UW-Stevens Point student Val Every and her mom recently interviewed each other about their experiences during Val’s transition from high school senior to first-year college student. Val, now a sophomore at UWSP, and her mom also shared how their relationship has changed over time.
Were you ready for Val to move away and why?
Mom: Yes, I was ready for Val to move away. Val changed her senior year of high school. She became more of an adult – more independent. She seemed to be more busy with school, activities and especially friends than ever before. It was like I needed that to help me prepare for the transition of her leaving – and it did. The summer before she left, she was gone from home more than during the school year. This all helped me get used to Val actually moving away.
Were you ready to move away?
Val: No – yes I wanted to go to college, but toward the end I was scared to leave. The last few weeks before school I became super nervous. But once I arrived at UW-Stevens Point and started having a good time and meeting friends, all of those nerves went away.
What was the hardest part of being away from each other?
Mom: The hardest part of being away from Val was – and still is – the lack of time to spend and talk together. Val and I have a great relationship. Like any relationship when you are used to a person being around, and then they are gone, it takes adjusting. I also love all of Val’s friends, and now that she is not around, I don’t get to see them either.
Val: I think the hardest part had to be not having my mom to talk to whenever I needed it, or for a mom hug. It is such a change going from having your mom around for a talk or advice to having to call or text about it.
What was the most interesting or coolest result that came from your separation?
Mom: I think Val may think the coolest thing is that I can’t meddle in her business anymore. She gets to make the decisions, and I often don’t get to know what decisions she even needs to make. But I love when she asks for advice because now I know she actually wants it.
Val: I think that the coolest thing is that part of our relationship changed. After I left for college, I felt like my mother and I could have conversations like adults instead of mother and child. I thought that this was a really cool step in our relationship because we have never had a type of relationship like that.
What was the most effective way to communicate with each other?
Mom: For us, the most effective way to communicate is by the phone. The order of what we use the most is texting, calling to talk, Facetime, Snapchat, Twitter and then Facebook. I have also sent a few packages with notes in them. She seems to love those as they are rare, but cool to get.
Val: Phones – mostly texting and calling. Sometimes we Facetime. It’s a quick and easy way to communicate in the time we have during the day. If we are both busy we can just send a quick text, or when we have more time we call and just have a nice conversation. I like that I can communicate with my mom whenever I need, and I recommend keeping in touch with your family when you go off to college in whatever way you are able to.
How do you think being apart affected your relationship?
Mom: Being apart has affected our relationship in that I see her more as an adult now – not a child. I try to respect her decisions instead of imposing my own thoughts on her. I really felt the change when we went on a vacation together – she is not a child anymore – it was pretty cool! I have always been proud of my daughter for what she has done, and now I am equally as proud of who she has become.
Val: I think it got stronger. During my senior year of high school I don’t think that I appreciated spending time with my family as much as I should have. And now, when I do get to go see them, I absolutely adore it. Now that I have changed and grown up, I just feel that I have a lot more respect for how much my mother and my family did for me.
What advice do you give to other parents with children leaving for college?
Mom: My best advice to other parents when their child leaves for college is to listen to all advice, but only use what you know you can live with comfortably. I did not agree with those who felt that a parent should not communicate at all with his or her child for the first week or two. I think each family needs to make the decision that is right and comfortable for them, while giving their new college student some space when needed.
What advice do you give to young adults leaving for college?
Val: Remind your parents that you love them and are thankful for what they did for you. When you go to college, you will start to realize all of the things that your mom, your parents or your siblings did for you. And you should make sure to tell them how much they mean to you and how much you love them for all they did and for who they are.