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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Chapman chapter.

Assuming most of us left home to attend college, one of the first things you might realize when you return is that, to your parents, you never really left.

I mean, yes. You were not physically there, and your parents know that. However, mentally they probably still see the same high school version of you that went out the door months prior. It’s unconscious and materializes in ways you might miss. Maybe they still plan for you to join them on outings without telling you until that night. Perhaps they told someone you’d babysit, and you already had plans to meet with friends that night. Or maybe they get upset when you leave the house and don’t remember to tell them where you’re going, who with, and how long. 

It can be frustrating. 

In college, especially if you live away from home, you don’t have the same conditions that living at home often does. There’s no real curfew, no obligations to go to things you don’t want to after the mandatory school safety events, and definitely nothing stopping you from binge-watching all night because even if you do have a morning class, it’s your responsibility and no one else’s to wake up and stay up. 

Parents forget that. So if you’re a sophomore now, or younger/older, just got back from vacation where this happened, and you could not get them to realize you’ve changed, allow me to give you some advice for the next time you go home about how to alter the situation. 

1. Confront them about it. You’re independent now. You’ve been responsible for your schedule, and you’ve been successful at it. If you’ve made plans and they made other ones, they have to realize that sometimes your plans come first.

I did this and admittedly met some criticism in the beginning, but my parents agreed. It’s not unreasonable to confront them since you are both adults now.

2. If you do go out late, bear with them, and tell them ahead of time. If you don’t know when you’ll be back – let them know that you don’t. Tell them where and the estimated time you at least since what they really want to know is that you’re safe. (Also, try not to phrase your notification as a question. You’re not trying to ask permission; you are trying to be responsible.) 

I nonchalantly acted on this. I started letting my parents know I had plans early, told them how I planned to get there and such, and gave them updates about it over time so they weren’t surprised when I would leave or come back at odd hours.

3. POSSIBLY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ON THIS LIST: Do things independently of your family. Do your own dishes, do the house’s laundry, set an hour aside and read or watch something quietly and by yourself – do something independently at least once or twice a week and act as if this is your “new” routine. They’ll realize you’ve grown. 

I came home one summer and, after every meal, I would wash my dishes and put them away before heading to my room or going out. I would offer to clean the others dishes if they appeared finished, but mostly was only washing my plate. Just doing that completely change the interactions I had with my parents.

Within a week of doing these three things, my whole situation changed. Things my parents used to drag me to in high school, and during vacations, suddenly became optional, and all it took was those three adjustments. That’s it. They’re not very big, but they can transform everything. Heck, if you only did one or two of them, I’m sure you would see some improvement. So before you get frustrated, give these a try the next time you come home, and things haven’t changed. 

Edit: (29 May 2018) Updated: header image

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