Student-parent relationships in college

ANDREA GONZALEZ / AGGIE

Students discuss their relationships with their parents

While moving away from college means meeting new people and cultivating new friendships and relationships, it may also mean an increasing drift in student’s lives and relationships back from home — particularly relationships with their parents.

We’re less of an everyday type family, so I don’t end up sharing a lot of the minutiae with him from my day-to-day,” said Alyssa Buchthal, a third-year computer science and communication double major. “I share big news or events with my dad. Whenever I get a big grade back or we’re planning holidays or there’s big family news, that’s when we talk.”

There are also some students who are more closely in touch with their parents.

“I talk to my mom around two to three times a day via call and talk to my dad via text/phone one to three times a week,” said Isabella Sanchez, a second-year materials science engineering major.

There are times when, like in any other relationship, students and parents have disagreements. Different people approach conflict in different ways.

“My dad and I are really good at being logic-minded, even in personal conflict,” Buchthal said. ”If we ever are in a tough spot, we can pretty reliably talk about it and work it out without raised voices or actual fighting.”

Third-year economics major Sarah Ramadhania spoke about avoiding confrontation with her parents to avoid any further complications.

“I’d pretend to agree with them just so that we don’t get into an argument,” Ramadhania said.

Sanchez approaches conflict much like Buchthal — by clearly talking it out with her parents.

“When my parents and I argue, we usually call each other and talk it out instead of holding it in,” Sanchez said. “It’s better to get over things faster than to let it drag out or else it just hangs over us like a cloud.”

Students voiced their opinions on what areas they tend to disagree with their parents about and how they come to a resolution.

“My parents like to push me to pursue a ‘wall-street’ career like working at McKinsey or Goldman but that’s just not what I want,” Ramadhania said. “I want to work in something that blends my passion for economic development and travel. I can’t do the corporate 9-to-5 life.”

Buchthal talked about the differences in political beliefs between her and her father.

“We tend to disagree on some politics,” Buchthal said. “My dad and his fiancé are pretty liberal, but they have a couple extremely conservative political views that don’t mesh well with me and my brother. Thankfully, they’re open-minded people with the right intent, so when we do get into political discussions, they are good at listening to my side and explaining their own. Usually, my brother and I teamed together have enough information on our side to sway them, and thankfully they’re not so close-minded or prideful that they’re unwilling to change their view in the face of facts.”

Romance, a huge part of many college students lives, can be quite a controversial topic when it comes to discussions with parents. Some students are more open when talking about their dating life than others.

“ Definitely not,” Ramadhania said. “It’s not a taboo, but in our family we just don’t talk about it. Mostly because I feel uncomfortable opening up about what’s going on in my love life in fear of judgment and they don’t really bother to ask either.”

In contrast, Buchthal seems to have a more communicative bond with her dad and his fiance.

“My dad and his fiancé are definitely more eager to talk about my love life with me than I am to talk about it with them,” Buchthal said. “They think I’m boring and definitely pressure me to get out there more.”

Students in college may not have the time anymore to spend a significant amount of time with their parents, but they do still have some memories that they fondly reminisce on.

“My dad never missed a single one of my basketball games in high school, no matter what,” Buchthal said. “He works full time, and some of my games were very far away, but he was always there. My team also low-key sucked, so he had to sit through a lot to support me like that, and I’m insanely grateful for it.”

For Ramadhania, it was a memorable birthday celebration.

“Celebrating my 16th birthday at the Sydney Opera House on New Year’s Eve,” Ramadhania said. “Though, I’d like to visit them as often as I can. Maybe take them out to a nice holiday or something as simple as going for a walk in the park.”

Ramadhania talked about what she would do differently to maintain her relationship with her parents if she could go back in time.

“I’d like to be more respectful towards them,” Ramadhania said. “I remember always feeling like they were against me, even though that probably wasn’t the case.”

Finally, even though a parent-child (especially as a college student) relationship is surely complex and challenging for students to maintain in a healthy manner, they highlight the dilemma that a lot of students go through: at the end of the day, they understand that parents are also humans, and hence, make mistakes.

“Over the years I’ve learned that my parents aren’t perfect,” Ramadhania said. “They’re human. They make mistakes. And a part of growing up is learning to understand and accept them for who they are.”

Buchthal talked about the complexity of familial relationships.

“Things aren’t always easy with family, but I think it’s important to remember that — almost always people are just trying to do their best, and being patient and kind with people is the best way to weather any storm,” Buchthal said. “Even parents aren’t perfect.”

 

Written by: Rabiya Oberoi — features@theaggie.org