Cooke: Students should keep a close relationship with parents

Cody Cooke

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

With spring break just around the corner, some students at Colorado State University may be going back to their hometown for a week away from classes. A break from studying is always a win, but for some students, going home might mean tension with parents. Whether they are big political/environmental issues or trivial conflicts over what we wear and how we look, there are no shortages of things over which to disagree.

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But different age groups will always disagree, and this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Students at CSU know that differences in perspective, no matter how contentious, can be universally constructive. While we can’t expect everyone to be best friends with their parents, we should all strive for moments of connection and understanding whenever we can.

It’s easy enough to distance ourselves from our parents when we no longer live with them. This distance is inherently constructive. It’s meant to teach us self-reliance and how to grow in the adult world. However, independence doesn’t have to mean disconnection.

Our parents are an invaluable resource when it comes to learning how to be on our own. More than likely, they’ve been through the same problems. While we could be tempted to Google any solutions we may need, a quick call home could accomplish the same thing. Asking our parents for help on things as mundane as ironing a shirt or making a meal offers an opportunity for learning and appreciation on both sides of the phone.

Cooking meals is something every college student must learn to do. By all means, experimenting with our best guesses in the kitchen can be productive and even fun. But if you’re like me, putting mom on speaker can mean the difference between a good meal that lasts all week and a tasteless clump of rice and meat.

Beyond food, our parents can offer us their own life experiences. This might be the area that students don’t want lessons on — and that’s understandable. After all, the world our parents grew up in was different than the one we’re growing up in now. 

Our college years are bound to change the connections we have with most people, but maintaining those ties that we’ve had since birth can give us support for anything and everything from breakups to cooking spaghetti.”

Sharing experiences with others is good for our mental health. It also establishes trust between us and the person we share them with. College experiences can leave us with strong and unfamiliar feelings, and we might be hesitant to share these experiences with our parents.

Perhaps we’re scared we’ll be judged or punished, or maybe it’s just uncomfortable because it makes us vulnerable. However, sharing these things with our parents shows them that we trust them and that we value the support they create in our lives.

Of course, there is an exception to this. It’s entirely just for a student to not share things with their parents if those parents are likely to respond with antagonism and condescension. Meaningful understanding has no room for such things, but even this could be an opportunity for connection.

No matter how overbearing mom or dad’s opinion may seem, it’s important to not confuse criticism with toxic parenthood. We have to understand that it’s natural for our parents to respond with shock or even disappointment at the things we do. In many respects, it’s their job.

But it’s our job as growing individuals to confront their criticisms. A crucial part of being an adult is justifying our actions in the face of an attack. Our parents have every right to be angry if we share with them an experience that, to them, might have endangered us or threatened our integrity. But we also have the right to let them know that we’ve grown from such an experience and that we’ve learned something about ourselves, our limits and our mindsets.

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Even if it’s uncomfortable, keeping a close relationship with our parents can benefit us in all areas of life. Our college years are bound to change the connections we have with most people, but maintaining those ties that we’ve had since birth can give us support for anything and everything from breakups to cooking spaghetti.

Cody Cooke can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @CodyCooke17.