Suggestions for Parents of College Students

  • Show your child that you can tolerate negativity and change.
  • Trust your child in his or her own decision making.
  • Become an active listener/clarifier/coach. Practice coaching from the sidelines - there is a reason coaches aren't allowed onto the playing field during the game.
  • Don't do anything for your child that he or she can do for him or herself.
  • Expect, normalize, and acknowledge conflicting emotions and feelings about transition.
  • Acknowledge you are also in transition and moving into a new chapter/phase of your life. You are facing parallel issues to those of your student - identity, independence and intimacy.
  • Remember your child is the CEO of his or her college experience (not you). Your student owns his or her college experience and its outcome and is responsible for those passages within that experience.
  • Encourage your child to follow his or her own dreams and to grow and become successfully independent. Allow your student to pursue pathways which may be different from what you had in mind.
  • Learn to let go. Letting go doesn't mean uninvolvement. It means trusting your child to make thoughtful decisions. It means caring, active listening, ongoing communications, giving appropriate feedback clarifying, and supporting. It allows your child to move into independent adulthood.

Acknowledge the changes your student will confront, including:

  • The need for more sleep!
  • They will be around people from different backgrounds! How do they plan on being respectful of this?
  • They will face pressure to drink or use drugs! How do they plan on responding to this?
  • They may no longer be the "big fish" on campus anymore! How do they feel about that?
  • They may not be considering paying bills, waking themselves up, being responsible for laundry, reminding themselves to study - you get the idea! How will they hold themselves accountable?