When I came to the University of Arkansas at the ripe age of 17, I was ready to be free—free to pick my major and my classes, who my new friends would be and where I would go when.

My mother had another plan, however. She expected me to let her see my grades and account balances, tell her who I was going out with and call her every day—just like I did in high school.

Needless to say, this clash of beliefs didn’t work out too well.  We argued time and time again about whether I was an adult and if I was acting responsibly., and ended up mad at each other too many times to count.

Looking back on that time, I realize it was an important growing pain in my relationship with my mom that many, although not all, students go through with their own parents when they come to college. It is strange to go from talking and answering to your parents to having no one in that role in your life. Though the freedom that comes with going to college is great, it is also scary to take that first big step as an adult.

Students have to realize, however, that move to college isn’t just different and new to them—it is very different for their parents. In my case, my single mom went from having an older daughter around to talk to and provide support (and rides) to a younger sibling to being solely responsible for everything. Not only did she send her baby off to college, but she had an entirely different home life because of it.

At the time I didn’t really think about the changes for my mom—I was just annoyed. Now, though, I appreciate that time and the close relationship I have come to have with both my parents.  Out of that conflict, we eventually found a balance—I don’t call them every day, but I call often.  I don’t show them graded assignments each week, but I give them the password to my ISIS if they ever want to see how I’m doing.

Striking that balance is an important part of our time in college. Activities like this weekend’s Family Weekend, sponsored by First Year Experience and Arkansas Athletics, are a great way to let parents remain engaged in our college lives—let them share a game day with you, cheer on the hogs and meet some of your friends.

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