Don’t let your kid go to varsity before you have ‘The’ conversation
Finally! That’s the word in parents’ minds the world over as they prepare to let their children go off to varsity for the first time. The long summer holiday is a period of festivities as your young adult lets loose to party before settling down to focus on academics and tertiary pressures.
For others, it may be a time of deep contemplation. A secret sadness – and gladness. An acceptance that you are ‘losing’ a child but gaining an independent adult. An acknowledgement that you are one step closer to raising a young adult who can fully function long after you kick the bucket.
Yet whatever the mood and circumstances regarding the departure of your child to tertiary, it’s time to sit them down and have a sincere heart to heart.
This is the time to have a conversation (and preliminary plan) about money. As a young adult who is on their way to becoming an independent responsible adult, you can help to shape their relationship with money.
Perhaps you can start helping them budget for their meals or assist them in shaping up their CV and getting a part time job. This is the time to have the talk that if they run into big money problems, you will assist. Remember to draw the line regarding how far you are willing to help.
Make them aware of the dangers of evil payday loan sharks. Share your own personal tips about effectively managing money. This is not the time to bark down orders out of fear; try to have a mutual discussion and listen to their views as well.
Students like to fit in. We see university protests and strikes taking place annually. A semester does not go past without hearing about house parties that have gone horribly wrong or students stirring up trouble and being expelled. At the core of such mischievous behaviour often lies peer pressure.
As a parent, you need to talk to your child about how easy it is for friends to corrupt good character and morals. It is not necessary to join the drinking crew in order to be cool. One can find an identity without having to lead a promiscuous lifestyle in order to impress bad friends.
Explain the joys and strengths that come from having friends with a positive outlook who encourage others to be better. Friends who study harder and strive to achieve all their goals. Encourage your child to be that friend. It does not matter what happened in high school; varsity is an opportunity to start over.
There is the misconception that being young and living in a student Digz comes with living on the edge. This is not true. While students can sometimes be a bit laid back and carefree, make your child aware of several safety aspects and the importance of paying attention.
This can be as simple as notifying their roomie in advance if they are not planning to come back for the night. Avoiding isolated short-cuts at night. Or simply abstaining from sex or practising safe sex with a significant other (as opposed to drunken one night stands).
Some of the topics here are downright uncomfortable, but can make all the difference between life and a potentially life threatening event. If anyone is to tackle the sacred cows, then it had better be you. Don’t limit yourself to these topics.
Tell them about the realities of HIV/Aids, the difficulties of being a young/single parent, the fears you have of burying your child whom you love. Talk openly about the crippling pains of heartbreak, coping skills that work for you and so forth. This can be a profound moment to connect with your “grown baby”. Don’t miss the moment. You may never get it again.