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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    How birds of a feather can still flock together from afar

    It might seem like your parents don’t care when they picture message you the new treadmill for your old room (which was much larger and didn’t have a stranger in it). But just remember they are probably freaking out just as much as you are.

    Many students struggle to deal with being away from home when they go to college. But according to some experts at the UA, parents can also have a hard time adjusting.

    While parents can have a hard time finding their place when their child goes off to college they still have a role, though it’s different, said Glenn Matchett-Morris, assistant director of Counseling and Psychological Services at Campus Health Service.

    “Some parents have a hard time letting go. They’ve had their child under their roof where they’ve maybe had tight constraints … or maybe they’re used to handling everything on behalf of their student,” Matchett-Morris said.

    Parents can feel a sense of loss or that they lack a role “if they were very engaged in their student’s life,” Matchett-Morris said.

    One way to help with these feelings is by restructuring time, he said.

    Hours that used to be spent helping with homework or cheering on their student at a sporting event will now need to be occupied doing something else, like a new hobby.

    Matchett-Morris said if a student comes to CAPS because a parent is being too controlling, staff would talk to the student about the developmental stage they are in, about not relying on the parent to make decisions and about new ways they can communicate with their parent.

    Some students feel a great sense of responsibility, particularly if it is a single parent, he said.

    Hanna Minkler, a parent from Prescott, Ariz., whose daughter will be living in a residence hall her freshman year, said she was a little apprehensive about her daughter leaving home for the first time.

    “I realize mistakes will be made, but that’s part of the process of growing up,” she said.

    For parents that are worried about their student, CAPS offers a service called Parents Matter where a parent can call and speak to a licensed therapist in order to get recommendations and referrals on what to do next, Matchett-Morris said.

    Matchett-Morris said the biggest thing is to keep “the lines of communication open” as the adjustment period is hard for both the parent and the student.

    “Parents can still be very supportive from afar,” he said.

    Many out-of-state parents do just that through the University of Arizona Parents and Family Association, according to Kathy Adams Riester, director of the association and assistant dean of students.

    “For our out-of-state parents, it (the association) is a very good link,” Riester said.

    The association has an advisory board composed of parents and four association committees for parents.

    Reister said parents can stay informed via Facebook, a magazine published twice a year and a monthly online newsletter.

    Through the association, parents can focus their energy and efforts into activities such as adopting a high school in their area, helping out a new Wildcat, fundraising or finding new ways support and draw attention to higher education in Arizona.

    “I think parents are used to being involved in their student’s life …,” Riester said, “so I think a lot of times parents are still looking for ways to be involved.”

    — Amer Taleb contributed reporting to this story.

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