Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Cindy White

Second Advisor

Peter Simonson

Third Advisor

Sona Dimidjian


The mother-daughter relationship is complex in many ways. When a daughter goes off to college, it can cause a change in the parent-child dynamic. This paper examined the mother-daughter relationship when the daughter transitions from high school to college. It explored the communicative processes in important to the relationship as this transition and changes that occur, as well as how physical distance affects the relationship. By interviewing college-aged women who moved away to college and having them fill out a turning point graph, this project revealed relational changes that occur when the daughter transitions to college. Overall, daughters indicated that they became closer with their mothers after the transition to college. Several important communicative changes that occurred between the mother and daughter were identified. Daughters established autonomy and believed they could make their own decisions. They chose to communicate with their mothers, and this gave them a sense that they had more control in the relationship. Daughters also felt that advice was given and taken by both the mother and daughter, and the number of arguments decreased. Daughters believed that the increase in physical distance made them closer with their mothers because they had to put more time and effort into sustaining the relationship. This led to a change in the meaning of closeness, as it switched from spending time with their mothers to opening up and seeing the mother as a friend and resource for support.