Stay in touch, but enjoy the independenceSoundings asked our University Communications interns, Geri Massangale and Stephanie Lonzak, to reflect on how their relationships with their parents changed in college.
Geri Massengale, right, joins her family for her brother Jed's
high school graduation. Geri says her parents, Dyess and
Russ, worried about her at first, then reveled in the progress
she made in college.
By Geri Massengale
WWU University Communications Intern
My parents understood that my going to college meant I would finally be independent. We recently talked together about how it was like for me to find this independence and how they dealt with my being away from home. Here is what they would like you to know.On separation
They advise that you make sure your student has everything they need. Make a point to go with them on move-in day to help them get situated and also check out where your student will be living for the next few months. Then, keep in touch; send text messages, call or send emails on things happening at home from time to time. My parents also suggest keeping busy. For my dad, Russ, it was fishing, reading, taking care of our pets, my mom and brother. For my mom, Dyess, it was shopping and playing mahjong, a game originating from China.
From Stephanie Lonzak: "We still remain a team of three like we always have."
My parents say what really changed was my independence. They realized that I didnít ask much of them and they didnít have to worry about me. The focus changed from setting me up for college and worrying about me being on my own to reveling in the progress Iíve made in my college career. Staying involved with your studentís academic progress is important. My mom and dad always read the publications Western sends home to get an idea of what is happening around campus as well as checking up with me around registration time.On dealing with your studentís newly found independence
My parentsí advice is to support the decisions your student makes and understand that they will make good and bad decisions like you did when you were growing up. They also advise to encourage your college student to supplement their academic growth with extracurricular activities. It will allow them to forge relationships that will last beyond college and link them to opportunities after graduation.On maintaining financial boundaries
My parents did a great job teaching me to be financially independent and the best opportunity to do so is when your child goes to college. They encouraged me to get a job, because they see the value in hard work. My dad said, ďIf someone gives you everything that you need or want, the value of those things is not really understood. But, if you have to work to feed, clothe and entertain yourself, you understand the time and effort involved providing these things and it means more and is not taken for granted.Ē I also learned by watching them manage their own finances. My dad said he and my mom believed it was their responsibility to provide me with a good education so strictly managing mortgage payments, bills and food and caring for another child, was crucial. It was all in an effort to minimize my debt when I graduate.