When young people leave home for university they are often excited and looking forward to following no more rules and no longer being told what to do. It often turns out that the first year away does not only involve fewer restrictions, it is also about leaving home.

Leaving home for university is one of the last major steps in separating from our family and becoming independent. Leaving home is the further loosening of the child/parent ties. Yet we need not be afraid of close child/parent bonding. Healthy parental bonding helps young people to become independent and autonomous.

The first year is often a transition for separation rather than an ending to all contact with the home. Interdependence with family helps young people to become more mature, loving and self-confident. Research shows that students who have a secure base at home are more likely to form friendships and feel more satisfied with life at uni.

When they are stressed they look to their parents for support and connection. Healthy home relationships often lead to psychological well-being in students. Young people, in my experience, want parents to be available whilst at the time respecting their space. Parents, for their part, need to be patient and not seek to solve the young person’s problems.

So if you are a student about to go to college, it is okay to feel attached to your family. It is okay to be thinking about home when you are away and seek out your parents when you feel stressed or overwhelmed. In my experience, it is often the case, at least in the beginning, that emotionally healthy and well-adjusted students keep regular contact with their families and draw emotional support and strength from them.