How to Deal with Parents When at College

When in college, most parents are naturally worried, but that worriness can take itself to be annoying and even damaging to the “college experience.” It naturally to be expected that parents can’t understand how college life really is. Even if they had gone to college in the past, things change and are different than their generation. There are more complicated things to worry about in this age that they didn’t have to worry about then.

Some of the signs of these bothersome parents, or otherwise more commonly known as “hovering” parents are:

1) When you move in, they insist of organizing things for you.

2) They do everything for you. Pay your school bills, choose your college, what kind of sheets you will get, choose your classes for you, etc. Somethings should be done by the STUDENT. YOU.

3) Take the “you” of the process and turn it into “we.” Ex. “We” don’t like this college, instead of “I” don’t like this college, or “We” have a problem with the services this school provides.

4) They call you too much.

5) Ask every detail of your life beyond what is natural of the parent/child bond. Basically when the questions get beyond mere curiosity and turn into an interrogation.

6) When they do call you, when you hang up or talk to them you feel: irritated, annoyed, angered, tired, or feelings along those lines. This is a sign of a relationship that is more harmful than beneficial.

7) They expect unrealistic things or too much out of you while in college

(example: Get all A’s. In a system where things are on a curve, normally it’s hard to get all A’s no matter how smart we were in high school. The point is that college isn’t all about grades. Life isn’t graded. It’s what you learn from it. Getting an A doesn’t mean you know everything perfectly.

Example: Be friends with everyone you meet. There are some people that you will just not like.

Example: Graduate in four years. Classes are getting cut as we speak and more people in college, this does not make it easy to get the classes you need.)

8) They visit more than you would want them to.

9) Expect you to be an angel or nun. Not going to happen, especially when this is the time to explore and make mistakes.

There are more signs to hovering parents, but these are the basic. If you have hovering parents, you probably would know even before you get to college (probably around the beginning of high school of prodding questions, such as, “What major do you want to be?” during freshman year or pratically taking over the application process.

Basically college is where the student (you) learn to operate in a small version of the adult world. It doesn’t work if your parents are holding your hands (or clinging to the back of your shirt in some cases). For you to have good memories or memories at all of college, you need to create some distance. Especially if you’re in college away from home, if you wanted to be coddled by your parent, just go to a college nearby or stay at home. Save some money.

Of course, if you depend on your parents to pay for your education, you can’t just tell them to butt out. If you don’t have these kinds of parents, why are you reading this? Go give them a call and tell them how grateful you are of them while the rest of us reading this spite you.

Now, what to do about them. It isn’t going to be easy since they have probably acted the same way your entire life. Eventually your going to have to set them straight and this is a good time to do it. You don’t want to be thirty with kids (or fourty) and have your parents prodding you in the back controlling you.

1) Telling them to back off (even bluntly) will not do. Habits are hard to break. Create a distance slowly and make them more use to the distance.

If it is too many visits, tell them that you’re too busy (actually give reasons, not just “busy.”) and limit the visits to either only holidays when they pick you up or possibly once a month.

If it is too many calls, as before, tell them your busy doing home or doing something and you’ll call them back. Eventually they’ll get the message that you're actually doing stuff at college and call fewer. If you suffer from 6, feeling upset or negative emotions after the calls, this is more than a hovering parent at problem, it is a relationship problem that requires more to fix.

2) Show them that you’re trustworthy. They worry because they don’t trust you completely. They worry that you might make a mistake or do something wrong. Which you will make mistakes and do things wrong, but how you react after the mistake is showing them that your maturing and that they don’t need to be worried. If you call them instantly to have them fix your problems, then it’s probably your fault they’re hovering. If you show them that you can solve your own problems and take care of yourself, they don’t have to worry as much.

3) Be responsible. Don’t spend too much money. Don’t go to too many parties. Act like an adult that can control themselves. If you want them to treat you like an adult or to get off your back, then act responsible. Limitation is one of the things mature people do. Do it.

4) Talk to them. It’s hard for them to understand how hard college is. Not just classwise, but dealing with people, the unknowing distant future that is following you like a ghost everyday you go to class, the statistics of people not graduating, finding a job after graduating, etc. They aren’t mind readers. If you tell them simply of the stress you are going through, they will hopefully see through your view and understand. They had to go through this stage as well. But while telling them of your stress, you have to present yourself as someone who is really trying to deal and find solutions to these stresses rather than acting passive about it. Being passive doesn’t get anyone anywhere interesting.

5) Respect them. It’s a two way street. If you treat them like trash, they’re going to treat you like trash. Make an effort to try to see from their view. Only kids refuse to listen or have a real person to person conversation. The point is to show that you’re not a kid anymore.

6) Clue them in a little. Don’t keep them in the dark. It’s understandable not to want to tell them that you saw a really hot guy in ____ class and you totally want to go out with him or fill in with your own example, but if you don’t tell them anything it makes them think that you're miserable and they feel out of touch from your life. Give them the basic run down of simple safe topics; how classes are (fine), how your professors are (decent), how your roommates are (alright), how’s food (edible), things you’ve done, places you’ve seen. In fact, this is a good time to show how much you’ve changed or are enjoying yourself. If they see your enjoying yourself, then they should be happy.

Now these changes won’t happen over a day or a month. It’ll take time. Sending kids off to college is not an easy thing for most parents to do, but make an attempt and the relationship between you and your parents may even improve more.


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Comments 2 comments

bayareagreatthing profile image

bayareagreatthing 6 years ago from Bay Area California

Very sound advice. I think as a parent, it is hard to see your kids as "grown ups", but it is vital to their growth. Great hub!


Lissa Joy profile image

Lissa Joy 4 years ago from Missouri

I agree, great topic. Those of us with parents like these generally don't know what to do with them. Kudos for addressing a tough topic and pulling it off rather professionally!

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