How Going to College Improved my Relationship with my Parents

A couple of weeks ago, I got a text from my dad. It was a picture of a container of sliced persimmons, one of my favorite fruits. My family has a persimmon tree in our backyard that’s usually polka-dotted with crisp orange fruits during this time of the year. My dad always lets me know whenever the tree is in full bloom because he knows how much I love the fruit. And when that happens, I can usually expect to come home to a refrigerated container of permissions courtesy of him. 

So as I sped down Comm Ave. in order to make it in time for my next class, I felt extremely sentimental because darn, did I miss home and those persimmons. And almost as if God heard my hungry prayers, the picture was followed up with a text that read:

Suddenly my eyes welled up with tears, and as I struggled to keep the waterworks in control I replied, “Sure!”. Now it may seem stupid to want to cry over cut-up fruit, but a year ago I wouldn’t have batted an eyelash to this. In fact, I probably would’ve been happy that I wasn’t at home. 

Like the majority of people, my relationship with my parents has never been perfect. It’s had its fair share of highs and extreme lows, especially throughout high school and my Freshman gap semester. I constantly felt suffocated by the responsibilities my mom and dad projected onto me and this led me to intentionally distance myself from them. Over summer breaks, I would have to help my mom with running the family business of owning a facility for the elderly while my brothers could meet with their friends whenever they pleased.

Over winter breaks, I had to help my mom organize yearly taxes and couldn’t go out until they were finished. And even after I graduated high school, I wasn’t allowed to sleepover at a friend's house even if they were just down the street. I often struggled to effectively communicate with my parents because I feared voicing my opinion would be seen as being ungrateful or disrespectful. The few times I did often lead to heated arguments and little to no closure. As I left for college, our relationship remained strained and I saw being away from them as a period of freedom in my life.

I remember during my first month at BU, my mom called to lecture me since I hadn’t been calling as frequently as she liked. She told me that I was selfish and that I ought to be ashamed that I wasn’t contacting her since going to college. She said I just thought that I no longer needed my family and that when I did eventually need them, they wouldn’t be there for me because I was mistreating her right now. I was annoyed. No one likes to be lectured over the phone (much less with your new college roommate across the room overhearing you get your ear chewed off by your angry mom) but then I realized she was kind of right. 

As the school year continued, I took notice of how the dynamic with my parents began to change. The multitude of responsibilities that were once piled on me was gone and my absence from the household allowed my parents to depend on my other siblings to get chores done. The constant tension that used to linger due to adolescent matters dissipated as I learned to grow independently in college. I also came to appreciate everything my parents did for me. Things like the smell of homemade Filipino food being prepared for dinner or cut up persimmons in the fridge became a luxury I was deprived of in Boston. Fast forward to the following school year when a package of 20 persimmons arrives at my dorm.

Image Credit: Tavi 

It’s the little things (like the fact that each fruit was individually wrapped with newspapers to prevent them from bruising) that remind me that in a funny way, living across the country allowed me to close the distance in my relationship with my parents. 

 

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