A guide to helping your parents cope when you move to uni
‘I’m not a regular mom, I’m a cool mom’
It’s only a matter of weeks until you move out, take your first steps on campus and neck Jägerbombs like they’re going out of fashion.
Of course everything you relay back to your parents has to be PG 13 –– they’re having a breakdown about you leaving already and you’re not even out the door. God knows what they’ll be like on the actual day. Will they stick around for predrinks? Are they going to cry?
It’s not you moving in and starting a new life you have to worry about, it’s how your proud parents are going to cope without their glorious son or daughter. Councillor Denise Knowles says they have to “acknowledge things are different”.
She said: “University is often the first big separation, and it’s about allowing that to happen. They need to acknowledge things are different.”
What to do with your room
They need to get to grips sharpish with the fact your shit is no longer going to be strewn all over the house. They might be tempted to make your bedroom into some sort of shrine, but you don’t want them completely redecorating and booting you into the garage either.
Denise said: “Talking about what to do with their bedroom can avoid awkwardness for both of you. If you redesign it completely and change it into a study, your child may feel rejected. However, if you leave it like a shrine then you are not acknowledging the change.
“When my second son went to uni he said: ‘Do what you want with the room, I’m not coming back’, so I got rid of the bed and got a futon and redecorated. But when he came back he was like ‘where’s my bed?’, because we hadn’t had a proper conversation and he didn’t think I’d actually do it.
“I couldn’t emphasise enough the importance of good communication – organising a how and when to communicate. It’s all about getting a balance.”
Getting dropped off
You’ve spent three, long months at home waiting for this day to come, and the last thing you need is your parents cramping your style. Yes, it would be good if they could unpack your boxes, take you out for lunch and then buy you a food shop while they’re there, but past that point there really isn’t any need for them to stick around.
You dread them introducing themselves to all your new flatmates, and what if they decide to stay for predrinks? Or even worse, start lecturing everyone on the dangers of drinking and warning about taking it easy…
Denise added: “The first day of university is one of the biggest days of your son or daughter’s life, so it is all about honouring your child’s wishes as a parent. Most parents will want to see where their child is living and to help them move in so they can picture them while they’re away, but this is a delicate moment.
“You don’t want to embarrass your child by hanging around too long: the first few hours are awkward enough anyway. And we all knew that one flatmate whose parents just would not leave. Do not be the parent who sticks around for the first few rounds of ring of fire.
“At the same time, try not to make them feel like you are just abandoning them. Communicate to find what they would like. This will probably be the toughest part, but stay strong.”
The minute they leave, you can finally settle in and get on with your new adventure. But for your parents, they’re most likely facing a long, lonely drive back home –– without you.
Denise recommends: “Life will change when your child runs off to uni, but it will depend on how things were at home when the child was there.
“You may be breathing a sigh of relief at the thought of less washing to do and less food to buy. The dynamic will change: you have got to be able to go with it and acknowledge the change.
“I advise you to not to wallow in the situation, but to take it as an opportunity to do new things. Take up a new hobby, or spend more time with your friends. Go take that knitting class you’ve always dreamed of, go on that tandem trip across France with your pals which you never got around to. The world is your oyster.”
Staying in touch
The first few weeks will be about striking a balance between keeping them in the loop and getting on with your life. You don’t want to be bombarded with FaceTime requests every day, but at the same time you want to know if you’re feeling a bit homesick, mum will be there with your dog Paws to comfort you.
Denise told The Tab: “Staying in contact with your child is very important but it’s about recognising the other’s circumstances. It is a joint responsibility between you both, but don’t be too offended when the new student is lax in talking during the first week.
“The fresher may be pissed out of their head the whole time and unable to spend as much time talking to their parents. But past this, try to encourage your child to keep you in the loop. You don’t need to know all the nitty gritty that’s going on, but they need to know you’re alright.
“It helps to reduce anxiety on both sides. The parents know you still want to speak to them and the student knows they are still supported.”
She added: “Don’t expect to see them every weekend. They have holidays to spend loads of time under your wing again, when they bring home all their washing and expect you to cook for them. My final advice would be not to worry too much, it is a very positive part of the cycle of life. You will both gain a lot of confidence from the experience.”