Empty or Empty-less Nest Interrupted

In mid-March 2020, due to lockdowns (shelter-in-place orders) implemented often helter-skelter throughout the nation and around the globe, parents welcomed their college students who were sent home to their childhood bedrooms. Back home, living under the same roof simultaneously forced the transformation of the parent-adult children dynamic (when the child is no longer a child), and the remodeling of a household into an alternative college. 

Parents reported being more like housemates with their adult children, with little authority over their activities, rather than The Parent.  Living together, they once again witnessed their kids’ daily lives, unlike when they were away at college. Some moms worried, silently or otherwise, if their college kids’ made wise choices, like exercising even when they hadn’t started their history paper due in two days. The Mom-like worries, although a normal Mom-like behavior, often created the conditions that led to stress for all parties. 

Parents and students also shared stories about clashes over space, during simultaneously scheduled video meetings or classes. Some students memed about their attempts to create space for their coursework: 

Innovative management strategy for taking tests at home
Photo from Mamta Kanda, Zoom Memes for Self Quaranteens

While parents wanted to support their adult college students, some were unaccustomed to such boundaries around their children’s space, so were discomforted in the assimilation to a new parent-adult child relationship.

Many parents willingly endured the maturing of the parent-adult child dynamic, under the guise that the “time-out” was temporary. Many expect to move their college children back to campuses for the Fall 2020 term, once again slowing to a more expected maturation of the parent-adult children relationship. However, as the pandemic lingers, increasing the uncertainty if colleges will reopen and to what degree will “normal” college life occur, patience and flexibility for everyone involved will remain the order of the day in order to keep stress at bay. 

Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, is Educational Partner at Creative Marbles Consultancy. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators, helping nurture the next generation. For the most up-to-date educational trends follow Creative Marbles Twitter

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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