How Your College Student Wants You to Behave

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This is a guest post by Lianna Bessette. If you’d like to guest post on this blog, click here.
DISCLAIMER: Although I am in college, I do not necessarily hold the same views as all college students.  I cannot be held responsible for any variations in opinion among others of my kind.

Students Moving Into College DormI am 19 years old, and I’m a rising college sophomore.  A year ago, I was living in my parents’ house, abiding by my parents’ rules.  This summer, I’m actually right back where I was.  A lot has changed, however, over the past year.  

Like so many other families, my family and I lived comfortably in the confines of traditional parent/child roles for years, but these roles had to change with the times.  I wasn’t sure how I wanted our relationship to function, to change, until I left.  Now I know how a college student’s brain works.  I know that this is how we wish our parents would act.

Be interested, but don’t be nosy

I really enjoy being able to tell my parents about the new things I learn and experience, but I like being able to keep things from them, too.  I’m not even talking about important things or big secrets, but it’s nice to be able to choose what to share.  For example, I once didn’t tell my parents I was auditioning for a play until I got a callback.  It was fun to tell my parents about my accomplishment without them expecting it.  We want you to understand our separate lives, but we want to be able to have some control over what you know.  It’s not conniving; it’s just the way life works when living away from home.

Don’t expect me to contact you every single day

I love talking to my parents, but I just don’t have time to call or email every day.  We’re busy here, you know.  I like to get emails, but my favorite way to communicate is a 20-30 minute phone conversation once or twice a week.  That works for me.  Some of my friends don’t contact their families for weeks or months at a time.  One of my roommates did talk to her parents every day.  It all depends on how we like to communicate.  Don’t be offended it we don’t contact you. College is different, and we have a lot to do. We still love you.

Don’t make us lie to you

My parents are really cool about drinking in college.  They understand that it’s part of the culture, and we’ve had mature conversations about drinking responsibly.  Months ago, my parents asked me if I partied, I answered truthfully, and they didn’t chastise me for my answer.  I personally think this is the best way for a parent to act in this situation.  Because I don’t view alcohol as a taboo substance, I don’t abuse it.  Some of my friends’ parents have asked them the same question, and, when they answered truthfully, they were punished.  Not all college students drink, but many do.  We don’t want to lie to you.  If you don’t want to know, please don’t ask.

We want you to care

We want you to miss us even if we love being away from home.  We want you to come to Parents’ Weekend (or at least want to come to Parents’ Weekend) even if we don’t necessarily want you in our domain.  We want you to
buy apparel and bumper stickers from the bookstore even if it’s embarrassing when you flaunt it.  We want you to send us baked goods every so often even though dining hall food is probably making us fat already.  We want you to be proud of us because going to college means something.

This past year, my parents and I realized that altering the roles we were so used to wasn’t nearly as scary as we thought it might be.  The smooth transition my family made to college life made coming back home for the summer easy and, to be honest, a lot of fun.  I can’t imagine what it’s like to become the parent of a college student, but my parents got the hang of it pretty quickly.  You’ll figure it out, too.

Lianna Bessette
Lianna Bessette

Lianna Bessette is a member of Bowdoin College’s class of 2013. She recently started a blog while studying abroad in Cork, Ireland at Lianna unCorked and she obsessively writes in her own journal.

6 thoughts on “How Your College Student Wants You to Behave”

  1. Hi Lianna
    My daughter is off to university later in the year so reading this post was useful for me.
    I’ll have to remember “We want you to miss us even if we love being away from home.” thats good.
    Thanks for the advice

    • Hi Keith,
      I’m glad my comments were helpful! Every family is different, but it’s important to understand that, although things will change, relationships won’t change as much as you think they will. I wish your daughter luck in college. I hope you and your family have a great experience!

    • Hi Jen,
      I appreciate your support! I think the parents’ role is an aspect of college life that can often be ignored. Thanks for reading.

  2. Lianna, what a fabulous post. Your honesty is really poignant. You’re 10 steps ahead by simply being mindful of your changing relationship with your parents (and of your own growth in itself). Having the maturity to consider this most special of relationships, realistically and still with care, tenderness and blunt honesty, is really special. Go you! Keep up the writing. You have something to say. Well done! Mandy

    • Hi Mandy,
      Thank you very much for your encouragement! I’m glad you enjoyed reading my post; it was a lot of fun to write. I hope to think up another topic worth blogging about soon!


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