Mourning the Friendship Separation
Being separated from college friends during the summer hiatus can be traumatic and troubling for students. Bonds develop quickly and strongly during the year, as students experience everything together, from classes to meals to deep 2 a.m. conversations in the laundry room. So, when May rolls around and it's time to say goodbye, expect that your student may have some trouble.
It's perfectly natural for students to want to stay connected to their new extended family members. After all, that's how many students feel about their college friends, as if they are the second family they've created for themselves. Again, that's a natural feeling and a good sign that your student is developing strong, genuine friendships at college.
She may also be mourning changing relationships, from the roommate who she'll miss living with next year to the friends who are graduating or transferring to other schools. Theses goodbyes can hit particularly hard and cause your student to feel uneasy about how the upcoming school year will be without these familiar faces around.
When your student starts missing her friends, she may do some or all of the following:
- Email and Instant Message with them on the computer
- Stay in touch through cell phones and text messaging
- Start planning visits or trips with those friends
- Ask if she can invite friends to stay at your house for a visit
By helping her facilitate these long-distance relationships during the summer, whether that means letting her borrow the car for a three-hour drive to a friend's house or encouraging her to have friends stay at your place, you'll be contributing to your student's emotional peace of mind.
A Family of Friends
As students grow into adulthood, a natural sign of independence is that they begin creating a second family made up of good friends. There may be the roommate who "feels like a sister to me" or the friend from student government who "I love like a brother."
By developing these bonds, your student isn't saying that her primary family isn't important. She's simply surrounding herself with even more supportive, loving partners to help her get through life's ups and downs –while she helps them do the same. It's a sign of maturity and of positive relationship-building.