College Transitions: Why Is Parental Support So Important?
There’s no more diapers, carpools, or packed lunches to make anymore. It’s official—your kid’s in college! Get ready for your parenting style to change.
Many parents struggle to balance their new role as more of a coach than a parent. However, showing your child that you trust them to establish their independence for the first time does wonders for their self-esteem.
Let’s talk about the importance of providing support when your child transitions to college.
Once you drop them off and leave campus, they are faced with their new reality for the first time. Building a new identity comes with its challenges. They may feel a rush of anxiety every time they select a class, make plans with new friends, or struggle to decide on meals for the day.
Consider the last thing you want to tell them on your way out the door. College move-in is a memorable day for most people. Saying, “Don’t get addicted to microwave food” falls flat. However, saying, “Embrace this opportunity to become exactly who you want to be,” starts their journey with a more positive, powerful vibe.
In this early stage of the first few weeks or months, your teen may experience homesickness and call home to hear words of support and encouragement.
Parental Support with a Small Step Back
Everyone is different, so if your child isn’t feeling homesick, that doesn’t mean they’re happy to finally be rid of you. It just means they’re preoccupied navigating their new world. It can be overwhelming.
Let them call you first. College is a whirlwind of activities all at once, so if they say they don’t have time, they probably don’t! Instead of bombarding them with voicemails, choose to send a thoughtful care package that lets them know you’re thinking about them.
Combatting Feelings of Isolation
55% of college freshmen struggle with feelings of loneliness. Change is exciting, but it’s also filled with heavy losses and constant comparison. With social media, students can spy on their peers from other campuses and convince themselves they’re missing out on all the fun.
The “fear of missing out” (FOMO) hits harder for young people because their future is so clouded. As adults, we have a better sense of what we can expect out of life, but for a young adult, it’s still largely a mystery. Feeling like you had an unproductive day academically or socially can feel like getting left behind at a bus stop after all your friends climbed on.
Check in with them emotionally and come from a place of curiosity, not criticism. Ask questions like…
- What’s been frustrating you lately?
- What’s the most exciting thing about being on your own so far?
- Tell me something you always wanted to try in college.
- After you get your degree, what are you most looking forward to?
Let conversations like these drag out. Try not to start them if you know your kid is about to head out the door. Instead, save them for family visits or long drives home together.
47% of college freshmen struggle with time management. While this is something for which you can give it advice, your child is an adult and it’s up to them to commit to a routine that works for them.
Telling them you find their low grade or forgotten homework disappointing will not make your child a better student. They’re probably already not happy about it and struggling with low self-esteem as they adjust to a rigorous course load.
Instead, lower your expectations, lay off the pressure, and be a steady, calm home base for them. To work out your own conflicting emotions about emptying the nest, consider working with our practice to set you and your child up for success.