By Kendra Rhodes, Contributing Writer
A significant time of maturation and independent growth is during the college years. College provides the setting for exploring new-found freedom. Students have the choice to live on their own and make many of their own day to day decisions, but they still have the structure and the basic rules that on-campus living stresses. When parents fail to loosen the reins of control when their students go to college, a large part of imperative personal growth is lost and has adverse effects for the parent.
According to Leading Effectively, a human goes through three developmental stages of maturation: dependent, independent, and interdependent.
Dependent is when the child completely relies on the parent for guidance and basic survival. The independent stage suggests a person craves freedom from outside control or another’s authority. The website reads, “Independent wisdom is about the journey of the self, and the power of personal experience and rational thinking.” Sometimes parents fail at accepting and adapting with the child through the transitional phase from dependent to independent.
When young adults in the independent stage don’t get to express their liberation enough, their final stage of interdependence suffers. Without enough independent growth, the scale tips and there is imbalance and overall makes adult decision making harder.
For West Liberty student Sierra Wilson, the freedom her parents have allowed her to gain turned out to have taught her the biggest lessons she has learned in college.
Wilson said, “I have never felt my parents to be overbearing or hovering, especially when I got to college. They knew when I got to a certain age that I had to start making my own minor mistakes, but they were never too far behind me in case a decision got too big for me to handle on my own. We will continue to always have a great relationship because of that and I think it has really prepared me for my future.”
Parents should have faith in their children to make the right decisions when the time comes. Guidance is needed and usually appreciated, but it’s when the guidance takes on a domineering nature that problems arise. Sometimes, students feel overwhelmed when their parents have not developed their own independence. When the parents need the child’s constant attention or presence, it also takes away from the student’s personal exploration of what it is like to be on their own.
Parents can sometimes smother their children because they fear the student will make mistakes. However, those are the most important lessons in the student’s life.
Parents, next time you’re faced with the task of guidance, instead of guilt tripping or smothering your child, discuss your concerns with them and express your thoughts. Then, let them decide for themselves. Students, if you feel your parents are not letting you reach your fullest maturation by harboring on your independence, tell them. Compromise and understanding are the keys to working out the problem.
Photo provided by Kendra Rhodes