Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Monday, June 17, 2024

It's not uncommon for parents to feel concerned as they watch their precious baby Gators disappear into the Swamp.

Though all parents react differently to their kids leaving home, there are ways for new students to keep Mom and Dad reassured.

Dr. Michael Murphy, a psychologist at the UF Counseling Center, said most parents worry their children may not function well on their own.

They worry about whether their sons and daughters will eat right, be able to do their own laundry and stay safe.

Even though some students arrive in Gainesville and immediately love being here, parents can take longer to adjust.

Having their roles change after 18 years can be difficult to accept.

"Parents are concerned, so they tend to get over-involved," he said.

Erin Hawkins, a music performance junior, knows about those concerns firsthand.

She said her parents wanted to make sure she was comfortable and had everything she needed when she first came to Gainesville.

To ease their worries, Hawkins tried to keep her parents involved in her life, even bringing them to tailgating parties before games.

Meeting the new people in her life made her parents feel closer to her, she said.

"I think we got along even more when I left," Hawkins said. "I think our relationship grew. You realize how much you miss them and how much you depended on them."

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox

Hawkins' committment to including her parents fits in well with Murphy's advice.

Breaking away is a gradual process, he said, so students should try to be understanding.

But while they reassure their parents that everything is fine, students can also take steps to establish new boundaries.

For example, calling home less frequently helps show a student's need for space, he said.

Murphy said communication is key, whether it's asking for more or less support.

This, however, doesn't mean students have to divulge every bit of information about how they are using their newfound independence.

"It's probably better if they don't," Murphy said.

Hawkins kept that in mind, too. She said she didn't feel the need to go into too much detail with her parents about her university experiences.

"I definitely kept some information to myself, but I'd tell them any accomplishments," she said. "I wouldn't go into my personal life."

Shaina Pyfrom, a theater production senior, said at first she also didn't tell her mother a lot of information about her social life.

But after a while, Pyfrom figured there was no point in hiding anything because she was getting older and more mature.

Initially, her mother didn't like hearing about trips to night clubs, but eventually she got over it.

"You know parents," Pyfrom said. "If they've been there, they're like, 'I'm trying to stop you from making the same mistakes.'"

For Pyfrom's mother, seeing her daughter leave home was not easy. She cried when Pyfrom came to UF.

Pyfrom said she received calls from home every day for the first few months.

"If she didn't hear from me, she'd probably call the dorm office," Pyfrom said.

Pyfrom's mother stayed supportive from a distance, sending money and making doctor's appointments for her when she wasn't feeling well.

She didn't visit Gainesville often, though, something Pyfrom appreciated as she set out to establish a life on her own.

But sometimes, even though they don't like to admit it, new students can miss home, too.

To cope with the transition, Hawkins made sure to stay busy.

"If you sit around, then you'll dwell upon it like, 'Uh oh, I'm alone,'" she said.

Pyfrom said she still calls her mother when she needs someone to talk to.

"When you're homesick, you want to call," she said. "You need your parents to talk to when everything is stressful."

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.