This week’s post is a guest post by Sierra Scacco, a freelance copywriter. She’s sharing some tips for how you can better understand your parents’ perspective when you go to university, and included some tips for improving your relationship with them.
After 18 long years, you have finally made it! You’ve graduated from high school and are making the next big step: university. As this is new territory, you might be wondering how your relationship with your parents will change. Whether you are living at home through your college career or going away for school, here are some ways to understand your parent’s perspective of college.
Focus on Communication
In order to create the best experience for you and your parents during your college years, keep communication open. Your parents want to hear from you! They want to know how your classes are going, what your struggles are, and they especially want to hear about your successes! Show off the paper you got an A on, and let them celebrate the small (and big) wins with you.
Keeping communication open can help ease tension because your parents will know what you are doing and why you are doing it. Although you don’t need to divulge every aspect of your life, don’t leave them out of the loop for the things that count!
Creating boundaries is especially important if you are still at home while going to college, but this can be applied if you are away from home as well. It’s important to have a conversation with your parents about your boundaries as an adult and college student. Although there are still rules you will need to follow if you are living at home, talk with your parents about how these rules may be adapted now that you are an adult. Respect their boundaries, but remind them that you want the chance to learn and grow as an adult.
Creating and keeping these boundaries may mean that you need to find some time for yourself outside of the home. Living the college life also includes experiences! Spend some extra time on campus with friends, study in the university library, or find something fun to do in your city. This will let you stretch your wings a little bit and give you a healthy amount of space from the norm.
If you are away from home, creating boundaries could mean that you ask them to only call twice a week instead of every night. Or, you may tell them that you will visit once a month. Whatever this looks like for you, remember that your parents love you and want you to learn and grow. Have respect for them, and they will have respect for you.
Find Ways to Include Your Family
Just as it is important to keep communication open, it is also important to include your family in this new stage of your life! Include your family in the big moments. Maybe you won an award and will be honored, or you joined a club or team at your university. Let your family celebrate with you and invite them to these special events when possible.
Make sure you support the rest of your family too. If you have a younger sibling who plays sports, show up to a few games each season. Make room in your schedule for family dinner a few nights a week. Whatever this looks like for you, keep your family involved. They want to celebrate and support you!
What Your Parents are Probably Thinking…
If you are a first-generation college student
If one or both of your parents have never been through college themselves, there will probably be different expectations for you and things that you may have to learn together. Not only is this new for you, but it’s new for them as well!
Your parents want to go on this journey with you. They may not understand it at times, and you may have to explain to them why you are getting a degree in the first place. Be up front with them about what you hope to accomplish, and include them in your goals. They want to support you, but may not know where to even start!
If they have a college degree of their own
On the flip side, if your parent already has a degree, they probably also have an idea of where college can lead. The challenge here is that university has changed so much since they were in school! Your parents may have memories of their uni days and will want you to make the same memories. Or they may have a certain career path they want you to take and believe they know how to reach that end-goal the best way.
Whether you agree or not, remember that your parents love you and just want what is best for you! As a college graduate themselves, they may want you to follow in their footsteps, but it is okay to forge your own path! Just be open with them about what you want to accomplish and be prepared with a plan. If you can show them how you are going to accomplish something instead of just telling them what you want to do, they will be more understanding of you reaching your goal.
If you are their first child in college
As the oldest child, you have probably lived your whole life as the person who takes charge of a situation. Your parents rely on you a ton, and that probably won’t change during this next step of your life. Your parents may be so proud of the work you are doing, but once again, this is brand new territory for them and you. They may expect you to stay in that oldest-child role and take care of the family like you always have.
The best way to handle this is to set your own boundaries. Remind them that going to university adds a lot on your plate, but still be willing to be there for your family if they need you. Find a balance that works for them and you.
If you have siblings that have gone to college
If this isn’t their first rodeo, your parents may inadvertently place a lot of pressure on you to succeed at college. You may have older siblings who already have a degree and are excelling in (what seems to be) every part of their life. Your parents may assume that if they did it, you can too!
This is the time to enlist your siblings help. Talk to them about your uni experiences and any struggles you are having. Their college experience is fresh on their mind, and they may be able to help you through the rough parts or share stories of how they dealt with rough situations or college courses. If you feel like your parents don’t understand, turn to the rest of your family. College has its ups and downs for everyone, even your seemingly-perfect sibling!
Going to university is a huge change from your highschool days, even if it doesn’t seem like it. You are growing up and getting out into the world! Remember that your parent’s perspective of college is probably different than the one you will have. Be understanding of them, communicate with them, and respect their way of doing things, even if it’s different from yours. The best way to make your university years a breeze is by keeping that communication open and building a strong bond with your parents that will last long after you graduate.
Thanks again to Sierra Scacco for sharing this insight on how to understand what’s going on for your parents when you go to university! And be sure to check out my other blog posts here:
If this post didn’t resonate with you because you have a toxic parent, check out this post on the Unwanted Life blog: