How You Can Help
According to "Letting Go: A Parent's Guide to Understanding the College Years" by Karen Coburn and Madge Treeger, there are some basic guidelines that parents should follow to help their children make the adjustment to college.
Remember that, for your child, coming to the University is an important developmental step towards full adulthood. Finding oneself is a difficult enough process without feeling that the people whose opinions you respect most don't trust you.
Don't Worry (Too Much) About "Desperate" Phone Calls, Letters Or Emails
Often when troubles become too much for a freshman to handle (a flunked test, ended friendship), the only place to turn may be home. You'll hear about their problems but often you never get to hear about the "A" paper, and the great new friends!
An important part of the college experience is involvement with student clubs and organizations. Such involvement helps create an attachment to the University, enables new students to make friends, and contributes to academic success.
Ask Questions (But Not Too Many)
College freshmen are "cool" and have a tendency to resent interference with their newfound lifestyle. Keep conversations positive and avoid small arguments. Focus on achievements.
Expect Change (But Not Too Much)
Your child will change. It's natural and can be inspiring and beautiful. You can't stop change; you may not even understand it; but it is within your power (and to your advantage and your child's advantage) to accept it. Be patient.
Do Not Repeatedly Tell Your Children That These Are The Best Years of Their Lives
The freshman year can be full of indecision, insecurities, disappointments and, most of all, mistakes. They're also full of discovery, inspiration, good times and new friends. It takes them a while to accept that being unhappy, afraid, confused, and making mistakes is normal, and part of growing up. Those parents that accept and understand the highs and lows of their child's reality are providing the support and encouragement where it's needed most.
Your Help Matters
- You are important to your child's college success
- You are a source of unconditional love and support
- You need to develop balance between support and letting go
- You can help your child become independent, responsible, and self-sufficient