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It's All Relative: Apron Strings

 by Stephanie Berger  published on Thursday, March 2, 2006

Berger/issues/arts/696057
Berger
 

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I had dinner this past Friday with an old friend of mine. We chatted about my classes, spring break plans and new boyfriend over carry-out. I left feeling happy that my friend still cared about my life and had so many encouraging words for my future.

But then again, I would have been shocked if she hadn't been supportive and loving, as a good friend should. She has known me for almost 21 years, and has seen me through all the major crises and triumphs of my life.

She is my mom, after all.

Because my parents live less than a half-hour drive from campus, I am able to visit them as frequently as I want. I'm very close with both of them, and talk to them on the phone several times a week.

I'm lucky to have such a great relationship with the folks who put clothes on my back and food in my mouth for so many years. So why then do some of my friends think I'm dependent, pathetic and permanently attached to the apron strings?

Growing up and becoming independent is a huge part of the college experience. Although some students live at home, most find themselves on their own in many ways. Even though lucky students may receive supplements from the folks in the form of tuition payments, they still must learn to manage these funds in a responsible way.

However, first semester of your freshman year doesn't have to, and shouldn't, mean goodbye to mom and dad. Although I don't think students need to call their parents to tell them what they have for breakfast every morning, I don't see anything wrong with conversing with the 'rents as often as you please.

What's important is that no one should tell someone else how much contact with mom and dad is appropriate. So, when I'm informed that it's strange to call my mother to ask her what type of white wine I should use in my cream sauce, I get a little annoyed.

In addition to the random cooking questions, my parents are still a source of advice and comfort for me, and I hope that they will continue to be through my adult years.

However, I do think it's important that students set some boundaries when it comes to parental interaction.

First, don't let your parents have more of a role in your life than you want at this point. This can be difficult if they pay your bills, but really, you're an adult now. If you feel like your parents are giving you more attention than you want or need, be honest with them and let them know. Chances are, they are only trying to be helpful and to take an interest in your life, and telling them how you feel will get them to tone it down.

Also, it's time to stop hitting your parents up for cash. Whatever they give you -- if that's anything at all -- is a generous gift. Consider yourself lucky to have their wisdom, love and support, and leave their wallets alone. If you ask your parents for a loan, treat it like one you would get from the bank -- pay it back, with interest if they request it.

Most importantly, take some advice from E.T. every once in awhile: phone home. Even if it is only to get the recipe for grandma's meatloaf, your parents will be glad to hear from you.

Reach the reporter at stephanie.m.berger@asu.edu.



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