Every parent will agree that college students are not easy to deal with. Raging hormones, career pressure, peer pressure, identity development and that delicate dance between independence and dependence – college years are tough. And we are not even talking about the academic pressure yet.
So, it should surprise us that college students, forced to stay at home due to the Covid-19 outbreak, are facing challenging times. From a parent’s standpoint, the concerns are equally numerous: will she ever become independent? What about his job prospects? Why is she on the screen all day?
If all this pressure was not enough, becoming roommates again, even with parents, cannot be easy.
Yet, there are some positives. Many college students are seeing their always strong parents as vulnerable for the first time. This has triggered their caregiving instinct which has left parents pleasantly surprised. “I never knew my son will take care of me like this,” said Mrs Jenny Asthana, the mother of a 20-year old. “I was the one who was always taking care of him.”
The fact that regular domestic helpers are not able to service homes for middle-class families means that college boys and girls find themselves contributing to household chores such as laundry, cooking and cleaning. Many are doing it for the first time. “I hated doing laundry at first. Now I find it enjoyable. It gives me a specific task to do at the same time every day,” said 19-year old Amartya Gomes. Many families are bonding over board games. After all, how much PUBG can anyone play? Board games such as Ludo, Monopoly and cards are now a part of the daily routine in many households.
However, there is a dark side to this forced nesting. Not every college student or parent is enjoying this time together. All parents are glad that their kids are with them, safe from the virus. However, many parents are clearly uncomfortable with the choices their college kids are making. Whether it is waking up past noon, or not showering on time, or always being on their phone – parents have many complaints. Siblings are at war again. Just when parents thought they were done with all the name-calling and fighting.
For most college students, this is the first major crisis that they have seen. No amount of their parent’s’ money and connections can protect them from this. They are confronting such helplessness for the first time. Carefully planned careers – with months spent trying to get the perfect internship, years spent polishing the resume for the dream job – all are facing a bleak and uncertain future.
What makes it worse is that they don’t even have each other for company during these scary times. College is when most people make their BFFs (Best Friends Forever). Those friendships are formed because college students share each other’s joys and pains. Who has not had a friend who knows exactly what to do to cheer you up when life deals you a bad hand? Unfortunately, college kids at home are deprived of their most important need – friends.
As is obvious on any campus, college students are especially attracted to addictive substances such as tobacco and alcohol. Many college students are finding it difficult to survive without them.
Both parents, as well as students, can mitigate the stress/anxiety while at home with the help of 5 key mantras mentioned below:
- Virtual Connect: Keep connecting with friends and loved ones virtually daily. This will keep your mind fresh and away from stress
- Thanksgiving: Thanks everyone, be it your parents/kids/domestic helper, for anything right from making a cup of tea to helping you with personal work
- Learning something new: Keep learning something new every day to keep your brain busy with some work
- Awareness: Be aware of as many things possible and keep noticing all the positive happening around you
- Time Management: Working according to a timetable is the most important thing. Prepare a timetable according to your interest or requirement and follow the same religiously
So, if you have a college kid at home, be sympathetic and understanding. Their entire world has been turned upside down with no warning. They have still not developed the resilience that older adults have. They need our understanding too.
Inputs by Deepika Goyal, Founder and Director of Popcorn Furniture