Heading off to college means gaining an enormous amount of responsibility and newfound independence. For many of us, it’s our first time out of the parental nest; we will make our own decisions and, inevitably, our own mistakes. But defining the parent-child relationship in this next chapter of our lives can be a challenge. It’s important to maintain family support as we embark on our college careers, but feeling smothered by our parents can mean pulling away, losing trust and hindering personal growth.
To find a happy medium, assess your situation. If you’re financially dependent on your parents in any way, you have an obligation to follow their rules and a responsibility to respect their opinions. They’re investing in your future, so it’s in their best interest to guide you.
Yet, even if you’re self-supporting, that doesn’t make it okay to cut the cord completely. One way or another, your mom and dad have helped you out along the way, and their life experience is a commodity you should value. Chances are they’ve struggled with similar situations, so be grateful for any advice they may offer. Maintaining an open dialogue between you and your ‘rents throughout your four years in school is the right thing to do and will help you to conquer your own challenges.
Still, it’s essential to maintain a clear boundary. There’s a fine line between being close with your parents and being their best friend. It’s great to share a special relationship, but becoming too buddy-buddy can cause you to lose the essential sense of respect for your elders, and your parents will no longer be able to hold you accountable for your actions. That lack of a parental figure will hurt you in the long run.
College is a complicated stage in your relationship with your parents, but finding a personal balance between you, mom and dad will help things run a lot more smoothly. Parents should offer advice without being overbearing; waiting for the child to ask for guidance rather than imposing unsolicited opinions is ideal. But since many of us are still dependent in some way, it’s up to us to hear them out. Once we’re totally on our own, we’ll be free to do as we please without seeking approval. Until then, keep an open mind.
Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.