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The Importance of Setting Boundaries with Parents as a College Student

Being in college comes with a lot of new responsibilities and especially new expectations. Since this is our first time away from our home and parents, it can be daunting to navigate college and this process alone. Now that finals are coming, going back home to what used to be our normal can be hard. Our parents may believe that it's expected for us to still stick to set rules around curfew and chores that we used to have before going to college. I remember going back home after my freshman year and having a strange feeling about it. I didn’t know how to act, or what I had to do or say. After a year, I had changed and was becoming someone completely different than how I was when I left my country. I struggled the first couple of days back home, because I was used to living alone now and I felt my parents were expecting a lot of things that I wasn’t comfortable with anymore. That is when I understood that setting boundaries with parents is something completely normal and healthy—and it is something that we should all do. 


Many parents struggle with the balance between being a parent, caring for us, and also letting us have our own lives as adults now. College allow us to discover who we want to be as a person. This is a time when we realize that some relationships we have in our lives may have to change as we no longer want to tolerate particular actions or opinions. The relationship that we have with our parents is not an exception. Setting boundaries with them is extremely important in order to maintain trust and a sincere bond. Having boundaries in place will help us to properly communicate what we no longer relate to. It is okay to tell our parents that we do not feel comfortable when they try imposing their beliefs and ways of living on us. It sounds easier than what it already is. It takes a lot of courage to have these awkward but necessary conversations. However, if we show how grateful we are to have them in our lives while also telling them that it is necessary to have those boundaries, it will make the conversation a tiny bit easier. 


Setting boundaries not only helps us to create the person that we want to be, but it also gives us autonomy and confidence for our adulthood. This is a great way to stand up for ourselves and our needs. When I first started doing this with my mom, it was extremely difficult. I had to repeat those boundaries to her many times. Sometimes it can be really tiring and draining to deal and put up with things that no longer satisfy us or resonate with the person we are now. Therefore, communicating these discomforts with our parents will lift a weight from our shoulders and improve our overall relationship with them. Before placing those boundaries, when I felt uncomfortable, I would just distance myself from them without any explanation. I knew that this was also unfair to them as they weren’t aware of what was going on and everything that they did had a good intention. 


Being raised in Ecuador with a Latin family also played a huge role. When I came to the States, I saw there were several cultural differences in terms of expected and acceptable parental involvement. In Ecuador, sometimes I felt that my parents and I were enmeshed in each other's lives, and coming to college, my parents wanted to continue with that. However, I knew that I needed space to figure out who I was as a person and who I wanted to become. Thankfully, after communicating this to my parents, they were really understanding even though it took a long time to get used to this new way of living. 


Setting boundaries with our parents is definitely not easy. However, once that first step is taken, it can drastically change the relationship for the better. It can make us feel more confident and independent. We’ll start to appreciate and value our privacy and decision-making skills. Even though it has been really hard to let go, this decision has helped me become a better and more self-sufficient person. Our parents will eventually understand that respecting our boundaries is also a way of showing their love to us. We deserve to live how we want to, with who we want to, and have our own opinions and ways of living. 

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