What Students Are Saying About Family Conflict in Quarantine, Starting Over and Health Care Heroics

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What Students Are Saying About Family Conflict in Quarantine, Starting Over and Health Care Heroics

For this week’s roundup of student comments on our writing prompts, we’re highlighting teenagers’ thoughts on isolating with their families, beginning again after a setback, and the role of health care workers during the pandemic.

Welcome to all the new students who chimed in this week from:

Brooks School, North Andover, Mass.; Clarkston, Ga.; Dearborn, Mich.; Easton, Pa.; Emerson, N.J.; Hillsboro, Kan.; The International School Ho Chi Minh City — American Academy; John H. Francis Polytechnic High School; Madison Junior High; Madrid, Spain; The Mead School, Greenwich, Conn.; Pacific Grove, Calif.; Robbinsville, N.J.; Santa Monica; Seven Bridges Middle School, Chappaqua, N.Y. and Sharet High School, Netanya, Israel.

Please note: Student comments have been lightly edited for length, but otherwise appear as they were originally submitted.

The coronavirus crisis has forced people around the world to spend more time together at home. In some cases, families are running off the rails.

We asked students if their families were experiencing greater conflict while quarantined together. They told us about increased stress, productive and counterproductive family meetings, and how living in close quarters can exacerbate underlying tension or engender more closeness.

If I’m being honest I feel like I have been arguing with my parents so much more since quarantine … My parents have been so much more stressed out recently because they have so much more that they have to worry about. I feel bad for my parents because they didn’t sign up for this, I know nothing can be controlled but I wish I could take some of the stress from them because they are being overworked nowadays.

Isabella F, Hoggard High School Wilmington, NC

I personally feel the most stressed as this year I am missing huge amounts of learning that will be required for my exams. Being the oldest I feel a duty to help my mother around the household especially now we as everyone is home 24 hours a day and is cooking and cleaning more frequently … I do become frustrated when I’m asked to do things when I’m trying to work. I feel as if they don’t understand how the amount of work I have to do. Ideally I would like them to not disturb till I have completed all my work as otherwise being disturbed multiple times discourages me and takes me a lot longer to complete my work.

Sameera, London, UK

I feel that we are facing more conflicts as time passes. I can see these changes happen as we spend more time together in the house. I’ve been getting into more problems with my mom and we keep on arguing. She feels that I’m not as active as I’m supposed to be while I just want to try to get my mind off of things. I feel that it is because we all don’t know how to spend time together as a family because I was used to only seeing her for a couple hours a day. Now that she’s at home all the time she is stressed that she has no work while I feel weird that she is even home … With there being too much time, arguments fill up some of that time and it ends up in me just staying in my own room rather than being outside in the living room but even then living in a small apartment doesn’t help especially when we need time to ourselves.

Rubi M, Chicago, IL

Throughout the pandemic, family conflicts have been brief, but frequent. The irritability and boredom caused by self-isolation have caused us to be quick to insult or side-eye each other. Which then escalates into a fiery argument that surfaces feelings that have long been repressed. Social distancing forces us to move on from fights over insignificant quickly to live peacefully. But, quarantine also allows us to brush over problems without finding the root of the issue. So, we pack our feelings of anger far away until the next trivial disagreement can set them free.

Malia, Santa Monica

In my family, every day is something new, but it’s even worse during the pandemic. The main conflict is usually between my mom and me. We nag at each other while my dad and brother find wats to chime in to stop the fighting. I feel like being stuck with each other has made each of us more hostile. Quarantine is coming at a difficult time because my brother and I are in the midst of being teenagers. We’re both naturally more aggressive even without a pandemic happening. Even with a few snarky comments here and there, we still find ways to laugh and bond with each other.

Daniela Munoz, Santa Monica, CA

My family has always been a tight unit, an imperfect one but always close. This experience has brought us closer for the better. Do I want to murder my brother when he refuses to chew with his mouth closed? Does my dad sneeze/scream whenever he gets the chance to? Yes and yes. The truth is, quarantine has not changed my family dynamic besides allowing us to spend more time together and keep the habits that we were never able to before. With family dinner and movie every night, we are seeing hours of each other that were never possible before. We talk out our problems and ultimately have loved being able to be locked in together.

