Parental problems: How to deal with different types of parents during the college transition

Media Credit: Photo Illustration by Olivia Anderson | Photo Editor

Students might find that after moving to college, their parents call constantly for phone check-ins.

Whether you were coddled or a lone wolf growing up, you’re likely ready to take off after 18 years under your parents’ roof.

While you may think you have communication with your parents figured out, the dynamic is susceptible to major changes as you head off to college.

Here are some tips for navigating your relationship with each type of parent:

Flying under the helicopter parents’ radar

Homesickness is normal when you leave home, but separation anxiety is just as normal for your parents. Mom and dad may not have been overbearing before you left for college, but after moving to a new city they will likely want regular check-ins to hear how you’re adjusting.

If you find your phone is continuously vibrating, don’t feel guilty sending your parent to voicemail from time to time. If you’re in class, or two shots into your thirsty Thursday, just send a quick text explaining that you’ll call later.

To put your parent at ease, make a plan for when you’ll call. Rather than have your mom pester you with multiple calls and texts every day, tell her you will call a few times a week to check in. Even if once a week seems like too often to update your parents about your life, just remember that those calls could soon diminish as they adjust to your absence.

Measuring up to overachievers

Even if you were a star student all through high school, it can be tough to keep up academics during this transitional first year. When taking on a college workload, your parents might feel like they have to push you to maintain the straight-A report card you brought home in high school.

In college, you have to maintain a social life, explore D.C. and still achieve a decent GPA. But even with near-endless studying, there is a chance your grades won’t measure up to your high school report cards.

If you’re having a hard time and your grades reflect that, communicate to parents that college is more stressful than you anticipated, and they may be more willing to tone down the talk of grades. Don’t let your parents add to the already stressful academic atmosphere that can be fostered at GW.

Remember, you’re probably still on track for your major and scholarship requirements even if earning a C in geology is a minor setback. If needed, you can always use the first-year forgiveness policy introduced last academic year on a grade of D+ or lower.

Dealing with gossipy moms and dads

If your parents were always down-to-earth and gave you space when it came to your social life in high school, you likely thought the dynamic would remain intact when you entered college. But calls to hear about school could turn into them looking for details that are a little more revealing than you’d like to provide.

If your parents start posing questions about parties and relationships that you don’t want to answer, choose what details you disclose carefully and sparingly. You can tell them about a recent motorcade sighting, your professor’s exciting day job or a protest that marched by your window instead. If you give them some sense of what you’re up to, your family will appreciate your effort to be honest and be satisfied without too many follow up questions.

While they have good intentions, parents don’t always need to be in the know about these aspects of your life. Remember it’s OK to keep some things away from mom and dad – you’re an adult now, even if it doesn’t feel like it yet.

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