Balancing Independence With Family Ties in College
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Student Life

Balancing Independence With Family Ties in College

Discover ways to maintain independence while nurturing familial connections during the college experience.

Balancing Independence With Family Ties in College
Photo by javier trueba on Unsplash

College is one of the most exciting milestones of your life. Like many other students, it could be your first time leaving home to embark on a new adventure of self-discovery and growth. Most importantly, it's where you gain independence.

Independence is freedom from authority, influence and assistance from others — a critical lesson for young adults to navigate the rest of their lives. Of course, balancing this newfound independence with family ties can be challenging — welcome to adulthood — and may test you in ways you never thought possible.

Gaining independence sets the stage for new family dynamics. Although an adjustment for everyone, establishing boundaries and communication helps create happier, healthier relationships with loved ones long-term. Here's how your desire to become an adult manifests in college and ways to maintain close family ties without sacrificing independence.

College and the Urge to Grow Up

The urge to carve your own path is natural. Over 80% of college students leave home to pursue their education, many longing to make their own schedules and live life by their rules.

Naturally, the transition is often shocking as they adopt time management skills, effective communication and everyday household duties. Rigorous coursework and managing academics with part-time work might also cause undue stress.

Gaining independence is a crucial step into the real world. For one thing, you learn how to care for yourself, particularly in new and challenging situations. You also discover what you want for your life instead of what others want for you.

There will be difficulties along the way, especially as you figure out where you see yourself in the future. However, the more independent you become, the easier it will be to take charge.

3 Tips to Balance Independence and Family Ties

Imagine leaving your morning class and noticing five missed calls and 10 text messages from your family. Perhaps your mom leaves a voicemail saying she's popping in for a visit. College isn't just a personal transition — your parents may also be transitioning to empty nesters.

Nevertheless, finding the perfect balance between maintaining your freedom and keeping your family bonds intact is critical. Here are three ways to establish healthy relationships with your family while continuing to grow into an adult.

1. Stay Connected

Homesickness is expected during the first few months of college and may creep up occasionally throughout your academic career. Fortunately, technology has made it easier than ever to remain connected to your family.

Set up a standing weekly call with your parents and siblings, giving everyone something to look forward to each week. Various communication platforms have made video conferencing possible with relatives and friends worldwide.

Other ways to remain connected with loved ones include:

  • Starting a text chain
  • Sending an email
  • Organizing a virtual game night
  • Sending them a video message
  • Eating dinner together through FaceTime
  • Sending a handwritten card

Let your parents know you look forward to occasional letters and care packages with the comforts of home. Tell them their options if they're worried it won't get to you. For instance, 75% of people believe packages reach students more efficiently through campus mail centers than the dorm. You'll then receive a notification to retrieve your package when it arrives.

2. Set Clear Boundaries

You and your family may have different expectations while you're away at college. Your parents, in particular, may have difficulty releasing the reins — especially when you come home from school. For example, they may still want you to fulfill certain obligations like chores or meet a curfew. Your new routine may take some getting used to for everyone.

Boundaries are healthy for maintaining tight-knit relationships with family members. While these conversations take courage, it is perfectly fine to tell them you now live differently, have your own beliefs and expect them to value your privacy as an adult.

Clear communication and transparency are most effective when expressing your needs. While you love seeing them, make sure they understand surprise visits are unwelcome. As an independent person, you deserve the ability to plan for someone's visit and ensure it fits into your schedule.

These tough conversations will benefit you in the future, too. As you learn to communicate honestly and respectfully with family, you also gain essential communication skills and confidence for the workplace, social circles and the general population.

3. Leverage Support

Managing your finances is one of the more daunting challenges of flexing your independence in college. About 36% wouldn't have enough money to cover a $400 if an emergency arose. Truthfully, you do need your family to guide you toward wise decisions.

Adulting is a learning curve — one in which family support becomes invaluable. Whether learning to cook for yourself, do your laundry, pay bills or prioritize tasks, you can always ask for help.

Having your parents' support can also decrease symptoms of depression while attending college. Depression lowers your energy, concentration and performance, resulting in lower grade point averages and higher anxiety.

Fortunately, a quick phone call to your mom, dad or another close relative can reassure you you're doing great amid the most challenging moments. Of course, you can always go home for a visit, too.

Nurture Family Ties While Embracing Your Individuality

Attending college marks a new chapter in your life. As you become more independent and figure out who you are as an adult, shifting family dynamics becomes essential to maintain peace. Just remember to hold respect and understanding for your loved ones during this transition, as each person must adjust to these exciting changes.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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