Talking to Family about Changing Opinions

Written by Bethany Spitzmiller, Managing Editor


Illustration by Victoria Cimerman

Family weekend can be a wonderful time to reconnect with loved ones and catch up on what has been happening, but it can also bring tension and disagreement as students and parents develop different expectations of what college is about. Universities open the door for opportunities to learn, develop skills and find jobs, but it is also a place to make friends, learn about the world and form new opinions. If coming to college and taking classes from multiple disciplines and being surrounded by new people doesn’t make you question your beliefs, you probably aren’t taking advantage of what it means to be a college student. 

  However, it is difficult to talk about changing opinions with people you’ve been around your entire life, especially family. Changing opinions in college is messy, but it is part of growing up. Parents might need time to adapt, and they might need a reminder that college is a place to experiment and test ideas, whether in or out of the classroom.

  When I left home to go to college, it was after an argument with my dad. I double majored in English and communication with an emphasis in journalism, and he didn’t see how that could lead to any job other than teaching. I didn’t change my decision, graduated and am now attending grad school still focusing on communication, but that was another disagreement in itself. As a first generation college student, I learned early on that my parents and I value different things. It’s not that they don’t value education, they do, but it’s not as high a priority for them as it is for me. Sometimes I have to remind them that my life is my own, and other times I have to remind myself they just want what they think is best for me. It’s important to consider both sides in those types of disagreements. 

  However, there are some issues that both sides cannot really be considered, for example human rights. It comes down to a moral responsibility to educate others about problems like systematic racism or other forms of discrimination. It’s our civic duty to inform those close to us because we might be the person that can make the biggest impact on their views. People generally like to believe their actions align with their beliefs. However, when problems like systematic discrimination are brought to their attention, it creates an internal conflict that makes them uncomfortable. To deal with their own internal strife, many people choose to ignore the situation or blame others for the problems within society rather than attempt to fix them.

 Listen to what others have to say, and see their side of an issue. You might notice your own opinions beginning to evolve or see an opportunity to change the beliefs of someone else. Being surrounded by different types of people allows students to become more educated on the complexities of every opinion. Sometimes students have to be the person to introduce their family to other perspectives, as they may be the only person they know with a differing opinion.