A New Relationship with Your Parents

You will always be your parents' child, but as you become an adult your relationship with them is going to change. While at college, you will still rely heavily on your parents for financial and emotional support. However, you will no longer depend on them for day-to-day help and you will have significantly less contact with them. If you are the first or last child in your family to go to college, this transition may be particularly difficult at first. Your parents will have to adjust to your absence and new independence, and you will need to find support in new places.

After you have been at college awhile, you will become accustomed to your new independence. Consequently, going home for a break, particularly an extended break, can be a bit of a shock to you and your parents. Do they expect you to follow the rules you had while in high school? Are you hoping to come and go as you please, eat what you want from the refrigerator, and sleep all day? Before heading home for your first break, have an open discussion with your parents about what the expectations are. Some limits may still remain, but you should be able to negotiate a plan that works for everyone.

One thing you will quickly realize is just how smart your parents are. During high school you probably felt that you knew almost everything you needed to know, and your parents were a little out of touch. But by the time you finish your first semester of college, you will be amazed by how many important things your parents know about relationships, time management, budgeting, school work, and even having fun. This is the time for you to start engaging your parents as an adult child, through something more akin to friendship than a subordinate relationship. Share with them some of the things you are experiencing at college, and be open to hearing their thoughts and answering their questions. You may find that you really like your parents, even if you wouldn't choose to go back and live at home again.

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