Covid and the Spring Quarantine: Sharing the Pandemic’s Protective Bubble – What Students Learned about Their Parents

Guest post by JST Graduate Laurie Chester, MA, BCC of Get it Done ABC, LLC

“This [quarantine period] has been an opportunity to see someone else’s daily routine which I normally would not see.” And what did they see? Many noted that their parents put tremendous effort into their work: “I learned that the adults around me work WAY harder than I do and that they are really trying to make this time not so bad for us teenagers.” They noticed, and were surprised by, the length of time and daily devotion adults have to their jobs and how difficult those jobs are. “This quarantine period has made me understand a lot more about the challenging aspects of adulthood.”

Surprise: most parents are decidedly NOT digital natives! This was an oft-mentioned, eye-opening realization shared by many of my clients. “Parents got mad at you [for spending too much time on the computer] before Corona virus, but now they ask you for help!” Many found that they had to provide their parents with tech support as they learned to navigate a variety of platforms that they were unaccustomed to using, including Zoom. “I think the adjustment to working completely online was more difficult for them” than it was for students because “most do not know how to use technology very extensively.” They also recognized how their parents’ discomfort with this sudden and all-consuming reliance on technology increased parental stress: “I realized how much people’s abilities with technology impacted [the quality of] their quarantine.”

Quarantine meant more family togetherness time and learning about each other. For most of my clients, this experience was positive (only one complained that her family was “insufferable”). There were family discussions, games, movie watching and walks together. There was time spent sharing opinions, family history and life experiences, i.e. they learned more about their parents’ lives. But there were limits to this togetherness: “As the weeks went by, we realized that families aren’t meant to be together all the time,” and that everyone needed their own space and time alone. The students gained insights into the adult world that they might not otherwise have been exposed to without this shared life experience. “The quarantine has been very difficult on my father–before this, I never really saw him as human, but I have begun to see his flaws and humanity” during quarantine.

It is natural for young people to turn to the adults in their lives for reassurance, relief, and comfort in stressful situations. Covid 19, and the “safe at home” world presented a unique situation: “I learned that the adults around me were just as stressed/confused/frustrated as I was during this time. I would ask my dad questions about the situation that he did not have the answers to, which showed me we were all in the same boat together.” Everyone in this shared isolation bubble was doing the best they could under never-before-experienced circumstances.

For more information, you can reach Laurie Chester at getitdoneabc@comcast.net