Madison, Nashville, TN

I feel like being in self-quarantine with my family has benefited all of us. Before all of this happened, we never really got a lot of family time for many reasons. I was in high school and didn’t have much free time on my hands. And my younger sisters were always busy with something. Right now, this is the perfect opportunity to spend time with family and bond more than you could have before this quarantine. In other words, I believe that I have experienced less conflict now because we are forced to get along with the family when you have nothing else to do. It is important to realize in these times that family is the most important thing.

Zach Bertrand, Glenbard West HS, Glen Ellyn

I am lucky enough to have a good relationship with my family and can communicate effectively. My dad is an essential worker, so I don’t see him until late at night. My mom works for a school system and although she is home, she has constant meetings from 7am to 7pm. In reality we may be quarantined together but I don’t see my family as often as you would think. This allows us to have our own space and we are able to avoid conflict this way.

I think that the reason why my family is doing so well is that we know so much is out of our control. It’s safe to say my family and I are control freaks but in situations like this we just take as many precautionary measures as we can. We take everything one day at a time and are grateful that we get to spend time together. We all agree on the important issues at hand, although we may have petty arguments about small things. But those don’t really matter and we come to realize that quickly.

Mary Pellicio, Massachusetts

I believe I’m experiencing more conflict with my guardians. I live in two households, as my parents are divorced. When my parents cannot come to an agreement of who gets “the kids” on what days, a problem occurs. Me and my siblings are then put in the middle and asked to choose how we want the schedule to go. This makes it hard to come up with a concrete schedule because our parents will guilt us. Although, I think I have gotten closer to my siblings and been more open with them.

The ideal relationship I want with my family is a mutual understanding that we are all individuals and we all need our personal space, whether that be in our rooms or sitting outside by oneself. We do not have this. My parents see it as us not wanting to spend time with them when in reality we just need some space and time to be with ourselves or socialize with friends through social media.

Erin M. Los Angeles

While many families may be struggling to get along during this unprecedented time, my family seems to be getting along better now than ever before. As my brothers and I are children of divorced parents, we transition between houses on a weekly basis. Although this displacement is normally an inconvenience, we’ve found that having two homes is somewhat of a luxury during a time in which many families feel that they have no escape from one another. When I need a break from my brothers or a quiet place to focus on a Zoom call, I have the convenience of escaping to the alternate household.

Having the ability to rotate between households also relieves my parents, as having 3 school-age children at home each day on top of working from home is imaginably overwhelming. We have learned to make the best of our arrangements during the pandemic in order to promote domiciliary serenity. The little breaks my family gets from one another has enabled us not to experience greater conflict during a time of self-quarantine. Like many other families, we are making adjustments necessary to ensure a peaceful domestic life that is crucial in the midst of chaos in our surrounding world.

Georgia Simpson, Maury High School: Norfolk, Virginia

The short answer: yes, there’s definitely conflict. The accurate answer: gahhhhhhh … What I have learnt can be summed up in a word: compromise. Compromise, compromise, compromise. It takes courage to stand one’s ground, but it takes more courage to give in, to say, okay, I’ll do this. When you’re washing more dishes than your brother, just breathe in deeply, fix a death glare (unnoticed) and do your work. (It also makes you the good kid, which can be exchanged for brownie points later. Just kidding, It helps you live better with each other). And when you need a time out, I find it helpful to just say it. I need some time alone. Close your door, gently.

Faith Ho, Singapore

Being cooped up in your house for weeks on end can bring out the worst in anyone. My family has always been pretty close, but we do have conflicts. During the quarantine the little things that you didn’t even notice before begin to bug you. This can cause fights and escalate the conflict in the home, but my family has meetings where we can talk about conflicts and figure out plans. This allows us to talk through the problems. It has definitely helped our family cope when we’re all stuck together, and turned a potentially negative situation into a positive one.

