LWBW: Strategies for First-Year Family Weekend

Dear Moose,

First-Year Families Weekend (FFW) is about to get underway. You may be excited for your parents to learn about everything Princeton has to offer and for them to gain a fuller understanding of what your life here looks like. After all, you have a new life here at Princeton and a growing sense of independence. You have begun managing your own days. You have had time to make decisions on your own, time to start finding your own values and what you want to devote your time to.

At the same time, gaining independence from your family is a complex process, especially if you have spent more time than usual together over the past year. Having your parents learn so much about campus life may feel like a loss of your independence. Not seeing them in person as they learn about your new home may bring an extra dose of homesickness. This weekend is a bridging of your two homes, so I want to reassure you that it’s absolutely normal to experience a mix of emotions surrounding First-Year Families Weekend.

Read on for tips and strategies for maximizing you and your family’s experience of FFW and how to continue building a sense of independence.

  • Communicate with your family about what events they plan to attend. Think of them as partners in your education. Talk about which issues you would like their input on. Are there things you want them to think about or ask questions about? Find the full schedule of events here.

  • Be patient with your family. It can be stressful for your family to know all of the resources and opportunities here. They may have a lot of suggestions on how to spend your time, how to solve your challenges or what goals to set for yourself. Try to see this as more loving than controlling. If their suggestions conflict with what you want, finding alternatives is an opportunity to reflect on your values and articulate them clearly. This is actually an opportunity to practice patience and more adult-like communication skills. Your family will likely be impressed with your mature response, and this helps set the tone for future interactions.

  • Bring gratitude to your family. Your parents have likely been some of your biggest supporters, assisting with your school work and busy schedule, and helping you go the extra mile. Taking more responsibility for yourself can be a hard transition for both you and your family. Remember to emphasize that you want responsibility, not that you don’t want their support.

  • If this weekend has you feeling homesick, join me for brunch at 10:30am this Saturday in the Mathey Dining Hall. I know it is not the same, but I will bring my dog Sunny to remind you that you are loved! I will also bring cards that you can write to friends and families, and we will be happy to mail any for you.

Please feel free to schedule an appointment to touch base with me anytime! You can sign up for an appointment with me here: https://calendly.com/dcepin/30min.

Be well, Moose.

Dr. Cepin