Dunbar: Parental support still necessary during college years


Blair Dunbar, Columnist

College is a bubble, cut off from the real world. During those four years, you’re straddling the line between two parts of your life. You’re not a kid but you’re not off on your own. While you’re struggling to assert your independence, chances are you are still dependent on your parents. So then what becomes of your relationship with your parents?

The first Winter Break back from college was a bit of an adjustment. After spending three months largely doing whatever I wanted, I suddenly got nagged for my weird sleep schedule, asked to do miscellaneous chores around the house and was generally forced to listen to my parents. After complete independence came complete dependence.

Except I realized during that break in college you are never completely independent. Most students rely on their parents for some funding or another and, at the very least, a place to stay when the University closes down for holidays. I would love to tell my parents they have no say in my major or whether I should drop a class. I would love to go home and tell my parents that I won’t take out the trash, but I can’t.

A couple of weeks ago, a few of my friends made plans to go get ear piercings. One of my friends said she would come but, unfortunately, would not be able to get a second ear piercing. I asked why, and she responded that her parents would kill her. At first I wanted to say, “You’re 18! You don’t have to listen to your parents.” But then I realized she did. After all, where does she live? Who has a job? Who pays the bills? Her parents.

Legally you are an adult when you turn 18, but I certainly don’t feel like one. I have no idea how I want to spend my summer, let alone what career I want. I feel like I would never be able to keep an apartment if I had to remember to pay the rent on time every month. At the same time, I don’t want my parents telling me I can’t sleep until two in the afternoon or go out late at night with my friends. One of my friends doesn’t want to pay for her housing, but she also doesn’t want her parents telling her she can’t live off-campus. As college kids, we take our parents for granted. We want their money but at the same time we want them to stay out of our lives.

I’m a member of Jumpstart. In the preschool where I volunteer, the kids take a nap every day from one to three. Every day, the kids fight against going to sleep. They just want to play. I told one of the children that one day he’ll wish he has a nap time. Of course, he won’t realize it until he has five hours of homework a day and can barely fit in three hours of sleep a night during finals week. It’s the same way with parents. We won’t realize how much we need them until they’re no longer there.

I love my parents. In fact, I still call them almost every day. Sometimes I even find myself wishing that they could make my life decisions for me. When I’m stressed or overwhelmed, I just want to snuggle up on the couch with my mom or drink hot cocoa with my stepdad. It’s those times that I realize I still need my parents. Not just for their finances, but for emotional support as well.

College is important not just because of the education it provides but because it’s a transition period. Very few are ready to go out on their own. At least with college you get a little stepping-stone. And I think it’s good you have to listen to your parents for four more years. After all, they’ve lived a lot longer. Eighteen years probably isn’t enough time for them to share all their valuable advice.

Blair Dunbar is a Weinberg sophomore. She can be reached at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, email a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].