How to set boundaries with your family as a college student

Family, is important to keep close to you now more than ever. That being said, there’s definitely such a thing as being too close as a college student now, whether it be the fifth call that your mom’s made today, or your Zoom class seeing your little sister again. Whatever the case, we’re here to help you have the sit-down you need to get a little more freedom in your life. 

1. Make a list of wants and needs

Before you have this critical conversation with the fam, it’s important to know exactly what you want. Are you looking for more privacy at home? To have your love life be off-limits? By creating a list of the boundaries you’re planning on implementing, you can think of why you want these limits, and find examples you can use when talking to your family. For example, if your mom’s constant ringing interrupted a phone interview, you can use that in your conversation.

Creating a list of wants and needs will help you narrow your focus into specific areas to address, and also gives you space to recognize if what you want is reasonable. Instead of allowing your mom to call all the time, give her every Sunday to catch up, maybe even at a specific time. The more narrow and exact the boundaries you create, the easier it will be to enforce them. 

2. Be resolute

After assessing your boundaries and deciding what you plan to do, it’s time to have the conversation. Depending on your family, setting boundaries will be received well, met with some resistance, or flat-out denied. Regardless of their reaction, what’s critical here is that you tell them what boundaries you are creating, inform them of why you’re taking this step, and most importantly, stand your ground! 

While your mom might give you the silent treatment for a few days, being assertive and keeping your emotions in check is important.  It’s easy to waiver in the face of guilt-tripping and the authority that might be present, but it’s vital to stay strong and remember why you’re doing this in the first place.

3. Offer alternatives

An easy way to keep the family happy after setting your boundaries is to offer an alternative. For example, if you dread the daily calls from your mom, think of offering a daily text instead, or link her to your Twitter page so she knows you’re alive and well. This isn’t necessary (or possible) in all situations, but if you’re able to provide it, it’s an easy way to make boundary setting a lot smoother.

Setting boundaries and asserting yourself is hard work, but it’s definitely worthwhile and moves you further into the adult world. Speaking of adulting, you can learn how to manage your money like a boss with Kora - an app that’s kind of like the finance mom you’ve always wanted. 

Learn more about managing your money in college