Ammon Allred, Layton, Utah

My family doesn’t fight often, but quarantine has made us kind of on edge. We all realized this, and we just know now that we need time to ourselves. If a quarrel comes up, we all just separate ourselves until we are calmer and in a better headspace.

Savannah, Nashville

In “Tear It Up and Start Again,” author Harry Guinness writes about self-improvement and how better things can be forged from failures and new beginnings.

So we asked students to tell us about their own personal-improvement goals and resolutions. Their candid comments reassure us that every failure is an opportunity to learn and, oftentimes, our best work can come from it.

Often, I have to start over. For example, when I take notes in class, I always have to rewrite them after school. This more has to do with my perfectionism. I recently had a project for school, and at the last minute, I decided it wasn’t good enough and started over again. This made the situation a lot more stressful than it should have been, but I am a great believer in starting over. If I’m not content with something, I will just start it over because what’s the point in settling for something you’re not 100% satisfied with?

Chloe, The Pennington School

Usually, when I fail, I reflect on my actions and pick out the parts that caused the failure. Then I restart, except I know what not to do. This is an experience I go through practically every time I begin an art project. Recently, I was assigned to create a work of art that represents two opposite emotions. I sketched around ten ideas and chose one. It turns out, the ten I sketched, including the one I chose did not follow some guidelines. I completely reset and drafted up a new idea involving the story of the sword in the stone. As a result, I produced something I was proud of. I learned that the best ideas come from constant reflection and drafting.

Merrick Liu, New Jersey

I feel this on a very deep personal level. I find myself making goals to do homework or workout to improve myself. Like most people, I find that progress is good at the beginning, but as soon as one day fails the entire system collapses like a house of cards. Most of the time they never go to plan, and I think this article sheds light on the importance of second drafts. We don’t have to start again with something new but ultimately the same. Instead, we can look where we failed then modify our idea to actually succeed. It might not be what you originally planned, but you meet realistic expectations. Plans shouldn’t be rigid, instead we should have the mindset of adaptability when the chaos of the world ruins our perfectly structured, rigid plans.

Evan Jensen, NUAMES

I am a person who likes to start over a lot. In fact, I started over when writing this very comment … Starting over at anything is hard. For example, I was recently reading a chapter of a textbook. It was hard reading, and a very long passage. When I was about thirty pages in, I realized I had forgotten to take notes. I was then faced with the decision of having either subpar knowledge of the chapter or having to start over. I mulled over the question, but in the end, I decided to just start over. At the end, I was very glad that I had decided to begin anew, because I was able to refine some of my thoughts about the text and remember it better.

Sean Hession, Hoggard High School in Wilmington, NC

The world, as we know it, is made of failures and is made of comebacks after those failures. Einstein and Oprah once lamented their failures but the mistakes they made did not become barriers for further progress. Whether we wish for progress in an emotional manner or in a physical manner, “starting over” and beginning again has the power to grant us this progress. Stepping back from a situation, assessing it with a cold head, and looking at it with different eyes can make a world of difference when attempting to accomplish something. Personally, the concept of detaching from a situation for a while has allowed me to really think about what actions and decisions are best for me in the long run.

Valeria Casas, Glenbard West HS, Glen Ellyn, IL

Failing is normal and is part of the learning process. As babies, we fall down multiple times in learning how to walk! Realizing when some goals or desires are not suited for us is part of the learning process too. There are multiple accounts of people with the goal of becoming a doctor, yet they learn late in the process that the occupation is not really for them. Especially after they learn how much they cannot stand the sight of blood. While these students invested much money and time towards reaching their goal, the many problems they face make them unhappy. It is not reasonable for them to keep working towards a goal after learning that it is ideal for them anymore. In a society where many people try to be the perfect person, we lose sight of true, individual goals to the goals that society sets upon us. Although it may seem appealing to constantly work towards a goal … also acknowledge the cost it comes with.

