The years have flown by, and it’s time for your almost grown-up children to leave the nest. Almost – because they’re certainly not small children anymore, but you also wouldn’t call them adults quite yet. Parenting a college student is tough because your kids are at an in-between stage where they will still need your help from time to time, but also need to be given a chance to spread their wings.
How to let go and develop a great relationship with your college student children
Worrying about your children, how they are coping with college life in their new student digz, and whether they will make good decisions is only natural. At the same time, you need to let go a little bit so that your kids can grow into well rounded, independent adults.
So how do you find balance when painting a university student?
Touch base but give them space
If your new student is studying far away from home, you may miss them so much that you want to call them every day. Don’t do this! It’s important to give them the space to find their feet, make new friends and adjust to the structure of college life. Rather, agree on a time every week that you will speak to each other (for example, every Sunday afternoon) to touch base. This takes the pressure off of your young adult, while giving you the opportunity to keep in regular contact.
Don’t put pressure on visiting
If their university is reasonably close to home, you might want to visit often or encourage them to come home every weekend. This is another no-no. For any young student to fully adjust to being at university, they should immerse themselves in campus life as much as possible. If they are feeling homesick and want to see you, don’t turn them away, but you should encourage them to spend time with friends and take part in campus activities instead.
Let them make mistakes
You’ve probably heard it so often that it’s become a cliche, but mistakes are the only way that we learn and grow into responsible adults. The same is true for your college-age child. You can keep tabs on how they’re doing through regular, non-controlling contact. Unless a situation is very severe and potentially life threatening, step back a little and let them make a few poor decisions. That way they will learn from their experiences, and be able to make better choices next time round.
Easy on the advice
Your young adult at university is going through many changes and having new experiences. Some of these may be daunting and frustrating. When they vent to you about their annoying roommates in their student Digz, or how unfair their one professor is, it’s likely that they just need to blow off steam. They may not be looking for advice, so don’t give it unless they ask you. Instead, learn to listen and provide a sympathetic ear.
Whether you’re the parent who can’t wait for the kids to go to university, so you have time to yourself, or the one who cries every time you even think of the day they leave, you’re still going to need to adjust to the new role that you will play in their lives. Learning to let go is the first step to developing a wonderful, honest relationship with your children as they mature into young adults.