College for many is a time of increased independence and self-reliance. An education with less structure in a new space and away from parents. And yet, for some, the parents never really leave. They pay for tuition, monitor grades, call every day and have a say in every big decision. As much as parents care for their children and want them to do well, this level of meddling does more harm than good. Parents are a great source of support emotionally and financially but college is where they should start to step back and let students learn to monitor themselves.
If parents are starting to irritate you or stress you out, it’s important to remember you can set boundaries. You are not required to pick up every call. You do not have to tell them your grades. You do not have to go home to see them every weekend. You don’t owe your parents anything other than your respect. If your parents try and convince you otherwise or make you feel terrible for missing a call or yell at you about your grades or complain that they never see you, they are wrong. The majority of students are legal adults and as much as parental financial support and/or effort in raising us is appreciated, students still have the right to ask for space.
Students also have the right to make their own choices. Decisions should be made with both of the child and parents’ wishes in mind. We are no longer at the age where we cannot make choices for ourselves. Parents should be supportive of decisions and provide guidance when asked. Money should not be used as a power tool to control children. Age and experience should not be used to trump what students feel is best for them.
Life requires each of us to make our own decisions and parents can’t always be there to help. Allow yourself to grow beyond them. Show them and yourself that you are a capable young adult. Making the right decision can be scary but we really are capable of making it. Even if it’s the wrong choice, it can be fixed. No decision is final. Plus, the Career Center, University Counseling Services, Educational Services for Students, and more are all great resources if help is needed.
College is for the students, not the parents. Take the classes that you want to take. Go into a major you’re excited about. Do the activities you’re passionate about. By denying yourself these choices, you hamper both your present and future. By pressuring their children to do things how they’d like, parents are cutting students short in the long run. We have to make decisions with our future income in mind. We have to learn to weigh our options effectively. But we are capable of all of this. We are smart enough to know what will work and what won’t. We can meet with failure and get back up. There are many, many, many ways to be successful and only you can know which way will work for you.
Parents have done so much for so many of us but now is their time to step back. If you feel you have to do what they ask because they know better, because they’ll yell at you otherwise, because they’re paying for college, think again. Parents who unconditionally love and support their children will let them make mistakes, will let them find their own path, will let them use their college experience how they feel is best. In the end, being able to make these choices is what benefits the child most, what helps them grow into a successful adult. College is a time to learn how to function on your own. Don’t let your parents stop your growth at adolescence. This is your life, not theirs. Make sure you’re the one in charge of it.