No helicopter required: Parents finding positive ways to support college students

Published: Saturday, May 3 2014 5:15 p.m. MDT

Amanda Mills enjoys living on her own and making her own schedule. On Saturdays she gets up early to meet with other creative writing students, who help one another with writing and research on independent projects. She spent the morning on a recent Saturday perusing the shelves of the Cedar City public library helping a friend find books on the 15th-century British judiciary system.

"It is immensely important to me to have my family supporting me, I want to do things to make them proud," said Amanda Mills, who maintains regular contact with her parents by phone but only goes home a few times each semester. "Even in choosing creative writing, which is like the definition of no job security, my parents were like, 'Alright, I'm glad you've found something you're so passionate about, just make sure you know what you need to do to plan for it.'"

Families whose college-age children live at home face their own challenges. Jared Moss, a chemistry student who just graduated from Weber State University, paid for school through scholarships and on-campus jobs but continued living with his mother in Roy to save money on housing.

"There were definitely hard parts transitioning from being a kid in my mom's house to being an adult in my parents' house," Moss said. "I had to be OK with my opinions not being the same as my parents' opinions all the time, but also learning how to grow from that and recognizing I'm not right all the time either."

The Pew Research Center reported in August that a rising number of millennials, as many as 36 percent, lived with their parents in 2012. Nearly half of them were in college.

Moss says having his mother nearby to help with housing, provide encouragement and offer spiritual support through his undergraduate years was an advantage for him as a student. Through college, Moss said, he made sure he saved time to spend time with members of his family to keep those relationships strong.

"I think (spending time with family members) was one of the most important things I could have done through college, because that just positively influences school," Moss said.

He felt responsible for his own life despite living under his mother's roof, he said.

"My mom was being really supportive, but she was also allowing me to be myself," Moss said. "She would tell me, 'Jared, I don't want to give you any advice unless you want it, but, if you need advice, please ask.' She wanted me to grow in my independence and not be dependent on her, but at the same time she was there through every decision."

Moss is applying for a graduate program in organic chemistry at Utah State University this fall and is preparing to move out and get married.

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com,Twitter: McKenzieRomero

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