Faith Cerbo, New Rochelle, New York

For me, starting over was getting rid of toxic friends and starting over with myself. Sophomore year I had a group of friends that at the time seemed like they could be my lifelong friends. Slowly I realized what was happening and found myself being excluded from events, harassed in the group chat and constantly made fun of. Finally I reached a breaking point and told them what I was feeling, and just like that I left the group. I had never felt so alone, because I had just abandoned so many “friends.” Who did I have left? This was when I started over and worked on myself. I looked around and found the true friends that deeply cared about me and would be there no matter what. For me, starting over was a necessity and I encourage anyone who is afraid to get out of a toxic friendship to take a deep breath and just do it. It all worked out for me in the end, and I am so glad I decided to start over.

Gretchen, PA

In my family the biggest example of starting over was the divorce we all went through. While the divorce was a hard pill for an 8 year old girl to swallow I didn’t know the deeper meaning at the time. Families don’t just divorce because they had one fight or they want alone time. It’s deeper than that. The divorce meant both of my parents could be happier and find other significant others that would make them happy. And they have, they both find other people that make them happier than before. And it’s not all bad for us kids. We are all very independent and our parents have a lot of trust in us. I do things most kids don’t have the opportunity too and I have to places to go with too different styles and things to do. It’s wasn’t starting over for us it was a new beginning that led me and my family to new opportunities that otherwise would’ve been suppressed.

Teagan, Glenbard West HS Glen Ellyn, IL

The personal improvement goals that usually fail, often don’t have a central purpose or something at its core that I’m invested in. I’ll make a fitness goal, but I don’t really want exercise; I just want the end result, without the effort or work. I expect that’s true for most people, which is probably why so many people don’t ever accomplish their New Year’s Resolutions. Deep down, we don’t want the experience of personal improvement, we just want the improved person. Only a few of my goals ever really get accomplished, and I think I’ve figured out why those work when so many other goals don’t. For one, I allow myself wiggle room, instead of boxing myself in with numbers and estimates and hours a week. Like the article says, I allow myself leeway for a couple of rough drafts. Another factor of success is when I start the process with the intention of becoming a better person, and not with the intention of fulfilling someone else’s expectations for me. I tell myself, “I want to journal because releasing my stress will make me more relaxed, even if I miss a few days.” I don’t say, “I want the aesthetic and perfect lifestyle that journaling brings.” When you allow yourself to restart when you need to, you relieve the stress of making goals.

Stephanie Farnsworth, Norman, Oklahoma

One aspect of my life that I have long sought to get a firm hold on and stay on track with is my spirituality, more specifically, daily scripture and general conference talk study. I had always claimed to read almost every day, but I had multiple stints of going without it for months at a time. It’s difficult to understand what we’re living without until we have it again. I started getting back into it, but I was always “too busy.” As COVID-19 increasingly got worse and worse, I was in my house quite a bit more, believe it or not, so I decided to develop a plan. This would be my goal for this time, to get on track with my reading and studying of the scriptures. It started off a little shaky, but I set a time in the morning, and I have held true to the for the past month. As I’ve continued to do it, it’s gotten easier and easier. I’ve truly started to enjoy it instead of seeing it as a burden or a task. I definitely seen that my day seems to get started earlier and just my overall happiness is better for the day.

Jacob E. ,Layton, UT

They wrote about the important role of health care workers in the pandemic, the doctors and nurses in their own families and communities, and their gratitude for essential workers around the world.

The image describes the effort medical staff across the world are putting in to help subdue the current pandemic. The picture reminds me of the statue of the greek titan Atlas, holding up the earth. The myth describes that it was actually the sky the titan held up, to prevent the sky from crashing down and destroying the earth. The doctors are the titan in this metaphor, and the virus is the sky.

Josh C

I love this picture. It is really meaningful. First, let’s talk about the picture itself. A hospital being carried by 3 doctors/surgeons. One of them is black, one is mixed and the other is white. One of them is under the shadow of the building. Since we are all on the same page now. Let’s talk about meaning. The hospital can symbolize a list of different things. Society, workspaces or people in need. I would say it is the people in need. The doctors are huge compared to the hospital. Which makes sense because heroes are giants. This picture shows the literal part of this quote. They are spending their days just saving people’s lives.

