Family Issues

Family Issues

Students who matriculate to Miami University are often miles away from home; however, changes that occur in their families are often felt very deeply by students even though they are right here on campus. For example, it is common for first-year college students to be very excited to go home for their first vacation from college (e.g. Thanksgiving holiday) only to feel like they don't quite belong when they are at home for the holiday. Maintaining ties with family and learning to re-adjust to family habits and rules after becoming more independent at Miami can be difficult. Coming to terms with family changes and decisions that take place in your absence i.e. after you leave for college (e.g. if parents decide to move to another part of the country) can be disorienting. It can be a difficult challenge to try to retain a sense of family membership in the midst of experiencing your first significant long-term departure from home.

Some common family-based experiences and changes that can occur while students are in school include the following:
  • parents announce a separation or divorce.
  • parents "transform" your old bedroom into a guest room or re-arrange the bedroom furniture in some way.
  • you learn that a parent/younger sibling still living at home is experiencing depression.
  • you learn of the death of relatives.

These changes can be difficult to understand and cope with-particularly when hundreds of miles separate you from loved ones.

A common challenge for many students is the realization that they may need to adjust to a new environment without the "immediately available" support and assurance that they had come to depend from family while living at home. It can be difficult to realize that you cannot just go home and talk with your parents/siblings about a difficulty because of the impending miles between you.

The process of separation from parents/family and establishing an independent identity can be difficult to negotiate. It is common for students to feel homesick, lonely, confused, and embarrassed about these concerns especially during the first few weeks of school. For example, it is not uncommon for a 1st Year student, who had been very excited to leave home for college all summer long, to begin to feel sad and withdrawn after arriving on campus.

If these feelings of sadness, homesickness, etc. persist and begin to prevent you from actively participating in and integrating into college life (e.g. you may notice that you are unable to concentrate on your schoolwork and are, in fact, beginning to miss classes), please contact the Student Counseling Service. We can help you explore, understand and cope with these developmental changes in individual or group counseling.

Individual and group counseling can be very useful aides in helping you to accept and/or manage family and developmental changes that you may experience during your stay at Miami University. Among other things, we can help you explore ways to communicate with your family, and explore coping mechanisms to deal with the emotional challenges (such as anger, stress and grief) that can result from experiencing these family changes.