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Everything’s fine: Why parents of international students need to worry less

Trinity College Foundation Studies

Tue Feb 13 2018


Chasing an international education means having to give up the comforts of home. Letting go of your parents as you embark on a new life is part of that process but does that time away strengthen the bonds that students have with their parents or does it harden students, forcing them to become more independent?

To find out, we spoke with several international students who described their relationship with their parents to us and what it has been like being away from their parents for so long.

Candice, an international student from China, spoke highly of her relationship with her parents.

“I have a special and close relationship with my parents, especially with my mother. We are like friends, sharing everything and doing everything together,” Candice revealed.

When Candice was a teenager, she attended a high school in the United States and lived with an American family. While her parents were worried for her safety even while she was living with another family, their fears for her worsened when she made the move from the United States to Australia to continue her overseas education on her own.

“[In] Australia, I have to rely entirely on myself, so my parents worry a lot,” she said.

Despite this, Candice maintains she is in good stead with her family. But not all international students can say the same about how they feel about their parents.

Taiwanese student Yang knows that while her parents truly do care for her, their devotion can feel overbearing.

“My parents make my life a bit stressful. Even though they give me a lot of mental support, they are too over caring,” Yang expressed.

Yang’s story is unfortunately not uncommon and while parents mean well, they may not always consider how their presence may affect their child.

“They want me to FaceTime with them every day. I need to say good morning to my mum every morning or else she will freak out. Even worse, I can’t do things like sleepovers at my friend’s house or go stargazing with friends at night. I believe there is too much care for me as an adult,” she said.

Parental expectations obviously weigh heavily on the mind of international students and meeting those desires is certainly something that can either push or hold back students’ potential.

For Chinese student Katherine, she feels that while her relationship with her parents is good, she understands the importance of blazing her own trail.

“[My parents] want me to take care myself well and successfully graduate from my college and come into the University of Melbourne. Of course, they hope that when I choose the subjects, I’d follow their suggestions. I know that what they do is under consideration for my future career, but I still want to stick my own opinion, selecting the subjects that I am interested in,” Katherine said.

Everyone’s relationship to their parents will differ but the common thread we see with international students is that while their parents mean well, both parties need that time away to foster growth and independence. That isn’t to say that students should abandon their parents entirely. We suggest rather that both parents and children need to do their part to develop the relationship in a more meaningful manner, one that enables a student’s development from child to adult.

Have you ever discussed your relationship with your parents? How do your parents view the evolution of your relationship with them? What suggestions would you give to international students who want to maintain a close relationship with their parents? Do you think these tips are useful? Do you think that your parents ought to keep in touch with you regularly? Why? Put your comment below and let us know your thoughts.

This story was produced by Media and Communication students at Trinity College Foundation Studies as part of Meld’s community newsroom collaboration. Education institutions, student clubs/societies and community groups interested in being involved can get in touch with us via