Coming to college after high school can sometimes improve the
relationships students have with their parents, according to CSU
Once students leave for college, their relationships with their
parents typically improve, said Kevin Lyness, an assistant
professor in human development and family studies.
“There is significant evidence that shows students get along
better with their parents when they leave the home,” Lyness
Three contributing factors account for why these bonds grow
tighter. The biggest contributing factor is a student receiving his
or her freedom, Lyness said.
“The nature of the interaction between parents and their
children changes when the child leaves the home for college. Both
parties reach new stages in the life cycle,” said Jennifer Cross,
an assistant professor in the sociology department.
Some students at CSU believe that respect is the important part
to the student-parent relationship.
“There’s always been unconditional love, but now it’s built with
respect on both sides,” said Ashley Myers, a senior human
Not living together might reduce the number of fights parents
and students have.
“There is a huge misconception that high school students fight
with their parents a lot,” Lyness said. “The conflict is
Students can fight with parents over any number of different
“Fighting within households is a direct result of the differing
viewpoints parents and children have, such as appropriate evening
attire,” Lyness said. “Parents see the problem as a moral issue
whereas kids see the problem as a personal choice.”
He said once freed from parental supervision, students
discipline themselves and in the process develop social cognition
“Social cognition is how you see yourself in interactions as
other people would. It is like taking someone else’s perspective,”
Some students might view their actions differently if they saw
themselves in the same light that their parents do.
Another factor that can help students and parents get along is
when students develop a new identity.
“College students are developing a personal sense of identity
and once they figure out who they are, they do not have to fight
with parents and differentiate themselves,” Lyness said.
Students may be surprised to discover their parents are doing
fine in the empty house.
“As far as the empty nest theory goes, it is a myth. The truth
being, we think our parents miss us more than they truly do,”
Once the house is empty, some students’ parents divorce because
there is nothing holding the relationship together. The
relationship is either broken off or rekindled, Lyness said.
“I think it was odd not having a third person in the house; it
makes for a different routine and is a little more relaxed,” said
Nancy Reeves, a mother and an administrative assistant for
Students may find that when taking a short visit home there
might be tension from the changed roles.
“Parents act more as advisers than caregivers, which gives the
opportunity for (them) to relate to each other as equals,” Cross
Freshmen especially might feel challenged by the new burden of
responsibilities, according to the University Counseling
“If you are feeling homesick do not feel alone,” said Laura
Macagno-Shang, senior staff counselor. “I think homesickness is
very common. It’s very rare to find students that are not
Some students may have grown up with their parents making most
of their decisions, and this could be bad, Macagno-Shang said.
“It is important as a parent to teach their kids how to make
decisions, live with the bad ones and be confident that it is okay
to make mistakes,” she said.