By Kelsey Nevius
As I was walking through the store the other day, mentally tallying my grocery list in my head while simultaneously scanning through the aisles of frozen food, I walked right past an elderly women who was not tall enough to reach the top shelf. She quietly asked for my help, and my face instantly lit up. Being 5’9”, I easily brought the frozen Teriyaki Chicken down from the top shelf. The look she gave me for helping her is one I can only describe as amazingly thankful and innocent—a look that seldom comes from anywhere else other than elderly people. As I walked away with a smile on my face, it made me think about my own grandparents, and why we so often neglect people who are older than us. Some of the nicest people I’ve meant have been elderly or significantly older than me, yet I almost never see people my age just going out to dinner with their grandparents.
When I looked up grandparent and college student relationships up online, at least 75 percent of the search results were about grandparents helping college students pay for college. Honestly, this made me question our generation. I love my grandparents, but I do not love them because they may be able to help me pay for college. In fact, when my grandmother even offers me money just so I can have a little extra in my pocket, I turn her down (and a fight always ensues, but the loving kind of fight). Grandparents have so much knowledge and past experiences that are worth so much more than money. An article by College Parent Central states that “One survey of students indicated that relationships with grandparents or significant elders influenced their life choices, values and goals. These relationships gave students a sense of self, of roots, of tradition. Another study found that student perceptions of their relationships with grandparents were generally positive. They felt affection and respect for their grandparents.” Sure, it’s nice if they help support you, but it is best when it is not monetary support.
Parents should be looked at the same way, not as some controlling factor in your life and world, but as a support system and source of wisdom to return to when you’re having a rough time. We all have different parents and different experiences, but see family as something that you can always go back to, and that you shouldn’t forget about just because you’re in college. To me, going back home is a blessing, not a curse. I get to see my parents, have Friday game nights with my grandparents and aunt, and spend time with my brother. I enjoy these things because they’re all there to support me. Sometimes even a little advice on a difficult situation can leave me feeling ten times better than when I just thought about it by myself.
If college has taught me one thing, it is that relationships will be strained. I’m in a totally new world and new stage in my life. But that doesn’t mean I’ll forget who I am, where I come from, and who helped me and who will be continuously helping me out along the way. Family is important, no matter how you see it, and it saddens me when people my age completely cut off all their ties with their family when they go away to college. Utilize your family as a support system and a way to grow within yourself. Your parents and grandparents aren’t just people to be used. Call them every once in a while, shoot them a text or even send a letter in the mail the old-fashioned way—just don’t lose contact with the people that got you to where you are.