Parents may be the source of student anxiety

Going into the third week of college, I am sure we can all say we miss our families, friends, homes, beds, cars, and whatever else fulfilled the comforts of our “normal” lives. Myself, missing home a little, recently decided to research why we miss the things we spend so much time with after we begin to spend a great deal of time a part, curious to see if there was any scientific reasoning behind this.

The best answer I kept coming across had to do with symptoms of possible separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can be defined as an extreme distress of physical or emotional detachment from close figures or environments, such as loved ones or home. Some cases are more extreme than others though, and some only develop symptoms rather than the disease in its entirety. The research done by Cade Hulbert in this link, suggests that having symptoms of separation anxiety is not uncommon in first year college students, but only found a small percentage of college students who experience the symptoms of separation anxiety.

Looking at this study you will find that college students from Boise State University, ages 18-60, participated in a survey to determine whether parent involvement during their child’s college experience had any correlation between the student’s separation anxiety while attending college. The survey asked questions regarding how overprotective the parents are, if being away from parents at college gives the student anxiety, and other questions concerning parenting style.

At the end of the research, Hulbert came to the conclusion that certain parenting styles may increase the likelihood of college students developing separation anxiety. In fact, it is seen that students with a more overprotective parenting style are more susceptible to anxiety than students who have a less overprotective parenting style. Symptoms of anxiety were also found more commonly in female students than male students due to parents being more susceptible to intrusiveness with daughters rather than sons. Also, data showed how freshman who did not feel any separation anxiety as a freshman, are more less likely to develop anxiety as a senior or in later years. (Hulbert 2010)

I think this research was good but could have been better in a few ways. First, there was a pretty wide range of ages included in this research. Personally, any age over 23 is irrelevant to the general title of a young adult/college student for this study in particular. Also, although the results of this study were clear, the percent value system in the research write up was hard to follow, hence why I did not include percentages in this blog. The study could have also, surveyed whether or not the student felt like their parent was putting pressure on them, whether the student had any feelings of anxiety prior to college, or if their parents were over protective when they were a child or not. Lastly, the study could have not only surveyed the students but the parents as well, to try and get a greater sense of where the anxiety is truly coming from. All these, in my opinion, could have lead to even more valid reasonings behind this research.

Overall, I think as a first year student, feelings of missing home and loved ones doesn’t mean you are diagnosed with separation anxiety. It just makes you realize how much those things meant to you now that you are without them. Missing these things is going to come natural because of our human nature, no matter the parenting style. The feeling of home is something everyone vales dearly and adapting to a new lifestyle and environment can take time. But what this study made me realize is, that for those who it may concern, it may not be the student who has the symptoms of separation anxiety, but the parents.


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7 thoughts on “Parents may be the source of student anxiety

  1. Molly Samantha Arnay

    I appreciate the conclusion because I agree, not all kids who feel like they miss home around the first few weeks of college should be diagnosed with something as clinical as “separation anxiety.” I feel that a lot of people are quick to diagnose little problems that most people have, when the real issue becomes when the problem is out of control. And i agree that parents are definitely more susceptible to separation anxiety when their kids go to college because for most of us, this is a time in our lives when we’re ready to become more independent. For our parents, it just feels like we’re leaving them.

  2. Jeremy Perdomo

    I liked the deductions you assumed between possible separation anxiety and parents; I read the article and examined the data from the Cade Hulbert link you posted and found it fascinating how the more stricter the parents are, the more anxieties the student will most likely face his first year of college. Why do you think that is? Might it be because the student is more dependent on the parents to chastise him, and when the parental figures disappear, he no longer realizes what is essentially right or wrong?

    Whatever the case, you did an excellent job representing the correlation between the stress found in students their freshman year and their parents; however, did you stop to think about the possibilities of the stress the parents might have in regards to their children leaving? After reading this parental survival guide, I recognized that parents get stressed seeing their “babies” leave home!

    There is a fine line between missing home and actually suffering from a medical condition called anxiety; fortunately, you hit the nail on the head with your accurate portrayal of the contrasts between them. Finally, maybe you would want to do some more research on the possible stress siblings feel when their brothers and sisters leave home, as well, and also incorporate the correlation and causation principle that we spoke about in class, too!

  3. Ahmed Mohamed

    I really appreciate your conclusion that just because a study says something doesn’t mean everyone has that reaction. I think that’s something that a lot of people need to realize. I also like how you talked about something that the majority of the class has either been effected by or have observed this. I’m a senior so I don’t really have this problem but I’m an RA who see’s this every semester. I could count how many resident’s or friends I’ve had that have either left school or transfered to a closer school to home. It is a very prevalent topic that I think as people who go through blogs to comment about, is very appealing.

  4. Jillian Nicole Beitter

    As much as I don’t like talking about it, I’ve had anxiety since I was younger. Change is a difficult thing for everyone but for me, it’s a bit harder. But here I am today at college, out of state, something I would have never imagined possible. My parents were not overprotective but not underproductive. I think that they gave independence but at the same time, allowed me to fall back on them when needed. I think that sometimes there can be a third factor when looking at the correlation between separation anxiety and parenting. That third factor is that some people are just born with anxiety. It’s kind of something unavoidable and can often be seen as the effect of parenting, but it isn’t always. I do completely agree with your points though because there are parents who do everything for their children and once they send them off to college, the child does not know what to do and often has anxiety.

  5. Xueyao Cao

    I totally agree with your conclusion at the end, it is a process which everyone needs to adapt with. I also think that homesick shouldn’t be linked as separation anxiety. We always prefer staying in an environment that is familiarised to us. So I think it is a common reaction for people to miss their families, and there would always be some sort of problems during the adaption period. I like the part in your blog where you started to think about other issues that might causes the problem (e.g. parenting style). It make sense to me and it also developed the topic to a broader perception.
    I found out another link related to separation anxiety, which produced a lot of general information as well.

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