Quarantining with parents – a challenge and an opportunity

Instead of viewing our parents as an annoyance, we should appreciate their company during these uncertain times

Hello fellow student and the parent that walked in unannounced while you were in the middle of your Zoom meeting. I just described what happened to you about six times today, didn’t I?

Since March, quarantine has forced many students, myself included, to once again share a house with our parents. Of course, living with your parents can be annoying but it can also provide us with a unique opportunity.

Nowadays, many of us move out right away. That’s how the world works — everything is fast-paced. The more we do, and the sooner we do it, the better. Exhaustion and burnout is a sign of success, rather than a sign we should take a break, not only to rest, but also for our mental health. Studies have shown having a good night of sleep can do wonders for our mental and physical health

Yet, in our world, this can be difficult to achieve. Just look at the lifestyle we adopt when classes start. The pressure to keep our grades up, get into that dream program, or win scholarships pushes us to develop fast-paced, unhealthy lifestyles. Additionally, with the tsunami of homework that destroys our free time as if we were a little village on the shore, we barely have time to eat or sleep. That is how the industrialized world works. It moves fast and you have to move faster.

However, our parents grew up in a different version of this beautiful blue planet — they had time to appreciate their life. Without social media to inform everyone about the successful and luxurious lifestyles of others, our parents faced less social pressure. If you were satisfied with what you owned, it was enough. Nonetheless, as time passed, our parents did their fair share of adapting to new technology brought by the invention of the internet. Over time, a new culture began to emerge.

Eventually, it was our turn. We had to be better than the person with the Lamborghini on Facebook and the millionaire that started their company in a garage, such as Apple or Disney. The race was on and we were already losing. As a result, we felt pressured to learn languages, have a higher GPA, and be better than our peers. Especially, in our professional fields, we have to stand out in our classes to get a job that may not pay millions but will help us get through the year.

However, the pandemic changed how the world works and has given all of us a chance to rest and re-connect to our roots. We got the chance to go back to our childhood houses, to the food our mom made when we were sick, and to the warmth of being in our environment. Imagine how thrilling it is for a mom to get her baby back, and for a dad to see what we have become with his life lessons. Life away from home is the ultimate proof of how well our parents taught us. As a result, coming back unharmed has to be the best badge of honour to have as a parent. 

Remember that, while this time is difficult for us, our parents are also adapting to having us back at home. Maybe we have been away for years or months but now our parents unexpectedly have to share their house again.  It means more groceries, more food, and more work. Yet, it also means a lot more company and that is what we should cherish the most during these changing times.

While living with our parents might be frustrating, the pandemic has given our parents the chance to become uniquely involved in our adult life, something that rarely happens. Too often, we live as if life is a race — we don’t look back. We get to a point where the time we put into developing our careers has paid off, but with the cost that we don’t spend as much time as we wanted with those we deeply care about. When we realize this, it’s often too late and they are already gone.

With this in mind, use quarantine to be there for your parents when they need you. Give them a copy of your schedule, cultivate some empathy, or talk with them about your day — you are all adults now, after all.  The next time your parents walk into your room, smile at them, point at the computer, and do your best non-verbal cue to let them know you’re on Zoom. At the end of the day, they might be all you have right now.

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