Mamá, don’t cry. As much as you are excited to start a new journey, your parents will also start a new chapter of their lives. It doesn’t matter if you come from a family of five siblings or a family where you’re the only child. One of their babies is leaving the nest and things will change for them.
According to the Center for American Progress Fund, 61 percent of first time, full time Hispanic freshmen in 2008 were Latinas. That same year, 9 percent of Latina women received their bachelors degree. MPI Senior Vice President Michael told Fox News Latino reports that Latina women have a 46 percent college enrollment rate, roughly the same as non-Latina white women. But there is a 7 percent graduation gap between Latinas and non- Latinas.
Gabriela Ortega, a second year Education student at the University of Texas at Austin, decided to get her bachelors degree in her hometown and will soon embark on her third year of studies.
“My parents want me to go to college. They want me to have a good future,” she said. She said her parents encouraged her to pursue what she believed in. She is happy with her decision, but states Latinas need to “think about the benefits they will have after [leaving home].”
“As with every major decision in life, one must weigh the pros and cons. and when the pros outweigh the cons, then it’s obviously the best decision. Even if it’s not evident to everyone else, eventually it will be,” said Alejandra Alaffita, Texas A&M College Station graduate.
Mamá, don’t cry!
Going away to college is a process that may lead to moments where you will find yourself listening to stories about your childhood. It might be about an emberrassing moment or when you won an award your parents could stop bragging about. It might be annoying, funny, cute, and bittersweet, but take the time to listen. Nostalgia occurs because your parents are seeing you mature. After 18 years of teaching you how to be a grown up, their little girl is taking the next big step!
Helping parents cope
Before you move out don’t be afraid to share advice and information about college with your parents. Parents might feel more comfortable knowing how other families handled the transition to college- especially if you’re the first one leaving home.
“If you’re the first one in your family to go to college, you might need to educate your parents about its importance [and] about how many opportunities it will open for your career. This is a transition not just for you but for your parents as well,” Mariela Dabbah, founder of Latinosincollege.com, said.
There are many resources available, even in Spanish, like this great book you can share with your parents:
- Ayude a su Hijo a Tener Exito en la Escuela Guia Especial para Padres Latinos: Help Your Children Succeed in School: A Special Guide for Latino Parents, by Mariela Dabbah (Sphinx Publishing; 1 edition, August 1, 2006)
Unlike other college prep books, these books are targeted towards your parents in a way that will help them cope with the start of your college degree. The two books below are also great resources:
- Help Your Children Succeed in School (An Essential Guide for Latino Parents), by Mariela Dabbah (Sphinx Publishing, January 1, 2007)
- The Happiest Kid on Campus: A Parent’s Guide to the Very Best College Experience (for You and Your Child), by Harlan Cohen (Sourcebooks, May 1, 2010
Once your parents are familiar with the process, don’t be afraid to call your parents and check up on how they are doing once you start classes. Staying connected helps your parents understand that even though you’re not at home you care and think about them.
Communication is key
Setting up a time to call can be something you or parents look forward to throughout the week. You might consider setting a number of days you can go without contacting one another. If you don’t contact your parents or they don’t contact you by a certain date, then you know something is wrong. If you are limited on time, send them a text or an e-mail. Dabbah advised that sharing what your day is like, talking about your new friends, classes and activities are all good ways to make them feel a part of your life. Keeping your parents up to date about your schedule, whether it’s for class or work, helps them understand why you are not able to communicate with them at a certain time or as often. You moved out from home to get away from the “rules,” but if you let them know what is going on you may prevent getting a dozen calls during your morning lecture.
Webcam and Social Media
If your parents have a busier schedule than you do, send them e-mails or use social media sites like Twitter or Facebook to stay connected. Using a webcam or Skype to talk is also a great way to keep in contact. If your parents aren’t too technology friendly, don’t worry! Send a letter or card in the mail. They’ll appreciate the “surprise” in the mail. Check to see if your college sells greeting or postcards to send to your parents, family, or friends back home to show off your school pride.
Things will change, but it is your choice on how much you choose to include your parents in this change. Spare a few minutes in your week to give your parents a quick hello. There are multiple ways to share information with your parents that will balance a healthy relationship along with your daily lifestyle.