Ali, Galal

This image depicts doctors and nurses working as hard as hey can in poor condition. Their eyes are frowning and look tired of holding such a heavyweight they have to hold on their shoulders. They are exhausted and tired of having a myriad of coronavirus patients with a lack of supplies they need to treat them.

Yumin, Maryland

I think this image represents the weight that is being put on healthcare workers right now. Our lives are resting on the ability of healthcare workers to do their job. I think the building they are holding up represents us, the patients in the hospital and our population as a whole. If they stop holding us up, our population will fall, and there is a lot of pressure on them at this time.

Hannah Kesten, Bradenton, FL

I’m sharing for my daughter who says that this picture makes her think of the crushing cost of hospital and medical bills. She says that the green outfits worn by the people underneath remind her of money and the hospital appears to be very heavy. There are some people who may not even go to the hospital to seek help, choosing to take care of themselves and their kids by themselves because they can’t afford the bills.

Alicia, Durham, NC

In my eyes, this picture is showing the weight of the world doctors are carrying, with little help. Especially in this time and age, they are risking their lives for others from the CoronaVirus and other illnesses. This is representing their hard works and how all heroes don’t wear capes. They work hours on end to serve others and it shows they need more recognition for their bravery. In my life, I have never seen them work as hard and restlessness as they do now … Thank you doctors and nurses.

Bennett, PA

This picture represents the current events happening in our world. The picture seems to be showing medical professionals. They are holding up a hospital in the picture, but in reality, they are holding up society. Medical professionals are doing the best they can to save lives and keep the world/country up and running. They go to work everyday for hours longer than you can imagine. This image is very moving because the nurses and doctors cannot catch a break. They have all the weight on their shoulders, and they can’t miss a beat or something terrible could happen. We can’t do anything but thank the medical professionals putting their lives on the line for us. They are today’s heroes, and we say thank you.

Ella M, King of Prussia, PA

I believe this image represents the hard work doctors and nurses are pursuing in result to this pandemic. Hospital workers risk their lives every day to care for patients who have the coronavirus. In the image, the nurses and doctors are also wearing masks. This is significant because hospital workers wear masks and gloves in attempt to not get the virus. I have seen many social media posts of nurses and doctors who have bruises on their faces due to the stress of the mask. This contributes to the meaning of the image because it shows the harsh circumstances they are in, and how hard they are working to try and overcome the virus. It’s important for us to acknowledge hospital workers.

Aryssa Metzger, KOP

I think this image is portraying how a small group of people can support and help out a large population of people, putting themselves at risk to save others. Truly amazing people, just like food industry and grocery stores still working providing food and multiple other necessities.

Ariana Lucero, Glenbard West HS, Glen Ellyn, IL

This picture reminds me of a movement going around social media right now. The pictures I see are usually nurses holding signs that say, “We go to work for you, stay home for us.” This picture is a powerful message of what healthcare workers are giving in order for our country to stay afloat.

Emma McLaughlin, Hoggard High School Wilmington, NC

A duty,
their colors reflect off of buildings,
they carry us like a burden,
no time to rest,
the doors are always open,
wrinkles engrave their faces,
as we lounge in our homes,
officers and firefighters are heroes,
but so are the doctors and nurses,
they wish for it all to end,
to sleep,
to hug their family,
to express their love,
but not until it’s all over.

Saharsh Satheesh, Collierville High School, Tennessee

The personnel in the medical field are working day and night and are at risk of catching the Coronavirus at any time because they are working with the sick and the infected. I feel like this image is also saying that if it weren’t for our medical people and our first-responders, we would be in an even bigger outbreak. My mom and my grandma are Home-health nurses in Marion for St. Luke and they deal with all kinds of patients every day. They deal with a lot of older people and they have to be careful what they are bringing into that person’s home and what they bring home to their family.

Isabelle Whorton, Hillsboro, KS