We love to think that when we graduate high school, we officially become adults. After all, we’re old enough to vote, get a good job, and even go off on our own to college.
Of course, our parents often have other ideas. Even though we’re ready to do our own thing, they can treat us like we’re still in high school. This can be helped by setting some boundaries with your parents. Here are some ways you can get them to respect your space — without the usual drama.
How to Communicate Boundaries With Parents While in College
Step 1: Start Early
One of the worst things you can do is ignore the situation and just hope for the best. This is even true with the coolest parents, who can sometimes be the biggest rule-breakers when it comes to dropping in unexpectedly or contacting professors on your behalf.
To avoid this, use the summer to talk about what you expect from them, and listen to what they want from you as well. Bring it up casually, like around the dinner table, so it doesn’t seem so rehearsed, or set it up so that you have “stories” of friend’s parents who crossed the line.
Step 2: Be Proactive
Usually, parents just want to know when they’re going to see their kids again. By scheduling not only break time with your folks but regular meetings (like a “Parent’s Day”), you can give them something to look forward to while heading off any clinginess. They’ll especially appreciate if you make a big deal out of the event.
If your parents live nearby, be careful of making promises to come home for weekends. Point out that you plan on joining a sorority and that your weekends will be taken up or show your dad the football schedule and talk about your tailgating plans. The more involved you are, the less opportunity your parents will have opportunity to jump in.
Step 3: Honesty Wins
It can be hard to say, “I don’t like/want that,” but it’s essential to establishing who you are and what you need out of your relationship. This may mean hurting some feelings, but if you remain positive and push the brighter side to your parents, it can be easily mended.
Anticipating serious boundary breaking means a family discussion before leaving for school. Strict parents like to see when their kids have plans or have through through situations beforehand, so come prepared. Grab your potential school and activity schedule and point out times that would and would not be appropriate to call. Or, print out the university’s rules on student privacy. Your parents might be shocked to learn that they can’t just call on your behalf or get information about your grades, classes, health, roommates, etc without your permission.
Step 4: Be Understanding
While you may be amped up to move out, your parents are going through something completely different. They’re getting ready to say goodbye. And while some parents really love the fact that their baby is grown, others want to cling on to their mom and dad duties a bit longer.
The key to being understanding is being a good listener. Let them talk about how much they’ll miss you and all the hopes and dreams they have for you while you’re gone. Spend good, quality time with them, even if it is just grabbing ice cream or seeing a movie. And finally, be open to their concerns. They are your parents, after all, and their love knows no bounds.