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Why family weekend matters to your health

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File Photo | The Daily Wildcat

Kristen Bredar exits the Slonaker House on Oct. 9, 2014 with her father, Bill Bredar, who arrived early for Family Weekend from Alaska. Having family visit is not only fun, but provides reassurement for nervous parents and students.

While Family Weekend is a fun time for students and their parents to see one another, there are also many emotional and mental health benefits to the annual event. 

Established in 1929 and only skipped for two years during World War II, Family Weekend has undergone many names, but remains an important University of Arizona tradition, according to Kathryn Adams Riester, the Associate Dean of Students and Director of UA Parent and Family Programs.

“It was originally called Moms’ and Dads’ Day, and then Parents’ Day,” Adams Riester said. “In 1992, it was changed to Family Weekend to be more inclusive of all families.”

Parents sign up to attend several different events hosted by the UA in order to bond with their children attending the university and to learn more about it. 

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There are panels given by various organizations, such as CAPS, with Deborah Cox-Howard, the CAPS Outreach Counselor and substance abuse professional counselor, giving a talk on empty nest syndrome.

Experienced parents also give a panel about their experiences with sending their children to college. They will be able to answer general questions, as well as questions about difficulties a student may be facing.

It offers parents kinship, so they know that they are not alone in their experiences, and more information to help guide their family through the college process.  

All of these events, panels and workshops are good for both the parents and the students, both of whom may have a difficult time when a student leaves to study at the UA, Adams Riester said.

“I think it’s a good time for the family to reconnect and check in,” Adams Riester said. “And I know that a lot of times, when a student leaves home, they are also missed by the parents and the younger siblings.”

It also allows the family the opportunity to see what life is really like at the university alongside their student, who, more often than not, is a freshman.

“Eighty to 85 percent of the students whose families come are freshmen,” Adams Riester said.

Adams Riester also noted that Family Weekend occurs at the halfway point in the semester, when a student is becoming more adapted to the university lifestyle and more comfortable with their independence. 

“It is also fun because at this time, students are settled into their classes and their environments,” Adams Riester said. 

Families are able to check in and see their student, which can be reassuring for concerned or worried parents. They can learn more about what their children do on campus and the types of classes that they are taking. 

“New students have made friends,” Adams Riester said. “It’s a fun time for families to get a snapshot of what their student’s life on campus looks like.”

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There are also many important benefits for students who are able to participate in Family Weekend. 

“I think that for students, especially students who have been homesick or missing their families, it’s a great opportunity to see their families again,” Adams Riester said. 

While not all families are able to come to Family Weekend, there are plenty of benefits to attending and several fun and informational events. 

The events serve to help comfort homesick students and worried parents, Adams Riester said. 

“[Parents] are coming here and [students are] getting the chance to show them their environment,” Adams Riester said.

The family is able to learn more about the UA all together, as well as get to know their student’s lifestyle, classes and friends. It’s a bonding experience designed to both educate and comfort.

Adams Riester said that while Family Weekend organizers would like people to officially sign up so that they know how many programs to print, anyone is free to stop by this weekend and attend the events that they wish. 

More information on the annual event can be found on the Family Weekend website: familyweekend.arizona.edu.


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