Tips for supporting your child during their transition into college and throughout their college career
- Recognize the impact of leaving home - How you will feel, how they might feel, that regardless of some sad feelings you each may have, that ultimately you're excited and proud.
- Let them know you are willing to listen - Discussions before they leave home are a great way to lay the ground work for a continuing good relationship through college. You are there if they need you.
- Talk about issues they may face - This includes anything and everything from drugs, alcohol, sex, relationships, being more independent, self-care, living with someone, eating healthy, etc.
- Keep in contact, but not too much- Developmentally, this is when your child really starts to identify who they are as a person. They try new things, look at their own values, question, and evolve. The child that leaves for college is not the same adult that comes back from college. This may be a slow process, or it could seem to happen quickly. It may feel strange and aggravating for you, be patient, be present, and let them figure things out. Let them know what's going on with you and that you are doing ok.
- Listen and encourage but don't solve their problems - It's important for your son or daughter to begin problem solving on their own as well as taking actions to help themselves in times of difficulty. It is natural to see your child struggling and want to protect them. In this case, the best protection is allowing them to make mistakes, figure things out, and take action to solve their problems by themselves. This doesn't mean you can't give advice, it just means it's better to ask them questions, guide them through their thought process, and let them think through what they want to do.
- Be open, be patient- Your kids are beginning their adult journey and they are going to meet new people, explore themselves, their sexuality, their political views, their faith, and everything else you can imagine. These explorations are not without value and they are not to make you angry. They are to help them be who they will ultimately be. Even if they start to have different ideas from you, this does not mean they do not love and respect you, they simply are exploring different opinions and ideas.
- Don't assume the worst - If you are used to daily contact (chats and texting) from your child and you stop having that, don't assume that something is wrong. Certainly check in, but again, your child is attempting to find their way in this new world of theirs and it takes energy, effort and time. You may not be on the forefront of their mind. They know you are there.