Strong family ties support college experience

In the process of becoming a true adult – managing time, acquiring financial independence and balancing a social life – we often put our most vital connections on the backburner. College is a demanding and stressful time.

A 2009 survey found that 85 percent of the 2,240 undergraduates interviewed experienced stress on a daily basis. This stress can isolate us as we become absorbed in our own problems, but keeping strong ties with our family can help keep up morale. In this fast-paced college lifestyle, it is important to remember that your family should be an active presence throughout your journey.

College strains family relationships, regardless of whether you see your family every day or are 200 miles away. It is easy to convince yourself that you are too busy or need to relax and go out with friends. Fewer phone calls are dialed, fewer packages are sent, and less care is transmitted.

Since you are managing your own life, your parents can become more like guides and friends than authority figures, if an effort toward open communication is made on both sides. About 80 percent of young people who have a good relationship with their parent­s are also happier with life in general. Although you can’t share all the little details you once did, small reminders that let each another know that your are on their minds can go a long way.

As for your siblings, whether you bicker and fight like bats out of hell, they will always have your back and are best friends that you are stuck with forever. We get consumed in friendships and forget about sibling-ships. Set some time apart to enjoy each other’s company as friends. You’d be surprised how many similarities you’ll find and love about them. It is especially easy to stay connected by sending funny texts or pictures on Snapchat, keeping communication lines open for when they need someone to turn to.

This coming holiday break, make an effort to reconnect with your loved ones in a special way. Have dinner together with the family. Not just on Thanksgiving. Whether it is a mom-made meal at the table or take-out on the couch, getting together at the end of the day to talk is special.

You can also initiate a special family outing. It can be a casual family night out to the movies or something else that would catch everyone by surprise and lead the family to bond in ways it hasn’t before.

You could be the special difference that strengthens your family’s happiness and love, the true gifts that we ultimately live our lives for.

Victoria Valdes is a sophomore majoring in public relations.