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10 Things Not to Keep From Your Parents in College

10 Things Not to Keep From Your Parents in College
Posted By: Elynor Moss on December 22, 2014

By Kelci Lynn Lucier
College Life Expert

Life in college is supposed to facilitate independence and autonomy. And part of that, of course, often means keeping things secret that you might have shared with friends and family only a short time ago. In some situations, however -- such as these 10 things not to keep from your parents -- keeping your folks in the loop might be a smarter choice than silence.

1. Any fear you have for your health and safety. Just because you're supposed to be living on your own now -- whether it's in a residence hall, an off-campus apartment, or something else in between -- doesn't mean that you can't unexpectedly find yourself in a situation you don't like. If you have even the slightest concern for your health and/or safety about your living situation, talk to your parents (or anyone, really) as soon as you can. Whether it's because of a roommate who causes you some concern or because of the physical attributes of your housing, it's worth mentioning if it's causing you to feel unsafe.

2. Financial situations that will have an impact on your parents or your family. True, you probably don't need to tell your parents that you spent way too much on dinner last night or that you're going to have to figure out how to eat on $30 for the next 2 weeks. If you can make do, then make do. But some financial situations -- like credit card debt, a lost job, or a large bill -- can end up having an impact on your parents and possibly even your larger family. Consequently, letting your folks know about any major financial situations is important, even if you're embarrassed to bring them up.

3. Major grade issues. In most situations, your parents don't legally have the right to see your grades. Your relationship with them, of course, might dictate otherwise, but your grades are considered part of your educational records and consequently are private. Just because the law says you don't have to share your grades, however, doesn't mean that keeping them a secret from your parents is a smart choice. If you're not doing well academically and are facing a situation like academic probation or even academic dismissal, it's probably a good idea to share that information as soon as you can.

4. Major health issues. Clearly there are some health issues that you might want to justifiably keep private. But if you're having a major health issue that is having a negative impact on your ability to thrive in college and/or if your health situation is going to require working with your parents' health insurance, then keeping your folks in the loop is a smart idea. In addition to helping you take care of your physical health, your parents can also help you navigate what you'll need to do for your courses as well as for your appointments and insurance claims.

5. Thoughts about your future. Part of being in college is exploring ideas on your own, without worrying about criticism from others. And you don't need to tell your parents every thought you have about what your future might hold.

But if you are starting to think seriously (and possibly even make plans) about your post-college life, then letting your parents know is likely a wise choice. After all, they're going to find out sooner or later, and keeping them updated can work in your favor if it helps to keep them prepared, too.

6. Relationship issues that are having a major impact on your life. Your parents may totally love your significant other. Your parents may not be able to stay in the same room with your significant other. Your parents may not know that you're gay or that you've been in a serious relationship for years now. This is all okay, of course ... unless your relationship is having a major impact on your life. If so, sharing what you feel comfortable sharing (which may not include all the details) can be an important step to take so that your college experience isn't negatively affected by your relationships.

7. Everyday details of your life. What seems boring to you might, in fact, seem interesting to your parents. Talking about what your club is up to, how you're feeling about an upcoming exam, and even what ridiculous thing you saw last week on the quad is all important -- even if it feels trivial. Your parents likely are genuinely interested in your college experience and care about the details of your daily life. Don't be afraid to share what you think is mundane; your parents just might find it delightful. Additionally, connecting in a casual way over seemingly unimportant things often ends up helping to build stronger, long-term connections.

8. Travel plans. You might know you're heading home for Thanksgiving and that your friend is giving you a ride, but your parents may have no idea. And since they hadn't heard from you, they possibly already made plans to head to a neighbors'. Be careful when making assumptions about what your parents do and don't know regarding your plans to come home. Being clear and communicating about when, for how long, and how you'd like to come home for a visit can help prevent all kinds of drama down the road.

9. Concerns about them or other family and friends back home. Being in college doesn't mean you take a break from being concerned about your friends and family -- including your parents. If you're concerned about something that's going on with, say, your parents' health situation or with some extended family, don't be afraid to bring it up in conversation. Your identity as a college student doesn't negate your membership in the family. If you're worried about someone or something back home, bring it up.

10. Exciting and good news! You might be enjoying your independent college life so much that keeping in touch with your folks on a regular basis isn't a priority. And yet, even if that's true, make sure to still communicate the good and the bad. If you ace an exam, are recognized for your efforts on campus, or otherwise are excited about an accomplishment, remember to tell your parents! It can be easy to keep your college life separate from your back-home life unless things go wrong. Remember, though, that keeping your spheres connected when things go right can be a good idea, too.

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