing on Families to the exclusion of individuals-

    But I feel like it is SO wrong to bring this up without focusing on the homophobia, ageism, racism, classism, and ableism lurking in prioritizing “families” and “real couples”

    – no mention in this article of how disabled people can literally lose disability benefits if they are coupled or married?

    No talk of runaway/kicked out homeless youth living with chosen family or on their own? (Disproportionately LGBTQ) Elderly people?

    People on welfare who cannot have two adults in the home for fear of losing benefits? (Disproportionately Black and Latinx)

    With respect, using a term like “singleism” to describe the problem with “Families First” is just… INCREDIBLY suspect and out of touch to me.

    • April 9, 2020 at 3:43 pm

      Yes, those are very important points. I don’t agree that they need to be made in every article I write (I write about 3 a week, for various publications), I don’t think that discrimination is a competition, and I don’t think that writing about one kind of ism without also mentioning every other relevant ism makes a person “just… INCREDIBLY suspect and out of touch.” But your points should be made, and if you are interested, I would like you to make them. If you want to write a guest post, email me at belladepaulo [at] gmail [dot] com and I will explain how it works.

  • April 9, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    I am a family. I am a household. If I had a roommate there would be two families as we both would have different last names. One person is a family.

  • April 9, 2020 at 8:34 pm

    How do you know when you can switch out family for individual. Family is one thing, individual is another. If an organization is giving away food for families is it automatically worth putting expensive gas in your car or taking a bus over there only to be turned down because one is an individual and not a family? Is there a secret decoder ring for how to translate the message?

    My city has a food giveaway program for youth and families during this pandemic. I don’t have a family, and am not poor. BUT, I have big health issues and know that I am not getting a ventilator if it comes to that. The crowded supermarket gives me anxiety. I decided to participate in the city’s family food giveaway.

    I do know that the city is using its family and youth fund to pay for this program. The place I go to get the food is the local Recreation Center. The people who distribute the food at the Recreation Center know me and know I don’t have a family. They are Recreation Center employees and aren’t involved in the family and youth department of the city.

    When I started getting food from this program I certainly got some looks and apprehension from the Rec Center employees. They didn’t seem pleased but they didn’t question me. One got openly hostile at one point. I’ve been polite. I have never explained whether I am getting food just for myself or for a child. I simply ask for one food package every day. Now that I have been requesting food daily they’ve gotten used to me and are being much nicer about it.

    There has been no explicit reason why the city has started this food distribution program. They didn’t say that it was only for people who couldn’t afford food. They never issued a directive that said it was only for people who have guardianship over a child. There are other food distribution programs spearheaded by churches and non-profits. Every single one of them uses “family” in their public relations, as in Family Food Giveaway. I doubt anyone will turn away a single person asking for food.

    How many single people aren’t getting the food they desperately need because they think they will be turned away and these programs aren’t for them? How many single people do get turned away because the volunteers don’t know that anyone who asks should be given food? My city has 4000 homeless people, mainly single men.

    The message from these food giveaway programs are very convoluted. Once this pandemic is over, knowing me, I will probably take issue with the mayor and city agencies over this. But for now, I am thrilled to have a place to go to get a bag of food where I don’t have to enter a crowded store which would put my very delicate health at risk.

    • April 9, 2020 at 9:40 pm

      All good points — thanks. It is always good to hear from you. I’m sending you all my best wishes (for all that’s worth).

  • April 10, 2020 at 9:49 pm

    Gap Inc. laid off thousands and thousands of employees due to Covid-19. I’m sure many of them are single – who were supporting themselves on low pay hourly jobs. But no worries, Gap is donating 1 million dollars to support “underserved families.”


    It’s everywhere. Even in my state, the Governor has someone start every press conference with a prayer, usually one about how this is all such a blessing because it’s brought families back home around the dinner table every night. Never mind that I am single, childless, live alone, and respecting social distancing guidelines – which means I am eating alone every night, but okay. It’s so, so ingrained in our culture.

  • April 15, 2020 at 9:28 am

    I love reading thought-provoking articles such as this one. Although I share a few remarks that where pointed out by others in the comments (I won’t be repeating them), I think its important to keep an open mind.

    One thing is for certain though. I believe that with so much of our minds being occupied over the pandemic, we tend to not really think thoroughly of the impact our examples and terminology may have. Such is the case with your families example.

    Overall, a very interesting read for me!

  • April 15, 2020 at 7:25 pm

    While I am a one person family, I think it should read as “People needed…”

  • July 8, 2020 at 11:51 am

    I just saw the much needed article. In my area it is even more interesting . There is a well known organization in southeastern Michigan that many businesses support and that I used to donate to. Its mission is food and hunger relief. They are constantly advertising their free food pick ups for “families with children.” My god! I and a friend e-mailed them telling them that — surprise!– couples without children and single people get hungry, too. What a news flash for an organization dedicated to feeding the hungry, huh? I guess they only want to feed children. We both got a really lame, canned reply that they may change the verbiage on their web site. Well, nothing has been done yet and this was months ago. If they can’t understand that hunger knows no boundaries, I hope they understand why couples with out children and single people may stop giving them money.

    • July 8, 2020 at 3:24 pm

      I’m so sorry they were unresponsive but thank you for trying. That matters.


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